This weekend I’ve had the company of good friend, former boss and currently business associate Jonah Weiland, best known for his online comics magazine known as ComicBookResources.Com. If you check out his own blog, you’ll see his excellent recounting of our trip to England in 2003, which marked our first trip together and it was nothing short of memorable. We ran into the Queen, saw some awesome theatre performances, explored more than just touristy areas and traveled to Bristol. The latter was a great experience not only for the scenery, but it marked the first time that I, as an adult, was humbled by Indian food. I ordered a spicy vindaloo chicken meal, joking with the waiter that “I’m brown. I can take it.” and quickly find out that no, I couldn’t take it, but loved every moment of my failure. We’ve hung out since then– most notably on my birthday in 2004– and we’ve always had a great time. So it makes sense that with Jonah coming to town this week, I was excited to see what kind of adventures we could get into and I wasn’t disappointed.
The first thing you need to understand about Jonah and I is that the amount of planning we do is inversely proportionate to the amount of fun we’ll have on any given day. The plans we make are often too reliant on x-factors (like if we’ve been out too late the night before drinking or something else), so we just go with the flow and it generally works. We’ve got trips to England and San Diego to prove how well out lack of planning works for us.
As we left my apartment and walked down the street, we saw a woman leaning against a fire hydrant with an odd look on her face. Upon closer inspection, it became obvious that this large, pointed piece of metal was being used to…well…pleasure this woman. The accompanying facial gestures and noises were proof enough for Jonah & I to be both amused and disturbed by this scene. Our first stop on the trip was the Apple store in Midtown, a spectacle of design and testament to the power of the Apple brand. The store is always busy, people are always in line to buy something and Apple sells you on the “Mac Lifestyle” without any effort. Just walk in the building and try to not want to buy something. I’ve been to the store multiple times in the past, but every time I go there I find that there’s something I want. This time it was Apple TV, a device that connects to your television and lets you stream music, videos, television programs and photos stored on your computer to the connected television. It’s about $300 (I think) and pretty cool to have, but not something I particularly want when I’m not in that store.
As we thought we were heading to 34th to see a film (more on that later), Jonah and I headed down to the Trump Towers bar & lounge, where we had a drink…only to learn each drink was $13! The secret to Trump’s success has been explained– over charge! The front lobby of the building has a nice WWE display, a tribute to Trump’s win at Wrestlemania 23, featuring the WWE Championship and ECW Championship belts. Part of me wanted to reach into the case and take out the belts to wear, but that would have been a crime and thus not a good decision. Here are a couple of photos Jonah took of me:
The film we were planning to see was a tribute to comic book writer/artist legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit), entitled Will Eisner: Portrait Of A Sequential Artist, which I was interested to see but didn’t know what to expect. Turned out the film was at the Tribeca film theatre off Canal St, so we had to hop in a cab and try to get there in time to get our free press tickets. We hadn’t planned to go to this– Jonah just happened to hear about the film and was able to get us tickets. Worked out perfectly! The show was sold out, so we were lucky to get a taxi driver who actually knew the streets and could get us there in time. Along the way, we saw someone driving a yellow T-Rex Vehicle, which was my first time seeing the contraption and it was a pretty nice ride. I’m sure it’s fairly expensive and looks unsafe, but it’d be a fun vehicle to ride around a race track– it just seems geared towards unsafe driving.
The movie itself was quite amazing. Documentaries are hit and miss with me, but this one was definitely the former, painting a picture of a man who had a hard childhood but embraced the richness of his experiences and didn’t get stuck in the darker moments of his life. The filmmakers could easily have angled the film to focus on Eisner’s hard life and tried to make us feel sympathy, but by focusing on Eisner’s optimism and the beauty of his craft, the film does something quite different– it inspires us. It makes us think about our lives, the truly important things and how we can use them to impart some meaning to our actions & our lives. It seems silly to try to describe this film because it’s so nuanced and so much more meaningful than I can put into words. There’s a magic in hearing Eisner and the legendary Jack Kirby that can’t be expressed in words– you just need to hear it. Sure, you get more out of this film is you’re a comic book fan, but I think everyone can learn a bit from this film, namely about being a poor Jewish boy in New York during the depression and the comic book medium itself.
Our final stop was Little Italy and since we were on Canal St already, we just headed east through Chinatown, which is a bit dumpy but an interesting walk nonetheless. The most odd moment of the night happened when we passed by an old Chinese woman, in front of a dimly lit and unlabeled storeftont, who asked us, “You like lot of pussy?” Grammar wasn’t our concern as we kept walking and tried to process what we heard. Jonah & I looked at each other, shocked and trying to confirm what we heard, which just led to lots of laughing. I realized that my response to her should have been “Do you?” and seen how she reacted just for the hell of it.
The food in Little Italy was excellent, but it was sad to see the area slowly being swallowed by Chinatown, not because I have anything against Asian culture but because Little Italy is such a vibrant and unique part of the city that I’d hate to see it minimalized any further. We had dessert at a place called Ferrara’s, which has the best dessert and hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. Not too sweet, not too bland– just perfect. That kind of balance isn’t available in most American sweets and desserts, so it’s a treat to get such delicious chocolate every so often. Once again, we hadn’t planned any of this and it all just worked out. We had no idea we’d be in Tribeca, so if it hadn’t been for Jonah getting tickets, we may not have ventured to Little Italy that day.
Upon arriving back at the apartment, it was time to play Wii Sports on my Nintendo Wii, something I hadn’t done since surgery– it’s not easy to swing around a controller with your sternum healing! We had a ton of fun and played for an hour, which is a great work out and gets you really sweaty! The tennis game is easily the best one and boxing is the weakest, but Jonah and I had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to box, which led us to flail around like we were two grown men having spasms. He easily bested me in tennis, but I seemed to be the king of bowling, which is funny since I’m one of the worst bowlers in real life. I’ve never purchased another game for the system (any suggestions?), but this Wii Sports game is worth the purchase of the system (it comes packaged with it). I think it was 2am by the time we went to bed, but it was well worth the fun. Jonah’s an intelligent guy and his worldliness (is that a word?) means that no matter the situation, he’s always got something interesting to contribute. The downside is that he quickly figures out how to play Wii Sports quite well and shame me in the process. Bad Jonah! Ha.
On Sunday we headed out to see a musical called Avenue Q, described by some as “Sesame Street For Adults,” but it’s so much more than that. It’s a comedy with biting social commentary and an uncanny knack for exploiting social norms, turning mundane moments into captivating moments on stage. You can learn more about the show here, but all I can is this: go see it. It’s hilarious and I can’t imagine anyone not liking it. It’s not your typical musical and that’s what makes it so fun– you never know what to expect. I can’t wait to see it again. Seeing this show was another product of not thinking too much– I asked a co-worker about which show I should see, bought the tickets without learning anything about the show and had a great time.
Jonah would leave on Tuesday, with us not doing much together since we both had work, but it was great to hang out with him once again and even share in our mutual love of Heroes– in HD! He’ll be back again soon and if everything happens as usual, we’ll have another great time I’ll have to blog in detail.