New York City

Wednesday, 06 November 2013 15:30
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nyleadLittle car in the big city...


Like Boston, New York was more about seeing friends than sightseeing for me, so I didn’t really do a lot of the touristy stuff. Someday I’m going to do a full-on photo safari around the city, but that didn’t happen on this trip in favor of hanging out with my friends.

The drive down from Mystic was fairly uneventful, and since I wanted to get into the city before nightfall, I stuck to the freeway for a change and made the trip in good time. Naturally, traffic slowed quite a bit as I got closer to my destination (even on a Sunday afternoon), but it was actually kind of fun for a change, as I was cruising in with the top down. I came in over the Triborough Bridge and down FDR Drive into Manhattan proper, then cut west on 49th street to get to my hotel. Even the usually jaded New Yorkers were looking and commenting on the car (there’s this weird effect with pedestrians where they assume that nobody in a car can hear them speaking, even if that car is five feet away and wide open to the sky), which was kind of fun. Datsun Roadster, the ambassador of the automotive world.

Coming into the city Trying to be seen in traffic. Cell phone pic.

I parked the car in a nearby parking garage, where it raised a few eyebrows with the attendants (who had to be shown where the ignition was over on the left), then walked half a block or so to my hotel. I had gotten one near Times Square that we’d used quite a bit during Spider Man production, so I was able to get a really good rate on a pretty decent room. This would be home base for the next week.  After checking in, I went for a walk around Times Square, grabbed a slice of pizza for dinner, and then turned in to read for a bit before starting my week.

Times Square

The next morning, it was evident that the weather was maintaining the same level of cooperation that it had for most of my trip so far—warm and sunny, and not a cloud in the sky. I wandered down to the Village and walked around a bit, had a little food truck lunch in Washington Square Park, then decided to cover a little more ground on a Citibike.  

The ubiquitous Citibikes The view from the saddle on a Citibike Some local scenery

While it may be the most dangerous thing I’ve done on this trip so far, using the Citibikes was a huge amount of fun. It seemed like traffic was a little more aware of bicycles than usual (probably due to the influx of those Citibikes—5 million rides in the first 5 months), so while I was riding pretty close to and in traffic, there wasn’t anything particularly hair-raising going on. I covered a lot more of Manhattan that way, and really just had a good time riding around in the nice fall weather.

That night, I met my friend Victoria (“lectacave” to those of you who follow the blog comments) for dinner at the Red Rooster up in Harlem. We did the “BYOB” thing with one of the bottles of Riesling I’d smuggled in from Canada, and got a table near the bar. The food was really great, and we got the added bonus of a great band  playing in an impossibly small corner of the room. Really a tremendous amount of fun, and a great way to end my first full day there.

The Red Rooster Central Park in the fall Building + Sky


I spent the whole next day visiting the “big rooms”, Radio City Music Hall and the Metropolitan Opera. I first had lunch with my friend Patrick, then we walked over to Radio City to check out progress on production of the annual Christmas show. Things were going together pretty rapidly, and while I can’t give away any secrets, it’s looking like it’s going to be a great show this year with many new effects and production elements. 

Radio City in production

 After leaving Radio City, I went over to the Met to say hi to the guys there. As usual, it was great to see everybody, and I got to hang out and watch The Nose, which is a newer opera that’s short (1 hr 50 min) and that makes really creative use of projection in conjunction with the scenery and cast. Definitely something to be on your list if you’re an opera fan.

Rather than go back to the hotel that night, I hung out with Matt (who runs the rigging crew at the Met) at his home about an hour north of the city. It’s pretty amazing how quickly it goes from “biggest city in the world” to “let’s go milk some cows” out in the NY countryside, but it was nice to get out and see some other areas. Matt had to be back at work the next morning at 9am, so we drove back into NYC early, and I walked back to my hotel from Lincoln Center.

I did a little more sightseeing the rest of the day, and stopped in at the Museum of Modern Art for a bit, but there was some sort of perfect storm of tourist buses showing up and it was ridiculously crowded, so I didn’t hang around long. In the evening, I hung out with my friend Traci, who was the lighting designer on several shows we’ve worked on in the past, going back…a long time. We went to a vegetarian Korean/fusion place that was really good and caught up on all kinds of goings on, both inside and outside our industry.  After many interesting dishes, we walked back to 49th street and parted ways for the evening.

Statue of Liberty photo op guy in Times Square Somewhat creepier photo of the Statue of Liberty

The next day, I had some early meetings with legal counsel whom I’d only met on the phone previously—it’s always good to be able to put a face with the name/voice.  After the meetings were over, I had lunch with my old friend Rod at Bobby Van’s, and we got to catch up on many things. (Are you sensing a theme here yet?) I also had an opportunity to have a post-lunch drink with my former colleagues/competitors from Stage Technologies later in the afternoon, and again…we caught up on a lot of stuff.

In the evening, I got together with my friend Victoria again, and she’d scored some tickets for Jazz at Lincoln Center where there was a great jazz/gospel show that had been touring the US, but was now back in NYC. As she was good friends with Kenny Rampton (trumpet), we also got to go hang out backstage for a bit afterward. 

Always a good sign The band and the choir Some of the famous signatures backstage


Being a talented musician herself, Victoria also had a late night gig at an uptown jazz club called “Smoke”, so after our backstage tour and a couple a quick drink with Kenny at a nearby bar, I went up there and caught her set, which rounded out a very nice and very musical evening.

My next little adventure in New York was to head over to Brooklyn and check out the haunted house that my friend John supervises for the entertainment technology students at City College. It was a fun haunt, full of stuff that the students designed and built, and with the added bonus of exiting into the theater, where they were displaying video of the people still coming through alongside a screen projection of what the Medialon automation software was up to for controlling the whole thing. It was great to have the whole experience of first getting haunted, then watching behind the scenes a little from the theater, then seeing behind the scenes all the way once I got with John and hung out in the control booth a bit.

Spooky... One of the rooms had a dead pirate ...and one just had a semi-dead body Behind the scenes

Once everybody was fully haunted out and the house closed for the night, we went out for some drinks and snacks, and afterward I walked back over the Brooklyn Bridge since it was a really nice night. There were some iconic New York City views from the bridge, so I also snapped  few pictures, then grabbed yet another Citibike near City Hall and pedaled back uptown to my hotel.

Backstreets of Brooklyn Classic view of the Brooklyn Bridge Non-classic view of the Brooklyn Bridge
On the bridge Manhattan skyline More skyline, downtown with WTC
Moon over Manhattan Bridge Lies and Cigars The World Trade Center

On one of my last days in the city, I actually got out of the city and drove over into New Jersey to meet up with some Roadster guys. I’d corresponded with Dave earlier in the trip, and he had extended a generous “when you’re in the neighborhood, stop by!” invitation back then, and now I was in the neighborhood. I headed out through Manhattan and the Lincoln Tunnel to the New Jersey Turnpike and made my way toward Kenilworth, NJ.

It was less than an hour’s drive and it was a nice day, so I had a good cruise with the top down over to Dave’s place, where his Roadster was parked in the driveway. Much to my surprise, Carl, another Roadster enthusiast also drove in all the way from Watkins Glen, since he’d missed me when I passed through there. Carl brought me some Finger Lakes wine and showed off his car, which had a really interesting engine swap from the original Datsun 1600 to a 1963 Oldsmobile Rocket V8, a smaller (as V8s go) all aluminum 8 cylinder engine mated to a five speed transmission from a Mustang.  It was a bit weird to hear a V8 rumble coming from a Roadster, but it all worked. 

Carl (L) and Dave (R) A small flock of Roadsters

We walked down to the street fair that was going on that day and got sandwiches at Jimmy Buff’s, which added to my tally of local food stops. We had a great chat over lunch, and after walking back to Dave’s house, we all parted ways, with Carl making the five hour trek back to Watkins Glen, and me heading back into the city.

Rocket V8 The Kenilworth street fair

As it was my last night in New York and the weather was fabulous, I got together with Victoria again for a little nighttime cruise around Manhattan. We went all over the place, from Rockefeller Center and Times Square in Midtown all the way down to Battery Park and all the way up into Harlem. Victoria was operating the camera during the trip, and she got some great shots of New York at night that were given a bit of action blur due to driving a stiff little sports car over Manhattan-level bumps in the dark. We had a great time, and it’s definitely something I’d like to try again sometime. 

Columbus Circle via Roadster Artsy shot of Radio City from a moving car, courtesy Lectacave Hot dog vendors on Park Avenue
Traffic on Park Avenue Looking back at Grand Central Washington Square Park
Heading toward the WTC Getting into Columbus Circle Statue of Liberty (way, way in the background)
Times Square traffic Midtown traffic The car and a fan, waiting for its night out

After our little cruise, I parked the car in a New York City parking garage for the last time on this trip, and headed back to the hotel. I could probably spend a month in the city and still not get to everything I wanted to do, but with any luck I’ll be back soon.

Hanging out in Harlem More Harlem scenery South Street Seaport

Next stop: Eastern Pennsylvania


+1 #1 Satoru 2013-11-09 03:24
New York is great!
It's a city of art.
#2 FairladySPL 2013-11-09 05:17
>warm and sunny, and not a cloud in the sky

Scott as you head "south" through Penna., we've still got the second part but now, Saturday morning, it's 26°...
+2 #3 admin 2013-11-10 19:52
You're right, Kanzaki-san--I had a great time, and I can't wait to go back. :-)
#4 admin 2013-11-10 19:53
It's getting a little nippy, but I'm definitely headed southward. That being said, I did drive around with the top down today. :-)
#5 lectacave 2013-11-11 09:58
Favorite post yet!!! ;-) NYC sure loved it some little Datsun Roadster. Melting the hearts of surly cabbies and jaded pedestrians everywhere. Thanks for the visit and the sweet ride!

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