The Media Desk and Mrs Desk 'do' NYC (and all parties involved survived)
©07 The Media Desk
All images taken by either the Desk or Mrs. Desk.
It was the First of December. The Desk's day job had sponsored a day trip to 'Gotham', Babylon,
The Big Apple,
The Capitol of the World,
.... [suitably long dramatic pause]....
New York City.
And we went.
The DESK did NEW YORK. And to some degree, New York did the Desk. And the only violence involved was a stubborn soft drink bottle cap and the demise of several totally innocent avocados at the hand of Mr. Joey Guacamole. But more on the end of the vegetation later.
The bus delivered the travelers from Dela-where to Midtown Manhattan at about 0930 hrs and immediately everybody disembarked and commenced wandering around.
Not long thereafter the Desk and Mrs Desk discovered Times Square.
No. The intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and associated streets had not gone missing, the Desk had no idea the bus had stopped anywhere in the vicinity as it was supposed to deposit its passengers closer to Rockefeller Plaza, as promised when the event was planned and reservations were made and money was paid. But that is a story for another time.
The Desk had done an impressive amount of research in all that there was to see and do in the vicinity of the Rock. It had plans for the day based on its base of operations being the home base for various network news shows, St Patrick's Cathedral, and the Rockettes. But here we were on the opposite end of the section known as Midtown, a full eight blocks from where we were supposed to be. But let it be said here and now that it worked out better in the end. Why?
It was because of the change of plans from those who can change everybody else's plans that we got to see a good slice of the Big Apple instead of the sliver we had planned to see.
First we hoofed it to Rockefeller Plaza to see where Number One Daughter had planned to ice skate, which is yet another story. Well, if she was willing to stand in That line to just get to the ice, well, she was welcome to. As it turned out, they did not. Their plans too, had changed.
The Desk and its wife saw the complex, took a picture of St Pat's and the line trying to get into the old church, then we went in search of an early lunch deep in the bowels of the underground complex labeled the Concourse, which is something worth seeing.
As happened all three times we stopped to eat in the city, when we went in, the place was either empty or almost empty, but by the time we were ready to leave, it would be packed. It happened at 'Hale and Hearty Soups', 'Charley O's' where we tried the best apple pie in the Big Apple, and later at the restaurant where we met the famous Joey Guacamole. But more on that later. (end of apple puns for the duration)
Then we checked out Radio City and the Time Life plaza and fountains.
It's been said that New York City is the People, not the buildings.
Well. There were a lot of both, and both made an impression. As to which impression was greater, well... a building has never made a snack for the Desk, Joey 'G' did.
As you can see from the accompanying photos, we covered a lot of ground. Saw some of New York's Bravest and Finest, and paused at a memorial to the former from station 54.
We checked out the Chrysler Building (built 1930) from street level several blocks away, which is probably the better way to see the tallest brick building in the world. And saw the Empire State Building (built 1931) towering above everything else from Bryant Park. Then there was the old black American Radiator Building (built 1924) complete with tasteful gold highlights. And the Paramount Building (built 1927) on Times Square with its globe and clock. Not to mention the massive New York City Public Library (completed 1911), the largest marble building in the US at the time of its construction. See photo page.
Back near where the bus stopped there is a brand new edifice nicknamed 'the needle' by locals which is still under construction. Far from being the architectural statement of the three previously mentioned skyscrapers, this forty-two story silver monolith is only twenty feet wide on the side facing Eighth Avenue, is the reason some New Yorkers are going back to the building commission to regulate 'silver' high rises. Some are afraid it will be a 'tall skinny eyesore'.
Back to the good stuff.
Inside the library they have a lot of remarkable architecture, some stunning artwork, a display or two of some political art maybe better suited to another venue, and several priceless private collections. They are also reported to have a significant selection of books, although from our visit, that cannot be proven. We actually saw very few books, although we did see a fabulous painted ceiling, some sculpture, and a couple remarkable staircases (see photo page 2).
What can you say? (besides that it is NOT square?)
It is the undisputed best known intersection in the world.
It is as much the symbol of New York as anything else in the city.
And it is perhaps the most impressive display of gaudy neon (or is it LED quasi-neon) commercial advertising this side of Las Vegas.
And now a word about Times Square... it is losing the history that made it what it is.
The sign that reads: "Broadway, the best known entertainment address in the world" which adorns an aging edifice (see picture by Mrs Desk on the pic page) is incomplete. It should more correctly read "1650 Broadway...." It was the building that housed Irving Berlin's office once upon a time and has also seen such luminaries as Neil Sedaka and Carole King in its rooms. It was a building that Sid Caesar called at and 'Uncle' Milton Berle worked through. It is still home to the offices of many talent agents and theater producers. However, the numbers on the sign appear to have been obliterated by some recent tuck pointing to repair crumbling masonry.
The historic Paramount sign is eclipsed by the advertising that surrounds it, but appears none the worse for the slighting.
Come on, The Times isn't even headquartered at Times Square, although they still have the trademark New Years celebration at its former digs.
Let’s look at a perfect example of the turnaround. See pic page 2!
What is now called the 'New Victory Theater' is a symbol of all that was right and then wrong, and is now right again about what Times Square is.
Oscar Hammerstein, no, not THAT Oscar Hammerstein. This one is the grandfather of the songwriter of "Sound of Music", "South Pacific", and "King and I" fame. Anyway, the elder Oscar started out in the cigar business and through developing and patenting several machines for making cigars. Which, in turn, developed him a sizable fortune, which, in turn, he poured into his love of theater. He built several theaters in New York, including the first Opera House in Manhattan. Hammerstein was largely responsible for the Times Square and 42nd Street area becoming the 'Theater District' as at one time he owned or was building a good half dozen theaters either on the square or in the vicinity.
The 'Theatre Republic' was built in 1900 by Hammerstein as a 'legitimate theater' (whatever that really means). And its first production, which starred Lionel Barrymore, was an indication of what was to come.
Well. Things being as they are, eventually the old flagship of Forty-Second street was bought and sold several times. It went from having Tyrone Power on its stage to Burlesque strippers, second run movies as the 'Victory Theater' during WWII, and later even hardcore movies and was in danger of falling prey to the wrecking ball in the 1980's.
In the 1990s the old lady got a face lift, and some heavy restoration and began a new career as a theater for a 'young audience' but not as a 'kids theater' so to speak.
The Old Republic was now the 'New Victory' and things were looking up for the entire area as the Times Square Revitalization movement got its wheels under it. While the façade is absolutely stunning once again, hearkening back to its glory days, the theater itself is tiny by Broadway standards having only 500 seats. But given its location, those seats, are probably seldom empty.
The New Victory is proof. Somebody, and we are about to find out just who that somebody is, has a good idea about what they want the Times Square area to become.
Yes, the Times Square Alliance and its partners like 'The New 42nd Street', have done wonders in turning the location from the armpit of the city back into its showplace. Yeah, that's the word, you'll see. But it is being ruined by its success. Far from the collection of more or less seedy establishments and entrenched crime that graced the Square a generation ago, the area is now the premier address in the premier city of the USA instead of a festering pustule on the rotting corpse of a once great metropolis.
And OK, as with the 'silver needle' condo-thing that is rising along Eighth Ave. Sometimes some of the old buildings just cannot be saved. And yes, sometimes newer is better. But come on. Do they have to build everything out of steel and glass and forget to make it worth looking at? For instance, compare the modern boxes with ... any ... of the others and tell us which you'd buy a bus ticket to go see.
But in the process, does it have to sell its soul to the.... well, devil?
OK, Progress is Progress, and neon has its place, but... well. Nevermind.
Let's get to Mister Joey Guacamole. See Pic
Of a city of over eight million people, the Desk and its wife seems to have met one of the few that are real honest to goodness New Yorker who is happy in the city after having lived elsewhere and come back to stay.
Joey is a waiter at Chevy's Fresh Mex in the Times Square area on 42nd Street across from the nightmarish facade that makes up Madame Tussaud's wax museum, the Ripley's exhibit hall, Dave and Buster's (ask the door guy about the bearded guy in the 'Jed Clampett' hat), and the brightest McDonald's sign you'll ever see. That section of the famous street is almost worth the trouble it takes to get into the city to see it. You can't describe it, and photographs cannot do it justice, it has to be seen in person to be properly appreciated.
Here's the deal. Go into Chevy's and get a 'tall table' down on the main floor under the stairs where you can see all the action, and ask for Joey to bring out the stuff and make the guacamole for you. Yes, the other staff can make the guac... yeah, that's right, they make the guacamole at your table from FRESH ingredients that start out with a couple of whole avocados instead of stuff out of a can or a frozen box, but Joey is very good at it, and he seems to enjoy it, and he'll tell you about how he actually likes New York City more than he did Southern California.
Hold it right there.
No, not about the Southern Cal, thing, the avocados. We shall consider the fact that he left the West (Left) Coast as a sign of sanity.
The vegetables do not suffer unduly as they give their lives for your dipping sauce. They are sent to that great produce market in the sky with minimal trauma and suffering. Happy now?
And it did not appear that Mr. J.G. was actually an actor looking for his break into musical theater in a revival of "Oh! Calcutta!". No, he was a waiter, at least for now, some day he might be mayor as he seems to love the city that much. There was however, a beautiful young woman eating a late lunch in the restaurant with a friend still in makeup and coiffed hair from a nearby show.
So there you go. If and when you traipse into Times Square and need a bite to eat that won't cost you something on the order of your next house payment. Slip into Chevy's and ask for Joey Guacamole. And tip him well.
The green goo you get in a bottle at the store cannot compare to what he makes right there on the spot. And to tell the truth, the two products may not even be the same species.
And oh, by the way, the rest of the menu, including the margaritas, are just as good as the guac.
It's almost worth the trip to the city to get it.
Outside LINKS will open in new page. all links were working as of 3 December 2007
Times Square Alliance
The New Forty Second Street new42.org.
The New Victory Theater www.newvictory.org
www.nypl.org The New York Public Library
The Bryant Park http://www.bryantpark.org
Chevy's Fresh Mex NYC http://www.chevysny.com
Hale and Hearty Soups at www.haleandhearty.com
The Desk's NEW YORK CITY PICTURES two pages including an Action Shot of the Famous Joey Guacamole!!!
The NYC Special Edition Warnings and Disclaimers Photo Page
[NOTE: Thanks to (in no particular order): Dawson Bus Company's Mr. L. Smith, DTI, Hale and Hearty Soups, The New York Public Library, Chevy's Times Square, and .... well... dang near everybody else who was in Manhattan that day. ]
[FURTHER NOTE: All trademarks and identifying images, including the outlines of some of the famous buildings mentioned are owned and controlled by their various owners. No infringement is intended. All mentions are used in this format as a journalistic and entertainment endeavor. The Desk Site Is NOT affiliated with any of the outside links listed above. Everything expressed is from the Desk and nobody and nothing else. Mention of anything or anybody is NOT to be taken as an endorsement of the Desk by them or vise versa.Thank you ]
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