Monday, September 8, 2008

Manhattan's Times Square Leaves Quite An Impression

Naked Cowboy is one of many Times Square attractions competing for attention - Photo courtesy of NY Magazine
Lights, camera, Manhattan!

There's something about the crush of people pounding the pavement that makes my skin start to crawl. I don't know, maybe it's me, but I need space while waiting for the "Walk/Don't Walk" sign to save my behind.

Everywhere you go in Times Square, people, lights, billboards, noise. Thrilling sure, but way too much intensity. Move here. Go there. Outta the way. Gotta get by. People fighting over every scrap of pavement. After an hour, I'm longing for the quiet and boredom of home. Give me the empty after midnight streets of Park Heights any day over the hotbed of Times Square.

Well, maybe not today.

Rube that I am, we hit Manhattan from a huge backup after the Lincoln Tunnel. Talk about traffic at a standstill. You try coming off the Jersey Turnpike into midtown to Times Square. Navigating a free for all doesn't get any more nerve wracking, especially to a clueless out of towner like me. Aggressive driving skills and my own "put a sock in it" attitude got us by, but imagine a courteous driver trying to inch their way into motion.

Meanwhile, the lights turn red, they turn green. Horns honk. Drivers swear. Red, then green. Red means stop and so does green. Nothing but me, the car idling in front of me, and some squeegee guy thrown in for good measure, just in case my innards weren't already coiling like a slinky on crack.

I had more than had my fill by the time we reached our destination. By then, it was all I could do avoiding weavers and darters while scoping out a garage. The last time I had parked on the street cost me a battery and $75 ticket. No matter the price, I'd learned my lesson. Now all I had to do was find a garage. Funny thing about successful public transportation, it makes garage businesses scarce. And jacks up the price in those that remain.

For the record, all day parking cost $35, a bargain when considering the replacement cost of a battery.

With the Caravan safely in the hands of our Samoan valet, we hit the ground running at 47th and 7th. As far as the eye could see, people, signs, lights, action. More action than some people may witness in a lifetime. There's the naked cowboy and lady liberty posing for cash. Cameras and more cameras clicking everywhere you turn. Open air sightseeing buses passing every few minutes. Billboards upon billboards, so many billboards they had to install a jumbotron to get attention. Smack dab in the middle of everything is a performance stage going wild. Live performers dancing, clapping and singing up a storm. And stores. Block after block of anything in the world anyone could possibly desire. If that's not enough, street vendors abound. Just wouldn't be Manhattan without the knock-offs and shysters.

But we were there for dinner and a show and the Big White Way delivered like a champ. Locating the discount ticket booth went well, but paying with cash did not. Nothing about needing cash on their website. Luckily, my blunder was easily remedied. With several working ATMs nearby, the closest at Bank of America, we scored excellent seats to Hairspray at the Neil Simon Theatre. You'd think we natives would tire of a musical set in 1962 Baltimore, but no, we can't get enough of the Pigtown fairytale.

Gorgeous Ashley Parker Angel plays Link Larkin in Hairspray
The play has been running so long they now have George Wendt (Norm!) in the role of Edna Turnblad. And to our utter delight, Ashley Parker Angel as Link Larkin. Really, he is to die for, and such a good sport. After the show, he came out to sign autographs, even posed with us as souvenirs (which is more than I can say for old George). We were in heaven.

I suppose it would be rude not to mention other actors, but only a handful stood out in my mind. Ken Marks as Wilbur Turnblad, definitely a funny man of ultimate caliber. And the understudy for Penny Pingleton, whoever she is, hit a high note with excellent timing (sorry I lost the last minute change in casting or I'd mention her by name). And of course, Charlotte Crossley as Motormouth Maybelle. Loved the rhyme, loved the sublime.

Marissa Perry was fun and energetic, but needs help with her Baltimorese. The nasal twang got to me right off the bat and is so NOT the accent. Honestly, the "uh-oh-oh" in Good Morning, Baltimore sounded like Betty Boop on the crapper. After she graciously came out to greet fans and sign autographs I didn't have the heart to say anything bad.

But the cartoon nasal has got to go!

Wrapping this up because I'm tired and over extended. The food in New York is amazing. We dined at My Most Favorite Food, a clean upscale cafe with outdoor dining. No table for us outside, but snagged one in an out of the way corner with a bridal shower unfolding below. Hungry women unwrapping presents, now there's entertainment of a different color. Loved the homemade gnocchi. Hated the bill.

But hey, parking, good food and a show I expected to pay out the wazoo. The rest of our Manhattan experience? Priceless.


mally755 said...

Giddyap cowboy. Does he have a friend?