Tourists aren’t always easy to deal with in a congested and dense city like NYC wherein most people get around by foot. But for most New Yorkers, the annoyances don’t go any further than a slow sidewalk commute. Two Times Square hotel concierges, however, have a deeper well of annoyances and amusements from tourists to draw from – and not only are they drawing from that well, they’re publishing from it, too. Their Tumblr blog, How May We Hate You, chronicles their most memorable interactions with tourists staying in Times Square. It’s a goldmine of laughable quotes from tourists. Enjoy.
Here’s a bit of nostalgia for all you old-time New Yorkers out there.
This mini-documentary on Times Square really captures my memories of it from the 1980s. Walking around there with my friends at night was a gritty, sleazy, surreal experience. Touts tried to sell you stolen watches or draw you into shell games or strip shows. Street preachers screamed at the crowd and were totally ignored. Lights flashed. Cars honked. People swore at one another or offered you drugs labeled under a bewildering variety of street names (anybody know what “rust” was?).
Despite this footage being a quarter of a century old, I recognize some of these places. The theater marquees are unforgettable, of course. There was one place where you could see a Kung Fu double feature for a dollar. That video arcade in the film was a favorite hangout of ours. We knew about the pickpockets and always watched out for one another. Still, it’s amazing we survived all those trips without ever having any serious trouble.
I haven’t been back to New York for 15 years. From what I’ve heard, it’s changed too much. Times Square has been turned into a touristy shopping mall, and throughout Manhattan many of the small shops, like those wonderful indie bookstores, have disappeared. I have lots of friends and fellow bloggers in New York who are always inviting me to come over. I’m not sure I ever will. I think I’ll just keep my memories of the trashy yet vibrant New York of my teens.
Possibly, I’ve been living under a rock, but I just discovered the hilarious YouTube series “Real Actors Read Yelp,” the brainchild of Gotta Kid to Feed Productions.
Broadway thespians and television bit players provide heart-wrenching (and sometimes downright terrifying) enactments of real reviews from across the country. There’s everything from the Times Square Olive Garden (“The waitresses-slash-waiters smile, and seem … nice, but it feels like they’re doing it just to increase their tips.”) to Crazy Horse Gentleman’s Club (“I’ve never been impressed with the dancers. They either look like they just had a kid, or they’re obviously on drugs.”).
It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I’m partial to this disembowelment of a PF Chang’s, as performed by Tony Award-winner Greg Hildreth.
Last year, Marriott International made waves with the announcement that its latest New York City property would be the tallest stand-alone hotel building in Manhattan. But now, about 17 months into construction, it has become clear that the new Nobutaka Ashihara-designed skyscraper will not just be the city’s tallest hotel, but the tallest stand-alone hotel building in the entire United States.
The new property, located at 1717 Broadway and 54th Street, consists of 68 stories extending nearly 753 feet into the midtown Manhattan skyline. It will house the new Courtyard by Marriott-Central Park on floors six through 32 and the new Residence Inn by Marriott-Central Park on floors 36 through 64. Earlier this week, we were able to get a sneak peek at the construction of the new property, including the jaw-dropping, 360-degree view from the top.
At elevations that high, the city is quite literally at your feet. To the west, you can see straight across the Hudson River to New Jersey. To the south, you have the heart of midtown Manhattan, including a clear view of Times Square, and to the east, you can look down at iconic structures like Carnegie Hall and the Hearst Tower. Northbound, you can see the whole of Central Park spread straight up through the tip of Manhattan. It’s a sight that will take your breath away (if your breath wasn’t already suffering from the high altitude).On the bottom chunk of the building, the Courtyard will contain 378 rooms, each providing the brand’s trademark “refreshing business” environment to help guests stay connected, productive and balanced. Up top, the 261 Residence Inn suites will provide comfort to guests on longer stays, offering full kitchens and home-style comforts. The 34th floor will house a shared fitness center, while common spaces, restaurants and retail space will take up the five-floor “pillar” of the building.
The building owners, Granite Broadway Development, and building contractor, CNY Builders, will celebrate the completion of the skyscraper’s structure this morning with a commemorative topping out ceremony, followed by the hauling of the final bucket of concrete to the top floor. From here, contractors will work on building out the interior of the hotel to Marriott specifications. An opening is slated for the end of 2013.
While blogs take up most of my travel reading these days, every now and then I like to dip into an old classic. So on a recent flight to Washington DC to attend the Gadling bloggers summit, I read “Lonesome Traveler“ by Jack Kerouac.
This slim volume contains eight stream-of-consciousness essays in the style you’d expect from one of the leaders of the Beat Generation. For example, the author tells a friend:
“Deni the reason I followed the ship all the way 3,200 miles from Staten Island to goddam Pedro is not only because I wanta get on and be seen going around the world and have myself a ball in Port Swettenham and pick up on gangee in Bombay and find the sleepers and the fluteplayers in filthy Karachi and start revolutions of my own in the Cairo Casbah and make it from Marseilles to the other side, but because of you, because, the things we used to do, where, I have a hell of a good time with you Den, there’s no two ways about. . .I never have any money that I admit, I already owe you sixty for the bus fare, but you must admit I try. . .I’m sorry that I don’t have any money ever, but you know I tried with you, that time. . .well gaddam, wa ahoo, shit, I want to get drunk tonight.”
When you have a monologue like that, you know you’re in Kerouac territory. The posts range from his time hanging out with William S. Burroughs in Tangier to his jobs as a fire watcher and on trains and boats.
Sometimes the best travel writing is that which takes you back to a place you love, in my case old New York City before its seedy heart was cleaned up and dulled. Kerouac takes us on a tour of all the crazy Times Square spots where the Beats used to hang out while a cavalcade of oddballs passes by. Through all this blur of activity Kerouac wonders, “Why does Times Square feel like a big room?”
Wow, yeah! Times Square does feel like a big room, even fifty years later when I hung out there. That broad open space enclosed by four walls of skyscrapers with all the people coming and going has a strange homey, interior feel to it. A good travel writer can put into words what you’ve always felt about a place.
And Kerouac is a damned good travel writer. “Lonesome Traveler” is filled with quotable one-liners about booze, sex, solitude, trusting strangers, nature and just about everything else. The one that perhaps best sums up the Beat mentality is actually by Gregory Corso, who in the New York sequence says, “Standing on the street corner waiting for no one is Power.”
Not a bad summary of the attractions of travel.