Thursday, November 10, 2005

date night ala Top of the Rock-efeller, Jimmy's Corner, Stoned Crow

.....When I first moved to NY, I swore that I would go to the Empire State Building viewing deck at least once a month, that's how much I love the lofty views. Any lofty view. All lofty views. It took just two tourist-swarmed, standing-standing-standing-in-line, Disneyland-like two-hour waits each time to pretty much convince me that if I made it up the ESB more than once every two years, that'd be more than enough.
.....And then [drum roll please] ... Rockefeller Center reopened it's observation deck [insert angels singing here] - and being one to combine multiple pleasures, I took Esra there for a little surprise-date-night city viewing. (re)Opened a mere two weeks ago, it's 67 stories of midtown goodness, with another three floors of verticality for the observation decks (yes, "decks" plural - as in 'tiered decks', the top deck not requiring your usual suicide-jumper-security since the tiered genius of it all means that if you jumped from the top-most level, you'd probably just break a leg on next observation level down). Since Rockefeller Center sits so close to Central Park, it stands as a Northern book end for the tall building bookshelf that is Manhattan and affords a tourists-dream view of: first, all the tall midtown buildings south, then the valley of relatively "short" residential buildings in between midtown and downtown (yes, 6 to 17 story buildings are "short" in Manhattan) and then finally downtown - which seems to be so far off in the distance you'd swear it was the large city center of a completely separate city. - And that's just the view South. Due North is Central Park which sadly never looks even 1/3rd as nice at night as it does during the day - though the buildings that rim the park make for an excellent light framed blacker-than-blackness smack dab in the middle of light central, NYC. To the West is the Hudson river with beautiful New Jersey beyond (NJ looks 2/3rd MORE beautiful at night) and Times Square to the Southwest, though a lot of buildings end up blocking most of the disorienting, overstimulation-effect you get from the ground in Times Sq. To the East are residential high-rises and what are obviously the Park Avenue headquarters of corporate giants just to the north of the MetLife and Chrysler Buildings and beyond that to the East, the outer boroughs. Which, I've heard recently, people even visit from time to time. Needless to say, it's a LOT to look at. And look at. And look some more at. And... ok, it's been almost an hour, how much more looking could we possibly do? Answer? 20 minutes more.
.....Oh. I'd be doing the experience a major injustice if I didn't mention the annoyingly sweet and nice and friendly and far-too-numerous employees of the Top of the Rock. Good god people, unless your manager is standing right next to you, save the enthusiasm for large tourist groups or for when the tourist-guide-book people come around. Also, try scheduling the amount of employees present to be somewhat appropriate for the number of visitors. Granted, they just opened so perhaps they wanted to acclimate to the NY tourist scene and provide some far too uncommon customer service in a city that barely recognizes those words but when you have 6 cashiers to take our money and then two people to guide us to the "pre"elevator that took us to the waiting-for-the-real-elevators-milling-area (where there were 10 employees) and then once atop "The Top" you see 6 security guards, 7 gift shop attendants, 9 question-and-answer agents and maybe just 4 elevator-line-control-agents... well, perhaps you were a little aggressive with your employee work shift planning. I'm not complaining - I suppose I'd rather have over-niceness than over-rudeness and the view just sort of makes you forget about all the other b.s. anyway. Oh. Also very worthy of mention is the glass ceilinged elevators that let you watch the super disco lighting glamming out the elevator shaft on the rides and and down - it's just a few techno beats short a Disney-fied rave experience - but fun, nonetheless.
.....What better way to follow up a NY landmark than Jimmy's Corner? Owned and operated by Muhammed Ali's former boxing manager Jimmy Glenn, it's a 10 foot wide by 60 foot long shrine to all things 'boxing'. And drinking of course, it IS a bar. A bar with regulars and no heaping helping of tourists - a true rarity, being that it's half a block off of Times Square. Before you say anything, let me say that Esra took ME there, not the other way around. What I thought was a complete non-sequiter ("hey, we should go to this bar I know, it's just a few blocks away" and then 3 minutes later "do you... follow boxing? do you like boxing?" (me: "what?? where did that come from?)) - turned into another hungry-eyed, detail-absorbing, NY-quintessence-living, almost goosebump-inducing thrill of being square in the middle of history, of stumbling into what boxers must surely consider hallowed ground - the sanctity of the place alive in each and every one of what must be a hundred signed photos lining the walls. Those who ponied up at the altar of the man who'd set sail a dozen or more boxing legends seemed aware of Jimmy's moment in the sun, but they'd also showed signs of time in the sun as well, granted, I mean that literally - I'm still trying to decide if the lady mid-bar had her facial skin replaced by cowhide. But I digress, as you know I love to do.
.....From Jimmy's, we headed through Times Square to either catch a cab or take the subway, and deciding on which to do, we got to play the game that's played everywhere but seems to be most fun in NY. I'm talking of course about the "subway-vs-cab which-to-take standoff game" which everyone knows the rules to, but I'll explain anyway: person A & B need to get to location X, person A wants to take a cab, person B either gives a disinterested "eh" look or actually says "I'm fine taking the subway", person A then has the choice of saving some money by taking the subway OR if they're really set on taking a cab, utters the delicious words "let's take a cab, I'll pay" - Win / Win, right there. Person A gets their cab ride, Person B gets a free cab ride. The "standoff" part comes when Person A backs down from wanting to take a cab and says "ok" to the subway - Person B then has the option of changing their mind and saying "ahh, what the hell, let's split a cab" - again, Win / Win. Persons A & B get to location X via cab a few minutes quicker than the subway would have taken them. The boring but responsible outcome for the standoff game is that Persons A & B agree to save money by taking the subway. Still, win / win ... just with lowercase W's. --Captain of digression, reporting for duty!! Ok, So we play the standoff game and Esra wins... well... win/win and we opt for a cab - which, I realize, we are trying to flag down from the middle of Times Square. My oh-god-I-look-like-a-tourist senses heighten and I have to check myself to make sure I dont look like one of them. Aire of cool restored, we finally flag one down at 42nd and head back to the West Village for a night cap at my neighborhood bar, the Stoned Crow.
.....Digression Alert: Do people still say "night cap"? Is it just a cheesy lure for one night stands in bad hollywood romance flicks these days? Is there any way to restore the classiness of "night cap"? No? Good. I'm going to start using it All The Time then.
.....So... let's see... a drink at the Stoned Crow, a silly game of video bar trivia... sadly, no bar popcorn (the Stoned Crow used to have thee best bar popcorn ever, no really) since they brought back their kitchen annnnd... what else? a quick stroll back to my place ended a wonderful evening. Well "ended" as far as you need to know at least - No, I'm not going into any detail there and Yes, I'm sorry for sorta partially implying details there. Need I remind you that this IS my journal and I reserve the right to traumatize you as I see fit?
....Doh - none of the disposable-camera-pictures from the Top of the Rock showed any city detail... imagine that? I know, I know... I'll get a real digital camera someday. I'm waiting for the 7 megapixel cameraphones to enter the US market (they've been available in Asia for a year now) or the Nokia N91 2 megapixel phones with 4 gigabytes of music storage. (all together now) "but I digress" .... here's the pics...

Isn't the Top of the Rock beautiful?? I should be an Associate Press photojournalist, huh?

I like this photo. again, it could be anywhere.

Another nice one, I suppose.

must... learn... basics.. of ... flash.. photography. still, I think it turned out pretty damn cool.

wind blown, but where? this could be anywhere.

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