Speaking of The Streets of San Francisco, what's with all the hype over this show called The Closer? Police Woman was way better. Give me Angie Dickinson over Kyra Sedgwick any day, thank you. Dang, I've digressed before I've even started. Is that even possible by definition? Oh, yes, NYC...
Fortunately, Tim Russert did not call me to appear on Meet the Press that Sunday in New York, so I got to sleep in. Do they tape that or broadcast it live? I mean Meet the Press, since watching me sleep probably wouldn’t garner good ratings even if it were broadcast live. I don’t even have restless leg syndrome or anything else remotely entertaining, although I’m told that sometimes I laugh in my sleep. But can you really trust what a slutty teenage girl or Romanian prostitute tells you? Now that I think about it, is Meet the Press in NYC or DC? I should probably find out in case I decide to enter politics. But that won’t happen until I recover all the pictures of me and that goat. Hey, at least I didn’t solicit the goat in an airport bathroom. That’s just sleazy. But I’ve digressed again.
I couldn’t sleep in for too long since I had to check out and move my stuff to the fancy hotel around the corner for which work was footing the tab. Since everything in my Pod room was within arm’s reach, packing took about 17 seconds and I swooped around the corner to drop my bags off at the new joint. Everybody who works there greets you with “welcome home” which is nice of them, but annoying after a while since they didn’t seem sincere in offering me permanent digs there in midtown Manhattan. After ditching my bags I hopped the 2nd Avenue bus going south, my friend joined me at 19th Street, and we continued on to Chinatown for some planned dim sum. I had agreed to dim sum without knowing exactly what it was, and I was praying it wasn’t some ancient form of yoga or martial arts. The last thing I needed was to be torturously contorted or violently kicked in the head while trying to enjoy the weekend. However, I always thought it would be fun to dress up like a ninja and learn how to use a throwing star. But I’d suspect that a Ninja Throwing Star class would merely consist of an instructor simply telling us that you need to buy a throwing star, be like real quiet and stuff, and then throw the star at your enemy, and if that was it I would surely feel that it was totally not worth the $40 class fee. Unless it included the throwing star and a headband. But I digress.
Dim sum is like a Chinese buffet, except they bring the stuff to your table on a rolling cart. If it looks appetizing, you can request a small plate; if it is not to your liking, then you take a pass and the server commits hara-kiri as a result of the dismissal. I’m joking about the hara-kiri part – boy detective Encyclopedia Brown would have known that I was lying because that’s a Japanese custom, not Chinese. At the end, they take the little tally sheet at your table and then put a random dollar amount at the bottom.
The venue of choice was a place called Golden Harmony. I knew it was authentic because it was approximately 95% Chinese clientele and the staff spoke little, if any, English. Dim sum seems to be a family event, so even though there was a wait it didn’t take long for our party of two to get squeezed in. We got some tea and I learned lesson number one – you’re never supposed to pour your own tea. So if you need more tea, you simply state something like, “This char siu bao is making me thirsty,” and one of your tablemates will respond by topping you off. Or you just ask the other party if they need some more tea, which is code for “I need some more tea, you clueless boor.”
Next the carts started coming around and I was overwhelmed by the unfamiliar dishes and lack of translation. Fortunately, Wendy was experienced here and knew what to look for and what to ask for and who to speak to. I just played along and ended up with some veggie dumplings, some shrimp noodle thingy, and some pork dumplings. All three dishes were awesome, although I was already starting to fill up. Lesson number two – a large group is better since you can sample more dishes without risk of exploding. Next up, she ordered some bok choi. I’ve never had this before and was a bit suspect, but since the Mrs. is always suggesting I eat more greens I figured I’d give it a go. Pretty good stuff, and it significantly improved my scurvy. The fried foods came by next and I was encouraged to give it a go. I requested a plate of what I thought was sweet and sour pork, but I’m not sure that’s what it really was. Lesson number three – if you’re new you might want to round up a Chinese speaking friend or two to translate. The “pork” was either the worst cut of meat and full of bones or I accidentally got a plate of deep fried chicken feet. I eventually gave up and just ate the pineapple and carrots, until the rest of the dish walked off on it’s own. I finished off with some lemon tarts and then called it a day.
Lesson number four – these joints like operating in cash. I paid using a credit card since I don’t travel with large sums of cash and reserve it for things like cab fare, even though they offered the popular “no sales tax” option on cash transactions. Even worse, I think I made another major faux pax (if you can do that in a Chinese establishment) by leaving the tip on the credit card, since I was chased down by my waiter and chastised for not leaving a tip at the table. Even though I was little offended by this, I told him it was on the credit card, after which he ran to the cashier to verify my story. But I still ducked out quickly to avoid any throwing stars coming my direction.
Next, I continued southbound on the 2nd Avenue bus down to the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan. The museum there was featuring Bodies… The Exhibition and that sounded like a swell macabre time. You might be more familiar with Body Worlds – some wacky German dude took some human bodies, skinned and preserved them, posed them in all sorts of positions and took them on tour. The Mrs. and I wanted to check it out when it came through Chicago last winter, but we never quite made it there. When this exhibit started making money, other exhibitors realized they could do the same and now there are sweatshops in China employing med school grads to dissect more bodies for us to gawk at. I suppose it beats sewing swoosh logos on crap 18 hours a day. The exhibit starts out a little slow – skeletons and bones – like who doesn’t already have a skeleton in their basement (or closet). Then it gets interesting with some specimens stripped down to their muscles. Smaller body part specimens are all in glass cases, but the full body specimens are not enclosed or roped off so you can get as close as you like to them, but you’re not allowed to touch or lick them. There are also room devoted to the circulatory system, the nervous system, the reproductive system, and System of a Down. I’m not sure how they got in there. I spent a good couple hours plus in the place digging the human body, and I got to see a female vagina for the first time in my life. Totally worth the $27 entrance fee.
After leaving the museum I walked around the South Street Seaport area, which appears to be that very generic area in every major city that is a safe haven for unadventurous tourists that just want to have an ice cream cone and say they’ve been there. I didn’t feel like having an ice cream cone or watching the guy painted silver move around like a robot, so I took a self-guided tour of lower Manhattan. Wall Street is still making people other than me rich, and there’s still a hole in the ground where the WTC used to be. By the time I circled back to South Street, I had worked up a nice sweat and appetite and called my surrogate dining companion to find out if this Latin American joint she mentioned earlier served sweaty guys dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. I got an affirmative answer and hopped the bus back up to 1st Avenue to Boca Chica.
Boca Chica serves up traditional Latin American fare, which I learned consists of rice and beans or, if you’re feeling adventurous, beans and rice. I went with some sort of fish dish that was covered in all this stuff that tasted really good together. Yes, I know, I should have pursued a career as a food critic. Actually, I’m getting old and I can’t remember what was on my veal the night before and what was on my fish that night. I know one of them had avocado. Or was it artichoke? Definitely some red pepper. I think. Maybe on both. Just go there and figure it out yourself. Who do you think I am, Roger Ebert? All I know is that I cleaned my plate and had money left over.
I hopped the bus again back up to 50th Street, was welcomed home by the doorman and the bell-dude and the front desk guy, finally got my room key, and waited for the bell-dude to deliver my luggage. Upon arrival, he asked if I would like him to show me the features of the room. I had already managed to locate the bed and the bathroom on my own while waiting for him, so I just gave him $5 to go away. But now I’m going to live a life of regret wondering if I spent two nights there without fully utilizing all the available features. Like what if there was a fog machine built in to the A/C unit that was there for my entertainment?
I guess I’ll just have to get back to NYC sometime soon to find out.