* Note – For my first entry into this spontaneously-created “blog-O-mine”, I thought it best to stick to the subject in the tag line…which is New York City. This is the only time I promise to do this. Yes, most of my stories, thoughts, meanderings, complaints and joys will be written about New York City…but not ALL of them. I want to make this very clear to you now, here, at the beginning of it all. That way on some random Tuesday when I’m spouting off about why I believe American Idol is the worst show on television, you don’t start complaining that although yes, it IS the worst show on television, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Big Apple. You’ll just sit back quietly, and let me finish barking.
Now with all of THAT out of the way…I present to you: “The Big Bad Apple…In A Nutshell.”
* Go to TIMES SQUARE.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. For a New Yorker, it’s the plague. But for tourists, it’s Val Halla. Stare away kiddies. They’ve got everything from the M&M store to Broadway shows. However, standing outside 8 hours in the freezing cold on New Years night just to see a ball drop for 10 seconds is just plain ludacrous (tourist or not).
* Get a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich from AMERICANA DELI on 101st & Broadway.
They’re huge, they’re greasy, they’re everything you’d expect a Philly Cheesesteak to be. They make them faster than anyone YOU’VE ever met, and it won’t cost you even a $10-spot…regardless of whether or not you add a 20 ounce soda. The only kicker is the guys working there hardly speak English, so thank God it’s an easy thing to translate.
“P H I L L Y, C H E E S E S T E A K, S A N D W I C H . . . “
* Visit CENTRAL PARK.
It’s just downright amazing. It’s a park as big as a small town. And unless you were born and raised in the Outback, or that area full of fields in between Kansas and Colorado, you’ll really be blown away by seemingly never ending expanse of good, green, earth. BONUS: Stand in the middle of Sheep’s Meadow. Having your feet on Mother Nature and being surrounded by a concrete jungle at the same time…remarkable.
* Ride in a cab at least once.
Don’t do it TOO often, or you’ll lose all your spending money before you even get to the place you’re supposed to spend it! BONUS: Roller coasters have NOTHING on a pissed off foreigner speaking a language you’ve never heard of dodging traffic at 50 miles an hour as if the NYPD was on his tail!
* Try the corn (amongst other things) at CAFE HABANA.
This extremely tiny yet extremely cozy cafe-style mini-restaurant is near Little Italy on Prince & Elizabeth. I can’t really explain it to you, but you’ve never had anything like their corn on the cob, guaranteed. BONUS: You could eat 6 ears of it and it wouldn’t break your bank.
* ROCKEFELLER CENTER.
It’s cheesy, but there’s something about standing in line for an hour to skate for 5 minutes that warms your heart. Not to mention it’s near Radio City Music Hall and NBC and all that other hulabaloo that tourists love to check out. BONUS: That big-a** Christmas tree really IS friggin cool to look at during the holidays!
* Stay out til 4am!
It’s one of the few cities in America where the nightlife doesn’t even THINK about slowing down until 4 or 5am, and there are tons of things to get into even after THAT! Sure it’ll throw off your work schedule and probably cost you a hangover, but as we all know “Sometimes it feels SO good to be SO bad…”
* Take a picture with one or two of our NYPD or FDNY.
BONUS: They are a special breed of humans giving life and limb for mere pennies on the dollar, just so we can feel a little less screwed by the evil in our country. Taking a picture with them is (honestly) an awesome way to make em feel appreciated…trust me. DOWNER: Rub em the wrong way, and you’ll get shot 50 times (or if it’s the FDNY, you’ll get axed)..
Curse someone out.
Nothing makes you feel like a true New Yorker like picking some random person on some random street corner doing something random…and asking them what the f**k they’re looking at. They won’t know what the f**k you’re talking about, but they’ll kindly return the greeting with a “What the f**k did you just say??” or the ever popular “F**k you, you f**king f**k”. DOWNER: Be cautious, picking the wrong random person will get the NYPD called on you…and you’ll get shot 50 times.
* Head down to Battery Park to check out the STATUE OF LIBERTY.
Now, you don’t actually want to wait in line 3 hours for that stupid a** boat (which will probably make you vomit from being seasick) to take you to it (where you’ll discover it’s really NOT that big) where you’ll have to wait another 3 hours just to walk up it. You can see it just fine from the Manhattan side, and with the zoom on today’s digital cameras, you’ll even get a decent photo. Then lie and tell your friends it was fantastic, and they’ll grin and lie back about how they’ve already seen it. BONUS: In reality…THEY haven’t been inside of it either.
* For no apparent reason whatsoever, scream out “I LOVE NEW YORK!”
Seriously. (Do it first now in the comfort of your own home to make sure you don’t sound like a total wuss when you scream). No one will care, no one will even look at you twice. BONUS: Someone might even reply “Why thank you. New York loves you too…”
* The EMPIRE STATE BUILDING.
Walk to 34th and 5th avenue. Stand under it, say something mundane like “Damn that’s a tall building!”, then walk away and do something else. They’ll charge you $35 to go to the top, and there’s nothing waiting for you there but a view you already knew you were gonna see anyway, and another line taking an hour just to get back down. Better idea, take the $35 (multiplied by the 5 members of your family, that’s $175) and go blow it on an IMAX film and an awesome NY dinner for you and the kids! BONUS: The best place to do this on a $175 budget is the Italian style restaurant, CARMINE’S (either the one in Times Square or the one uptown. The food’s fantastic, and served family style. This means every plate is big enough for 3-4 people…so dig in!
* Visit a random bar.
Pick one. On ANY street you come across in NY, walk in, sit at the bar, ask for a shot (for you and however many folks you’re with), pay for them (tip 20%!!), then thank the bartender, and walk out. This will give you the giggly energy (and temporary stamina) to handle walking another 20 NY blocks to go see the next sight…