"There are only two ways of telling the complete truth—anonymously and posthumously."Thomas Sowell

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Baker in Times Square . . .

Thanks to a conference my wife is attending, we're hanging out in Times Square at the Marriott Marquis. This is my second trip to the Big Apple. The first was memorable because I was convinced I would die if I went to New York. I grew up in moderate sized southern towns and everything I knew about New York came from 1970's and 80's cop shows. Grimy, corrupt, expensive, randomly violent.

I made that first trip because I was working near Washington, D.C. and my New York friend (one David Chang if he's monitoring) made it a matter of friendship that I come up for a visit despite my massive misgivings. The short version is that it was 1999, Rudy was in charge, and I found NY to be far less threatening than downtown Atlanta. Aside from paying about $300 worth of road tolls on the drive up, I was enchanted.

On this second trip, I've already been reminded of one thing. There is a war between cars, other cars, and pedestrians. David picked us up from the airport and drove us to the heart of Times Square. At various points, I was certain he was going to run into cars that darted in front of him or that he forced his car past. He also came super close to various pedestrians who didn't budge an inch. In any other American town, I think we would have witnessed tragedy on our ride to the hotel, but not here. Everybody seems to know just how much margin there is for error, but it's right up to the edge at all times.

The hotel we're staying in is hideously expensive. On the way over, we discussed the price and location and I said, "The room accommodations will probably be a lot like Holiday Inn Express, Dayton, Ohio." And whaddya know? They basically are. But Holiday Inn Express is pretty good these days.

I'm now awaiting a letter of thanks from Holiday Inn Express and a threaten to sue unless I remove this post about the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

Finally, a point on multi-culturalism and New York. You know this is a global city when you see a pedecab (modern rickshaw) with a white guy peddling away as an Asian couple whispers sweet nothings to each other in the back seat.


Kathy Hutchins said...

You know this is a global city when you see a pedecab (modern rickshaw) with a white guy peddling away as an Asian couple whispers sweet nothings to each other in the back seat.

I thought the same thing when I saw a halal Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn.

Have you seen the....I don't know what to call them but "communal bicycles." They have five or six seats facing in a circle; the riders all pedal and some complicated gearing system translates this into forward motion. I saw one lurching down the curb in Times Square and like you was convinced I would witness a massacre as this ludicrous contraption lumbered in front of several taxis barrelling down Broadway. But miraculously there was not a scratch.

Matt Huisman said...

The thing I remember most about my trips to NYC is that they are the only times in my life where I felt like public transportation was actually more liberating than onerous. My wife and I were zig-zagging all over Manhattan and Long Island, and never felt for a moment like we were being slowed down, ripped off or forced to walk inordinate distances.

I think the subway system lets you ride anywhere, all day for $4 (on one trip we counted that we went through the same turnstile 10 times in one day) - and we never had to walk more than a block or two to get anywhere.

Hunter Baker said...

I love the idea of public transportation. NYC is one of those places where it works in practice. Down South, there just aren't that many places where you have the kind of population density needed to make it work, even in the big cities. We have a lot of land and spread out.