New York, New York!
As part of my month long birthday celebration SF and I decided to hit up the city for a couple of shows and some shopping. We drove up early Saturday morning and stayed in a hotel in Queens, Best Western Plaza Long Island City. I liked the hotel because it was clean and convenient. I’ve been doing quite well with Priceline, thankfully landing decent hotels that don’t resemble the Bates Motel.
We got there too early to check in, but we parked the car in their lot and headed two blocks to the F Train. Our first stop was China Town. I had promised my mother to get her these perfumes she wanted. Ever since Ronnie’s space was boarded over due to construction I’ve been having trouble finding a reliable guy that I can go to every time. I did get what I wanted but all this haggling and trying to make sure I don’t get scammed. Ugh.
It was kinda crowded, but that’s because the weather was absolutely freakin’ perfect. We didn’t stay too long in China Town. I got my perfumes and a street meat, and then we headed to the TKTS booth in Times Square. Normally, the TKTS booth can have a really long line but we seemed to arrive at a decent time that we didn’t have to wait too long. And thank God because dirty pissy bum was fouling up the air. We seemed to be standing right in the wind path so we could get a full nostril-full. Yum.
Before we even got to NY, I was confused and on the fence about which show I wanted to see. I spent half an afternoon reading reviews and story synopses. There were many stories I was familiar with: Chicago, Sister Act, Phantom of the Opera, among others. But there were quite a few shows I had never heard of: Catch Me If You Can, Book of Mormon, and so many others. After scratching off the ones I definitely didn’t want to see I had to ask for opinions because even though I’m familiar with a story that doesn’t mean that Broadway production of it would be any good. It was like I was researching for a Ph.D. or something. Seriously. And the crazy thing is that what I was aiming for we didn’t even see. Oh, I’m not disappointed because we ended up with something good.
I think I was swayed by the guy voguing in front of the booth. Or maybe it was the cute little sailor outfits. Whatever. I decided that we should see La Cage aux Folles. I’m happy with my decision because we got half price tickets for the carbaret tables right up front of the stage. I’ll tell you about the show in a minute.
After purchasing our tickets we headed up to 60th and Lexington for a street fair that I’d heard about. I know these street fairs can be the same everywhere: street meat and other street food, cheap trinkets and other useless junk, but I like stuff like that. We weren’t trying to spend a whole bunch of money. We bought some crepes from a guy from Gabon. He seemed surprised that we know where he his country was located. He must have had us confused with stupid Americans. I also bought some cheap ass earrings that will probably turn my ears green. Hey you know, it’s all in good fun.
I’ve been to NYC many times so I’ve seen my fair share of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Now I’m into exploring other neighbourhoods. I had never been to this part of Manhattan. We just wandered around to see what could be seen and enjoyed ourselves on a very sunny and beautiful afternoon. There was no rush to do anything. Sometimes you just need to stop and smell the flowers. Except for SF. That poor thing. Her and her allergies. I think she set a record for number of sneezes in a weekend. It was at least a million. Perhaps more.
So about the show. I had known that the show was in its closing weekend. That’s too bad because the show was freakin’ awesome. But we were told that since Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was also a drag show, they probably didn’t want too many drag shows going on at once. Whatever. La Cage is definitely something I’d see again. Basically it was about a gay nightclub owner in France during the 70s. He and his lover had raised a straight son who was getting married to a girl from an ultra-conservative family. The son asked his parents if they could pretend to be straight for just one night. Actually, the son asked his natural father to be straight and invite his drunk, absentee mother back to the house so they could pretend to be one big happy family. The other father, the super gay father, was asked to leave altogether. Then they get this cockamamie idea that the super gay father would go masculine. When the drunk, absentee mother didn’t show up, super gay father decided to dress up like a mother, a la Mrs. Doubtfire.
In between the crazy antics of the family were scenes from the transvestite night club, complete with ultra masculine men dressed up in bikinis and corsets, with high kicks and acrobatics. Include a dominatrix, some drama queens and men who can do the splits, well, you’re in for a good time. If you’re easily offended and astonished by gay men loving life, then you should probably sit this one out. It’s too bad because you’re missing a great show. I’m glad we saw it before it closed.
The next morning, we decided to skip out on the free hotel breakfast. Fake, sliced egg and cold cereal is not my idea of a hearty start, so we asked the front desk guy if there was a diner or something nearby. He pointed us to a bodega. Enter your friendly neighbourhood drug dealer. Look, I don’t want to be stereotypical, but a black guy hanging out on the corner with a bank roll the size of my head is probably up to no good.
I was confused by the bodega. All of them are so different, and this one didn’t take credit cards. Strangely, they did allow you to smoke. You might have missed the sarcasm on that one but there were two people smoking inside the store and a third guy came in to buy a single and he also lit up. Calvin, the drug dealer, immediately introduced himself to us and offered to buy us anything we wanted. It was really quite bizarre. He was like, “Anything you ladies want.” We weren’t at Ruth’s Chris but I still felt odd asking some strange man to buy me a egg biscuit so I declined, but SF was in desperate need of a hot chocolate. Something that costs a dollar is probably harmless. That’s when he flashed his bank wad. 100s, 50s, 20s. I was like… uhm. Well, thank you for your time. He was harmless and a little bit funny. He asked us if we wanted him to show us around the city. Then when we found out we were from DC, he wanted us to invite him down there for the weekend. Yeah, we’ll get right on that. I ended up giving him my phone (thank you, Google Voice) because I always manage to get sucked into such things. Since he was not creepy or stalkerish I didn’t see any problem in being nice to him for a few minutes. Sometimes it’s more of a hassle to be a bitch to someone because then they really don’t leave you alone.
Since we still had not eaten, we just decided to go back into Manhattan and find something there. We got sucked into an expensive mediocre breakfast at TQS (or something like that) somewhere in the vicinity of Broadway and 50th. We were trying to stay close to the TKTS booth to get tickets to a matinee show.
The line for matinee tickets wasn’t long at all. It took us about 20 minutes to get through it and get tickets for Avenue Q. Again they were half off and we got seats in the fourth row from the stage. While waiting for the show, we walked down to Herald Square for some shopping. Good thing we decided to walk because we discovered Melissa Cupcakes. They sell these teeny tiny little cupcakes. Mmmm. So delicious. We shopped and loitered on the street for awhile, then walked over to the theatre.
Avenue Q was HILARIOUS!!! I wasn’t sure what to expect because it’s a puppet show, but forget about all that. It was just so funny. I don’t know which I liked better: La Cage or Avenue Q. I think I like them equally just in different ways. I warn you though: Avenue Q is not recommended for kids under 14. Full puppet nudity and such hits as “Everybody’s a Little Bit Racist,” “The Internet Is For Porn,” and “It’s Okay To Be Loud When You’re Making Love.” The story is about a kid who just graduates college and moves to a slum in Queens. He meets a girl down the block and falls in love with her, but fucks it up because she wants to get married and he’s looking for purpose. Enter a one night stand, a puppet who loves porn, a gay couple, and a Jewish-Japanese couple. It was basically about trying to figure out what you want to do with your life and what happens to you while you’re busy making plans.
After the show we did some more wandering around and ended up walking a huge circle looking for something decent to eat. I am not into chain restaurants like TGIFridays and Red Lobster. We had eaten more than our fair share of street meat. I was desperate for some pad thai, and thanks to my Trip Advisor app, we did find a place: Bangkok House on 8th (or was it 9th?) between … oh, I don’t know anymore, maybe 47th and 48th. It was some street where there were plenty of restaurants: Spanish tapas, Turkish, an Irish pub and a whole gamut of others.
At any rate, the food was excellent, the perfect way to end our trip. We got back on the train after being chased by a guy desperate to give us comedy show tickets. He said, “Do you like to laugh? I’ve got comedy show tickets. Eddie Murphy’s brother.” I replied, “No, I don’t have a sense of humour.” Then he said, “It’s like Schindler’s List.” Uh. Okay. Not sure how that is supposed to be funny. And how come all the comedy shows in NYC feature a relative of some major comedian? Eddie Murphy’s brother. Tina Fey’s second cousin.
SF and I are headed back later in June to see the Cirque du Soleil show Zarkana. Then I’m going to bring the kid to see Lion King.
We didn’t get home until almost midnight and then I found out Osama bin Laden was dead. But that is for another post.