27 July 2011

No Sleep 'Til...The East Village? OR Please do not try this trip without proper supervision

Washington Square Park...fortunately pre-apocalypse (the yellow really makes me stand out).

Eight days in Washington for training...I didn't snap a single picture of the beauty of our nation's capital. Sixteen hours in New York City--Manhattan specifically--and I am a shutterbug.

Allow me to reset the story for those I have yet to bother to tell (because I am terrible with phone calls). I was enrolled with the SEC504 class in Washington, DC as a part of SANSFIRE. Six days of hard-core exploit training and tactics. It was good. I always appreciate the fact that I can get out of town and immerse myself in training and networking. As I have mentioned before, I work in a neat field of employment that never lacks in excitement and novelty. So, my last week was cool.

But sometimes, it's not about the sundae. It's about the whipped cream with the cherry on top. This dessert topping was one evil cherry and the whipped cream was produced by the devil himself.

Because DC was just not enough, we decided to venture to The City. When I mentioned 16 hours in New York City, I am being specific. It's not like The Lovely and I were awake for 16 hours that day and slept it off at a buddy's apartment in the Lower East Side. No-no! I mean, we were out of the DC area for 24 hours so we can hang out in NYC for 16 hours. Where's the other eight hours, you ask? It's called a train. And for a Texas kid like me we might as well have been traveling by unicorn because this was all foreign to me.

The arrival wasn't bad. Three and a half hours of legroom and townships buzzing by so fast your eyes had a difficult time refreshing the images (or maybe I was just sleepy and cranky due to the 0730 train on Saturday morning). I can now claim I have "seen" New Jersey. Not really sure how I can insert that into normal conversation. But technically, with help from a train, I saw Eastern Maryland, extreme Northern Delaware and Eastern New Jersey before parking it at Penn Station.

McSorley's Old Ale House--where they have both kinds of beer, light and dark ale.

We go topside. I have never seen The Lovely so percolated and geeked-out. It was like it was her Christmas morning, you know, if she believed in that kind of stuff. The smile got bigger when we were on 7th Ave and W 31st St. The hustle and exhaust of Gotham was finally a tangible description in my brain and my senses. I get why The Lovely missed this place the moment we took the correct turn away from Madison Square Garden. Sometimes you really, really, REALLY have to be there.

So, we set out. Go underground again to get to 14th Street via subway and we are back topside at Union Square Park. We were in search for Acme Bar and Grill, but alas it was "closed for renovations", which is code for "yeah, we didn't have the heart to tell you, so we are going to pussy-foot this one and sneak out in the dark of night". This would be one of three strikeouts The Lovely experienced while were were jogging through her old haunts (Mars Bar being the second, pictured below).

But not to worry, apparently this city doesn't have the three places. Reversing our trajectory, we hit McSorley's Old Ale House for a couple of half-pints and a sandwich. This place is so old (how old is it!) that Rutherford B. Hayes is still persona non grata for stiffing one of the bartenders (insert laughter here). Pretty cool for a reconstruction era joint to be still around and accepting credit cards.

Onward for more walking to Tompkins Square Park bordering on Alphabet City. We shifted once again back to 2nd Ave for some shade and a beverage at Demsey's. This is where my awareness of walking long distances and the similarities of long-distance running should (mind you, should) have kicked in. At that point, we may have logged 3-5 miles of walking, which is no big deal for native and acclimated New Yorkers. However, it still was nearly 100 degrees in The City. The formula should read:
Heat(Distance + Sweat(friction coefficient))Fatigue = Deterioration of Shorts.
Yeah, I should have "prepared" better than I did. More on that later.

Mars Bar--now closed, mainly because of general poor hygiene. Apparently slackers and goths are pissed.

Refreshed, we crossed Houston (HAUW-ston) Street to check out why Julian Casablancas sang a song about Ludlow Street. Confused, we double-backed to Houston now working our way through Bowery to the Puck Building. The Puck Building used to house Pratt Manhattan campus and was true stomping ground of The Lovely. We could not go without having a pint at her after-class/before-class bar. Pretty damn cool.

We whip in back up Lafayette Street and W 3rd Street to walk through the amoeba-like campus of NYU. It's like every other building has a purple flag on it. C'mon guys, Imperialism is over. Then through Washington Square Park we traveled. Remember that formula I just made up a couple of paragraphs ago? Yeah, my inner legs were burning through my boxers. If milk was a bad choice on a hot day, my lack of preparation for miles of walking on the same hot day was a worse choice. There's no way you can fake discomfort when you have to walk everywhere. So, I did what any other man in my position would do...I walked to the closest familiar bar with The Lovely and tried to gently "medicate" the pain.

The fun part was that we had a 6pm reservation for dinner and drinks with Goose and Emily...seven blocks away. I guess you could describe my gait as injured thoroughbred meets guy who looks like he needs to find a toilet as soon as possible. What can you do? We finished our beers at Reservoir and hiked it once again.

So, when you Google the phrase "Please Don't Tell NYC", you land on certain related entries pointing to the same thing. I don't feel comfortable talking about a speakeasy that we may or may not have had reservations for a booth. But if it's on Google, isn't the cat already out of the bag? That's like talking about Fight Club. Anyway, if you want to ask me about it offline, you may have to waterboard me because they said "please".

A badger wearing a bowtie. I'm not supposed to say where I'm at.

As the twosome became a foursome with Goose, Emily and The Lovely, then the tour was really on. The ladies, obviously New York veterans, we playing "Is This Bar Open?" while Goose and I were creating our own conspiracies. The evening run was on after the speakeasy as we hit Veselka Restaurant, Decibel, Big Bar and Tile Bar. The final six-hour blitz was damn-near epic. Sure, my wounded horse walk-step was damaging, but no one cares how you look or walk in large metropolitan areas, especially if you are not in their way.

Two AM came way too soon. And off we were catching a cab back to Penn Station. Limping, sweat encrusted and maybe a little drunk, we push forward back to DC. I can state that I know how a zombie feels and I would never want to be one. But three huge objectives were established: I got to see (a portion) of New York, I know what a train looks like and The Lovely got what she has been wanting for the last five years. As all married men know, when she's happy... No, that's silly. This blitz was for the both of us. We needed to experience The City. So we did. I wouldn't change a single minute. But we should sleep over next time.

Lessons Learned, my three things (DC to NY to DC edition).
1) Don't assume that the 0300 train from NYC to DC will be empty. It isn't. With all the sprawled bodies that have been passengers since Vermont at 9PM, a couple would be lucky to find two seats together.
2) I understand lots of famous people call New York home, but how is it that I could only cross paths with Todd Barry? Eh, I will take what I can get, even if The Lovely finds him "random".
3) I was fearing the smell of the hot old city but it was really not that bad. It can't be any worse than a hot younger city where people still don't pick up after their pets. I'm talking to you, Dallas!

As I try to get my head on straight from time zone changes, training and re-acclimation of 100-plus temperatures, I will try to focus for the new cert attempt before falling prey to yet another football season. I need a small victory before other smaller soul-crushing defeats. Talk later.


  1. This is a great post!! Seeing as I haven't spent any real time in NYC since my pre-drinking age days, you've renewed my desire to get back there. Looking forward to checking out these places!

  2. I saw Meli's facebook post and had to come check out what the 24 hours in NYC was all about. I love NYC - my family actually moved to Texas from Long Island. I haven't been since I was a child and would love to go back - for more than 24 hours. :)

  3. What no shout out to "Black Ops" and his integral role in your training?