By ALEXI VENICE
I learned a new word while in New York City this weekend—tourons. It’s a portmanteau of tourist and moron. I made some touronic observations as we walked around the city, so please accept them for what they are as you make your way through this post. I’m also pretty sure I was a touron several times, too.
I like to visit New York once per decade whether I need to or not. Mind you, I’m the person who blogged that I don’t like large department stores. Did I tell you I’m not fond of crowds either? (My comfort zone is at least one foot of personal space around my body.) Just to clarify, I don’t like city sewer smells, piles of garbage on the sidewalk, 90-degree heat radiating off the pavement, or a steady stream of loud noises—car horns, sirens and jack hammers. But all of that is New York in July, and I knew this going in.
I braved the city because my daughter and her college friends were attending a conference there. So, my husband, a work colleague of mine (and her daughter) all decided to go.
My work colleague and her daughter requested that I not use their names in the post, so I’ll refer to them as “WC” and “D.” (Yes, I know that WC means “water closet” in Europe.) Here’s my work colleague (and hopefully friend after this trip) standing next to her initials.
We stayed in midtown, so we walked to Times Square the first night. I’m used to seeing about 50 people per day, so seeing several thousand—within my personal space—is stimulus overload, especially in 90-degree weather.
My favorite character was a gentleman with a portable microphone and speaker yelling, “We’re all disciples of the devil and damned to hell.”
I gave him cab fare and told him to go belt out his message across from Trump Tower.
I needed a beer and slice of pizza just to acclimate! After my beer, however, I was a little disoriented when we returned to the hotel room. When washing my hands in the bathroom, I yelled to my husband, “This soap is cheap. It won’t lather.”
He came around the corner and looked at me, the soap in my hand, then laughed. “That’s because you’re using the soap dish for soap. The real soap is on the shelf above you.”
In my defense, the soap dish sort of looked like a bar of Neutrogena, but, now that you mention it…. Please don’t tell my daughter, she’ll tell me I already have one foot in the nursing home.
The next day, we took the subway from midtown down to Battery Park. The street was sizzling with heat and the subway was like a wood-fired pizza oven. Except there weren’t pizzas in the oven. There was urine, grease and body odor cooking.
The subway dropped us by the Brooklyn Bridge. From there, we walked to the National September 11 Memorial, which is so incredibly moving and profound. The two memorials—one for each tower—were a stunning contrast to where the Twin Towers once were. In the 1980s, I had lunch at Windows on the World a few times. If you had told me then that, twenty years later, those buildings would be leveled and in their places, two memorial waterfalls and ponds with names of the fallen engraved around the edges, I never would have believed you.
That’s the new World Trade Center behind Bill. The caretakers of the memorial even place a live flower in the engraved space of each person’s name on their birth dates. So compassionate, well-planned and moving.
I really appreciated the police presence throughout the city while we visited, and, as you might expect, the presence around the World Trade Center was very strong.
I thanked Officer Dinkelacker in person for his service, but didn’t try to pronounce his name for fear of mangling it. See his badge? His last name is another example of a portmanteau.
Speaking of dinkels, after walking through lower Manhattan, we walked through Washington Square Park. There was a sketchy activity going on of naked men and women volunteering to be painted—Human Conceptual Art (or some euphemism for naked people getting their bodies painted).
Since I’ve seen only Bill naked, this sighting of human art multiplied the number of dinkels I’ve seen by, well…however many naked men were there. I know, right? At one point, this dinkelman bent over to pick up his bottle of water with his butt cheeks facing us. The only thing I noticed was that gravity was taking a toll on his testicles.
However, a woman behind me said, “Oh my, do you think he bleaches his anus?”
I think her question was meant to be rhetorical, but a woman on the other side of me replied, “I bet he uses Crest Whitening strips like everyone else.”
I can’t make this stuff up. It’s New York.
I know what you’re wondering—did I take a pic of his front side? The answer is “yes,” but I can’t put it on my blog because this is not an X-rated blog. And, I can tell you that he was NOT a dinkelacker. If he had been wearing a badge, it would have said “Dinkelonger” on it.
I’m guilty of texting his nude pic to a few friends—as well as my 22-year-old daughter, who was in her important business conference. She immediately replied by text to me: “Things I should not have to tell my mother: DO NOT SEND ME DICK PICS!”
One of my friends replied, “Get that dick pic off your phone!”
Why? Are the dinkel police going to see it on my phone and arrest me? Well, one policeman is technically qualified to, but it’s not illegal to have a dick pic on your phone, is it? I suppose both my daughter and friend are right. I’m glad they observe social mores, etiquette and boundaries. Maybe I should’ve asked them to proofread this post before I published it.
Back to dinkelackers—one more time, then I’m done. Compare and contrast the below sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which I consider to be authentic art. The male isn’t even CLOSE to the Dinkelonger in Washington Square Park. Not even close!
Let’s move away from that subject. Yuck. I prefer the below sculpture of Fearless Girl facing down the Wall Street Charging Bull. There were hundreds of people around these two sculptures. We had to stand in line just to take a quick pic.
The Met is amazing. The building dwarfs a Costco, and has so many exhibits that that you could spend a week there. They actually have furniture displays, so finding a place to sleep wouldn’t be an issue. I found this exhibit of Sara Berman squirreled away in a corner. The replica of her closet—full of whites and beiges—warranted sufficient importance to occupy prestigious space at the Met. (Go figure. I don’t get it.)
The only color was the red ball of yarn around her light switch. I kept expecting a cat to jump out and attack it. (I mean, this exhibit would’ve worked with some special effects like that.) Again, why is a minimalist, OCD woman’s closet an exhibit at the Met? There’s nothing wise, unique or profound about her closet. It’s one of those situations where a select few in NYC deem something to be art, put it on display, and the rest of us are expected to gush. I think this is why the entrance fee to the Met ($25) is just a suggested price. When you actually pay, you can tell the box office that you’re going to pay $5 for your own admission. It’s true. We were touring with a New Yorker, and he’s been doing that for 20+ years. (I don’t know what Bill paid because I was taking pics of sculptures.)
One aspect of New York I love are the street musicians. We happened upon this group in SOHO. They were so good, and sang directly to me! My own concert. Bill had to drag me away…
We also went to a Broadway musical. We saw what I call Amnesia, which is a charming, sappy romantic tale about a young Russian princess, Anastasia, who is the only survivor of her privileged, royal family—the Romanovs—after the Bolshevik Revolution.
She goes underground, suffers from amnesia, and later reunites with her grandmother, the former Empress of Russia, who is exiled in Paris. For the plot to work, the audience is required to sympathize with the only living heir to the overthrown dynasty. (I was skeptical. The Romanovs ruled Russia for centuries. While I’m not a fan of Lenin, sometimes there’s a reason people revolt. To clarify, I AM a fan of John Lennon, but not Vladimir Lenin. As long as we’re on the topic, the new guy named Vladimir is just as bad—or worse—than Lenin.)
Anyway, back to the show. While the singing and dancing were amazing and awesome, the set design was one step up from a high school play, so adjust your expectations accordingly if you go. I was sort of hoping they’d serve an amnestic in the water at intermission, so I’d suffer from amnesia and not remember the amateur set designs or questionable foundation for the plot.
Switching gears, we took a Circle Line tour out to the Statue of Liberty. I recommend Circle Line boat tours. This was the third one I’ve done in thirty years, and I’ve always enjoyed them. Between the 911 Memorial and the Statue of Liberty, I was sort of verklempt. Both are such a profound part of our history and my soul feels enriched for having seen them.
We’ve come to the end of our NYC tour. There’s no getting around it, we were tourons at times, but we had tons of fun.
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