Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Few Things I Never Thought I'd Do...

I spent last weekend in the Big Apple with some friends to celebrate the 4th of July, and get out of escaping to an even denser urban jungle (?). I know, when we stopped to consider it, it didn't make a lot of sense to us either...but then again...a lot of things happened this weekend that didn't exactly add up...

On the 4th of July we headed out to Coney Island. This was quite the experience. Coney Island hit its peak in the 1920s and, from what I can gather given our experience there, has gone dramatically down hill since then. The main body of the island is taken up by a run-down amusement park bordered by a boardwalk and the shore. It has been my experience that places with boardwalks tend to be inherently seedy (what it is about providing a planked walking surface next to eating establishments and sand that brings out the weirdos I have no idea...I'm still in the early stages of formulating a theory involving lead paint, pirate fetishes, and clowns...), and Coney Island's boardwalk is hands down the worst I have ever seen.

Perhaps I should back up...the reason we went to Coney Island in the first place was not, in fact, to solidify a theory on why creepy people have taken to inhabiting former gems of prohibitionist-era Americana, but to watch the annual Nathan's World Championship hot dog eating contest. Yep, that is the one activity that worked itself firmly into our agendas for the weekend. Not only did we choose to spend the birthday of our country watching strictly average individuals gorge themselves on highly processed psuedo meat products, but we went specifically to cheer on a JAPANESE guy. I'm not gonna was a blast. In truth, I do not have the words to adequately describe the full experience...luckily for you my friend Josh does. So I will refer you to Josh's Blog (no need to read this) to get all the baloney-laden details. Suffice it to say, I have been astounding my co-workers with my newfound knowledge of the rules and regulations of competitive eating...and I am pretty sure I never want to see another hot dog again...not until next independence day, anyway.

Maybe it was the guy with the rattail haircut that he clearly hadn't touched since 1992, maybe it was the "Shoot the Freak" booth where for a small fee you can take out your aggression on a live target (read skinny, underpaid high school kids from the Bronx) with a paintball gun, maybe it was Madame Cha Cha's Cafe (not even gonna go there...), maybe it was the alcohol flowing freely at 10 in the morning, or maybe it was the tiny fluorescent Wal-mart bikinis on the leathery, tatooed biker mamas...either way as we wandered up and down the boardwalk trying to find something redeeming about this tragically decrepit slice of beach front, I suddenly felt like I was standing in the center of a particularly creepy Slipknot music video (don't google these guys...the picture should speak for itself).
I have to say, on some levels, it was a little sad...What was once a place of lighthearted fun and entertainment has turned into what can only be described as...well...let's just say if Dante had known about Coney Island Francesca and Paolo would have been out on their ears and hell would have had a new playground. Needless to say, we watched the hot dog eating contest (speaking of Dante...third circle anyone?) and hopped the train back to the blessed normalcy (?!?) of Manhattan.

We spent the afternoon sleeping off the whole Coney Island experience and got up to go to dinner on the outer edges of Korea town. This, or course, was fantastic (what did you expect?) and we indulged in a fantastic dinner of hansik while enjoying the most appropriate of dinner entertainment...Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" playing on the flat panel TVs mounted to the restaurant walls...yeah...I didn't get it either. Afterwards we joined the masses for strictly so-so views of fireworks over the East River. We opted to duck out early and beat the subway traffic...stopping on our way home for gelatto and finishing the evening with a laptop viewing of "Talladega Nights." Shake & Bake.

Saturday was spent trying to beat the rain with my most bestest friend from college, Marne'. It was wonderful to see her and the latest edition to the Stott family, Ms. Aubrey. Aubrey is an angel and has completely shot all my expectations of how a child will behave when carted from one end to the other of a major urban center. Great.

After dropping off Marne' and Aubrey, we met up with the rest of our group for yet another phenomenal dinner at a Japanese grill. Again...I have no words. Afterwards we headed out to Queens to check out a Korean bath house and spa. I was in heaven. While this place had definitely been Americanized a bit (the better part of the bathing areas were coed, meaning swimming suits required...lame...) it was still a great way to chill out and relax. We stayed until midnight, drove home, and passed out...very full and very clean. It doesn't get much better than that.

In the past, when I have visited NYC I have always been very ready to get out after about three days, but on Sunday morning as we packed up, I found myself a little loathe to be leaving what had been something of an urban haven for us that weekend. Much laughing was done, much eating was pursued, and many memories were made. It was a great weekend, and when I returned to the office on Monday and my coworkers and I went for our morning breakfast run the question came up "So, what did you do this weekend?" all I could do was shake my head and laugh...


Jane said...

Fun post! My question: were Josh and Josh eating their hotdogs before or after the contest:)?

Mike and Emily said...

Sounds like a blast! Wish we could have been there!