Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Apple bite

In Part 2 in my three-part series chronicling a journey through the Northeast, I will recount a short trip to New York City with my Sherpa, Z. Hosseini.

We drove from Cape Cod to Boston to Cranston and to Hoboken, New Jersey in one night. A lot of driving. On the way we stopped at one of those Connecticut McDonald's rest stops and were approached by a bald, middle-aged man. He told us he wasn't looking for money for booze or anything, but that he desperately needed some cash for gas because his wife was giving birth to twins at a nearby hospital and he couldn't get in touch with anyone. We told him we'd get him back on our way out.

Zach and I debated for a good 10 minutes whether this guy was legit. At first, we sort of believed him. He was very persuasive and hey, there's a chance the guy was telling the truth and if he was, wouldn't it be wrong to not help him out? But as I kept thinking about it, the story seemed too perfect. His wife was pregnant. He just happened to be at a rest stop at the time his wife was giving birth ... not just to one measly baby, but to twins! And why didn't he have a credit card?

Well, Zach decided he'd interrogate the guy a bit and take it from there. So we walked outside and the guy was gone. I had seen another group give him a few bucks. I still think he was full of it. Zach wasn't so sure.

The two of us arrived in Hoboken at 5 in the morning and promptly slept well into the afternoon, waking up just in time to see Tom Watson choke the British Open away. Then we headed into New York City and headed to Rockefeller Plaza. I had never been there before and I made a point to see it.

From there we headed to Central Park and I saw the John Lennon memorial. A Beatles tribute band played to a good crowd nearby on a beautiful, sunny Sunday in the Big Apple. Then it was back to New Jersey for dinner with one of Zach's new gaggle of high-end lawyer friends and a trip to the Hudson River to enjoy the New York City skyline. Quite a site, I must say.

The next day I ventured into New York City alone because Zach had to work that day. The subway system there confuses me greatly. I'm sure it's easy to the regulars, but it's mostly gibberish to me. Eventually, I found my way to Grand Central and walked to the U.N. from there. I've always wanted to see it, and I did.

I didn't take a tour because the wait was too long, but there was an outstanding photo gallery. This photo was taken the day Bear Stearns went under, showing a nameless, faceless man holding his arms up in the middle of the street outside the New York Stock Exchange. There were other great photos, some very disturbing. One showed a pile of rubble from the Chinese earthquakes last year with the face of a dead man sticking out of the gravel.

With the Yankees in town to play the Orioles, the two os us headed over to the the new Yankee Stadium. We did not have tickets, but we figured we could get tickets at the Stadium. I waited in line while Zach searched for scalpers around the stadium. He came up empty and so I asked the guy behind the counter what the cheapest tickets were. $150, he said.

No thanks.

We were all set to find something else to do when we encountered a scalper at the subway station. We paid 30 bucks for tickets way up near the right-field foul pole.

Zach described the new stadium as "Universal Studios at Yankee Stadium." It's huge, lavish, with gigantic television screens and long, unfurled banners displaying Yankee greats across the the altar of smooth concrete that is the Yankee Stadium concourse.

The old Yankee Stadium was a haunted house. It scared me. You can't replicate that. So while the place is nice, I wouldn't go out of my way to go there again.

Anyway, the game was rather boring, even though it ended in a walk-off home run. Maybe that's why the fans did not seem quite as into the game as I thought they would be. You just knew the Yankees were winning that game sooner or later. And they did, of course. Hideki Matsui went deep to right field in the ninth inning and the Yankees win! Thhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win! (Booo!! Hiss!!)

I left New York the next morning on an Amtrak train that was not three hours late, thankfully. While I like visiting New York because it has everything, I don't know if I could live there. Every place you go, there are thousands of people. Everywhere you go, there are horns and bus engines and chatter and bells and construction and on and on ... There's no escape from it.

I love Boston because it's a big city but it has a small town feel. There are some quiet places. It's not a 24-hour assault on all five senses. Just suits my tastes more.

With that said, it was a fine excursion to the NYC. But I had to get to RI to hang out with Jelly, see the parents a little bit, eat some home cooked meals and head to scenic Newport for what Mike Grimala has called the Wedding of the Century. At the very least it was a mish-mash reunion of Cranston East Class of 2001 and Northeastern Class of 2006.

I shall recap the festivites in due time. Did everyone keep their clothes on? Did a bird almost poop on us groomsman as we headed to the ceremony? Who got drunk? Who danced? Who cried? (Hint: He's a hummus-eating model).

Tune in soon to find out.

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