NYC in 12 hrs

New York City

New York City (Photo credit: kaysha)

If you only have half a day in the City of Empire, here is what you need to do.

I’m meeting a client for a writing project in New York next week, taking the train in from Philly, and there is no way in Tartarus I’m going to waste a trip to The City. I’ve got shore leave for 12 hours. What am I going to do?

So I started thinking — what if this was my first time, or my only time, or a stopover on a world tour? What must be done if I wanted to introduce myself to NYC?

The following is a NY lifetime packed into one single trip around the face of a clock.

Old New York was once Nieuw Amsterdam, according to They Might Be Giants. It still is, if you recognize contemporary Amsterdam as the European headquarters of finance, art and sin. Investigating these three spheres of knowledge will suffice as a time map of your day in the Big Apple.

Finance

12 noon – Take a taxi to Wall Street and get a pic with the obligatory bull. Grab some grub at The Spotted Pig in the West Village with investor and frequent luncher Jay-Z. Don’t complain if you have to share a table with Luke Wilson, Courtney Love or Jude Law when it gets busy. Take a Styrofoam to-go cup and head to 47th St and 6th Ave for an afternoon of prospecting. Between the diamond exchanges and gold merchants, one patient soul found $800 of discarded wealth on the sidewalk. Will your friends laugh at you for spending your precious time in the Empire City looking for garbage? Sure. Will they shut up when you drop the benjamins? Likely.

Art

4 pm  - Art is what defines us as distinct from animals. Ants build cities, otters use tools, birds have language but only humans spend every waking moment swimming in symbols. Leave the Met, the MoMA, the Whitney and the Guggenheim for a time when you can spend a few days to gaze in wide wonder. Today, you will need to become the artist. On your smart phone, learn street photography from Yomatic, then take the Landmarks Photo Tour from Citifari. Starting at the world-famous Camera Superstore of B&H, you can pick up what you need there or rent a DSLR with a SD memory card from Citifari. You will trek across Manhattan, learning about f-stops, apertures, and deep focus as you capture lightning in a bottle, or at least some share-worthy uploads for Instagram. The tour culminates at the cinematic UN building on 1st Ave and 42nd St. It is time to put away your art and welcome the night.

Sin

8 pm – Rick Blaine once told Major Strasser that there are certain sections of New York he would advise him not to try to invade. I believe he was referring to the South Bronx, Brooklyn Heights, and the murder capital of Brownsville. Actually Midtown, with all its gawking tourists, rates dead last on the safety list, so travel by yellow cab and don’t carry purses or bags if you can avoid it. Eat dessert for dinner at ChickaLicious then hide out at someplace like Le Scandal Cabaret for a night of torch singing fan dancers, contortionist fire eaters, neon sword swallowers, animal-riding belly dancers and performance art that you won’t be able to unsee.

At midnight, your glass slippers fall off and your carriage turns into a pumpkin. Time to catch your plane, train or hotel bed. If not, you’ll regret it; maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. As you return to your regularly scheduled boredom, take a moment to thank the Sumerians for their base 12 numeric system, giving us our hours, months and the zodiac.

Right now, as I sit here wondering whether the Babylonian Great Intercalation syncs up with the Mayan End of Days, I can hear the whistle of the tonight’s last train to NYC. The whistle is saying that I will never be able to see it all and that is OK. After all, isn’t my bucket list is half full?

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