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Sunday, August 21, 2005

LET Days 10-11: New York City

As they say in the songs, "Everything's coming up roses..." To some degree.

Our plan for getting into the city -- complicated, involving us acquiring our driver (the girl whose car we were driving, who most definitely would be more skilled at stick than Stef), finding a hotel in Newark, and then driving into the city the next morning -- became much simpler when the driver said "You know, I could keep going -- do you want to go into the city?" So we ended up abandoning the hotel plan and biting the bullet, driving in and finding the loft where Stef's friend's parents had generously allowed us to crash.

Allow me to recommend coming to New York and staying for free in a SoHo penthouse loft with three stories, roof access, a pool table, priceless artwork, and several bedrooms. Generosity is not the only way in which these folks are rich.

Everything went eerily well on Friday night -- after Operation Get Stef's Stuff Out of the SUV and Upstairs went smoothly, Stef called another friend from LA who was in town, and we met up in an excellent bar, made even more excellent by the fact that Stef's LA friend knew the waitress, which translated into free pitchers of sangria. New York night life! Like LA night life, but with a lot less pretension and desperation to it. Nary a business card in sight!

Saturday, I woke up earlier than Stef, because I Had A Mission: Dunkin' Donuts was a big part of my early Texas childhood, and when we moved to California I never realized how much I would come to miss Munchkins. After many, many blocks and a few wrong turns, I eventually found an open store on Christopher Street, right next to the bondage gear. Wandered around with my coffee and donuts, watched a bit of a girl's softball game while sipping, taking pictures. I haven't taken too many touristy NYC pictures. I've gotten some fun ones of people, though.

Stef and I headed uptown after I got back, in search of that most New York of things: The Theater! This meant a sweaty hour at the TKTS booth, where we spent the money we'd saved on hotels on two for the Soon-Be-Closing revival of Glengarry Glen Ross.

And then we wandered around uptown, idly searching for H&M and a plan. We gave up on H&M, found a plan. "Food, then books, then theater, then death from happiness sound good to you?"

Stef said it sounded great. So we had bagels, then a long walk to the Strand, then a long walk through the Strand. Scored the new Poppy Z. Brite and a McSweeneys treasury for half off; could have bought SO MUCH MORE. The only thing holding me back? We are entering the part of the trip where anything I acquire will have to be carried on my back: my travel bag will transform from ordinary duffle to backpack tonight, for the next leg into New Jersey.

Glengarry was great. I don't know if you know about these guys? Alan Alda? Liev Schreiber? Jeffery Tambor? I don't know. They're pretty good actors. If you like that sort of thing.

(For the record, though, I officially don't like Fred Weller. I've seen him in this and The Shape of Things, and sorry son, but no. He's just no good. Feel free to debate this with me. I'd like to see someone try and change my mind on the subject.)

After the play, we came back to the loft for a little bit, figured out that if we were going to eat at an all-night deli, we should eat at a dumb touristy one. Hence, Katz's Deli. Which was, in fact, dumb, touristy, and not too great. I did get to have a vanilla egg cream, though, and while I might have preferred it at not-room temperature, it was still reminiscient enough of the one Grandpa got me, that time in Wooster.

Home and to bed. Today, we wander around looking for a place for Stef to live, then I take a train into New Jersey to see Whitney for a couple of days. Then, Chicago!

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