Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Observations from the Big Apple

I spent last week in New York City with my family for Spring Break. It’d been about a decade since my last visit to NYC and I’d forgotten how great it is. New York in all its splendor is without question one of my absolute favorite places to visit, and it didn’t disappoint on this trip. We had a total blast. That said I couldn’t help but notice how different New York is from my home town in Southern California. What follows (in no particular order of significance) is my list of observations from the Big Apple:

1) As Phil from “The Hangover” put it after Mr. Chow jumped out of the trunk buck naked (exposing his teeny weenie), attacked him violently, and then ran away: “Why was he so MEAN?!” Great line and it could also apply to just about everyone who lives in New York City. Nobody makes eye contact on the streets, nobody smiles while taking your order in restaurants, and nobody but nobody makes small talk on the subway. Case in point I asked some dude if we were on the right train to get to Yankee Stadium and everyone within ear shot looked at me as if I’d shown up for Church without pants. The guy proceeded to get all flustered, not quite sure how to respond to someone initiating an actual conversation, and tersely replied “um, no”. Gee - thanks for the help buddy, guess I’ll figure it out on my own.

2) Has the surgeon general’s warning about smoking being hazardous to your health not reached the good people of New York? No matter where we went in the city we couldn’t go one block without choking on somebody’s second hand smoke. Perhaps since they share an ocean Europe is rubbing off on them? In a word gross.

3) What’s with the Museum of Modern Art? I’m pretty sure I could shit in a plastic bag and pass it off as art at that place. Seriously – there’s some fucked up shit in there. Photographs of naked women posing with dildos, depictions of murder victims, paintings of dudes giving other dudes blow jobs. What the hell? I wish someone would have warned me before I paid to take my kids in there. The 5th floor is great (famous paintings from Van Gogh, Monet, etc.) but the rest of the museum is complete bullshit. Here’s a tip for my fellow tourists: Go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art instead – they only exhibit real art there.

4) Why is the jewelry district such a festering pit when the rest of midtown is so nice? It was the only area in the city where I felt uncomfortable taking my kids. A peculiar mix of big, scary black dudes and strange looking Orthodox Jewish dudes lined both sides of the seedy streets, attempted to coax us into their respective places of business, and had nasty things to say when we declined. Stay classy jewelry district.

5) What is with New York’s love affair with the Yankees? There’s a Yankees clubhouse store on every corner, everyone who works in the city (from Wall Street executives to the guys selling hot dogs in Central Park) proudly dons Yankees gear, and everywhere we went New Yorkers were compelled to talk shit about our Padres and Angels hats (even to my 11-year old son). Um, you do realize you have the highest payroll in baseball (by a large margin) and have only won one championship in the last 10 years, right? Title Town my ass. Plus Jesus hates the Yankees so you’re all going to hell :)

6) I love how easy it is to get a dinner reservation anywhere you want in NYC prior to 8:00 pm. We eat dinner in California around 7:00, but apparently the fine citizens of New York don’t get hungry for dinner until 10:00 pm (my bedtime). But I guess that’s okay because nobody starts working in New York until 10:00 in the morning… slackers.

7) How is the vacancy rate in NYC less than 1% while the unemployment rate is 8.9%, new high rise apartment buildings (with hundreds of units) are going up almost weekly, and rent in NYC is the highest in the nation? I’m no math major but something doesn’t add up.

8) Our lone celebrity sightings for the trip were pretty lame – Keith Richards, who looks like he’s about a hundred years old, and Scott Disick, the dude who’s dating / engaged to (who cares?) Kourtney Kardashian. Who’s a bigger douche than that guy, right?

Conclusion: For all of its faults I absolutely love visiting New York City but there’s no way in hell I’d ever live there. The fine (albeit grumpy) citizens of New York can thank me later.

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