Sunday, July 19, 2009

Life in New York City--the Tourist Capital of USA

New Yorkers Must Now Kiss Tourist Ass for Survival
Why outlanders, hinterlanders, Euro trash, or whoever want to come to New York City as tourists is beyond me. Even an ex-wife of mine used to fly 2000 miles 4 times a year from New Mexico to shop at Lord & Taylor. I asked her one time why she did that and she told me because she could! That was a fuck-you response, but perhaps that is an elitist rationalization for coming 2000 miles to shop at Lord & Taylor.

And I have a funny story concerning this ex-wife's shopping: when this wife and I first moved to NYC we lived in Morris Plains, New Jersey (oh God, I could do a number on living in New Jersey). My wife had always said how she had always wanted to come to NYC since she was a young girl to go to Macy's or Gimbels (there was still a Gimbels when we moved here) and either work or shop. The first time she went to Macy's I went with her, my first visit to Macy's, too, and the place was a madhouse. The first floor was where the perfume and cosmetics counters were with perfume and facial cream and body lotion and lipstick sellers every few feet offering free brief makeup sessions for any ladies interested. Once the session was over then the ladies found themselves subject to a very hard sell by the demonstrators. My wife loved that and I had to stand there and endure a whole host of these demonstration babes praising my wife's beauty and giving her so much hustle: "Oh, honey, look at how well your eyes shine out using this Maybelene product" ["Oh, Maybelene, Maybelene, why can't you be true? You done started off doing the things you used to do" Chuck Berry]. Then we got on this narrow old wooden-stepped escalator way over on the 8th Avenue side and wobbled our way up to the women's fashion floors. The first time we visited Macy's we came away with over $200 worth of what to me was "floo-floo." I got that term from my Uncle Jimmy. I was once watching Uncle Jimmy shave and after he shaved he tossed on what he called "floo-floo" water! "Here go, kid, throw a little of this floo-floo water on your face. There now isn't that nice? When you're old enough to shave this floo-floo water will come in handy with the ladies I guarantee that!"

When my wife and I got back to Morris Plains I was reading the local Morristown paper and I saw a Bamburger's Department Store in Morristown ad for the same stuff my wife had bought at Macy's. "Hey, toots," I said, "here's that same shit you bought at Macy's cheaper because there are no taxes in Jersey. At Bamburger's up in Morristown." "It's probably not the same quality as what they sell at Macy's." It was later that I learned Bamburger's was Macy's--the name they used in New Jersey. Even knowing that, my wife still went into Manhattan to do her shopping; Morristown, though selling the same shit and without taxes, was very beneath her. "I didn't move to New York City to shop in Morristown."

I was watching David Letterman Friday night--sometimes he's funny though not that much-- when he announced that New York City was now the number-one tourist attraction in the USA according to the latest tourist industry reports! Holy shit, thought I. Why? What the hell is here that people want to see and experience bad enough to spend say $4,000 for 4 nights in an NYC highway-robbery hotel? There's a 14% hotel tax added onto that bill in these fast-track hotels, plus a state, city, federal tax, too--some hotels here now have towel charges on their bills because they know people steal towels. Stealing the shampoo and shit doesn't matter to them--those are free sample bottles anyway! But the towels, that's a different matter. Also NYC hotels have a bedbug epidemic going on right now but tourists don't give a shit; they'll sleep on filthy infected mattresses (cum stains and all) (hotels are supposed to change mattresses every so many years) without a complaint; and the carpets in these rooms are filthy and crawling with who knows what! It doesn't matter to tourists or business people. Business people now have what are called "executive hotels" all over the place. These are hasitly built narrow hotels in low-rise neighborhoods bordering on the midtown business area that rise up 18 or so floors and offer businessmen's specials--yep, they still call them businessmen's hotels because most executives are businessmen--not many women stay in these hotels so you know they are filthy!

I got distracted by this announcement that New York City is now the #1 tourist attraction in the US. It bothers me. My city, the city of American dreams, is now like a metropolitan DisneyLand; in fact, Times Square now is much like a human fantasy park, overwhelmed with overwhelming wide-screen advertisements and huge glaring signs selling you overpriced products and trumpeting the celebrity of overpaid celebrities! It's disgusting to someone who came to New York City because it was so accessible in terms of chances for success in whatever field you chose for your endeavors. Not any more. Like forget it if you are a stage actor or actress trying to make it in NYC anymore. New York actors now have to know how to smile outrageously widely and sing loudly and dance automatically to find work. Everything on Broadway is a musical revival; chorus work; backing up has-been stars making comebacks, like Patty LePon or Bernadette Peters or exuberant dancing and joyously big-mouth singing behind some American Idol amateur like Fantasia! The music in New York City now is boring. You go to clubs and the clubs are blaring house music, with a DJ instead of live music, or if it's live music it's an Amy Weinstein impersonator or some Will I Am look alike or some copycat rapper rapping the same old same old macho (I'm the man) bullshit--BORING. Jeez, I used to walk up from my apartment when I lived downtown over to the Half Note when it was on Hudson Street and see Dizzy Gillespie, or Zoot Sims, or Little Jimmy Rushing, or Wes Montgomery and Winetone Kelly--one of the greatest recording sessions of all time was Wes Montgomery and Wynton Kelly, Smokin' at the Half Note! This was recorded in 1965 and four years later Winetone was dead. I was at Wynton's memorial service at the old Martinique Club up on West 57th, sat next to Wynton's sister from Philly--Hank Edmonds made a rare appearance; Billy Taylor showed up; Philly Joe Jones was there; the Heath Brothers were there; Babs Gonzales was there selling his book. It was sad but it was fun for me--I was all over this town in the jazz clubs in those days--the town swung in those days.

I know, I'm whining! I'm a moke about it, but dammit, it makes me mad.

Another strange irony--they are making a movie in Queens about Atlantic City back in its old heyday (Atlantic City at one time was a black city; all the blacks who worked in the big hotels and spas and things made up the population. Several of the cities between AC and NYC were black cities, like Asbury Park, Red Hook (where Count Basie was born and raised). This movie company has built a full-scale replica of the A.C. Boardwalk--in Queens! For awhile, Hollywood was using Vancouver, British Columbia, as its big city set. I remember watching a Grade B movie one time about New York City filmed in Vancouver. It was funny, all the NYC cops wore Vancouver PD uniforms. Canadian cop uniforms are entirely different from US cop uniforms. Canadian cop uniforms are like British cop uniforms.

At 8 o'clock this morning, I was watching the British Open (I'm sorry, it's now called The Open). I have watched it since it began on Thursday because this year was so phenomenal since 59 year old, he'll be 60 in September, Tom Watson, led it from Day 1. And Watson played awesome golf. He was smooth, cool, laid back, and he led after the first day; then he led after Friday's round; then Saturday came and Watson stayed 2nd, dropping once to 3rd, but on the 18th he made a birdie and came into today's final round leading by one stroke. And old Tom Watson made it through today always lurking at the top, either being on top, tied, or one-stroke back. And old Tom endured all the way, shooting a birdie on 17 to take a one-stroke lead. Coming to the 18th hole, old Tom at -3 had a one stroke lead over Stuart Cink who was in the clubhouse at -2, so all old Tom had to do was par the 18th and he would be only the second man in 100 years to win the British Open 6 times, a feat that hadn't been done since Harry Vardon did it in the early 1900s. Tom had won 5 British Opens, a feat only one other man, the Brit Peter Thomson, had ever done. Tom drove off the 18th tee perfectly into the center of the fairway. Then he hit his second shot to the front of the green where it took a bounce and rolled through the green into the fringe--the froghair it's called in golf--though today's commentators (and a boring wordy lot they are, too) would never use a word like froghair. Tom Watson is known to be one of the most brilliant chip artists in golf, a chip shot being a shot where you use a high-loft iron, a pitching wedge or a 9 iron, and just chip the ball up over the froghair and land it just on the green and then it rolls down and either goes in the hole or gets close enough for an easy par putt. All Watson needed was a par. So what does old Tom the Chipping Fool do when he gets to his ball just in the froghair area? He doesn't chip but takes out his putter instead. I'm hollering, "No, Tom, you son of a bitch, don't putt that ball," but old Tom pays me no mind and he putts the ball toward the hole and the ball takes off. It's going toward the hole, then it suddenly takes a little scoot and shimmies by the hole some 9 feet. Tom Watson was known in his heyday as able to make a 9-foot straight in putt with his eyes closed.

So here came old Tom Watson up to the ball. One commentator says, "Tom has made a thousand of these in his career, this should be an easy one for Tom, and what a roar is going to go up from this crowd of 50,000 here at Turnberry, where Tom had won his most famous British Open 25 years before by beating Jack Nicklaus on the 18th hole with a miraculous putt...can he do it age 59, going on 60--this will be a remarkable feat, one of the greatest happenings in golf sports history!" And old Tom lined his ball up, got comfortably over it, eyed his line once more and putted.

The ball was a wimp ball. Old Tom hit one of the worst putts in his life! The ball limped like an injured sperm wiggling down toward the hole...and then it slithered just off to the side. Watson had made a bogey! As he knocked the ball in he pathetically looked up at the crowd, now silent! He was beat. You could tell it. He'd crapped out at the last moment. It was a real downer moment for all golf fans, especially me, who were cheering like crazy for this guy to pull off this golfing miracle. I'll never forget how pathetic and apologetic old Tom looked as he blew that putt.

He went on to play a 4-hole playoff with Stuart Cink, but by then, old Tom was whipped. As the headlines said after it was over, "Cink Sinks Watson in Playoff to Take the Open." But oh what fun we golf lovers had up until that boggie on that 18th hole. The most fun I've had watching a sporting event in many a moon. Not since I watched stunned as young Tiger Woods won the Master's with a record-breaking score his first year as a pro.

By the way, though I hate soccer, it is very boring to me, I do watch it--and I watched Honduras whip Canada in the North American wing of the Copa Oro, the Gold Cup tournament that determines where you'll be in the World Cup coming up next year. Honduras by whipping Canada, kept their hopes alive, except they are next playing the USA. The USA, by golly, has a pretty damn good soccer team this year, so I'll be watching them play Honduras--plus, Honduras, as we all know, is a military dictatorship again (Praise the American Lordy Lord), so I'll be rootin' for the USA to smear their asses. The USA beat Panama 7-1 to show you how fucking macho the US team is this year.

In a brief NYC baseball aside, I'm impressed with the Yankees play of late--what you should expect from the all-round best team in baseball--except A-Rod though they are glorifying him as best they can is only hitting .265 or so and has only hit 18 home runs this year. Still they are 2 games back of Boston. The Mets, however, ain't having such good luck. They are now 8 games in back of the Phillies with only the lowly Washington Gnats below them. In the meantime, the best manager in baseball, Joe Torre, has the Los Angeles Dodgers 7 1/2 games up on the San Francisco Giants. Looks like Joe's taking the Dodgers to playoffs again this year. Willie Randolph, by the way, who the Mets fired in the middle of the night because the Spanish players didn't like Willie so the Mets's Spanish general manager gave the job over to Spanish-speaking Spanish Jerry Manuel. "Bad move, Omar!" It's pitching. The Mets only have one good pitcher and that's Santana. They've got K-Rod, too, and he's a sweet reliever, but, hey, it's hard to relieve when the score is 11 to zip as it was the other night with the Mets losing. They are an injured mess, too. But, hey, injuries are caused perhaps by bad managing--workout routines, practice sessions, training information on how to take care of yourself if you're a young pumped up ballplayer.

Another interesting parallel line thing happened to me the other day as I walked by this wine and chocolate bar in my neighborhood, it's in the new 50-story luxury condo building up toward 5th Avenue from me--whatever the hell a wine and chocolate bar is, some Euro-trash idea, I assume--this one is filled every night with twentyish-thirtyish movers and shakers and the normal gaggle of trapped tourists--so as I walked passed this joint, I heard some jazz coming from within the place, a trumpet, guitar, and rhythm section. So I moseyed over to this floo-floo joint and waded through the outdoor tables (why would anybody eat in the outdoors of New York City? Why people with balconies in NYC never can use them--the filth in the air) and peeked inside. Son of a bitch, the trumpet player was a woman! There were too many snobs between me and her so I could go up and find out who she was and besides I was dressed in my cut-off jeans and wearing my "I Survived the NYC Blackout of 2003" teeshirt, not the proper attire for a chi-chi wine and chocolate bar. She was a pretty good-looking, too, great reddish hair. Her playing? Fumbly at best, though she could triple-tongue pretty good.

thegrowlingwolf (usually never on a sunday)
for The Sunday Daily Growler


New Jersey Governor's Race

The citizens of New Jersey, it looks like, are going to shoot themselves in the foot in the coming governor's race by electing a total fool, Chris Christie (he looks like my hometown big-time crook and personal hero, Billie Sol Estes), in place of good ole boy Jim Corsine, the former Goldman-Sachs criminal and now filthy rich Power Elitist goon Dumbocrat governor. Chris Christie is the idiot who busted up the famous Al Qaeda (how do you spell this damn word?) pizza boy cell that was going to blow up Fort Dix. Remember, the Philly Muslims! Yeah, that was Chris Christie's big haul as a Federal prosecutor. Corsine is spending millions of his billions trying to keep that governor's job. Boy howdy it must be easy being a governor or a mayor--you can ruin a state or city economy and nothing happens to you.

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