after week twenty-one

Things I’ve Learned:

1) They hyperbolize the weather in New York, too.  All the 11pm newcasts on Wednesday were freaking out about the massive, apocalyptic hellstorm that was coming to New York in two violent waves.  The first wave – arriving Thursday morning – was nothing more than a persistent drizzle – the typical, soft pussy rain of the Northeast.  The second wave – arriving in the evening – featured a brief period of heavier rain, increased wind, and lightning.  In other words, it was a thunderstorm – a regular, nothing-special thunderstorm.

2) If one of your favorite bands is playing an outdoor show at a park, you can usually check it out for free.  I actually learned this a couple years back, when Okkervil River were the only band I cared to see at a weekend festival that Vanderbilt University holds every year.   About 30 minutes before their set was to start, I drove over to campus, then walked along the perimeter they had set up until I found a spot in a slightly elevated area (near the cafeteria) where I ended up getting a clear view of the stage and – because sound carries beyond whatever fencing they have set up – could hear the band perfectly.

Earlier this week, Wilco played 2 shows at Prospect Park in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.  Tickets were $45 bucks.  With the knowledge gained from that Okkervil River show, I headed over on Tuesday to see if I could check the show out for free.  I got there just as they were starting their set, walked around the ticketing area and along the fenced-in perimeter, and once-again (along with a couple wise New Yorkers – see picture below) found an ideal spot where I could see the band and hear things nice and clearly.  For the next two hours, I leaned against a lightpost (that was likely coated in dog piss or hobo piss or hobo dog piss, but whatever) and took in a terrific set from one of the best live bands around.

3) I could ride the subway all day.  And I almost did, as I took a couple wrong routes as I tried to get to that Wilco show.

By the way, here’s my review of the trains I rode:

(a) The express E train – featuring sleek, blue benches, a modern electronic board that shows all the upcoming stops and transfers, and – because it was the express train – a breezy ride that zooms along, flipping a middle finger to the lesser, inferior subway stations that aren’t deserving of a stop.  The express E rulez.

(b) The local E train – crowded, slow, and smells like fennel and pee pee.  Going from the express E to the local E is like going from one of those limousines with a jacuzzi in the back to a cab where the previous rider has puked all over the back seat and you don’t notice it until you sit down on the puke-covered seat and now your pants are soaked in someone else’s puke and – even if you quickly find a way to change pants – that puke smell’s gonna linger around you for the rest of the day.  The local E droolz.

(c) The 7 train – a mostly-elevated track that takes you from Queens to Times Square (and which I’ve ridden before).  The fact that it’s elevated makes it extra tourist-friendly, as it allows you to use your GPS so that you can figure out why you’re in Manhattan when you thought you were supposed to be heading towards Brooklyn.

(d) The G train – goes from Queens to Brooklyn.  Apparently, only one train serves the route, so – if you miss it – you have to wait around for a long time before it comes back .  Thankfully, I caught it both times with minimal waiting.

Moving on:

4) Dish Network sucks.  A lot of the hotels I stay at use Dish Network for their TV offerings.  And – on almost every occasion where there’s even a hint of dark clouds outside – the thing goes out for a period of time, usually while I’m trying to watch a baseball game or one of the few TV shows I actually care to watch.  I know that the cable companies aren’t much better (and – satellite or cable – they’re all evil), but I can’t imagine choosing something like Dish or Direct TV over them if I truly wanted cable channels.  And, really, you should boycott all of them and get everything online – through however means you prefer – until they allow a la carte channel options.

5) Suicide Girls made a movie, and it’s unwatchable.  It’s called Suicide Girls Must Die (or something like that) and it popped up the other night on Showtime Extreme (one of 3 equally-awful Showtime options at my hotel).  It’s their attempt to make a found-footage horror movie, in which a bunch of their gals go to some cabin in Maine to do a calendar shoot and – one by one – they start disappearing.  Despite copious amounts of pierced T & A (and attitude – can’t forget the attitude ’cause these girls have tattoos and whatnot, which makes them extra sassy), the movie is a complete mess and I couldn’t get past the first 20 minutes before finding better things to do with my time (i.e. play games on my Kindle Fire).  I’d rather watch the error message that pops up when Dish Network loses the signal than this crap.

The Week In Hotels:

During the week, I stayed at a Super 8 in Jamaica, Queens.  Because this was in New York, the hotel was over my usual budget, but not by too much.  The place was nice overall, though the room smelled a bit like a dirty sock.  I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one, though, as I hadn’t washed my socks in a while, so it’s very likely that I was responsible for the smell.

For the weekend, I went back to the Howard Johnson in Parsippany where I spent the previous weekend.  The hotel was as good as last time.  Conversely, the city was as uninteresting as last time.

Restaurant Reviews:

1) Citi Field – Flushing, Queens
I went to a Mets game on Monday. After not eating all day, I was more than ready for large amounts of ballpark food. The line for my first choice – Shake Shack – was obscenely long, so I settled on a burger, fries, and a Nathan’s hot dog from one of the nameless concessions stands in the park.  Though overcooked, the burger was surprisingly good (it helps that they lay out a very large amount of toppings for you to choose from and cough over).  And the crinkle fries from Nathan’s were also quite tasty, especially when gently topped with some hot sauce.  The hot dog was nothing special, which I found odd since Nathan’s are usually my favorite.

2) Crown Fried Chicken – Jamaica, Queens
The downside to my hotel stay in Queens was that the neighborhood around the hotel had an absolutely awful restaurant selection.  There were 2 Chinese take-out places, a Wendy’s, a McDonald’s, a Dunkin Donuts (I was a-okay with this one), and Crown Fried Chicken.  I went with the last option, going with an order of nuggets and a spicy chicken sandwich that was completely slathered in ketchup and not spicy at all.  It was a poor choice.

And that was pretty much it for me and food in New York (my weekend eatings have all come from the Shoprite in Parsippany).  It’s a bit of a shame that I didn’t get to sample some better options, but (a) money’s tight at the moment, and (b) for the first time in a while, I don’t have any friends living in NYC who can take me to cool, yummy places in Brooklyn.  Those same cool, yummy places are usually overpriced and culturally-neutered, though, so I’m not really that bummed about it.

Booze:

I did not have a drop of alcohol this week.  Shame on me.

Up Next:

Back to New York City – specifically, the Bronx – for a couple days, then back to Jersey, then (hopefully) quickly out of Jersey and into Pennsylvania.

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