Tag Archives: times square

Lame Adventure 340: Up On the Roof In Times Square

If there is one place in New York City where I guarantee I will never be found as long as I am breathing, it is Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  Being there at that time on that day has less appeal to me than playing slip and slide over hot coals while naked. There are certain situations that I feel so strongly negative about and this is one that scores sky high on my hole in the bucket list, right under how much I loathe clichés like bucket lists.

I am not a list-er and I prefer to blather about what I’ve done after I’ve done it.  Whenever people are compelled to yammer at me about what they intend to do – take a class, write a novel, throw a party, shoot an arrow, whack a mole, whatever it is that is so important at that moment, my eyes glaze over.  If you’re compelled to do something, I say:

Me:  Great.  Do it.  Tell me about it when it’s an actual thing and not air-infused pontification that is about as likely to happen as world peace by next Tuesday.

Earlier this week I happened to be in Times Square with my bud and fellow blogger, Natasia, who writes Hot Femme in the City.  Last month she had suffered a ferocious cold accompanied by one of those coughs that sounded similar to a phlegm-filled foghorn.  She was very bummed that her illness prevented her from attending an outdoor screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark in Bryant Park with her colleagues.  Factoid-on-feet-me told her that this film was going to open for a week in September in IMAX theaters in conjunction with its release on Blu-ray DVD.

When that week rolls around, Tas and I make a beeline for a screening after we left our respective grinds for the AMC 25, the IMAX theater in Times Square.  We were joining the minor masses i.e., it was not a horde of rabid theatergoers, eager to catch this classic popcorn flick first released in 1981.

We arrived an hour early.  We didn’t have enough time to head over to any of our preferred watering holes in the area. It was also premature to start stuffing ourselves with a trough of popcorn so heavily salted I am certain that I have fulfilled my sodium requirement for the remainder of the month or possibly the rest of my life since that infusion of salt could result in me succumbing to a massive stroke by the weekend.  So, what to do with forty minutes to kill?  We hightailed up to the roof.

This multiplex theater’s rooftop is not the most romantic in New York City so it is probably not a go-to place for a proposal unless the proposal is, “How long is the movie?  Should we hit the bathroom before hand or what?”

Couple on lower level AMC 25 rooftop, not exactly Hollywood romance surroundings.

Great place to propose bathroom break strategy.

Although this hidden rooftop oasis is essentially industrial strength viewing, it does offer a unique perspective on this world famous area that’s also tourist and crowd-free. Apparently it’s also a welcome place to eat sunflower seeds.

Sunflower seed detritus or possibly evidence of a visit from a Yankee or Met.

Check out the other sights.

Madame Tussaud’s mitt up close and personal.

Thomson Reuters headquarters building.

The Thomson Reuters building is also known as 3 Times Square.  As interesting as seeing Madame Tussaud’s well manicured hand, we were far more captivated seeing the Times Square Ball in the off-season.

The Times Square Ball mid-pole in September. The colors gradually change.

Times Square Ball changing to lighter color.

Times Square Ball closer.

Times Square Ball in bolder colors.

We were hypnotized as we watched the Times Square Ball, but then I started to bark like a seal and we regained our senses.

The Paramount Building.

The Paramount Building is also known as 1501 Broadway.  At the time we were looking at it, Tas guessed that it was Big Ben.

The view looking west down 42nd Street.

A ship sailing the Hudson with New Jersey in the background.

Hotel Carter.

The Hotel Carter, which opened in 1930, has a reputation for being ranked the dirtiest hotel in America for four years running.

The Westin Times Square.

For tourists that would like to avoid bedbugs, the Westin Times Square might be an infinitely more attractive alternative.

The Westin even has a pretty reflection.

One Astor Plaza.

One Astor Plaza is home to Viacom’s headquarters and MTV’s New York studios.

The Times Square Building and the former home of The New York Times.

“Hey Tas, let’s go back inside! Don’t bring the stranger!”

Dinner comprised of salt, popcorn and 37 napkins.

As for the film, it holds up well — if you ignore the boulder-sized hole in the plot of the Nazis being completely oblivious to Indy’s archaeological dig taking place right in front of their faces.

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Lame Adventure 311: Not Another Day at the Office

I am one of those horrible Americans that does not put much thought into the meaning of any holiday aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Turkey Day is when I overstuff myself with fixings and fowl with my pal, Martini Max, and his family.  Christmas is that time of year when I play freeloader with my own family on the West Coast.  The rest of the holidays I’m here in New York so that means I’m busy with my other preferred activities, sleeping in, not doing much and taking a break from my usual dull breakfast at The Grind.

Squares and blueberries. Not quite the dullest breakfast ever but in that neighborhood.

My Memorial Day weekend started with getting released from The Grind early so I pounded a few brews with my sidekick, Greg, and it will end tonight when I pound more liquid joy with my bud, Milton.  Greg and I had private Greg and I talk including some shared observations about the anatomy of fellow patrons, his frustration that the men’s room line was so long, and why did two guys exit together?  Our shared silence about that was our answer.  Any mention of the armed forces was not on our radar.  It’s possible that Milton might mention how much he adores men in uniform passing through town since it’s Fleet Week out here.  That’s one way of paying tribute to the soldiers serving overseas on our behalf.

Last year when I was in Times Square to purchase theater tickets for Milton and I to a play, I saw three Marines, two men and a woman.  They were young officers and seemed rather genial so I sniffed the scent of camaraderie.  I liked that.  They had a theater ticket discount and were trying to purchase tickets to a musical that was not sold out and available for the time they wanted, but there was some problem so they were denied seats.  I felt outraged.  I did nothing about it other than I called Milton and groused.  He shared my outrage.

The way we see it, you go someplace halfway around the world, you risk your life for God knows what, and then you get a pass to hang out in The Big Apple for a few days before returning to the danger zone where you might end up maimed or dead, you rate perks.  Even if I have questions about the validity of the wars we’ve been fighting or fought, people willing to participate in them are okay with me.  When they’re in my town, if they want to see dancing and hear singing, let them and let them have a great dinner, too, on my tax dollar.

While I was in Times Square this weekend, the Marines were conducting demonstrations as a recruiting tool.  I took pictures but didn’t ask questions.  I hope these troops at least got paid overtime.

Real Big Truck.

Marine climbing out of Real Big Truck. I’d probably sprain an ankle doing this.

Big Long Hunk of Many Wheels (probably what the Pentagon calls this vehicle, too).

Looking down the snout of the Big Long Hunk of Many Wheels.

Snout of Big Long Hunk of Many Wheels I nearly walked into. That would have hurt.

Hummer.

Marines setting up show and tell in Duffy Square.

Seeing rocket launchers in Times Square is a bit surreal.

Uncle Mickey Sam aka it must be hot as hell in there.

Lame Adventure 163: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a Mini Countryman!

Saturday afternoon, I was running an errand in windblown Times Square, a place I consider a glaring monument to slow-moving tourists and sensory assaulting advertising that I generally loathe.  After completing my task, as I was walking east on 42nd Street toward Broadway, I noticed a very eye-catching billboard advertising the new Mini Countryman.  The vehicle on that billboard is a full-size fiberglass replica of the actual car.  I slammed on my own brakes, whipped out my camera and took a picture.

Mounted with gallons of Gorilla Glue.

Okay, that’s a very cool billboard.

Apparently the snow-capped panels encircle the block.  I found out later that there’s a second Mini Countryman in blue on the other side.

That’s even cooler.

I debated returning and shooting more pictures, but I hate Times Square a little less that the thought of finding myself growing a tumor.  Plus, I have a quibble with the billboard.  If Mini’s goal is full-on ostentation, go full on!  I am sure they’ve spent the equivalent of a small nation’s GDP on that display.

Therefore, what would be coolest of all is if both vehicles perpetually drove around the block of billboards.  Of course that might further slow down traffic and increase the cluster of tourists clogging the already crowded streets.

Definitely not cool.

Lame Adventure 136: Classical music hangover

Although I generally avoid classical music and I am not much of a fan of ballet, there are exceptions.  For example, when Albee and I saw Darren Aronofsky’s sensational new film, Black Swan, I realized that I am not only familiar with Tchaikovsky’s score, but I like it very much.  Since I am essentially a classical music ignoramus, I will admit that when I heard the score to Swan Lake in the film, I had a daylight moment and thought to myself, “Oh, so that’s Swan Lake!”  I would not have had the same dunderheaded response to any classic rock song on the Rolling Stones’ Exiles on Main Street, a recording I know well almost from the day of its release.

Move over Natalie Portman, here's NYC's living statue ballerina, Therisa Barber, standing still for hours in the Times Square subway station, unintentionally pursuing sponsorship from Aleve.

Recently, I volunteer ushered an Obie-award winning show called Three Pianos that’s currently in previews at the New York Theater Workshop.  The New York Times aptly refers to this unique production based on composer Franz Schubert’s depressing 24-song cycle Winterreise as “a rowdy mash note to Schubert.”  This mostly dreary song cycle by itself might make one want to stick his or her head in the oven, nor did I find any of it recognizable as I did Tchaikovsky.  Fortunately, the energetic trio that are the masterminds behind and in front of this production — the creators, Rick Burkhardt, Alec Duffy, and Dave Malloy are also the cast, do their best to discourage audience casualties.  What they do is they start pouring wine for theatergoers as soon as they enter the auditorium.

The intention of this boisterous, high-energy production is to make the audience feel like they’re watching an informal Schubertiade (an event celebrating Schubert’s music).  Even for those that do not share the cast’s deep affinity for this 19th Century Viennese composer, it’s very easy to acquire at least a little buzz in exchange for showing up and sticking around.  At the conclusion, I noticed that many members of the audience exited smiling, and a few seemed to have the wobbles.

If you’re someone closed off to the idiosyncrasies of unconventional theater and you do not have any affinity for classical music whatsoever, you might still race for the exits on this one.  That was exactly what one of my fellow ushers, M, did.  In the two years that I’ve volunteer ushered several off-Broadway plays, I’ve never been in a situation where my co-usher walked out.  I did not know what to think, but I recalled that she had no problem pounding three glasses of wine she declared was not very good before the show started.  Therefore, when she took off, I initially thought that possibly she had escaped to vomit.  Yet, she not only seemed perfectly sober, but completely appalled, when we both noticed an audience member, Happy Man, a burly bearded fellow who was feeling immense joie de vivre, forgo the plastic cup he received upon entering the theater lobby, to drink his complimentary wine straight from the bottle.  Terra Fossil Wines, you have at least one ardent fan.

M returned to participate in the clean up.  She explained to me, “I couldn’t take it anymore.”  She said she left to take a walk.  I presume that the sounds of Schubert were not playing on the iPod in her head, but I resisted asking.

Schubert lives in the NYTW!

Lame Adventure 42: Apple Shenanigans

As tempting as it is for me to opine about the car bomb that luckily failed to detonate in the heart of Times Square’s theater district on Saturday – thanks to the T-shirt vendor of the year seeing something and saying something – and as much as I wonder if this impotent explosive device was planted by a home grown lunatic or was it courtesy of the rifle-toting bearded guys in ankle length shirts that hate our guts and sleep together in caves, well, I’m not going to participate in that discussion here in Lame Adventures, a forum devoted to the silly in the mundane.  I would like to discuss the literally rotten apple that crossed my path on Sunday here in the Big Apple.

After doing my usual daily grocery shopping, I return home and as I am putting my purchases away, I notice that one of my Macoun apples is moist.  As it turns out, the apple is perfect on one side – the side that drew me like metal to magnet, and rotting mush on the other.  I debate what to do, take the time to return it, or just be philosophical about it.  Hey, sometimes it’s just your turn to purchase The Rotten Apple.

Then, I take some photographs.

The Mona Lisa side.

The Wicked Witch of the West side.

After the photo shoot with The Rotten Apple, I decide, “What’s the worse that can happen if I try to return it? Do I look like an apple thief? I’m small, pale, bespectacled, and equipped with a store receipt declaring I purchased The Rotten Apple minutes earlier.”  There’s always a window of time when a purchase goes awry.

For example, last year Milton and I had a Broadway theater ticket snafu.  Broadway’s iron-clad no returns no exchanges policy does have a few hours of wriggle room if you happen to buy your tickets at the theater box office and the ticket seller you purchased your wrong tickets from is still working at that window.  Milton and I encountered this exact situation when we got the wrong seats to Neil LaBute’s Reasons to be Pretty.  Fortunately, the ticket seller remembered us.  She probably thought, “Those two nerds.”  Actually, she was quite considerate.  I recall that she even blamed herself for my inability to correctly read our seat numbers, and was kind enough to take back the tickets in exchange for the seats we wanted in the first place.  I am not suggesting that anyone reading this post purposely screw up a theater ticket purchase to try out this brief window of time theory, but in legitimate cases where you come across as desperate, subservient, and so repentant you appear ready to journey to Lourdes, Broadway ticket sellers do have the capacity to take pity on theater loving fools.

Back to the situation with The Rotten Apple, I venture up the street to my market carrying The Rotten Apple in a bag, and enter through the out door since it’s closest to where the store manager hovers.  Just as I am about to approach him, Shavone, one of my favorite cashiers, calls out to me.

Shavone:  Hey!

Me:  Hey Shavone!

Shavone sees my bag.

Shavone:  You returning something?

Since her station is uncharacteristically empty, I approach.

Me (holding up my bag for emphasis):  Yeah, I bought a rotten apple by mistake.

Shavone:  You have to go upstairs to Customer Service on the second floor to make a return.  They won’t give you a refund down here.

Me:  I don’t want my money back.  I want another apple.  Do you think I can get another apple and make an exchange?

Shavone:  Probably.  Go upstairs and talk to them about it.

Before going upstairs, I grab another comparably sized apple, make sure this one shows no signs of rot, and hightail up to the second floor.   There, I encounter the Customer Service worker who reminds me of myself at work, someone bored beyond belief.

Me:  Hi.

Customer Service (rousing):  Hi.

Me:  I bought a rotten apple by mistake this morning.  I’d like to exchange it for this one.

I show her both The Rotten Apple and the un-rotten apple of my dreams.

Customer Service:  You have a receipt?

Me:  Yeah.

I hand the Customer Service worker my receipt.  She glances at it, hands it back to me, and then takes my rotten apple.

Customer Service:  Okay.

I then hightail downstairs equipped with my un-rotten apple, make a bee-line for Shavone’s register and purchase a six-pack of bottled water.  The woman in front of me in line is making the same purchase.  She notices.

Woman in Front of Me:  Looks like everyone’s buying water today.

Shavone:  It is hot out here.

Me (resenting being equated with everyone thinking):  Thank you.

Me (what I say): ________ (I keep my pie hole shut.)

Shavone completes the transaction with the Woman in Front of Me, the leader in bottle water purchasers.  It’s now my turn.

Shavone:  They take care of you upstairs?

Me:  Yeah, I got a new apple.

Shavone:  Good.

Shavone's trademark nails -- all real -- and she can work a register like a magician with them!