Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New York, New York

It's hot in New York. 85 degrees. Unseasonably warm as I walk up the jetway. Flight in was not bad, though totally full. My bag comes off the carousel before I finish letting my wife know I'm here. Into the soupy air and the taxi line.

I marvel at the gentleman in front of me. He's dressed in black, head to toe. Black leather blazer, black cowboy hat. Smoking, while he's on his mobile phone, while he's simultaneously trying to roll his two bags up to the taxi line. And then he asks me if I want to share a cab.

I don't. I've been on a plane for hours. My leg hurts. The last thing I want to do is sit in a cab with a creepy smoking stranger at 1 am and ride into Manhattan. The young woman behind me notices my plight. I overhear she's heading for Times Square as well.

30 minutes later I roll into the W. I've never stayed here before. It's not cheap - about $600 a night - but it sure is pretty. "Designed" is probably the word. At the check-in counter, I see...the young woman behind me from the taxi line! She notices me and starts laughing, "we could have shared a cab!". We share an elevator up to the 35th floor instead.

Living in California, you forget that the rest of the world has really tall buildings.

The elevators and corridors of the W are very dimly lit. Pitch-black, almost. It's pleasant, but a little disturbing. My room smells weird and the bed is a bit damp. But it looks gorgeous...

Times Square throbs and writhes 35 floors below me. I verify that room service delivers 24 hours and start changing for the gym. A little work out will stretch me out and tire me out and...holy crap it's after 1 am. What am I thinking? I have to eat. But if I work out and then eat, I'll be up until 3 at least and I have to be up at 8 or 9 tomorrow...I order food and flip on the TV.

A few hours later I'm looking at a beautiful New York morning. It will be hot today, but I only have to walk about 3 blocks to MTV headquarters for my day-long meetings. Out my window I see why people want to live here.

The meetings are reasonably productive. The MTV folks are great. We disband for the day and I return to the hotel. I get in a good workout before heading off to meet some of the Rhapsody folks at a local upscale steakhouse.

The place is a few blocks away. It's nice to walk everywhere, and the warm weather is pleasant. New York is alive, buildings going up and coming down, people coming and going. I find the restaurant and walk in. It's all power suits and loud conversation.

I notice they have Booker's, a rare bourbon treat for me. I order one and as the bartender is preparing it, I get a $20 out of my pocket. I don't want to deal with my credit card, I just want to pay for my one drink. He sets it down in front of me and I hand him the $20.

He comes back a few seconds later. "Sir," he says, "...that will be $20.86". He needs another dollar. My single drink costs $21 goddamn dollars in New York. For. One. Bourbon.

I leave my bartender to enjoy his 14-cent tip. I look around at the restaurant. I realize there are other things you miss in California. This place, on the ground floor, has a 3-story-high ceiling, and giant floor-to-ceiling glass windows around it. It's breathtaking, and almost shocking. Huge wooden buttresses give it an almost Gothic feel.

And as I drink my expensive bourbon and await my colleagues, I realize something else about New York: There are tons of hot ladies here, and they all dress up. Hooray for New York!

The rest of the gang arrives and we enjoy a decent steak meal. I have broccoli with mine. As I previously noted, these upscale steak places are always a bit disappointing. Yeah, yeah, the meat is great and they bring it out sizzling all perfect on its little plate.

But I'm eating a steak and broccoli. I have this at home almost every week and it tastes about as good. It's steak and broccoli. There's only so much you're going to do with that as a chef. The last time I was in New York, Ronda found an incredible crazy restaurant with foams and gels and a dessert that I swear exploded in my mouth. A real food adventure. Though if I recall properly, we did almost get killed in the cab 3 or 4 times on the way there (I closed my eyes part-way through the ride, I just couldn't take it anymore).

Dinner ends. The guys are going out drinking. Not me. My leg hurts after sitting down for so long. I walk back to the hotel, stretching it out and looking forward to a good night's sleep.

The next day I grab a coffee at the Starbucks across the street and sip it as I walk back to Viacom. After more meetings, we'll end up out at dinner with the MTV folks at a tapas place. Super-tasty. This is followed by more drinks and great conversation at the Paramount's hotel bar. Back to bed.

The last day is a brief recap of the previous ones, and then back home. This flight sucks. Delayed an hour. Sits on the runway for an hour. Back row of the plane. Jammed in the window. Totally full flight. My leg is positively killing me by the time we land.

I get home and my leg twitches all night. I have to travel less. And figure out what's up with my leg.

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