StayCation 8: Annnnnd…we’re done.

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I’m starting to think I made way too much of this going-out-every-day thing.  It’s starting to look like I should have taken a day to just ride the subway.  Honestly, I’m almost regretting the fact that I didn’t come up with the idea earlier on this week, this being the last day of my StayCation.  I could have taken two or three books, a couple sketchbooks and notebooks.  Kept my phone off except to take pictures if really necessary.

I could have ridden out to Coney, and bounced back to Inwood.  Gone out to those tracks at the end of the N line that just hang there over Astoria, then bounced back down and waved at the long dormant Citi-Field.  Gone to Jamaica and back down to the Whitehall stop at the very southern tip of Manhattan.

Just think of the things I would have seen.  The people watching would have been amazing in its own right.  And should the crazies have stayed off my car, I’d be stuck either reading or scribbling.  It would be guaranteed productivity. And the cover would only be $2.25.

Sure, I’d be one of the Subway crazies.  But, at least, I’d be something of a covert one.  Unless some one rode all the way to the end of the line and then saw me stick around on the same train, who would know?  I could sneak entirely under their radar.   Freak of public transportation that I might be, I could surf the trains for a solid twelve hours and go undetected so long as I had a solid shower that morning.

…Oh, God.  This is how every subway crazy gets his start isn’t it?  Oh I’ll just ride it for one day.  Like a little experiment.  Next thing you know, you’re announcing the stops before the conductor is, and asking if anyone would like to buy your sandwich.  Christ, if you see me on anything but the G, E, M, or L lines over the course of the next few days, please get me the FUCK outta there!

The rumor is that Sam Jackson rides the subway all the time.  Thanks to the fact that he’s a huge megastar, even when people do kind of recognize him, they generally assume there’s no way Sam “Mutha-Fucking-Snakes” Jackson is going to sully his ass on a subway seat.  So, by his account, he can jump on and off the subway with ease on a regular basis.  Of course, since he’s told that story, every other New Yorker on the planet has claimed to have seen SLJ, and every dude wearing a Kangol hat has been assumed to be SLJ.  (Note to Sam Jackson: Sorry I called you SLJ.  Won’t happen again.)

The safety of assumption does not really fall as easily on the shoulders of the gentleman below.  Especially when you jump on the G train in full period get up, and are surrounded by a few similarly attired compatriots.  I wasn’t sure if the swarm was to protect the star in the middle, or if they were in fact trying to set up a shot.  There was a big camera in play, and it does look like he was holding onto an old school strap, but other than the motion of the ocean, why would you even bother hitting the real subway, to fake an old subway, if you already have the props?  In any case, the gentleman below did cause a mild stir once he jumped aboard our car.

Don Draper could have done so much better on that Bud Light ad.

I’m sure someone will fight me over whether or not this is indeed James Franco, but I’m convinced.  Not that there wasn’t a solid three stops worth of debate as we craned around the other inhabitants of the the train car, trying to spy a good angle to make a positive identification.  Remembering that the man is at work at NYU right now kind of tips the believability levels well into the green.  Even if it’s not indeed Mr. Franco, the confluence that a man who looks quite a lot like James would jump on the train with three other people in period attire with a small camera crew, is enough that I am extremely happy to have the Subway nearby at all times in NYC.  Who needs to go find wackiness in this town, when it stops for you every other ten blocks?

The whole crew jumped off a few stops before us.  We were headed into DUMBO.

That neighborhood is odd in its own right.  While it has a reputation for being relatively hip and up and coming, it’s actually rather bare.  The shore line is gorgeous, and I don’t even want to know how much it costs to rent an apartment in one of those fantastic looking buildings by the water.  (Okay, couldn’t help myself.  Looks like a two bedroom goes for around $3500 to $4500.)  But everything is really spread out, and for as much is made of the neighborhood, taking a wander there will leave you pretty bored pretty quick.

Of course, having two bridges driving into the landscape, and dicing up the neighborhood, doesn’t help too terribly much.  The streets scrambling to get out of the way of those landed metal and rock beasts, swinging themselves every which way, most definitely do not make it easy to give directions.  And of course, yesterday, I was giving directions to a seventeen year old who wasn’t quite used to the city, so that upped the difficulty quotient up another notch.

It took about thirty minutes, and the lucky placement of a tall lighthouse, but I did find my nephew and his crew.  They were in the city for the day, and I convinced them to take some time away from St. Marks Street and join me in DUMBO.  (What is it about St, Marks that just calls the kids in.  It’s like a damn tractor beam.  I mean, at seventeen I couldn’t have afforded anything on 8th street between 3rd and 2nd avenues.  I might have been able to grab something over in alphabet city, but not on St. Marks.  And yet, they come.  And yet.  They come.)

Once I had the extended crew in tow, I dragged them down the rather weathered walkway of Water Street.  The road itself had been overturned, replaced with some half-hearted signs of construction.  After passing one heap of whatever under a long black tarp, my nephew looked up saying, “Oh look, that’s where they killed the Basilisk.”

We passed by Washington, where a wedding was taking place.  A block further and there was a benefit of some sort going on, all black tie as well.  Another block down, and yet another crew clad in cravats cavorting carelessly around crystal and candelabras.  No less than three ritzy collectives down water street. I might have felt a bit self-conscious had I not worn my formal hoodie, and my twenty dollar blazer from Beacon’s Closet.   I was in my finery, no doubt.

Instead of dragging them into any of that swank, I turned down the street and pulled them into the Dumbo Art Center.  Empty.  Except for a bored receptionist.  No one standing outside.  No black Lincoln town cars rolling around the block one more time, just to check.  Just an empty art gallery, my nephew, his girlfriend and his friends, and, of course, a cardboard maze.

I can’t believe I never found out what the maze thought of cake.  Is it a lie?  Like one of those vegan cakes?

I did actually get to text Roommate and Kevin the following.  “In the maze.  Think I’m near the back.”  I’d been waiting all week to hit pinhole, and I was extremely happy to have managed my way in on the very last day of the exhibit.  In fact, as my nephew’s girlfriend whooped for joy upon finding the bathroom, and I introduced Roommate to Nephew amongst the hanging gardens of the corrugated, the band scheduled for the closing ceremony started to warm up.

It’s odd enough, wandering through a forest of cardboard.  It’s odder still, to find each bit of the forest marked up with odd messages in chalk.  (The chalk graffiti hadn’t been part of the artists original vision.  Some dude just wandered in with a bunch and started a trend.)  And it nears leaping into freakish layers of oddishness when you’re wandering lost in said maze, reading said cryptisms, and hear, slowly wafting in between the recyclables, the strains of “Moon River.”  Played as simply and starkly as an acoustic guitar can.  That will top off your weirdness meters for quite some time.

The kids were headed off to Rockefeller Center, and I volunteered to make sure they found their way there.  (Of course, I walked right past the subway entrance twice before finding it.  I’m an excellent NYC Sherpa.)  It had been a long day by the youngin’s.  I’m not sure when they got into the city, but generally day trips to New York basically mean walking a whole hell of a bunch.  I expected no less by them.

Once I finally got them onto the F train, I was immediately asked, “Can I just sit on the floor?  Will anyone care?”  I’m not to sure any answer would have changed the result, but I shrugged, and soon one whole door was covered in black hoodies.  (It’s part of the uniform.  Mine’s purple. To indicate that I am no longer young enough to be cool.  It was a hard transition.)  It was a sight that rankled my city instincts, but I reminded myself that they were seventeen and basically punkers, so this was simply a necessary part of their being.  Still, it didn’t help that the door they chose to block was right next to a seated MTA worker.  I can only assume he was off duty.  He kept looking at them with the same itch on his instincts as I had on mine, but he did his best to ignore it, and roll back into his seat.  Of course, the itch would come back, and he’d give them another look.  It actually became something of an interesting game of eye hockey between them.  Even a little bit better than bumping into James Franco.

The punk mentality held on until we finally stopped at a station where their door opened up.  Eye rolls and sighs.  The stood, to let people on.  I got off at fourteenth street, and pointed my nephew to the blinking train status map for the fifth time.

“It’s like, two more stops, right?”
“Four.  It’s right there.  Four more stops.  Rockafeller.”
“Four stops.”

I’m praying they’re not still on the F line.

My plan had been to spend the last evening of my StayCation with the entire clan at Floating Kabarette, if possible.  I hoped I could convince them to collect upon DUMBO and catch one last bit of weirdness before I returned to work.

It didn’t work out that way.

For a few it just wasn’t their style.  For a few, work leapt up and snatched them out of the evening.  For quite a lot, it was a big ole money issue.  But in the end, I was going stag.

In a way I think it worked out better that way.

Not that I was happy to go to the show by myself.  That was kind of a pain in the ass.  I had to ask the guys at the next table to hang onto my seat any time I nipped out for a smoke, or stole away to the bathroom to take a pull off my flask.  (Galapagos got my last twenty dollars, but after that I was broke, and if you have bourbon, you drink it.)  And please don’t get me wrong, the show was really solid.  Jenny Rocha & Her Painted Ladies, basically stole the show, rocking out three seperate dance numbers. One Can-Can, one tap, and one with what can only be described as posterior-enhancing bustles lashed onto their backsides. Madame Rosebud honestly made a case for the best burlesque I’d ever seen, managing three numbers herself, and keeping everything fresh for bit to bit.  (The woman took off a stocking with her teeth.  It was impressive.)  Even Manchengo, who, though I cannot locate him for a link, I do now know is named after a cheese,  managed quite a few laughs pulling out Steve Martin-esque bits as the meta-performer doing horribly in the best way.  (Although, and I’ll leave the description at this, the underpants routine was inspired.  And really, how often do you get to say that?)

The show was solid as hell, and worth every penny of the cover I spent.  (None.)  And part of me does wish I’d had some of my crew along to appreciate it.  But there was something nice about ending the StayCation, sitting by my lonesome in the Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Something about taking in the skyline of Manhattan as it slowly swept out in one line of lights to become the oncoming bridge towering over the park.

Taking a breath, and standing on a rock by the river water, was as good and calm a moment I could imagine to close out a week of running about.  Of course, my little zen moment was broken pretty quickly.  I looked down for just a moment.  I needed to.  I was wearing my Converse and they have about as much tread as Suran-Wrap.  (Remember how I said I was all fancied out?)  The rocks under my feet obviously used to be something.  There was cable running through bits here and there.  Some of the broken shards had been carved into way to tight an angle to have occurred naturally.  But one rock jumped out at me.  It was rolled over on its side, and I’m not sure how I noticed it, but, after glancing it, I picked it up and rolled it face up.

No witty commentary.  I just think this is cool.

It was tile.  The same exact kind that’s one the wall of every subway platform in the city.  I’m not sure why they went with the hexagon city wide, but there it is.  I’m also not sure where this bit of rock came from.  There aren’t any subways that close to DUMBO.  It’s one of the fun things about getting there.  But from every appearence, the rock flopped over at my feet used to be part of a subway platform that no longer existed.

There was something in finding that.  Something in finding it there.  Something about one even rock covered in hexagons on a beach covered in granite slop.  Something in finding that.

I put my foot flat on the tile.  And I took another long look around.

Years ago, people leaned on that tile and stared down a tunnel waiting for lights.  I got to stand on it, and look at these:

Thank you city, for looking awesome enough to make it look like I know how to take a picture.

It just seemed a good ending for the week.

And, yeah, with that…we’re done.

(Wondering what all this StayCation business is about?  Read from the beginning.)

Monday: Back to work.  Whee!

  1. Ah Galapagos…ridiculously overpriced. Only time I went there was when a teacher from college was in town with his band…and I was comped. Though the evening did include one person falling into the water which was fantastic.

  2. So Dave and I discussed it, and I think the conclusion is that it’s definitely James Franco. Dave says it’s without a doubt James Franco. I tried looking up a number of profile pictures and think the nose is a little different but the resemblance is enough to make it interesting.

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