I *Heart* New York
So I got back last night from NYC, already planning a vacation there in the spring. I don’t know why I’ve never spent much time there before… To quote Frank Sinatra that’s my kinda town (er…it occurs to me, not really being a big Sinatrafficiondo and all, that he may have been singing about Vegas…but I’m gonna go with that quote anyways cuz it might have been New York and I’m too lazy to google the song). I got home at about 1:30 this morning and once again Air Canada did me proud, putting my bag on the wrong plane and all and had to ship it to me this morning. At 7 AM!!! On a Saturday!! It’s a good thing tho, cuz that bag had my Armani suit and my John Fluevog dress shoes in it, and that woulda hurt alot to lose.
I must admit…I’ve not managed my expectations about New York very well. I’ve always expected it to be a fantastic place; I’ve kind of put it on a pedestal as the coolest city in the world. It’s not let me down.
We got into LaGuardia airport about 8:00 Wednesday night. We grabbed the car from Hertz (by the way…Hertz neverlost is the SHIT!). We were staying in a small hotel in semi-rural New Jersey (south of NYC) called the Madison, so it took us about an hour and a bit to get there, driving past the city and all. If you’re ever going out that way, the Madison is a super nice place with spectacular service, and I highly recommend it. It’s VERY quiet at this hotel as it’s kind of in the country and the restaurant makes very good food. Which is good cuz both me and DJ were getting a little peckish (and therefore grumpy) by this time. Jason got in a little later as he was flying in from San Francisco to Newark.
I got an SMS from Jason as we got to the hotel: “emergency landing in Chicago…medical emergency…going to be late”. Now that just sucks…for everybody. The person who has the medical emergency is of course in distress, the airlines gotta be paying about 30 grand in extra fuel costs, everyone on the plane gets delayed to their destination, which gives the flight crew extra stress, and of course all the people on the ground get pushed back a bit as a priority landing situation comes into effect, thereby pushing back all of their flights, causing them to miss connections on the other side. What a nightmare! Anyways, I’m sure the medical personel took care of the patient and alls well that ends well. It turned out that Jason called me from Newark at about the exact time I had expected him to anyways.
Thursday we went to our meetings that were the purpose of the trip and then Thursday night my friend Chris (one of the people we were meeting with) had arranged us dinner reservations at Tao. As we drove there in two cars, I rode with Chris and he kind of gave me the tour of the New Jersey-New York journey. As we got into Jersey City I noticed a rather pungent odour… I asked Chris about it. “Under this bridge is a landfill…for years it was a tire dump. Then a fire started in it, and that fire never goes out cuz of all the fuel. It gives Jersey City it’s special aroma.” LOL. All those inside jokes on TV and in movies about the smell in New Jersey made sense to me now.
The drive was long and full of traffic; according to Chris heavier traffic than normal. After much cursing and a bit of honking we finally made it into Manhattan. Man…New York truly is Gotham City…except its all bright and colorful instead of dark and brooding. My eyes must have been saucers as we drove thru. Basically from the moment we got out of the holland tunnel til we got to our destination I was all googly eyed looking at all the sites.
I must have reached saturation point of stupid tourist questions, because I got Chris kinda lost. All of a sudden we were all turned around from our destination and had to pull over and ask a limo driver how to get where we were going. He got us sorted out and away we went, now 1 hour and 15 minutes late for our reservation at one of the hotspot restaurants in Manhattan… we were not going to get our table, it was pretty obvious. I called the other car and asked Donovan and Jason if they just wanted to park where we were by Times Square and eat there…in true form they were like “hell no…let’s go anyways…it’s got a bar”. I’m glad we did.
We got a couple parking spots in a secure parkade about 2 blocks from the restaurant and walked in. We tried to schmooze for a table even tho the reservation was long gone, and I was pleasantly surprised that the host actually tried to help us out. He called a couple of people on the radio and at least gave the appearance of being sympathetic to our cause. Whether it was all just an act or not, I still appreciated it. In the end we had no table, but were welcome to go into the bar where they had a full menu.
The bar was packed, but we found a spot to park ourselves. Two things I noticed about the Tao bar: #1 the food and the drinks and the service were spectacular, and #2 everyone who goes there is friendly enough to chat with you. It may have had more to do with the fact that we were all dressed up in the fancy suits, but I’m gonna run with “people in New York who go out to have a good time are friendly and out to have a good time”. Being the only single guy, I was responsible for meeting my own girls. Within a couple of hours I had made four new friends from Korea and 6 from Calgary. And one very tall and utterly HOT Slovakian girl who went outside to take a phone call and never returned (!!!!) (ok, so I obiously didn’t do so well with her…but she was the exception, I’m sure…the Calgary ladies were prettier and more fun anyways). There were a couple of local new york girls I talked to for a few minutes as well. They said I had an accent. It turned out it was Jason’s birthday too, so I was able to convince some of my new friends to take some pics for posterity. Now let’s see if they actually email them to me…
After many drinks and a few spectacular appy’s (they had a black cod cooked in soya sauce on a stick thingy that was like eating butter…nothing that tasty can possibly be healthy). We were ready to head out. Chris had left about an hour earlier, and my new friends from Calgary had moved on to another club that they asked us to meet them at. Having the foresight to realize we would probably not be in driving condition, Donovan had booked us a hotel in Manhattan for the night, so we were in no hurry to get out of town. We left the car in the parkade and grabbed a cab to the other place, and this is really when I realized how much I loved the city.
I was a little drunk, but not incoherent, and it was raining a bit, and the energy was amazing. We had a cabbie kinda screw us and drop us nowhere near where we were heading, so we grabbed another cab. But everywhere we went people were about, enjoying the moment they were in. There was a vibrancy like you never see on the west coast except maybe around Christmas time when everyone’s excited. And this was at 1 AM! I didn’t see anyone out looking for trouble, and maybe that was just the areas we were in, but it was cool to see in a city that size. We found the bar we were looking for down some kind of alleyway or blocked off street, and there were a ton of people just milling about, all smiling and happy. Everyone I spoke to stopped to have a little chat and everyone was having fun. It’s a collective energy that just feels good.
It turned out that we couldn’t get into the club (lineup and all that), so we did not stay long. It was pretty drunk out by now anyways, so it was time to head to the hotel. We stopped at the parkade to get all our bags and then went off to the QT. The QT is a very hip little boutique hotel about two blocks from times square. It figures quite largely into my holiday plans…I highly recommend it if you want a very very cool and nice and central place to stay. After checking in I changed out of my suit and into some jeans and a tee shirt and went and took a little walk around, just absorbing the energy and enjoying the neon and silicon beauty of Times Square.
The only time I’ve ever seen anything like Times Square is in Vegas. Except…it’s not cheesy and underbellied like Vegas; it’s not self conscious at all. It’s this big bright ball of sight that stands up and shouts “LOOK AT ME! I AM HERE AND I DEMAND TO BE LOOKED AT, AND IF YOU DON’T LOOK AT ME, IT’S YOUR LOSS, NOT MINE!!” Whereas Vegas can do the same thing, it’s more like “Look at me…please?” Vegas is like the insecure drunk girl who sleeps with you to boost her self image, and New York is like the supermodel hottie who sleeps with you because she knows she can.
Around 2:30 I was back in the QT and after just looking at the small bit of city I could see for a while, I went to bed. I went to bed feeling pretty charged; at that particular moment nothing else really mattered. For the first time in a long long time I was completely at ease and relaxed, if only for a few minutes. The city temporarily took away all the stress and worries that I may have had, and I’m not really sure if I can really explain how. When the moment ended it occurred to me that I had to come back to Vancouver the next day, and that I have a tankload of work to do, and debts to pay, and issues to deal with, and it was all ok.
I woke up quite early yesterday and did a bit of work and then went downstairs to get ready for the trip home. Being a bit hungover I went and got a coffee (!!!!!) and just stood in the rain in front of the hotel watching people and traffic go by while I waited for Donovan. Traffic in New York is an interesting thing; it flows in ways that just wouldn’t be possible in a city like Vancouver. Someone’s stuck in the middle of an intersection…no worries. People just drive around them. No laying on the horn, no expletives bellowed out the window. Donovan said it best: “They’re getting it done”. We drove to the airport and then back home and here I am.
I’m a big fan of cities and a big fan of nice skylines. It’s one of the reasons I ended up in Vancouver, and it’s why certain cities have no appeal to me (Toronto and London come to mind as cities with no real sexy skyline). Vancouver has an incredible skyline. But New York…it’s the granddaddy of em all. I do *heart* NY, and next time I go it’s going to be for a much longer period and not related to work.