So, how was New York? Other than the luggage and the money, it was great. I’m not going to talk in detail about all the lost luggage crap here– that’s on the official blog here and here, if you’re curious. The short version is that the trip began very poorly, and we were detoured to JFK airport while our luggage went and sat for about a day at LaGuardia airport. This cast an obvious shadow on the trip, and this is a saga that I am sure will continue since Annette and I are planning on getting together to compose a formal complaint letter this week.
By “money,” I mean the rate of spending. As my wife is fond of pointing out, I like to spend money more than the average person, but these few days in New York City were ridiculous. It was if money itself were coal, and we were working at stoking the furnaces of the S.S. Titanic right after the iceburg was spotted and full reverse was called. Part of it was previously planned excesses (see below) and part of it was our semi-lost luggage experiences (see above), but part of it is that New York is just so freakin’ expensive.
But like I said, it was still fun. I have a set of photos on flickr here, but here’s a run-down of what happened:
We arrived into town a bit later than planned and without clean clothing, so it was too late to do any real conference “business.” Instead, we went to the gala Bedford/St. Martin’s Press party at the Tavern on the Green where we met Annette S. (For those not familiar with my line of work: this is a big party that one of the major publishers in composition and rhetoric puts on every year for folks at the conference I was attending, the CCCCs). I talk about this a bit on my official blog. It was a lovely affair. After this, Annette S. (our muse and guide in New York since she is our good friend and since she is indeed a genuine New Yorker) took us to Chez Josephine,which was (supposedly) owned and operated by the son of Josephine Baker. Nice place– very good vibe.
We went back to the hotel where Annette and I were staying, the Paramount, and met up with some of the “usual CCCCs suspects:” Bill HD, Steve B, and some of the fellas they hang out at with at this conference. Eating and drinking continued, though I missed much of it since I kept trying to talking with/yelling at the Northwest airlines people about the status of our luggage.
The other piece of drama was there was some party of people (we later found out it was a bunch of lawyers) where a woman was screaming, kicking, lunging, and hitting anyone in her path. By the time we left the restaurant on the mezinne level for the bar on the first floor, she was being held down in the lobby by some of her fellow patrons. I believe Annette found out the next day that six cop cars showed up when the bartenders finally called. So, what was it: a scorned lover? a drug trip gone bad? just crazy-time? There’s no way for us to know of course, but it was good theater, which, since we were in the “theater district,” seemed appropriate enough.
My original plans for Friday were to go first thing in the morning to go and do conference things. This was, after all, the reason why I was in New York in the first place. But we still hadn’t received our luggage, and, at this point, I smelled enormously. Annette only had one outfit too and she wanted to go shopping anyway. So instead, Annette and I walked down to Macy’s. We went our separate ways at this point and Annette spent more time shopping than I did. I was pleasantly surprised at the sales, frankly– good deals all around. Anyway, I bought a conference outfit (and a few other things), changed into my new clothes the dressing room, and went off to the conference, all clean and shiny and new.
After the conference, I went back to the hotel, did a little school work (I was still “teaching” online during this whole thing), and then Annette and I went to meet Annette S. at one of the major destinations for this trip, Babbo. This is an adventure that actually began a month earlier. Annette suggested that a good birthday present for me (I turned 41 on Sunday) would be a fancy meal at a fancy restaurant in New York, and since Bill HD and his wife had been to Babbo and I had actually heard of it (it’s probably the highest-end restaurant that Mario Batali owns). I found out that to get reservations for a Friday night, I needed to call at 10 AM a month in advance. So that’s what I did. I must have hit redial 100 times, and 20 minutes later, I had my choice of reservations– well, before 6:15 or after 9:30.
The food, the drink, the desert– well, I could go on and on, but was all fantastic.
After that, we did some carousing in Greenwich Village– this is one of my favorite pictures for the whole trip, actually:
We did not discover the accuracy of the sign, but we did find a place for wine. After a while, it was time to go home and Annette S. put us on a subway. Like a couple of wide-eyed farm kids, Annette and I found our way back to our hotel.
Saturday afternoon, we got “a slice” and went to the Museum of Modern Art (very cool). We thought about going to a play, but decided on a piano bar outing instead. Now, I have to say that I was not familiar with the genre of the “piano bar.” I was expecting place where some person played the piano and where someone– either the piano player or some other singer. There are apparently several different definitions of the “Piano Bar.” In this particular case, there was a professional playing and singing, but the wait staff also sang and performed. There was also a few people who got up and sang karoke-style, but they sounded pretty darn good to me, like struggling Broadway actors.
Anyway, we were having a grand time, listening to the music, laughing, talking, etc., etc. Everyone in this place was doing this, actually. It was far from a concert. At some point, this couple of German tourists– let’s call the man of the couple “Gunter”– sat down next to us. I looked over and noticed that Gunter had three scotch and waters and they both were quite earnest at paying attention to the show. I didn’t think much of it, kept talking and laughing in my loud voice, and Gunter kept on looking over at us, kind of giving us some kind of stare.
Whatever. But then, out of nowhere, Gunter shouted out “Look! I am not here to listen to you talk! I am here to listen to the music! This is the cabaret!” Or something like that. Well, Annette S. and Annette and I looked at each other and laughed. “Is he serious?” Annette asked. Then I, in my too loud voice, kept talking with Annette and Annette S. about how stupid this all was, how this wasn’t freakin’ Carnegie Hall, there’s no cover, it’s a freakin’ piano bar, etc. And then we largely ignored Gunter again.
At one point a bit later, Gunter started taking pictures. Since I too was taking pictures, I decided to take a picture of him (note the cocktail in his hand):
I don’t know exactly why, but even now this makes me laugh.
Oh, an important postscript here:
A BIG BIG thank you to my parents who came out to watch Will and Sophie while we were off spending money. Besides keeping track of the boy and the dog, my mom straightened up/cleaned up the basement and my dad fixed our dryer so that it actually can dry a load of clothes in a normal period of time. So again, thanks a ton.