Lame Adventure 339: Funny Money

Several years ago, when I first saw this lying in the street, I was duped.

Looks are deceiving.


Fooled by Balloon Saloon!

When I realized that it was Balloon Saloon’s business card held in a funny money bowl by a grizzled cigar smoking fake pioneer, this jaded New Yorker welcomed the whimsy.

Cowboy Fun.

Funny money bowl.

This was also years before the economy tanked so those were the days when I was at my peak in the Department of Welcoming Whimsy.

If I were 43 years younger I would definitely plant one of these fake twenties in a place where my brother, Axel, would fall for the trap.  In fact, I might bring one of these fake twenties with me when I next visit my family out on the West Coast just to mess with a head or two proving that my intellectual development reached a screeching halt by my tenth year of personhood.

Is Balloon Saloon really “the most fun store in New York City”?  Who decided that vote? I’ve been a registered voter in New York since 1983.  Although the holes in my memory rival the 416,000 potholes repaired Big Apple-wide in 2011, one thing I would never forget is if there was a vote for the most fun store.  One of my close personal, and in this context, unnamed friends is a huge fan of an establishment called Purple Passion.  They sell toys, too.  Were they on that ballot?  The goods available at Purple Passion are not competing with the likes of what’s available at Balloon Saloon, the go-to source for purchasing the world on a string.

Planet Earth on a string.

Almost every weekday I walk past Balloon Saloon since I prefer to ride the express train home.  Last week, on a rainy day, I saw a tragic site a block away from the store.

Is funny money and balloons not sacred?

Whenever someone does something antisocial, I automatically blame the economy.  I suppose another highly likely possibility is if a formerly mild mannered schnook or shnook-ette heard the Call Me Maybe song one time too many causing them to violently snap and take it out on Balloon Saloon.  It also occurred to me that the culprit could have simply been Mother Nature acting like a nasty bitch.  Whoever was responsible for this violation to Balloon Saloon’s bowl of fun I cannot say with any degree of certainty, but the mess appalled me.  I looked at the scattered soggy funny money, the deflated balloons and that empty rain-spattered bowl and brooded.  Reflecting on this tragedy I thought:

Me:  Here lies another textbook illustration of the decline of Western Civilization.  The world is going to hell and I’m stuck riding that train.  I’ll probably have to stand the whole way there, too.  Nothing is exempt from a miserable demise including the funny money bowl from Balloon Saloon.

Exasperated I entered the bowels of the Chambers Street subway station carrying the burden of my existential crisis.  Symbolically the uptown express was delayed so I ended up walking five blocks out of my way for a local that I could have caught much closer to my workplace.  I felt determined and thought:

Me: If there’s ever been a time in my life to read enlightening Danish philosophy written by brainiacs with long names crammed with a’s and o’s with slashes, this is that day.

Forced to improvise, I satiated this desire by thumbing through the cartoons in The New Yorker while craving Danish pastry.

The next day, under clear skies, I left The Grind and was again walking down West Broadway en route to the Chambers Street subway station.  As I passed Balloon Saloon I saw an unexpected sight.

Crazy Crayola protected!

Replenished funny money bowl!

Part of me wants to say this was a sure sign of the resilience of the spirit, but the rest of me figures someone just picked up the empty bowl, cleaned it off and stuffed it with a fresh supply of funny money.  However this came to pass, I feel much less compelled to read dead Danish guys, but I could still go for the pastry.

Voted most fun store in New York City.

77 responses to “Lame Adventure 339: Funny Money

  1. Owwww I know that store. Probably nobody ever voted, but I sure had some good times in there, we would buy out bday decoration there, not when I was a kid, but a few years go, we all loved the singing balloons, our neighbors not much I’m afraid.


    • You’re right, they do singing balloons! I’d be in your neighbor’s camp on that one, but it really does look like a fun store overall, or at least a lot more enjoyable than browsing the corn remedies section of Duane Reade. Nice to hear from you.


  2. Why do people do things like this? WHY. It could be as you said, Mother Nature, but more than likely it was your first thought. Still, there’s plenty of New Yorkers that don’t do that kind of shite.

    And that song Call Me Maybe or whatever the h*ll it was, it almost tipped me over the edge too.


  3. Snoring Dog Studio

    You are far more balanced than I am. If I had picked up what I thought was a real live 20 dollar bill only to find that it was a fake and an advertisement, I would have lost it. I’d have burned the damn bowl and the other fakes right there on the spot. Of course, I’m the person who tries to pry coins out of road tar. If I see money on the ground, it better be for real.

    Why is there no end to the vapid tunes being pumped out by barely pubescent girls? I swear I think the music industry has left us 50 somethings in the dust.


    • I don’t know if I’d call myself balanced. If I picked up a fake 20 in today’s economy I’d probably feel a lot more like a chump, but I’m pretty sure I could contain my displeasure with the situation. I’d just take pictures and write about it here. That was definitely a song that grated on my nerves at warp-speed. I hate catchy tunes almost as much as I hate spunk to access my inner Lou Grant.


  4. The Hell Express and you have to stand the whole way. SUPERB!!!!

    You were expecting maybe someone should give up their seat?

    In the words of the lizard you hate, “Fuhggedaboutit. This is New Yawk.”


    • Since the hill is merely in sight and I’m not the second coming of a middle aged Wonder Bra model, I haven’t reached that stage where anyone would give up their seat for me, and if anyone did, I would be very suspicious wondering if a simple act of human kindness was actually a set up for some pitch from someone trying to sell me something or to get me to join a religious cult.

      I’m cool with standing.


      • I constantly remind my brood that the light at the end of a tunnel is likely an oncoming train and it’s usually the Hell Express (really, I use that exact same expression). Must be our mutual parochial education. We had the Sisters of St. Joseph. You remember him, the patron saint of children’s headaches?


        • I learned that fact of life about the Hell Express from being a connoisseur of Looney Toons. Yes, I do remember that patron saint of children’s headache but my mother started me early on a Bayer aspirin regimen. I suspect my tendency to suffer crisis after crisis gave her the impression that I was driving on a one-way street heading for Coronary-ville. This started around age six.


  5. This really does look like a fun store, and I would definitely fall for some funny money on the ground. I agree, it very well could have been that song, but why?!? I’m not sure I’ve ever had a day so horrific that it would cause me to take my rage out on a Balloon Saloon though, so I guess I should count myself lucky.


    • Yes, I have yet to experience a personal meltdown on the pavement, and I’m quite okay with keeping it that way. Life is too short and I am, too, come to think of it. Always needing someone taller to grab stuff off the higher shelf forces one to cultivate a degree of etiquette.


  6. First of all, V, be very careful writing about holes, Weebs is back! Secondly, I knew you were a rock star when you so ably improvised. I mean, Danish Pastry and The New Yorker cartoons is a fine substitute. And who knows, maybe the tragedy was just an act of Mother Nature?


  7. I am glad that you came back from standing on the existential edge of the abyss. Who knew so much angst could be brought on by funny money and yet I would have been on my hands and knees picking up nature’s tear-stained remains…
    Go Danish Pastry! Woohoo! I have been eating left-over chocolate sheet cake. I know. It’s not quite the same…
    You are so funny!


    • My company’s production manager gave my department donuts this morning, so once again, it’s back to philosophizing Homer Simpson-style over here i.e, I’m completely back from standing flat-footed on the existential edge of the abyss. In fact, I’m feeling pretty “D’oh!” again.


  8. Even if the Balloon Saloon is self-elected the Most Fun Store, they look like a great candidate. It’s interesting that when you feel deflated you want to read Danish philosophers, but I am glad you didn’t have to in the end, because that sounds terrible.


  9. Somehow the balloon salloon looks like a wretched place to me. You’d have to pay me more than even a real $20 to shop there. But glad to hear your faith in the human race has been restored.

    Me? Our lawn mower is broken. Our grass keeps growing. I wishing I lived in a concrete jungle about now. This mowing thing is for the birds.

    Sorry, V. I’m in a mood this morning. Your humor, as always, helps, however! Thanks, my friend! Greetings to you and the gang at The Grind.



    • Wow, a busted lawn mower has brought out the crank in usually cheerful you Kathy! I love it! I think one week in the concrete jungle will make you re-appreciate Lexington. Maybe even one hour of smelling this place will do it for you. I was hit with a whiff of urine this morning that was so powerful it easily rivaled a fourth world latrine — and I had no idea where it came from. It seemed airborne. Then, I inhaled a fragrance some woman was wearing that was like an intoxicating love potion. Again, I wasn’t sure where that was coming from, either. The Big Apple is both a city that never sleeps and always smells.


  10. “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward”—HA, but Mr. Kierkegaard never met you, Lame-O, and if he weren’t alrwady dead, he’d die laughing if he did (meet or read you)!


  11. I remember those fake 20s very very well. It took me a while not to react every time I saw one. Those little bastards.


  12. Ditto Mike G. Riding the hell express and you have to stand the whole way. Figures, doesn’t it? At least the happy ending to this story was one of the happy stops along the way. And, would Kierkegaard die laughing, or …


  13. Okay, I admit it. It was me. I knocked over the bowl, and then stamped all the soggy money into the ground. DOWN with funny money!

    I don’t recognize that maybe song, thank goodness. “Friday” was bad enough. That could cause a rage in someone, I think.

    Also: if this is a toy store, why would they put “saloon” in the title? Do they sell toy booze also? Cause that would be great.


  14. Why doesn’t that store exist near me? That store is awesome.


    • Mike, when you visit New York City, you’ll know what site to really see. Unlike the Empire State Building, you won’t need to dodge bullets at Balloon Saloon, but you might want to have quick reflexes around the flying Funny Money bowl.


  15. The fake 20 is a pretty good trick. And you might not have to go back in time four decades to fool your brother. Back in college, somebody glued a quarter to the sidewalk outside the cafeteria. You’ve seen that trick. I fell for it. No shame in that, right?
    I fell for it three days in a row. That’s probably when I decided I wouldn’t be one of America’s future leaders.


  16. Crazy Crayola protected…hahaha…you crack me up. 😛 Great post V.


  17. LA, I hate to see something I know in that kind of state. It doesn’t matter how it happened, I always wonder why… and then usually jump to the conclusion that somebody did it. Luckily, everything is back to normal at the Balloon Saloon so order has been restored. I wouldn’t have slept otherwise…


    • When a familiar site appears violated, even an inanimate object, but an inanimate object that is assigned to personify goofy good cheer, it was a rather disturbing sight to see … Although if I had trouble sleeping that night it was more due to living in a pad as hot as the wheels on the Hell Express in what was an oppressively humid summer. If NYC humidity has an initial meeting place, I’m quite sure it has been my garret.


  18. Is that cowboy guy real? I want him to be real. In fact I voted him the most real fake cowboy guy in front of a balloon store.


  19. mmmm…Danish…Coopers Apple Turnoverssss!!!!!!


  20. Ha! What a fun post. I love it. I love that business card. It would have totally made me laugh. And seeing the bowl on the floor like that would have pissed me off something awful. Sometimes people do get crazy with that call me maybe song and yes mother nature is a crazy bitch. But I’m glad the bowl made a comeback the next day.


  21. Lots of grins with this post. Meanwhile, being poorly acquainted with NYC, I’m sure quite the tour could be put together with unique/fun stores.


  22. That is one clever gimmick, Lameadventures.

    I hope the Danish pastry helped.


  23. Lame,
    Balloon Saloon should start thinking about going virtual, and stop printing fake money… Is it just me, but with your posts about “trees being decorated with plastic bags”, New Yorkers and trees aren’t BFF?
    Also, and this is unrelated, I was watching Project Runway last night – yes, I was sober – and Tim Gunn referred to Time Square as the centre of the universe. Is that so?
    Le Clown


    • Balloon Saloon stop printing fake money! Quel horreur!

      The New York passion for tree bagging remains.

      Times Square might be the center of Tim Gunn’s universe, but the Upper West Side is mine (with Tribeca coming in second considering how much time I spend down here).


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