Issue #72 – “City That’s Never Cheap” – July 18th, 2005

-The other day, I saw a commercial for a special on popcorn shrimp at Red Lobster.   And at the very end of the ad, in tiny type at the bottom of the screen, were the words “Prices higher in Honolulu and Times Square.”  I found it both amusing and telling that the only two places in the country that couldn’t comply were a remote island in the Pacific Ocean…and the heart of Manhattan.  But that’s New York City for you – a riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma, then fried with batter and served with tangy dipping sauce.

-A few weeks ago, I was having a drink at some dive bar on the West Side with my buddy Brian when we were approached by a reasonably attractive chick who was running a promotion for Miller Lite.  She gave us each free beers then asked if we wanted to enter a sweepstakes.  The prize?  Miller Lite will come to your apartment and build a fully stocked bar.  We both looked at her in shock and instantly knew that the suits up at Miller Lite corporate hadn’t quite thought this idea through.  “Do you know how small my apartment is?” I asked.  “Yeah,” Brian chimed in, “If you build me a bar, where am I gonna sleep?  In the bathroom?”

-Earlier in the day, Brian and I had walked passed a Chinese restaurant called Noodles on 28 that, oddly enough, is located on 28th Street.  We walked a bit further and were surprised to notice that Noodles on 28 was opening a second location – about 100 feet down the block.  Brian commented on what that boardroom discussion must have been like: “Well, the Noodles on 28 business is booming and it’s time for us to expand.  But where?  Rome?  Paris?  Tokyo?  Wait…I got it.  29th Street!”

-People like to argue and talk shit in New York about why their neighborhood is better and yours sucks.  I find this to be an exercise in futility.  Honestly, the way some folks go on and on, just being born in this town doesn’t even earn you street cred anymore – you have to be spawned from the seed of a hippie and a beatnik and emerge immaculately from a manhole in the Lower East Side.  Who the fuck cares which neighborhood is “better”?  I pay thousands of dollars a month for an apartment where I can see the refrigerator from my bed.  We’re all in this together.

-You know what’s great about living by myself?  Looking at the air freshener spray in my bathroom and knowing I never have to use it if I don’t want to.

-You can’t buy liquor and beer at the same store in Manhattan.  Why?  Is this supposed to defer people from getting too fucked up?  The liquor store is fifteen feet away from the beer store anyway.  And didn’t anybody tell the Mayor that “beer before liquor, never been sicker” is an old wives tale?

-NYC really is an enigma.  I mean, what other city has one Red Lobster, one 7-Eleven, one Hooters, and 45,000 dry cleaners?  When New York was in the running for the 2012 Olympics, the chief concern was that the city couldn’t handle the influx of people.  But at least everyone would have had a pressed shirt.  This week marks the four-year anniversary of my move to Manhattan after graduation and I still haven’t quite figured this place out.  Is it possible to love a city unconditionally?  It just might be.  Perhaps I’ll mull that thought over some hot and sour soup at Noodles on 28.  Uh, no…the other one.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-Sometimes, if I’m in J.Crew and the person ringing me up asks if anyone helped me with my purchase, I’ll pick a salesperson at random and say, “Yeah, he did” even though no one really assisted me.  That’s just the kind of guy I am.

-You should always be wary of products made by companies that don’t specialize in them.  For instance, my friend has a DVD player made by Polaroid and a Kenneth Cole watch.  They’re both just a little off.  Of course, I didn’t even follow my own advice and bought sneakers made by Lacoste last week.  They rubbed my ankles raw to the point where I’m limping around in them.  Sure they look pretty pimp with the little green alligator on the side, but I walk like Kevin Spacey in “Usual Suspects.”

-My friend Kim makes jewelry and has these parties where a bunch of girls come to an apartment, drink wine, and buy up her jewelry.  And she makes a good amount of money from this!  I can’t imagine a similar scenario with males.  What could possibly motivate a bunch of guys to get together, drink beer, and buy stuff?  Maybe unopened porn?

-I just read this awesome book called “The Tipping Point” which is basically about the point where small fads become huge trends.  Now I find myself constantly bringing up the book when I’m out at the bar.  Not surprisingly, no one seems to be interested.  My friends’ idea of the tipping point is taking one more shot then falling over.

-I don’t think I should have to request water at a restaurant.  The waiter should just bring water.  Just bring water!  Bring water before you even bring the menus.  And don’t just bring one person water because they’re the only one who specifically requested it.  It should be assumed that everyone wants water.  Just bring water – no, no, not bottled, not sparkling, just regular fucking water.  If you don’t, I’ll calculate the tip on the bill before tax, which is what you’re really supposed to do anyway.

-Ever get an email from a friend that’s so long you almost wish they never wrote it in the first place because now you have to reply with a lengthy email of your own?

-I bought some Healthy Choice microwaveable meals.  They’re healthy, which is good.  But I eat two of them at a time, which is bad.

-Watching the Tour de France makes me really tired and not want to ride a bike ever again.  Which I’m sure is the opposite effect they were going for.

-And, finally, the biggest drawback to living in Manhattan is that the city that never sleeps is also the city that’s never cheap.  Just sitting down in any lounge in town will easily set you back about 300 bucks, because sitting down requires buying a bottle of liquor.  That’s right, real estate is so hot here, even your ass pays a premium.  I was at this hotel bar in the Meatpacking District recently and beers were like $14.  And everyone was just lapping it up.  Though only slightly tipsy, I was forced to bail after dropping about half my 401k.  But I did learn a valuable lesson: You can’t reach the tipping point in New York without getting taken to the cleaners – which is why there’s so many of them.  Fuck me.