M. Giant's
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Thursday, October 17, 2002  

Still talking about New York. I promise I’ll shut up about it soon.

I kept thinking the subways were faster than they were. I mean, you go underground, sit down, and reemerge miles away. Zooming underneath the Manhattan traffic, whether it’s five p.m. or one p.m., makes it seem like you’ve entered an alternate dimension where time has no meaning. It was like “getting on the train” = “arriving,” and it took a few trips before I got used to that not being the case. That was the excuse I used for being late all the time, at least.

Generally we didn’t have anything to read on the train, and Trash wouldn’t let me take out my maps unless it was absolutely necessary (even though we had those laminated Streetwise maps that make the user look so much cooler then the average tourist), so there was a lot of people-watching going on. Among some of the things I learned: sky blue is the new black, one guy can make an unholy racket with a pair of drumsticks and a stroller full of five-gallon buckets, and there’s always someone more touristy-looking than yourself. I pointed out one couple who had a huge map out and unfolded on the train, but they were having difficulty with it due to the lack of a half-acre banquet table upon which to spread it. That thing wouldn’t have looked out of place on the wall of NORAD headquarters in WarGames. “No more complaining about my Streetwise," I told Trash. She just rolled her eyes at me.

One ride found us on a car between a group of dress-uniformed firefighters and a couple of young women who appeared to have boarded directly from the set of Center Stage. It was like Career Day for first-graders: “I want to be a fireman…I want to be a ballerina.” There are your two choices, right there.

Umbrellas in New York are just like pens in a classroom. Everybody has one, and nobody worries about them getting stolen or damaged, because it’s easy to get another one. A lot of restaurants have umbrella stands by the door. Using them felt a lot like leaving my car parked on the street with the keys in it. Or it would, if I’d only spent ten dollars on my car. As for the likelihood of an umbrella surviving the city for any length of time, the necessity of weaving through low-hanging, sidewalk-covering scaffolding every sixth block, under a veritable forest of “beautifying” trees with branches at exactly the perfect brolly-snagging height every third block, between nine million other umbrellas every single block, tends to reduce the life-expectancy of these fragile items to roughly that of antimatter. While walking around, we saw any number of abandoned skeletons lying twisted on the pavement, with shredded batwings flapping in the damp breeze. It was kind of sad. What was even sadder was the fact that our brand-new umbrella looked a lot like them after only two days.

You know what else? People in New York really dig themselves some Law & Order. At least the people I talked to do. Trash is a big enough fan that she’ll stop on it when she’s channel-surfing, but that show is practically a religion to New Yorkers, or at least to Manhattanites. I think it has something to do with the show being shot entirely on location and all of the addresses chung-chinging on the screen all the time so they can say “I know where that is!” or “My friend works there!” or “I got smashed at that bar!” I thought about sitting in front of the Friday night rerun with my Streetwise charting the various locations. You know, for navigating practice. But that was too geeky even for me. Besides, I can do that at home.

One last story. On our final day, we’d just left Lawre outside the building where she was going to take her exam. That makes it sound like we’d robbed her, beaten her unconscious, and left her for dead, but she was fine last we saw her (of course, that was before the exam). As we walked to the subway, Trash thought she heard Jon Stewart’s voice coming out of a passing radio. I clarified that the voice was actually coming out of a passing Jon Stewart, who was wearing a baseball cap and was looking unshaven, bordering on grizzled. With that, we were ready to pack the Celebrity Sighting Counter into our carry-on. We’d only used it to track random encounters on the street, which excluded several working actors and dancers who were at the wedding we attended on Saturday night. Thus we ended up with an artificially-low-but-still-respectable reading of four. New York rocks, dude.

* * *

Girl Detective is in Europe at the moment, so Trash is filling in for her. You heard me. Don’t try to pretend you’re not curious about what kind of writing would come from somebody who can tolerate such massive doses of me. Go check it out.

posted by M. Giant 2:41 PM 0 comments


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