So last weekend was my birthday weekend. Shame on you if you forgot about me ;o) . Actually, I just use my birthday as a good excuse to go out and have a good time. So Friday, Sean emails me this invitation to a publicity thing that Volkswagen was having down in the Meatpacking District at a place called APT. Now, I've never actually been to the Meatpacking District. As Alan says, you have to take a "road trip" just to get down there because it's in the opposite corner of the city of us east-siders. I also know that it is a super, super trendy area of town-this can be a good thing if it's the right kind of attitude or it can be a bad thing if it's too pretenscious. But, heh, free drinks for three hours!! We decided to give it a try. Naturally, I went ahead and invited everyone I knew, as did every other person who sometimes got on the list, thereby ensuring that the place would be packed and it would take three hours just to get a single drink.
After splitting the taxi with Alan, Andrea, and Sean, we made it down there at about 8:00 at night. They gave us cool little Volkswagen necklaces that glowed fluorescent blue and we went in to find out what kind of whore d'houveres (I don't know how to spell in French) they were serving and get a drink. At first, we tamely ordered something quick and easy since we knew they wouldn't serve anything good like a martini (Sean's favorite drink, no surprise there). But after we ordered, we realized that they were serving up top-shelf booze and would make whatever you wanted! So the orders soon turned into "order as many drinks as you can hold in your hands and figure out who wants what later". But the line was still terrible and it just got worse as the clock ticked.
I knew this area of town was more pretenscious than the areas that I frequent, especially by the question that I got asked several times by just about everybody I started talking to.
"So, what do you do?"
Seriously, what kind of question is that? It's so cliche and it assumes that you must be someone that works all the time. And since it's usually the first question that people ask you when they meet you down in the Meatpacking District, one can only assume that they are essentially saying "So, do you make a lot of money?" I've always hated this question, and I usually try to come up with something quick and witty to reply with and I fail miserably, usually saying something like "Well, sometimes I work." But as I sat in the steam room today trying to recessitate my respiratory system (I'm still suffering from a +1 week cold), I've decided to put an end to the frantic digging through my mental database trying to come up with something funny. From this point forward, I do the following things (the order may vary depending on the person asking it and how many drinks I've had):
- I write. (this is true, as evidenced by what I'm doing right now)
- I track and follow European and South American football. (no need to distinguish from American football)
- I travel around the world. (duh, at least twice a year)
- I host international dignitaries. (I consider all my friends important and/or influential people)
- I'm a New York City travel guide. (those of you who have visited me can attest to this)
Anyway, at 10:00, we were cut off from the open bar so we headed over to Markt to eat some dinner. It seemed to be a seafood place of some sort, so I got myself some linguine with crab marinara sauce and a beer. My new German friends from the previous weekend decided that their budget couldn't support such a nice place, so they went out to find fast food and ended up finding a deli somewhere in the neighborhood. Gotta feel bad for the poor guys, living in the city and working at an unpaid internship. But they still have their fun.
Dinner was fantastic (as it should be at those prices) and we were off to hit the streets again soon after. Alan was our resident guide, even though he'd just returned from London that night and hadn't slept in almost 24 hours. He's a soldier, though, and he took us down to Automatic Slims which supposedly had some dancing and was a good place to chill. It was 11:30 by this time, however, and the area was packed - especially places like this. The bouncer said that he could let us in if we paid him $10 each, so we laughed at him and headed down towards the West Village and ended up at a place called The Town Tavern that was just hideous. I felt like I was in middle-America at some college bar.
Niko and Soenke met some girls earlier at the deli they had eaten dinner at and they wanted to meet up with them again, so we called them up and they said they were at Cielo, but they didn't know where it was - that should have been a red flag. Except for the fact that I carry Google in my pocket by way of my cell phone. So I looked up this place and Google gave me the address of a place called Cielo Azteca up in Spanish Harlem. Sound sketchy? Quite. But hey, Google knows. So we went outside and were talking to a German and Belarussian that we met outside before we split up and headed up to Spanish Harlem to find these girls. Something just didn't sound right though, so we called up these sketchy ladies again to find out if it's in Spanish Harlem alright. Nope. Turns out it was right around the corner from where we were down in the Meatpacking District! The people in the other cab were clueless and were too intoxicated to respond coherently to our phone calls. Last I heard, they ended up somewhere on the East Side, penniless and alone. Oh well.
We found this ueber cool club Cielo in the Meatpacking District, but the cool bouncers at the door wouldn't let us in because we were three guys. The girls waiting for Niko and Soenke even came out but didn't try hard enough to get us in. After waiting around for a half hour, they decided to be nice and let us in. When we went in, we found out that they wanted to charge us $20 each just to get in! And it was only open for another hour! Gimmee a break. Forget the Meatpacking District. That'll be the last time I go down there....
Saturday, being the night of my Geburstag, I picked the east side as my hood of choice. I found a place in my dining guide that I'd highlighted sometime in the past, though I don't remember when. It was an Italian place called Assenzio, which is Italian for "Absinthe", the liquor that is illegal in the U.S. and is only legal in places like the Czech Republic and Spain. Apparently Picasso used to drink it and would start hallucinating from the stuff. The stuff this place served didn't have the illegal ingredient (wormwood?) so they could serve it there. In any case, Alan, Andrea, Cathy, D, and Niko joined me down there for a little Geburstag dinner. After the previous night, and because of my impending cold, I wanted to take it easy that night and this place was the right environment for that. It was on a quiet street in the East Village, we sat next to a huge, open window and enjoyed the second-hand smoke, darkish atmosphere and great food. I had an absinthe cocktail (absinthe and water with two sugar cubes, all of which they set on fire and serve to you) that tasted exactly like anise/black licorice. The food this place served was pretty interesting, they served stuff like wild boar (which actually looks like pork but tastes like beef!).
After dinner we scrambled to find a bar to have a toast to my Geburstag at midnight. Obviously, since we were in the East Village, this was not a chore. We walked down a street and found a dark door that sounded like there was crowd behind it, though there were no windows or sign to indicate that this was a watering hole of any kind. Nonetheless, one tug on the door and we were inside a loud and boisterous place that we could hang out in.
So we had a toast and lounged around on the couches listening to the old school rap playing on the stereo and chatted a bit. There was a group of girls celebrating a bachelorette party that looked like they'd been out for a bit that night. After we were there for a bit, a guy came in selling roses and I shooed him away before it dawned on me. So I bought a red rose ($3) and went and gave it to the bachelorette. I was chastised by Andrea for doing that because she apparently knew one of the other girls there, but there was no choice about who to give the flower to. Come on, she's the focus of attention, right?? I said something about me feeling sorry for her that she's getting married (talk about cliche!) and she misinterpreted me and told her friends that "he said it's too bad I'm getting married to someone else. Ooooohhh....how sweet." I was like "uhh, yea, that's what I said" ;o). Whatever! In any case, they were clearly impressed with the flower....
It was a very mellow night and one that I would consider to be the first of the fall. It was almost cold enough to necessitate a sweater - that's a bad sign. The nice thing about it is that I can finally wear jeans comfortably, leaving behind the awkard semi-baggy shorts that require me to wear an equally semi-baggy t-shirt rather than my preferred tight jeans, tight shirt combination. Thank heavens for spring and fall!
Speaking of tight jeans, I bought myself a new mobile phone (LG VX5200) on Sunday. Actually, Verizon bought it for me because I've had my other one for over two years. It's nice because it's much thinner than my old one which means that it fits in my jeans much much better ("is that your old cell phone in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?") I'm not too stoked on it yet (other than it's size) but hopefully I'll just get used to it after a while.
So, now the next weekend begins. Time to get ready for dinner!
J. Riley, so what do you do?