Empire State of Mind

I felt a brush of bare skin on my wrist, which was hanging over the edge of the bed. Without moving my body, I open my eyes. Through the haze of streetlight spilling in from around the corner I can distinctly see a bare woman’s thigh, the front of her panties, and the bottom of her T-Shirt only INCHES from my face. Who was this person and why are they in my room?

New York, New York! So nice they named it twice!

I’m a bit of a geek and one of my favorite media sources is NPR. In this particular interview they were interviewing Josh Groban who was having his Broadway debut! He was appearing in the new show “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812“. For this role he was wearing a padded suit (to make him look heavier), learned how to make his voice more gruff, and learned to play the accordion (while singing and moving up and down stairs). This particular show is written based on a specific set of 70 pages from “War and Peace”.

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Josh Groban in his role as Pierre -Photo credit: NPR

In the interview they explained how the stage was built in the round and they had to write computer code for this sound system. BORING NERD STUFF AHEAD! For a traditional sound system, when someone speaks into a microphone the sound is produced from all speakers in the system. Since this show is performed with actors in every corner of the room/aisle/balcony/restroom/etc the audience has no frame of reference as to who is speaking. Therefore, they wrote computer code so that only the speakers that are near the actor who is speaking will be producing sound, and thus assisting the audience to look in the direction in which the sound is coming!

Before the NPR interview had completed, I was researching show dates and prices. I came home that day and told Camette how I really wanted to go. She agreed and we planned our day trip for July 1, 2017. We made arrangements to park our car in the city for 24 hours and drop off our one suitcase at our AirBnB in the East Village.

We walked to the nearby brick and mortar store for DAVIDsTEA (a Canadian based tea company that Camette really likes). When we told them that we drove five hours to visit them, the staff were more than excited! (Can I say complementary refreshments?) Camette has been running an Instagram account exclusively dedicated to tea and over six months has accumulated over 600 followers. You can check that out at @qualitea_time_with_cami.

After that we took the MTA to uptown to try a recommended place call Rue La Rue Cafe. It’s a Golden Girls themed cafe! The owner, Michael LaRue was best friends with Rue McClanahan (Blanche). After she passed, he inherited all of her possessions and he’s been using them to decorate his business! We got to chat with him and he was sharing the backstory to all of the photos and costumes. He told us a funny story about Rue’s favorite picture, which is listed below.

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Camette and I with the owner of Rue La Rue Cafe, Mr. Michael LaRue.

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All four cast members for nominated for an Emmy Award after Season One of the “Golden Girls”. They went out on the town, drinking, in a limo and went to the award show. Betty White won the award. Notice anyone not smiling for Betty?

After the cafe we went to catch “The Great Comet”. It was very entertaining. I’ve never read “War and Peace”, but it was not required to understand the show. Cast members played instruments as they dances around the theatre. Coming into the balcony was a common occurrence. It was a really cool set and the music was phenomenal!

Afterward we took a pedicab to McSorely’s Old Ale House. This was a bit of a hike. Care to guess how much the pedicab ride cost? Seriously, you’ll have to guess.

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The two stars are the Imperial Theatre and McSorely’s Old Ale House. We took a pedicab!

McSorely’s is really cool. It’s over 160 years old. Abe Lincoln was once in the city giving a speech. Afterward he walked down to the pub for a drink. After he left they took the chair he was sitting in and hung it on the wall! Every inch of the walls are covered in old art or old photographs. Folks who have been visiting for years still find something they didn’t see before on those history strewn walls. McSorely’s only has two beers: light or dark. They brew their own beer and those are the options.

We went to McSorely’s to meet with a friend, Billy Procida. Billy is a comedian and podcast host from Brooklyn, and I’ve been listening to his show for almost a year. When we made arrangements to go to the city, Billy graciously accepted our invitation to meet up over a beer. No joke, I found Billy when I was downloading NPR podcasts from iTunes and his show was suggested in the sidebar. What is his show, you may ask? Esquire listed his show in the Top 10 for Sex themed podcasts. He is the host of “The Manwhore Podcast: A Sex-Positive Quest for Love” in which he interviews women that he’s hooked up with, along with fellow comedians, authors, doctors, lawyers, and many more to discuss love, dating, relationships, and sex. If the name turns you off, then don’t bother clicking any of the links in this paragraph. But if you are remotely curious, don’t feel ashamed or bashful and check it out. Yes, sometimes it’s a bit raunchy, considering the subject matter, but often his show has very educational components, which was something I appreciated in meeting Billy; he wanted to learn about what I enjoyed the most and least about his program. Truthfully, I really like when he has the more academic folks who speak about their line of work and how they try to help people. At any rate, Billy quit his day job to focus on comedy and podcasting, so I send him $5/month through Patreon and in return I receive a dirty haiku in the mail. A small price to support an original content creator. Thank you, Billy, for the meet and greet!

After McSorely’s we took a taxi in the rain to our second show of the day, “Attack of the Elvis Impersonators!” We bought our tickets from the TodayTix App, as recommended by my friend Keith Schneider. It was ridiculously campy and we LOVED IT! The show was written by Lory Lazarus, who also wrote “Courage the Cowardly Dog”. It’s staged in a small, off-broadway theatre that seats 75 people. The music was fun and energetic and the cast were equally so. The premise: Leading man (Think Axl Rose/Slash/Brett Michaels/Dee Snyder rolled into one) has a midlife crisis and experiences divine intervention from Elvis Presley, who inhabits his body to start a new religion called “Hound Dog” (Because DOG is GOD backwards). If you are in NYC, go check it out.

After the Elvis show, we were pooped and ready to turn in for the night. It took a little longer than expected since I accidentally took us a few blocks in the wrong direction. Camette was not pleased, which after five years of marriage I’ve learned the best way to fix this type of problem: Feed Camette. We stopped for pizza and drinks around the corner from our AirBnB. We got into the room around 11:30pm, ate our food, and turned in at 12:15am.

Oh, as for the teaser at the top of the blog? That happened. 1:15am the door opens to our closet (Literally a closet with a bunk bed futon allowing 8 inches to the wall) and two partially naked, partially intoxicated young women giggled into the room and climbed into the top bunk. When I opened my eyes and information rushed to my brain, it took a nanosecond to process “This isn’t my wife…who the efff is this…?” I rolled to Camette behind me and she whispered into my face, “I guess we’re not alone tonight.” As the mattress above us squeaked into submission.

When we left in the morning, the ladies were still asleep. We never knew who they were. While driving back to Pennsylvania, I reflected aloud, “No one got hurt. No one was robbed or raped. It was just weird. At the very least it will make for a good story. ” When I called AirBnB to discuss our experience, customer service were very polite in explaining the three categories of rentals: Whole house, private room, or SHARED room. I, indeed, did read the word shared but thought that it pertained to the apartment/bathroom arrangements. I never realized it meant THE CLOSET! Well, now we know…that Camette is in charge of booking all future AirBnBs.

Follow the link to see some pictures that we took on this day trip and leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you as we prepare for our 12 month road trip.

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