I was up early. Too early. It was only 4:30am and I was wide awake...last day in the city. I got out of bed and dressed as quietly as possible so as not to disturb The Gorgeous One and slipped out of the room and down to the street by 4:45. The small Korean-run Bodega just a few doors down from the hotel wasn't open yet so I headed east on 32nd, wandered around a bit and eventually began snapping some random photos of early morning street scenes...
(All images via NYCDreamin Archives)
Here's a shot of the exterior of our hotel, the Radisson Martinique at 32nd & Broadway. This is looking south-east.
The early bird gets...the.....uh....unidentified sludgy brown stuff from the street.
This is shot on the corner of 32 Street & 5th Avenue looking south down to 23rd Street and the Flat Iron Building.
An empty lot I came across on 33rd Street (I think), just east of 5th Avenue.
Looking south again, this time from 5th Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Streets.
Here was the scene on the sidewalk nearly every morning just down the block from our hotel. Each night the street was bustling with people eating at the numerous and varied Korean places that line the street on both sides for the entire length of the block, hence the light-up "Welcome to K-Town" sign hanging above the street...
I eventually wandered back up 32nd to the Bodega and he was open now. I picked up a copy of the Daily News and The Post and a Gatorade for myself, and on the spur of the moment I picked up another Gatorade and a piece of that delicious individually wrapped Banana cake you see around. I paid for the stuff, turned left out the door and went up to nearly the end of the block where I had observed this old homeless white dude the previous evening. He was still here. Asleep. Snoring lightly through is piereced nose. You could tell he'd been having a rough go of it and the area where he was sleeping reeked terribly of some undescribable odor. I pondered waking him but decided against it. I just laid the Gatorade and banana bread as close to him as possible...at least he'd have breakfst when he woke up. Then I headed over to Herald Square to join the other early risers, and in some cases, those who had spent the night there. I relaxed for a bit, reading, and knowing that if at this early hour of 5:45am it was already 85*...it was gonna be a hot ass day today. I stubbed out my smoke and headed back up to our room in the hotel. Sleeping Beauty was just waking up as I arrived. We puttered around a bit - taking our time getting ready to go out and do some shopping since neither of us had really bought anything so far. We figured today was the day. Just before we left to go out, I looked out our window and spotted these gentlemen on their way up to do some work on the building just across the street from the Martinique on the SE corner of Broadway and 32nd. I think the sign outside the building said there was a 16,500ft penthouse suite available if anyone is interested.
Workers high above the corner of 32nd & Broadway - early AM - July 6, 2010.
So we eventually made it up and out of the hotel. We decided to walk south on Broadway a bit and a minute or two into our walk I spotted this delivery truck across the street...
We stopped in at the same news carfe place on 23rd street and got a bagel and donut and water, same thing we'd eaten on our first morning in the city. They were not as fresh this time. We walked back over to Broadway and caught the R down to City Hall Park. Stepping off the subway and back above ground, we noticed with amusement that the squirrels were once again hanging out in the park, scavenging for crumbs. I'd told Miss J. about how I'd seen people feeding them and the squirrel would take the food right from your hand. So we decided we had to have a bag of chips or something, and luckily there was a news stand just down the block. I grabbed $1.00 paid for a bag of Cheddar Sunchips. I walked back over to where J. was witing and we each grabbed a few chips and stuck our hands through the fence, immediately attracting the attention of two of the little guys. One of the two was very bold and came right up and snatched a chip from J.'s hand. The one that came to me was a bit more timid, but he too came for the easy food. Of course the pigeons wanted to horn in on the free goods and we trying to sneak in and grab a few chip crumbs. the bolder of the two squirrels wasn't having any of this though...each time a pigeon came near him he'd jump at it agressively, scaring it off...it was hilarious. Within about two minutes of this there were more people standing around taking photos, most of them all excited to see squirrels eating right from someone's hand. We thought it was pretty damn cool too.
He was kind of a fat one, this cute Mr. Squirrel.
So we finished feeding the bag of chips to the squirrels and pigeons and walked just a bit further south, directly across the street from the park to J&R Music. I'd finally made my decision as to a CD or two. Or so I thought. We went directly to the "C" bins and I fished out the Wayne County & the Electric Chairs CD I'd stashed a few days before when we'd been here the first time. We looked around a bit more and I decided upon being pleasantly surprised at finding it in stock, that I'd add the new-ish debut CD from Triptykon, the new project headed up by former Celtic Frost mastermind Thomas Gabriel Fischer. This is a very heavy and brutal CD - definately a continuation of where Celtic Frost night have gone had they continued. It's probably too brutal for you, don't bother picking it up. As we were walking by the "B" bins, out at me jumps the 1984 debut by Los Angeles hard rockers Black 'N' Blue. I'd been looking for this CD for quite some time actually and was glad to finally add it to my collection. I limited myself to only 3 new CDs and these would be the 3. I could spend several thousand dollars in a place like this. I'd have to say they do have a great selection...they had a Wayne County CD for fuck sake. We paid for the CD's and walked out, back up the street past the park where the squirrels were no longer to be seen. It was probably already near 95* and J and I went back down into the subway. We caught an uptown R back up to 8th Street where we got off and headed back over to St. Marks Place. Trash & Vaudeville were now open (we'd just missed them the previous evening as they'd been locking the doors as we walked up) so we stepped in and I picked out a nice new Plasmatics t-shirt with a group photo on the front. The guy checks for me - no XL or L, just medium. Can't do it. So I ask if he has an XL CBGB T for me. He checks and reports that, no, he does not, only small right now. Damn. So out we go, back up the stairs onto the street. There is another t-shirt place just down the block and we stop in there. No Plasmatics t-shirts but he DOES have the CBGB in a XL. I plunk down the cash ($25.00) and walk away with a much needed new t-shirt.
J. wanted to do a bit of shopping as well, so we worked our way east on St. Marks, then north on A a block or two, then back west on 9th and north one block and back east on 10th. We then went north on A to 14th street, where we began wroking or way back to the west. Zigzagging through the streets down here we stopped in several small new and used clothing boutiques. After a few stops, in one fancy but small shop, J. spots this white, flowery dress and likes it immediately. It's an import the pleasant young woman tells us in her hushed tone. J. agrees to the woman's asking price of like $40.00 and we are soon on our way again, having avoided purchasing custom jewelry and jewelry boxes and plush rose petal pillow this woman was trying to sell us. It's not that she was unpleasant, just persistant. It is probably nearly an hour later by the time J. spots two more dresses at another shop a few blocks over where the prices are a bit more reasonable...two for only $10.00ea you can't go wrong I guess.
Once we were over on 14th Street, I spotted a Nathan's restaurant. I'd never eaten at one and thought the Philly Steak sandwich they were advertising out front looked pretty damn good. So we step inside, out of the amazingly hot ealy afternoon sunshine, and place our order: Philly Cheesesteak for myself and a plain old Nathans Dog with Ketchup for the lady. I thought the Cheesesteak was delicious...really good. After sitting and sucking down some more lemonade and water, we got up and went back out into Satan's Blast Furnace and continued our walk to nowhere in particular up 14th street.
At some point we stopped in at $1.99 jewelry store and J. looked around for a bit while I tried not to listen to the horrid sounds of some pop shit coming from the store radio. A minute or two later they are announcing "Lady GAGA!!! at Madison Square Garden - TONIGHT!!" Yeah, yeah, we know all about it. Blah Blah Ga Ga. Whatever. J's still looking around, picking out some choice treasures from the glass trinkets on this huge table, I'm walking around bored, trying not to look it and reamin patient with her as she had for me...and the guy comes on the radio and says "OK! We did it NY...it's 103* right now! Right here on ________!!!" Whatever radio station it was. J. and I exchange a glance at this news...it is now in the CRAZY hot range.
And we're out, walking all over the East Village, just shopping and walking, walking and shopping. And sweating. And loving every minute of it - knowing this is our final afternnon in the city. We discuss this and leaving the following day and we both agree neither of us wants to go back home or back to work. But we do miss our cat. We finish walking somewhere further west on 14th street where we caught a subway back up to 34th. It was now about 3:00pm as we headed back for the cool comfort of our air conditioned hotel room. Ahhhh....it felt amazing after being out in the hot streets for the past 5 hours. We decided we would hang out until around 6:00pm and then walk over a few blocks west on 32 to Madison Square Garden to observe the fashion show that would no doubt turn out for the 1st night of 3 sold out NYC shows for Lady Gaga at the famed venue.
So we watched some TV and luxuriated in the cool air. We just couldn't beleive it was over 100* outside. We sure picked a good week to come - some might find it absolutely miserable. It IS uncomfortable when it gets that hot I guess...but it's summer and -10* temps are not far off for me so I enjoy it when I can get it. We got our shit together and went back out again, walking the few short blocks to MSG to see what was developing out front. Wen we arrived about 6:30ish there was already eveidence of an event...MTV news was on hand interviewing people on the sidewalk...
A few minutes later, I spotted this guy, with his "3,500 Mile For GaGa" flag/cape/thingy...
...and maybe one of Lady GaGa's oldest fans.
There was this guy, who was only TOO happy to pose for a photo. Later in the evening, back at the hotel watching the late TV news, we would see him again on the news broadcast, doing a dance of some kind.
These two were popular with photographers...
This group gave me a hard time. The one girl asks me..."Where ya gonna put the picture?" I said on my blog maybe. And she makes a statement that implies I might pleasure myself to the photo. I assured her that would not be the case. And I haven't. Yet.
It was about 7:45 when we decided we'd had enough GaGa monsters for one day and we would now continue on our way. As we were leaving I saw these two...they were on the TV news later as well.
So we had only a few things to do to wrap up our trip now...one of those things was have some dinner. As always we had no idea what we wanted. A few blocks north along 7th Avenue J. spots a Chipotle. Sounds like a winner to me...and man it was. HUGE portions of food at this place. Both our Burrito Bowls were too much to finish...and I had chips and salsa too. We ate leisurely, enjoying the cool inside the restaurant for all it was worth. But soon it was time to git a move on and get some last minute shopping for souvenirs for people done in Times Square.
So off we went. A few blocks up the street I was trying to get a good photo of lovely Miss J. and I was down on the sidewalk (not blocking - I checked) trying to get the shot and this dude comes up to me. He says, "Hey hey man, let me get the photo." I must have looked a bit apprehensive because he immediately offers..."No DUDE...I don't want nothin. I just wanna take you and your lady's picture for you. Here. Hold my guitar. It's a Takamine...$400.00 guitar. I'm from California...I don't want nothin." So I'm grabbing his guitar and seeing, that yes, this indeed a very nice guitar, hand over the camera. The dude takes the photo in one take...tells me "There you go, man, see I don't want nothin." I tell the dude thanks and hand him back his guitar as he hands over the camera.
Hot Time, Summer in the city. Hey. Where the hell did this guitar come from?
So we push through crowded Times Square until we come across some of those touristy places that sell 150 ILUVNY t-shirts for $10 or something like that. Yeah, those places. We picked out a cute pink NYC t-shirt for J's little niece. Keychains, golf balls, and glass sculpture for her parents. I picked out a nice Manhattan ashtray for a buddy of mine. We grabbed our purchases and left the overly crowded store, glad to get out of there.
Times Square - around 9:00pm on July 6, 2010.
From here in Times Square we walked back to our hotel down on 32nd, sweltering all the way - darkness had definately NOT brought on any respite from the heat really. As we neared our hotel we watched some street drummer dude for about 5 minutes or so...he was really good. Pots, pans, lids, 5 gallon buckets plastic and metal. Dude had it ALL. We stopped in Herald Sqaure and sat down while I had one last smoke for the day and then we were finally inside out of the heat. It's all anyone can think about by this point. It's the lead story on the news that night as we settle in. Also on the news - Lady Gaga at the Garden! As we're watching the piece we recognize some of the people we took photos of earlier in the evening are now on TV as well. Well...OK then.
We were wore out. Physically and mentally. We each went through most of our stuff, getting our suitcases repacked and ready to travel the following morning. Around 11:00pm it was lights out. Just over twelve hours away from leaving now...
...wishing we could stay longer.
...to be concluded.