A friend just turned me on to a documentary called, “The Cruise” about a former NYC tour bus guide name Timothy “Speed” Levitch. He has a high nasally voice and is full of information on famous people who lived in the city at one time and waxes philosophically while trying to pick up on foreign women, and women in general hoping to get laid. Not that the movie shows him having much success at that, but at one point he is complaining how the tour company making him wear a mandatory red uniform shirt is not helping his “game”. My words, not his.
Anyway, it’s very insightful and I highly recommend it, just try not to get bugged by his voice. The reason this was recommended, was not only that I am nuevo in New York, but I was on the anti cruise. This is another Levitch concept from the movie. If you refer to my previous post, I was on the anti cruise, where nothing went right in my attempt to get to the West side of Manhattan. I was on a cluster fuck journey to make it to Chelsea Market, where nothing I tried went the way I planned. I complained to my friend, she laughed, and said “You were on the anti cruise.” And then she recommended the movie.
After all that crap I wasn’t going to take the same journey back, so I started walking, and I enjoyed the way back to Brooklyn much more. I wandered down Hudson a bit before cutting East and it helped me navigate my way around the more confusing aspects of lower Manhattan.
As you can see in the picture above, the building has a triangular shape to it. If you have ever tried to find an address or drive around lower Manhattan, it can be kind of confusing. Blame the Dutch, since they settled the area initially. Maybe back then they were big into those coffee shops like they have in Amsterdam. I do know a bit about why this is and when it changed because I went to the NYC Museum and saw the exhibit, The Greatest Grid.
It was an interesting history lesson, as well as a lesson in urban planning. In 1811, a plan was formulated to make everything to the North in Manhattan as a massive grid. Gone was the madness created by an area such as Five Points where all the pickpockets, drunks, con men, whores, and drug addicts flowed together like trash caught in a sewer grate after a rain. No sir, enough of this European styled design. This was America. We would be built on right angles and precision measurements. It was proclaimed that circles, stars, ovals, hexagons, and unkempt parallelograms would be exclusively forbidden. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, we would be a nation of squares! And all the pickpockets, drunks, con men, whores, and drug addicts would have to find their own block to hang out on.
In a nutshell, that is why once you get North of Houston, things begin to have more order. Not entirely mind you, but it gets slightly easier for newbies. In the movie, Levitch rails about his disdain for the grid and even gets in a debate with a woman who tells him, “Everybody loves the grid. Who doesn’t love the grid?”
Continuing on foot, I passed by the Whitehorse Tavern. I had been wanting to go here because famous writers, musicians, and drunks such as Hunter S. Thompson, Bob Dylan, and Jim Morrison had spent time there. Jack Kerouac was kicked out routinely. Dylan Thomas reportedly drank eighteen whiskeys one night and died. How cool! That was a John Bonham move when Bonzo was just a baby. Writers were the original Rock Stars.
Alas, the White Horse is just an old bar in an old building that is too overpriced for even the spirits of those dead guys to want to hang around anymore. I felt no connection with greatness, just a bunch of yuppies and some over sized meat head frat boys from Jersey who sized me up when I walked through the door. Yawn. So I drank my Guinness and left. Another been there, done that, don’t need to it again moment.
Looking South down 6th Ave was a great view of the under construction World Trade Center tower. Part of the appeal of these wide avenues is how you can look down them and enjoy the wonderful views of the architecture this city has to offer. Everybody loves the Grid!
I wandered over to Broadway and found the Pearl River Mart, which is kind of an Asian Gift Store/Target. It has some funny Chinese and Japanese novelty stuff and then just about any other household items you could want in a big spacious store. That’s why I say it’s like Target. Personally, I would rather go find it on Canal street and haggle with the salesman over the price. I’ve been to China, that would feel more authentic.
Moving down below Canal Street, I stopped in for a bowl of congee at a little Chinese restaurant. Congee, while being a funny name, is traditionally made from leftover rice and turned into a soupy porridge that in my case, I ordered with pork and 1000 year old egg. So good! I like to think of it as Chinese Menudo, good for a hangover. I know a lot of people who are into these hoity toity, fancy schmancy, standin liney too fucking long places for some overcooked, over priced eggs and cold white toast with a pretty garnish next to it. It’s just eggs people! Give me Chinese Menudo any day. Especially if it’s 2PM and I just rolled out of bed.
This massive bowl cost $4. As you can see I was nearly done at this point, but I had one more thing to eat, soft shell crab.
I set back out on foot. Bought 5 oranges for $2 before leaving Chinatown because they have the best produce prices in New York that I’ve seen. I was heading East for the Williamsburg Bridge and came across this building as the sun began to drop.
These guys were pretty cool, but it brings up the eternal question: Gay, Pimp, or Rock Star?
I’m not positive, but I think they’re saying I can live here for free.
I crossed the bridge and had about another mile to go before I could kick off my shoes and relax. I was over the subway riding fiasco and my cruise had been a fun adventure. Nothing beats walking for all the fun things you can discover.
-The Unread Blogger