Monday, October 24, 2011

Friends, protests, and things that go bump in Anderson Cooper's West Village town house

This weekend one of my best friends from college was in town. Normally, when people are in town, it's an enjoyable excuse to eat out far too often and also to visit some tried and true New York tourist attractions. After over three years here, I feel like I've seen most of the big sites, but I always enjoy seeing them again with friends. However, this particular friend, henceforth to be called Beth, brought a list of things she wanted to do, and many of them were actually new experiences for me as well. Even better many were things I'd had on my own list for a while.

New experience #1: Occupying Wall Street

I know, I know, it has been a month--I'm a little ashamed that it took me this long to get down there. I'm not a member of the Tea Party, and I don't think that big corporations should pay a smaller percentage of taxes than I do, but I just don't like going downtown because it brings back painful memories of temping at Merrill Lynch conference services in the World Financial Center when I first moved to the city. In the less than a month I worked there, after cleaning up after snotty interns who didn't realize they were physically capable of taking water bottles and napkins with them rather than leaving them on conference room floors, I really started to dislike the financial industry. I was hating bankers before it was cool. Beth and I wandered Zucotti Park and chanted a couple of times; however, we didn't stay too long because we came during lunch time and we were evidently getting in the way of the sandwiches being passed out.

See that hair in the foreground? That's me. Occupying.

New experience #2: New York Ghost Tour

Beth got us tickets to a ghost tour of the West Village. I was initially skeptical of some of the stories our inimitable tour guide told, but in the end, I do feel like I learned some things. For example, I now know where Anderson Cooper lives. Also, that the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is now an NYU building and that Washington Square Park was once a public burial ground. Naturally, now the ghosts of female workers and colonial epidemic victims haunt the Village. Except Anderson Cooper who quietly refurbishes old firehouses.

Our tour guide. He kept referring to some unnamed "friend" who was "highly sensitive to paranormal activity." When he would take his friend to the spots on the tour, what she felt mysteriously corroborated every one of his stories. Spooky.

New Experience #3: Tenement Museum

I tried to go to the Tenement Museum once before, but all of the tours were sold out. The only way to go to the museum is to do one of the tours where they take you into a tenement building and tell the story of one of the immigrant family's that lived there. Or at least that's what they did on the tour we went on. They also did a great job of setting the scene and describing how people would heave excrement from chamber pots down onto the streets and sidewalks. It really makes you appreciate living in the relatively hygienic, post-germ-theory world of today. We couldn't take pictures in there, but I can tell you, it was pretty small. Sort of like apartments in the Lower East Side today actually. Fairly unrelated to immigrant history in America, but very related to the Tenement Museum by virtue of being a couple of blocks away: we got donuts here. And they were heavenly.

New experience #4: That one Indian restaurant on 1st ave.

I never went in it because it looked like a Christmas tree on acid. Turns out eating there is sort of like sticking your head into a Christmas tree. And also (I assume) being on acid. Here's a shot of the exterior.

And here we are on the interior:

It is hard to tell in this picture, but suffice is to say, a person could not stand upright while in this restaurant. That said, the food wasn't bad. Also, it was apparently a popular birthday restaurant. To celebrate each occasion, the waiters would turn off all the lights and run around in the dark.

New experience #5: The Book of Mormon lottery

I was not as lucky as my friend in town this summer who ended up winning tickets, but I was surprised at the ease of the process. I am determined to win front row center tickets for $32 a piece. And I will go every Saturday and Sunday morning until this occurs.

In addition to all of these exciting, new experiences we all did some old favorites: the Met, a walk through Central Park on a lovely fall day, brunching, shopping, and stops at numerous chocolate purveyors. Thanks for visiting, Beth! I'm happy you're one yellow coat richer for the experience.


  1. I want to eat at that Indian restaurant! It looks like so much fun! And you'll have to tell me how the Book of Mormon musical is if you ever go. :)

  2. Next time you're in the city, I promise to take you there! All you have to do is leave the airport :)