New York Idiot.

On Sunday, I did two things I've never done before. One, I went to New York City of my own free will, and had a ton of fun. Yes, every other time I've ever been there has been because some company that I worked for, or wanted to work for, made me go there. Two, I saw a Broadway show.

I am definitely not a city person. It's just not for me. You can talk to me about "culture" until you expel the last of the smog-tainted air from your lungs, and I may even agree to a point, but my rebuttal to you is that they should move that shit somewhere else.

Suppose someone told you that their dog just swallowed a handful of two-carat diamonds, and if you get them back you can keep them. You just resign yourself to the fact that (a) you're going to be up to your elbows in crap sometime in the next couple of days, and (b) it'll be totally worth it. New York City is sort of like that for me. I dig the idea of museums and art galleries and the theaters, but there is no way I could live there. I think if I had to listen to that noise and deal with the people and smell those horrible, disgusting smells for more than a day or two I would climb to the top of some building (no doubt garishly lit with scrolling LEDs) and jump to my blinking, wildly illuminated death.

There is one good thing about going to NYC in the winter and here it is: Frozen garbage juice doesn't smell. Neither does frozen urine when it comes down to it. In contrast, I've been there in July when it rained, and the reconstituted garbage juice stench was enough to make me gag.

Our friends were taking us to see American Idiot, so we took the train down and they met us at Penn Station. They are much more familiar with the city than we are, which is a good thing. We grabbed lunch, and stopped at B&H Photo for a bit, mostly just because it was bitterly cold out and we needed to duck in somewhere to thaw out, but it was a huge place and pretty cool inside.

I do have a question for all you city-folk, though. WTF is up with all the loogies on the sidewalk? Who spits on the sidewalk? I haven't seen that much mucus since I had the flu. I was constantly dodging small piles of slimy green stuff. I looked like Fred Astaire, and I seriously wanted to burn my boots. At least the loogies were frozen. Every time I inadvertently stepped on one, I kept telling myself that. It didn't really help.

The show itself was interesting. I walked in not at all knowing what to expect. I think a lot of other people didn't know what to expect either, since there were quite a few young kids in the audience. For instance, I don't think the mother of the two pre-teen girls sitting next to us was really prepared for the rampant heroin use. I'm betting she was probably not too pleased with the four-minute simulated hump-fest on the dirty mattress either, but as the saying goes, when you're in for a penny, you're in for a simulated pound.

The music was great and some of the performers had awesome voices. The reason we wanted to go when we did is because the lead singer of Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong, was playing the part of St. Jimmy for a limited number of dates. Of course, he sang the shit out of his own songs.

The building was ridiculously old, and the seats were ridiculously small. When I say small, I mean small even for me, and I weigh about 145 lbs soaking wet. Have you ever sat in one of those student desks from grade school? That's what this was like. If you were over 5' 11" and weighed more than 200 lbs, you were going to be watching this show standing up. Either that, or after ten minutes of sitting, you'd never stand up again.

It was cool to hear all the tunes in the context of a "play" but from what I could see, it was a pretty loose interpretation of anything that involved an actual plot. Maybe that's normal for a stage musical, I don't know. I'm still not really sure what the hell it was that I watched, or what it was supposed to mean. Basically, the premise seemed to be that a group of fucked-up friends take vastly different paths in life but eventually manage to not die and end up, if not exactly normal, at least relatively ok. Of course, it could be I'm missing something, since I'm new at this. I've had the CD for a while, and I've listened to it on and off since it came out, but I've never really noticed an over-arching theme or anything.

At any rate, it was an interesting experience, and I'm glad I went. I really enjoyed it. The company was great and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. After the show we had some time to kill before dinner, so we sat at a bar overlooking times square and had a few drinks. I had a giant grey goose martini, and it was glorious.

Where else could a self-proclaimed anti-establishment punk have a show on Broadway? You don't see that sort of thing every day. And this?

A giant "Catch VD" advertisement right next to a high definition Disney screen. Turns out it's for Vampire Diaries, but still, a great juxtaposition.

The train ride home? Sucked. It had to be 95 degrees in the train, which I guess is better than it being too cold, but it was like a sauna. I fell asleep and only woke up when I noticed that the train was no longer moving. At first I thought, "Oh, no big deal, we're letting people on or off," but then after waking up a second time to the same sense of non-motion, I figured something was up. Turns out it was so cold out that the air brakes on the train froze. So we were stranded while they tried to thaw them out, and there really wasn't much I could bitch about, because while I wanted the train to reach Albany as soon as possible, I also wanted it to stop in Albany.

We were only about 20 miles out but it might as well have been 200. Finally, they did something that I am pretty sure involved a mob of villagers with torches and the brakes were free. We started moving, but only at about 30 miles per hour, just in case the brakes decided to freeze open instead of closed. About a half hour later, we limped into Albany and probably coasted to a stop.

At least our car started when we got to the station. An hour later, we were home. The next day, all the trains were canceled, so our luck wasn't too bad, considering.

So yeah. I saw a Broadway show. Yay, me. Any other suggestions on what I should see down there? I'm all ears.


  1. I hear there's a really big ball of twine in Kansas.

  2. Slager11:03 PM

    If I lived so close to New York City, I'd go see "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson". But that's just me.

  3. I think you would have a much better NYC experience if you stayed the hell away from midtown. Go to Chelsea, or Tribeca. Take the subway to Brooklyn and walk back to Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge. Take the free Staten Island Ferry for an awesome view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Go for a sail on one of these boats: http://www.sail-nyc.com/. Then go have a cocktail at the Brandy Library: http://www.brandylibrary.com/. There is a whole other side of NYC than the one you have subjected yourself to.

  4. I have been to NYC exactly twice in my life and I have found the experience to be similar to yours. I'm not sure that I've been to a place that is more dirty, smelly or noisy! I appreciate what Robin has said about more interesting perspectives of the city, but I'm sure that most tourists have limited time (or inclination) to explore them. From my perspective I think I like the idea of city life with all of its cultural attractions, but I'm pretty sure that I would miss the natural attractions that life in suburbia now gives me.

    So I have no advice for you on what you should see. And I mean no offense to city dwellers when I say that I think you're better off in the Adirondacks.

  5. The Morgan Library, Central Park, Brooklyn's Greenwood Cemetery and Prospect Pk., St. John the Divine Cathedral, The Strand bookstore, Chelsea, the Bowery, Madison Sq., 19th St., the High Line, the Guggenheim, Battery Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the main post office (right across the street from Penn Stn.), Grand Central Station, MOMA, NY Public Library, the Frick....

  6. Anonymous11:07 AM

    Check out Zoomdoggle's NYC Fun List:
    We downloaded it before our last trip to the city and it took us to several attractions we didn't know about, including Dylan's Candy Bar, the High Line, and the exhibit of the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals at the public library. We plan to catch the Museum of Sex, the New York Jedi classes, and the NYC Police Museum on a future trip. I also strongly recommend the culinary tours given by the Enthusiastic Gourmet:
    Three hours, lots of walking, lots of food, for a great price. I now know lots of great, non-tourist-trap places to eat in the Lower East Side and a lot more about the history as well. It's worth braving both smells and loogies!

  7. kristina1:13 PM

    Sounds like you had a good time on Broadway, despite the frozen loogies.

    I have no idea what to do in NY, as I've never been there, nor do I have any desire to go. The biggest city I've been to is Seattle, and that was too big for me.

    Now wasn't I helpful? Aren't you glad I commmented? ;)

  8. We're going in May to see my mom perform at Carnegie Hall, so while we're staying in Midtown, I want to see other things too. So thanks for calling for suggestions! Was the show good enough that it would be worth seeing even without the Green Day guy (assuming it's still running then)?

  9. You can tell a lot about the health of a city by the number of loogies on the sidewalk.

    And their taste.

    Save that for next visit.

  10. Last time I was in NYC, I saw 2000 women there for BlogHer. Wait, so was I!
    I also saw a ton of bars from the inside, because I went early and hung out with my friend from highschool who lives in The Village. I didn't sleep much, and I had trouble putting together coherent thoughts for a couple days after I got home. I live in the city in Atlanta, so I kinda dig all the stinkyness of being in an urban environment. But mostly, I like all the bars.

  11. Carlo9:14 PM

    "when you're in for a dollar, you're in for a simulated pound."

    Had me laughing my ass off, JV!

    I agree with Robin-- stay out of Midtown, and concentrate on the swath across lower Manhattan that stretches from the Meatpacking District through Chelsea, The Village, and the Lower East Side. You'll also hit Little Italy and Chinatown along the way. Lots of fantastic food, great bars (Pegu Club comes to mind), and outstanding clubs, especially if you like jazz and blues. The loogie count is definitely lower downtown! Plus, the lights are much brighter there. You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares...

  12. khriscinda9:25 PM

    I saw a billboard for that show when we were in NY in October. My Dad's bday fell on 10/10/10 so my stepmom wanted to do something special for it but not with out their grandkids. So we got a trip to NYC and our first broadway play out of it. We saw Mary Poppins on his bday, then went to the R Lounge (over looking Times Square) for his bday dinner. We also took a boat tour to see the Statue of Liberty and also a limo ride thru the city. That was mine and my kids first time to NY. Naturally seeing the Statue of Liberty with our own eyes was the highlight of the trip. Their favorite places were the Hershey and M&M stores. Mine was being Times Square in person.

  13. In 1988, I was a chaperone on a student tour - 6 weeks around the US and eastern Canada on two busses and two vans with 106 teenagers their parents were willing to pay handsomely to be rid of for that month and a half. One of our stops was NYC. I'm not sure if I hate NY because of the kids, who were doing EVERYTHING in their power to assure I'd never want any of my own, or because it was so noisy and dirty and crowded. It was late July, so it was also hot, and humid, and the smell factor was off the charts. I was never so glad to get anywhere as I was when we headed up to Rye. Keep the culture, the musicals will end up at the Pantages in Hollywood eventually.

  14. Oi. Don't particularly have an opinion about what you see, although South Pacific is a total classic and is currently my husband's favorite show, but next time you better freaking let me know!! I'm only 45 minutes away from the city and could totally make the trip in to have dinner with you and your lovely wife!!


  15. I had no idea you were that close to the city!

  16. Kathy, I often wondered how they kept that from disintegrating.

    Slager, that sounds promising.

    Robin, you are probably right...but walking across a bridge? Sounds like something I'd only want to do if my car broke down and I had to. Or unless for some reason there were no cars on it. Library looks cool though. I did climb the Statue of Liberty as a kid.

    Jen, I'm with you. I think you almost have to live there for a while to really appreciate it.

    YFA, I am calling you next time to show us around.

    Sarah, that's a good list, thanks.

    Kristina, I kind of like Boston.

    KC, I think I would have preferred an actual concert, but there were good renditions of songs from the CD. Even without him, I think it would be a decent show if you like musicals. It was good.

    Ed, I'm bringing a spatula and a mason jar next time. Send me your address. I'll be interested to hear your opinion of the city's health.

    Muskrat, I can see that. The bar part, not the 2000 women part. Why were you there again?

    Carlo, the place we ate dinner was in the meatpacking district. It was great.

    Khris, that's sort of the way I feel about it. Nice to do once or twice, like a trip to Vegas.

    Buck, that sounds like hell on earth. Did you lose any kids?

  17. Anonymous2:06 PM

    I sent my (adult) kids to see "Bloody,Bloody Andrew Jackson". Both the seasoned theater professional and the NYC novice loved it.

  18. When you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge you are on a platform above the cars, it is for pedestrians and bicycles only. The views are wonderful and it is very safe, hundreds of people do it every day. Here is a pic I took from the Manhattan side a couple of summers ago: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robinsegg0523/2793923234/

  19. That's pretty neat. It's like a boardwalk in the sky.

  20. Johnny, there's a walkway across the Brooklyn Bridge (for bikes and feet). You'd love it.

    Let me know when you guys're going again; I'll meet ya there.


  21. We didn't lose any kids, though not for lack of trying. These were SERIOUSLY overprivileged children, never heard the word "NO" in their entire lives...what do you mean I have to do my own laundry, what do you mean I can't run around NY on my own...after we got back from the Empire State Building, I spent half the night in the lobby telling the elevator guys that I didn't care what the girls calling down from upstairs said, those guys that looked like a bad hair band did NOT belong with the tour, and not to let them up to the rooms. If I could have sent a couple over Niagra in a barrel, the world would be a much better place. Oh, and FYI...buckndi refers to my husband, Buck and to me, Diane...Buck & Di

  22. My first trip to the USA from Canada was to NYC. I went to see lion king and man did it blow my mind! I highly recommend it!

  23. JV, I grew up 45 minutes outside of The City (Dad commuted in on train every day), and went there all the time. Many, many wonderful memories. Many, many BAD memories! The former would be great shows and museums I saw, and awesome food I ate, the latter mostly physical discomfort. I'm positive there is no place colder in winter and no place hotter in summer, not to mention the horrible blisters I always got from being forced to trek miles in dress shoes (everything we did seemed to involve being dressed up). Nowadays, every time I go I am grateful to be there because after living in the Midwest for over 20 years, it's great to be 'home' again and get some culchah. :) But I still best enjoy NYC in small, well-regulated doses. My mom did a big overnight trip there with me and the kids (she'd live there if she could afford it, diehard New Yorker) a few years ago and I did NOT handle it well. Had a mini nervous breakdown, in fact. From now on I'll stick to trips like yours - a quick in-and-out. In small doses I rather enjoy it ALL, loogies, smells, legless blind guys and all the rest. And I LOVE the people-watching!

  24. I live 30 miles from NYC. The last time I was there was two years ago. It costs at least $30 to take the train in. I usually go with a goal in mind - usually the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    When I get home, I'm exhausted, in a bad mood, and tend not to think it was worth it.

    Although once I did see a guy in a bad Superman costume (no, nowhere near Halloween) standing at a bank of phones with no phone booth. That was worth $30.

  25. NYC is best in spring. I grew up there.
    When you live there, you get used to the crowds, the smells, the trash on the streets, and the overall grossness of big city life.
    One thing I remember the most was the stink of the 59th Street and Lexington Avenue subway station, which reeked of stale urine.
    Would you believe I didn't see my first Broadway show until 3 years ago?
    All the tourists go there to see the shows, a native can live their all his life and never see one.

  26. My only trip to the States (I'm a Brit living in the south of France) was to NYC in April 2001. I have to say I loved it! I was sort of on my own (my then partner was working upstate and only came to the city at the weekend and a friend in Brooklyn was working so we only saw each other in the evenings) and walked miles! I loved the Natural History Museum, and the Cloisters (up at the top of Manhattan, after Spanish Harlem), where they have a part of a church that is actually just a few miles from where I live (small world) (St Guilhem le D├ęsert). The weather was perfect! I also went to Brighton Beach and Chinatown.
    I'd go back again in a flash if I could afford it (though there are other parts of the US I'd like to see, too, of course).
    Admittedly, I'm a city girl who was forced to spend all her childhood in the country, hating it with a passion, so obviously I'm a little biased. But still. There are cities I haven't like at all (Munich, Turin, Madrid...). But I really did love NYC (Lisbon, Gothenburg, London (of course), Paris, Rome and Amsterdam are all pretty good too!).

  27. "when you're in for a penny, you're in for a simulated pound" is really just a classic line..fantastic

  28. I came back! I went to BlogHer to see if all my internet friends were real. Turns out - they are!

  29. As I read this article. I only dreaming that I also been in NYC for my entire life. :-)

  30. Anonymous4:08 PM

    I second YFA's and Robin's recommendations.
    I'll also suggest this: look into listings at the OHNY site (Open House New York only happens once a year, 1st weekend in October, this is a best time for architecture lovers to visit the city; all "about" info is at the site). Of course, half of those sites are behind the scenes" and unavailable during the rest of the year, but the other half are public places where you can buy a ticket and come over any time. Another advantage - there are listings for interesting places to visit not only in Manhattan, but in the other 4 boroughs. Of course, Manhattanites and tourists think "4 boroughs" are somewhere in KS, but we, the residents, commute to and from everyday, and it takes us same hour it takes suburbanites to get to their workplace, just w/o paying attention to the road, crazy drivers, tracks and necessity to park.
    What I'm saying, don't discount BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) or Botanical Garden or Promenade at Park Slope from your NY list just because it takes 15 min on a subway from Union Sq to get there.

    I would gladly join YFA in showing oyu the city next time,


  31. I concur with above posters ... you must stay out of midtown .... that's just tourist central and soulless. You want the West Village or Chelsea. Check out the live music scenes.

    I can't help you on the smells and noise if that really bothers you that much - but if you like all sorts of bars ranging from chic to dives with cool music selections, all sorts of restaurants (including great $13 chicken parm in the Village), and all sorts of interesting diversity in the population - then I don't see how you can hate it. There's something for everyone. ... And if you want quieter, there's always Park Slope in Brooklyn.

  32. I thought you meant suggestions on what other *shows* you should see, so if that's not the case you can just ignore this, but Jersey Boys is awesome if you like the music of The Four Seasons even a little bit. I saw it once in Vegas and once on tour in Indianapolis and I'd see it again tomorrow if I could.