Sunday, July 20, 2014

Visiting New York, Part One

This is the first part in a series of posts about my long-in-development trip to New York with my wife.
Here's Part Two.

My wife, Anna, and I talked about visiting New York for ten years, maybe more. When I first signed on with Eddie Schneider at JABberwocky, Anna and I made a deal... it went something like this:

ANNA: When Eddie sells your book, we're going to start planning a trip to New York.

MIKE: IF Eddie sells my book.



ANNA: Positivity, Michael!

MIKE: *grunt*

And that was it. If/when I AM DRUMS finally sold to a real publisher, we would plan our long in development trip to New York. This week, we finally went, and had an amazing time.

It started a little odd, of course. It's hard to leave a two-year-old behind, but we'd already brought him with us on two free trips -- he would not be the happiest camper on this one. We left him with family and immediately started freaking out halfway to Midway Airport. That's normal, I know, and we did get over it eventually.

A friend of ours recommended prepaying for a shuttle from LaGuardia, which ended up taking almost as long as the flight itself. I'm planning to splurge on a cab or fight my way to public trans next time.

Hours later, when the shuttle finally dropped us off at our very slender hotel in Midtown ($126/night, not bad for that area from what I'd heard), we dropped off our things and spent the first 2-3 hours wandering the neighborhood and finding familiar things. We stopped by Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, and a few random stores. We stopped in at the flagship Nintendo Store, because Anna and I are not so secretly dorks. My trip would have been perfect had I found a THWOMP shirt, but no such luck.

At about 5:30 PM, we jumped on a train and headed for the Orpheum Theater. I have to apologize to my Chicago friends before saying this, but MTA really does put CTA to shame. I know there are complicated reasons why CTA cannot pull off in Chicago what is possible in NYC, and the media here already makes CTA workers feel like a lot of us teachers do lately. I happen to have a writer friend whose day job is spent working really freaking hard for CTA. But MTA is really fast and efficient in comparison -- the layout of the land is more conducive to public transportation, and I never found myself in a location where a viable train was not close by. Plenty of New York natives, of course, would love to tell me about some of their delay horror stories and thus spoil my immaculate view of their subway system.

The neighborhood around the Orpheum Theater reminded me of what Wicker Park used to be ten or so years ago. There was even a place called Bar Virage that reminded me a lot of Rodan, where I used to watch the guitarist from Tortoise play avant garde jazz on Thursday nights.

Then Anna and I actually got to see STOMP live. I'd seen STOMP OUT LOUD and a few television performances/clips, but the second you enter the room and see the big fat mic at the foot of the stage, you realize that this is the way it's supposed to be experienced. It's not as popular as it used to be, but it's still jam-packed with amazing percussionists, and the old ideas (brooms, garbage cans, basketballs) are mixed in with plenty of new tricks. The zippo bit was especially effective, even if I easily spotted that only two percussionists on each end had real zippos while the rest had tiny light bulbs.

We walked through the NYU neighborhood afterward and made our way to the Olive Tree, where we ate nachos and waited for the 11:30 show at the Comedy Cellar. Unfortunately, that was also the point at which Anna and I realized we were both exhausted. We had an agent and editor to meet for lunch the next day, and it would seem unprofessional if we fell asleep at the table. We cancelled our reservation for the Comedy Cellar and headed back to the hotel, where we enjoyed the sleep of two exhausted travelers.

That was my first night in NYC. Days two and three (and maybe four) are still to come!

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