We used to make the mistake of trying to cram too much into day-trips, and would often come away feeling frazzled, burned-out, and disappointed. So, a couple of years ago we adjusted our strategy, and began simplifying the expectation rosters.
On Friday we wanted to have lunch at a certain Chinese restaurant in Greenwich Village, maybe have a beer (or three) in a bar nearby, take the kids (budding Beatles fanatics) to see the Dakota building and the “Strawberry Fields” section of Central Park, and possibly visit a store we like, where they sell old-time candy (like Zotz!).
In the old days, that would’ve just been the noon-to-two block, instead of the whole shebang.
We planned to be on the road before 10 am, but didn’t actually leave until around 10:30. Toney activated the GPS feature of my new cell phone, and I’ll be posting a review of it at Suggestaholic soon.
The trip to the New Jersey park ‘n’ ride was uneventful. We bought our tickets from a filthy vending machine, and climbed aboard a Trailways-like commuter bus, which took us through the Lincoln Tunnel, into Port Authority.
There, we traveled down, down, down into the Earth, and jumped aboard a subway train bound (hopefully) for Greenwich Village (I don’t feel I’ve yet earned the right to call it simply the Village…).
It was hotter than owl piss in that station, there were no maps, and the signs seemed to contradict each other. We didn’t have a huge problem with it, but never felt 100% certain we were going where we wanted to go.
I have no doubt the New York City subway system is a breeze once you learn it, but the same can probably be said for piloting the Space Shuttle…
It’s fast, though, and is an experience that stimulates all the senses, if you know what I mean. We’ve never actually gotten lost, or taken the wrong train, but the possibility is always there. And maybe that’s part of the fun?
Several years ago Toney and I had lunch at Sammy’s Noodle Shop, based on a recommendation by a guide book or real live human (I can’t remember), and loved it. The food was fresh and delicious, the prices reasonable, and the portions outrageously large – just the way I like it.
We probably hadn’t been there since 2005, but went again on Friday. It was around 2:30 when we arrived, too late for lunch and too early for dinner, but the place was crowded anyway.
We were seated at a table in the middle of the large dining room. To my left was an old hippie woman, who has probably been eating lunch there for twenty years. Behind Toney was a man who looked like Proposition Joe from The Wire, hoovering-up a platter of chicken and rice, and belching like an ancient belch-master.
Almost as soon as we sat down, a large group of Swiss(?) tourists was seated to my right, and directly behind the older Secret. There must’ve been ten of them, and half were snapping pictures like every little thing was amazing.
Look, a salt shaker!! And a napkin! And soy sauce! And holy shit, is that Prop Joe?? Flashes were going off all willy-nilly, and half the clientele was trying to blink-away the white spots in their eyes.
It was an amazing thing to behold, eavesdropping while those folks placed their order. People from Switzerland (or wherever), ordering in English, to a man fresh out of China… It probably took fifteen minutes, and that’s not an exaggeration.
At one point there were three employees at the table, and ten customers, and it sounded like all of them were talking at the same time, in different languages. And the waiter had an expression on his face that said, “Why do you need twenty photographs of me writing on a pad of paper? Wouldn’t ten or fifteen be enough?”
Our waitress was very nice, and our food arrived quickly. The egg rolls were the size of corn on the cob, and the entrees were enormous. We bought three different dishes, and shared them from the middle of the table.
And the shit was good. The chicken, especially. In fact, I floated the idea of placing an order for additional orange chicken, but Toney didn’t take the bait and I dropped it.
It was probably a wise decision, because all four of us left there groaning in misery. But it was the good Thanksgiving Day kind of misery… It felt like my gut was about to split open, my intestines ready to tumble to the sidewalk, and I couldn’t have been happier about it.
We walked around Greenwich Village for an hour or so, and saw a neighborhood basketball game that had attracted an improbable number of spectators. The players, all adults in their twenties and thirties, were talking shit as well as smack, and emotions were running high. In the middle of the day, on a Friday?!
We saw where someone had apparently ripped into a pile of trash bags on the curb, and found a bunch of vinyl LPs. So, they’d set up an impromptu sidewalk sale, attempting to peddle these highly desirable collectors items. You know, that had been in the garbage only moments before…
Then we found the Blind Tiger, a bar recommended by a couple of Surf Reporters, and went inside. The bartender, a woman, wasn’t exactly bubbling over with warmth, but she wasn’t all-the-way rude either.
I ordered Cokes for the Secrets, and asked about cask ales. Their website said they have them, but I didn’t see anything listed on the chalkboard above the bar. The bartender sighed and pointed at another sign, to her right, without saying any actual words to me.
They had two cask ales to choose from(!), and I went with the IPA. It was served in short mugs, probably twelve ounces, and was very good indeed. After we finished those, I returned to the bar (where someone needed to get acquainted with some Zest, and quick), and secured mugs of the other ale – something called Chelsea Red. Double yum.
We took the subway to the Upper West Side, so we could stand and stare at the Dakota. Which is what we did. Then we wandered into Central Park, and paused at the John Lennon memorial. As usual, fans had left flowers and various other items – including an acoustic guitar with peace signs drawn on it.
Beside the memorial was a man sitting on the ground, playing a sitar. Man, if there’s one musical instrument I can’t stand, it’s the friggin’ sitar. Flanka flanka: I hate the sound those things make, almost as much as the time Nostrils got into the Tangy Taffy.
We walked around Central Park for a while, and it was a beautiful day. We stood and watched a gang of senior citizens engage in a spirited game of lawn bowling, and had no idea what was going on. We also noticed an abundance of nannies, shepherding other peoples’ kids through the park.
We were planning to hit the candy store (Zotz!), but the sky suddenly turned dark and threatening. So, we high-tailed it to the nearest subway station, and headed to Port Authority. There, we caught a bus back to the park ‘n’ ride, and rode through the pouring rain.
If we’d hesitated just fifteen minutes, we would’ve been walking around with wet underwear for the rest of the day…
As is the tradition, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel in New Jersey, for dinner. Somehow, this has become associated with day trips to NYC. The place was slammed with people, and we had to park a country mile from the front door. Buncha gravy-eating bastards…
I put our name on the list, and the woman said it would be about fifteen minutes. I didn’t believe her; my inner-chain restaurant sensor told me forty minutes, but what are you going to do?
We looked around the store while we waited, and some fifteen year old super-effeminate member of the Future Poofters of America Club, kept cranking off incredibly loud horse-laughs. Passing aircraft could probably hear that doucheketeer, and it was getting on my nerves. It sounded like Hee Haw was coming on.
And roughly forty minutes later (told ya!), they called our name. As we threaded ourselves through the seething crowd, Toney and I overheard a man, probably in his sixties, tell someone, “No, I learned about it in the Kama Sutra…” WTF?
We were led to a table, and had a seat. Nearby a busboy was removing some sort of adaptor from a chair, something I’d never seen before. It was a wide plank of wood, that fits over the chair back, and makes the seat almost twice as large. Is it for fat-asses? I simply don’t know. But if I ever get to the point where they have to install an ass-gasket, I’m going for the Al Roker surgery.
We ordered, and a deaf family was seated a couple of tables away. And an angrier group I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered… The parents continuously signed at their kids with violent stabbing motions, their faces all contorted with aggravation. It was almost scary, and if the kids hadn’t been such li’l shitheads, I probably would’ve felt sorry for them. Man, those were some perpetually pissed-off deaf people…
I ordered the Cracker Barrel Sampler, with macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes & gravy, green beans, and a side salad. And it was excellent, as usual. But the waiter allowed my sweet tea to go empty, and I was forced to dock him a dollar for the infraction.
Next to us was a man, with two young girls. We decided he was their Dad, but it was a divorce situation and he only had them for the weekend. The girls ordered sandwiches, but Dad had breakfast – and ate his bacon with a fork. What in the everlovin’ George Castanza hell??
We got home in time to have a few Yuenglings, and decompress in front of the BAT. It was a nice day, and caused us to make a pledge to do it more often.
But this time, dammit, we mean it.
I have some pics for ya, but am experiencing technical difficulties (sonuvabitch!). I’ll get them posted ASAP, and we’ll get back to the regular stuff tomorrow.
I’ll see ya then!
other kristin says
Sounds lke a fun day!
Chris and I went to the Blind Tiger a few years ago and the girl behind the bar was nice, down right helpful in fact. Sorry you got a crabby one. Can’t wait to see the pics!
Good Afternoon Surf Reporters……..
just when I thought I was about to lose it and go a ted bit ballistic here in my office, I click on a fresh update and immediately things were better!
God bless you, Mr. Kay!!
*tad, not ted…sheesh
Top ten if not first!
Loved the update–When does Toney head north? Gotta keep her in my prayers during the excursion.
Top ten? Surely not.
Bill in PA says
I could use a fifth. heh…
well, top 10 anyway….
Father Bob says
I could use a couple or eight of those cask ale’s right now myself….
i love the sammy’s noodle soups. it’s like wonton soup with noodles and sliced meaty goodnes…
the nyc subways are way too hot in the summer. it’s all the heat coming off of the ac units on the trains. there’s nowhere for it to go since the ventalation shafts are closed off due to 911 and also bums living in them and making condos. complete with home theater and sexy bedrooms.
That does sound like a nice day. Subway platforms are sweltering hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter, never seems like they are ever any comfortable temperature. They are super convenient and a WHOLE lot cheaper than taxis though!
Toney left this morning, and is already at Nancy’s house. Wonder why it takes Eninen twelve hours to travel the same distance?
I uploaded changes to the FrontPage site on Saturday, and it worked like a charm. Today I did the exact same thing (I think), and it’s all screwed up. I’ll take a look at it when I can. I have to go to work….
if you have 3 or 4 people in your group taxis are a pretty decent option for stuff like going from the village to chinatown. you’ll spend $6-8 on the subway and be miserable and still have to walk to and from a stop or you spend 10 and it’s door to door.
if you can get a taxi.
and the driver’s not eating raw garlic.
or stewed chicken entrails.
Your Public. says
Angry deaf people – gotta love it.
Lew in Bama says
I didn’t know you could get sweet tea in New Jersey…only in Cracker Barrel I guess?
I always get the fried catfish, fried okra and hasbrown casserole.
Drooling just thinking about it.
We don’t have public transportation here…I’m guessing that the subway sucks though.
the subway isn’t bad, except for the hot sweltering part. or the freeze your ass cold part. or when it’s stalled somewhere and they shift your train to another line without giving you the chance to get off first. or when it’s really crowded, and you have to carry your hockey gear. other than that it’s great!
sorry you had a crabby bartender – two of the female bartenders are friends of mine, but neither works fridays (at least not 4 months ago) but i’m glad you got yummy beer!
on the sad front – I only have 4 bottles of Yuengling left….
Willie Williams says
I started laughing out loud and my AA said, to one of my lawn guys “Must be a new update out on the fish site”.
A know a couple members of the FPA.
When you were visiting the Dakota you were only a couple blocks from this place…I saw a thing on Food Network (that’s The Porn Channel for foodies!) about it and I’m dying to stop by there the next time I’m in the NYC: http://www.levainbakery.com/
Shiny Rod says
“Cracker” Barrel, as it is called here down South takes on all the essence of what type of folks you can encounter in the South. I went to the “Barrel” for breakfast Sunday, and I swear that those same people Jeff described were here too! Sitting next to me was a group of theme dressed business folk (you know those guys who dress up in there Harley gear and ride there expensive Harley Fatboys up and down the highways) also know as weekend bikers. You could tell because they were all talking about stock options and which admin assistant they screwed that week. Anyway, I ordered the breakfast sampler and as usual, they F*ed it up and brought me biscuits and gravy and I asked for the whole wheat sour dough toast. Other than that, everything was good. Besides, it takes a bad cook to screw up breakfast. In front of me was a middle aged man and woman who looked like they wanted to eat someplace else. The guy must have been horny as hell because he kept rubbing his wifes leg and I don’t mean at the knee. Behind me was an old fart and his wife who were still dresses in there sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. They didn’t say much or even look at each other, strange, you spend that much time with someone, at least talk about church stuff. I also had to dock the waitress a dollar because my coffee cup went empty for more than five minutes. Lew – I heard the catfish is awsome, sweet tea up North and free refills!!!!
Shiny Rod says
“Toney left this morning, and is already at Nancy’s house. Wonder why it takes Eninen twelve hours to travel the same distance?”
Jeff, it’s because he has to stop and feed the lucents tofu every hour or they will burst into flames.
Shiny Rod says
like lucas says, the taxi would have been the better option. Plus you could have been picked up in the “Cash” cab, woo hoo! Ya babay, cha-ching!
Tom C. says
And I thought my mad dash to NYC for the day game at Yankee Stadium Saturday was packed… you guys got quite a bit of nice in there.
My highlight of the weekend: booing A-Rod. It’s got a wonderful theraputic effect.
Hey, check this shit out… literally. It’s a giant inflatable dog turd gone horribly wrong.
WOW Jeff……Zots???? I had forgotten all about those!! I will be doing an internet search for some of those confections today!!
Noticing that beeris high on the list of activities. You have not lost your touch sir. Not one tiny lil’ bit.
But still…no Zotz!. That’s sad.
Have you taken the Secrets to the huge-ass Tos R Us on Times Square? I forget. That’s someplace to spend a halfa day in. Plus which there’s a Cold Stone around the corner. Sweeeeet.
Tos R Us.
No. “TOYS,” it is.
Man am I jealous, when I flew to Baltimore to see the hubby at an army school we chose to go to Atlantic City instead of New York, cause we’re from oklahoma and fairly yokalized, so we fear large gatherings of angry people of mutiple accents. I now am kicking myself for not at least doing a tour, dorky I know but helpful for big city virgins. Pics when you can Jeff, living vicariously and all that.
We don’t have “gravy-eating bastards” round these parts. No Cracker Barrels in California, dammit. We have to go to Arizona for their artery clogging goodness.
Happy Monday, Surfers!
Tony Tony Tony says
I don’t know how interested in this you’ll be but I saw it today and I thought it might be pretty cool. Just now I have to get a phone where it’ll work.
Here is the site:
Poached from this site:
other kristin says
Still curious – where did Toney and the Secrets cross the border?
Eh.. Cracker Barrel is good, but I would trade my right arm for a Bob Evans. Alas. We have nothing but (sudder) IHOP and Denny’s here.
ok 3 points:
1) if the subway is stimulating ALL of your senses, you’re not doing it right. It is imperative you learn to ride the subway without actually touching it. This is an acquired skill, but important for your survival. It’s a little bit like surfing. When you become an advanced ninja, you will instinctively know things like which stops to not inhale at when the doors open, and also to look inside a car before boarding it and to weigh that car’s “emptiness factor” vs. the cars that just went past. If the cars on either side of the car you’re about to get in are pretty full, and the one you’re about to get into is nearly empty, it is usually a very bad omen. It could be anywhere on a scale from “there is no air conditioning in this car” to “there is a dead person sprawled out across the seats”
2) the system isn’t really a breeze, because they CHANGE the service routes ALL the time, especially on the weekends. On Saturday I got on a 4 train at Times Square (the 4 train does not stop at times square, check the map). It went to lower manhattan, and then LOOPED BACK AROUND back up the east side. Now this is actually kind of a novel route, and they might want to consider doing it on a full time basis. But on Saturday it just lead to subway cars full of the most angry natives and most confused tourists I have ever seen. If you have an idea of where you’re going to be going when you come to town, spend a few minutes with HopStop before you come. You’ll be glad you did. http://hopstop.com
3) Greenwich Village: you SHOULD just call it The Village, because when you call it Greenwich Village, we know which ones of you to mug. Same as if you call 6th Avenue “Avenue of the Americas” or if you call “Howsten Street” “Houston” (like in Texas) Street. Might as well say goodbye to your wallet, pardner.
“But if I ever get to the point where they have to install an ass-gasket, I’m going for the Al Roker surgery.”
hehe he said ass…
IMHO, you can never go wrong with an IPA…definitely YUM! You make me want to visit NYC and that’s not really anything that’s ever been on my radar before. I know I *should* visit, but it’s just so damned intimidating.
my dog is a gravyeatingbastard. and also a sausagethievingbastard. and sometimes a baconburleringbastard.
Yummy, green apple Zotz.
Sam in Rochester says
NYC is pretty great to visit, but it seems an unwritten law that if you live anywhere else in New York state, you hate NYC for sucking up all your taxes and votes. Anyway some of my friends live there and one of them works for Metro North. We’re both engineers, so he told me to show up at GCT like I was going to work. I did, and he gave me the “insiders” tour of GCT most of the public never gets to see. Its mind blowing how much stuff there is in the “basement”. There are like three yard hidden under the streets and surrounding buildings and more tracks than a Kanawha County meth addict. Anyway, if you ever looking for a real colon evacuation inducing thrill, try Crif Dog’s on St. Marks. They have deep fried hot dogs that will make you shudder with a delight akin only to something thats illegal in 15 blue states. There’s also this joint called “the trailer park”, but it’s location is a well kept secret my friends have upheld by making sure I’m never sober enough to know how I ended up there. I could spend the rest of my life worth in Friday nights never seeing all the neat stuff NYC has to offer.
other kristin says
Hi Sam – I’m in Rochester, too.
Oops, it seems to me, I may have already said that to you a few weeks ago. My memory isn’t what it used to be. 🙂
Cracker Barrel and I severed our relationship. It seems to be the appropriate place to go for Sunday ‘breakfast’ with a hangover when I have visitors in town. Even if I get my ass there by 11:00 am I’ve got to wait for 30 minutes… I’m pretty sure it’s a conspiracy for folks who have kids to keep them in that goddamned ‘gift shop’ they keep at the front door.
has anyone clicked on the Bunker Cam? Talk about a gigantic cluster f***
Ah… stinker cars, the emptiness factor is very important to analyse as jbay mentions… the weekends are always the worst for service changes. I wonder if they will ever get around to building that 2nd avenue line they’ve been teasing for years….
I was on a field trip once in NYC and the son of a bitch who sold hotdogs in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art gave me back chage for a ten when I had given him a 20. I told him and in his english-is-my-second-language accent pulls a ten out the wad, shows it to me like it was the one gave him. I said no you put my 10 on the back of your wad. He turns the wad over sure enough it was a ten. That’s where all the 20’s were. So he peels it off and puts in with his other 10s and just goes about his business.
I was so shocked (and afraid I might get stabbed to death if I made a stink) I just walked away. I guess I should have called a cop and at least let them put the guy on notice. What a rip off artist. He could see an out of towner a mile away. Bastard. I hope he and his entire family got bone cancer.
Great Googly Moogly says