Thursday, 14 July 2011

New York, New York

It's hard to fathom that I've only been in New York for a little over 48 hours.  The more I think about it, the more I think I must have been here an extra day or two, but nope, it's just been 2 full days.

I got in to the city around 9pm on Tuesday after spending the day on a plane from LA  (with a scheduled stop in Kansas City, which was news to EVERYONE on the plane other than the flight crew) and once settled in to the shoebox that is my hotel room, I headed straight for Times Square to get me some New York vibe.  To say that New York is the city that never sleeps might not be 100% accurate, but Times Square is definitely the part of town that is the last to go to bed, even if they do leave the lights on, so I got a few hours worth of people watching in before retiring for the night.

While I did have a few things I had to do while here in New York, I didn't have any specific plans laid out, so without any place to be, I tried my luck getting a ticket to see a taping of Letterman, which consisted of queuing for half an hour to fill out a form, then having to call back an hour later to find out if my application was successful, then queuing up again 4 hours later to physically get my ticket, and then one more queue half an hour later to get into the studio.  All told, I reckon I spent less time in queues in the 2 days I was at Disneyland, and the end result was more underwhelming than "Star Tours" (which was always the longest line in Disneyland).  It's not that David Letterman isn't entertaining, it just seems a little forced these days, and there isn't much "magic" left in TV after spending the last 10 years working behind the scenes.

In between queues for Letterman, I ticked off the first real box I had to tick by visiting FAO Schwartz and building my very own Muppet at their Whatnot Workshop, I managed to stave off doing laundry for one more day by buying some more cheap designer boxer shorts, and I practically inhaled a burrito bowl from Chipotle (why has it taken me 6 trips to the US to get on board with Chipotle?).  With all the excitement of Letterman behind me, and another full day ahead of me, I retired to my shoebox fairly early.

Now I'm probably entering hour number 20 or so for today as I type.  It started with item number 2 on my to do list, the NBC studio tour.  As I mentioned with Letterman, I'm not impressed by TV magic unless it makes my job easier.  I had a minimal amount of professional curiosity regarding the inner workings of the NBC studios at Rockefeller Plaza, but my main motivation was to see the service cupboard that Jim Henson decorated back in the 60's while waiting to appear on a tonight show.  Much to my disappointment (and contrary to the linked article), the pipes only make up part of the tour when Jimmy Fallon isn't in season as the cupboard is right by his office (or so that's what the NBC page told me), there was a T-shirt in the store at the end of the tour with a rendition of the pipes on it, so I now have a "I came all the way to New York to see rare and largely unseen work from one of my heroes and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" T-shirts (for those of you playing along at home, it's also only the second T-shirt I've bought on this trip, but France is still to come).

Following the NBC tour, I ticked box number 3, which cheered me up somewhat (but the details are currently classified), then proceeded with items 4 and somewhat fortuitously, 5 on the to do list.  I had to relent and finally do a load of washing, but I found a news stand that had copies of "the Onion" just outside the laundromat, so not only did I tick off an item on my list, I also had something to read while my clothes were bouncing around in the machine.  Just to add to my domestic duties for the day, I also had to visit the post office to ship home all the crap I don't want to cart with me to France (2 Muppets, a suit and miscellaneous other bits that'll only slow me down.

My final order of business for the day was to try and squeeze a ride in, which sounds easy until you see the traffic in midtown Manhattan, and the batshit crazy things other cyclists do on the roads here.  It seems as though traffic lights are merely a suggestion in New York, since cars don't pay much attention to them, cyclists hold them in an even lower regard, and why would pedestrians look at signals when they don't even look for traffic.  I started out easy with a few laps of Central Park, then I followed the Hudson River north until I came across another rider who was heading out on the same route I was intending, so I just tacked on to his interval session in order to not get lost.  I finished up with a loop of lower Manhattan just because I haven't been that far downtown on this trip, and basically finished the ride as the sun set on NYC, and an epicly long day (the ride data should show up on the top right corner somewhere)

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