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The Smartass Guide To New York, Part 2

We woke up late in our room at the Amsterdam Court hotel. We got our room by going to Expedia and getting the cheapest hotel that did not fill us with instant The Shining-type terror. The cheapest hotels were across the street from the rocky pit in the ground that was once the World Trade Center. There, the constant, deafening construction noise is provided for free.

Instead, we picked a $160/night room near Times Square. The room was barely larger than the bed. The Internet didn’t work. The dresser was missing a drawer. There was no Bible. Even the pay-per-view porn didn’t work, and that was a new one on me. But the air conditioning worked, we never saw any bugs, and the elevators never reeked of urine. So it was a bargain.

Also, the hotel restaurant was Natsumi, which featured exciting Japanese-Italian fusion cuisine. Oyster martinis. Green tea ravioli. This is the sort of idea so retarded it can only be found in Manhattan. The lovely interior was made of polished hardwood, black leather, and failure. I wrote all that in the past tense because they really must be out of business by now.

It’s important to point out what a bargain the $160 hotel room was. Our first vacation choice was to go to London. However, the exchange rate of dollars to pounds was terrible. The exchange rate of regular dollars to New York dollars was far better. New York is terribly expensive because of the hordes who come there from everywhere else in the world, bearing their fantastic foreign currency. We spent the whole week surrounded by stunned English people, reveling in how cheap everything was. I hate them.

We began the day in Chinatown, having dim sum at Oriental Garden. It was excellent. I know this because there were actual Chinese people there. Dim sum in Chinatown is an entirely worthwhile experience, and, although none of the waiters ever speak English, they are very good at keeping you from accidentally ordering anything from the less reputable parts of the pig. Just watch their faces for the trademark “Oh! So the white ghost wants to try chicken feet? Good luck with that.” expression.

Chinatown is worth seeing. You can’t travel five feet without someone offering you a designer handbag, Rolex watch, or DVD of a movie that isn’t out yet. The prices can’t be beat. There are posters everywhere telling you not to buy these things. These posters are paid for by huge corporations run by people who have enough money to buy and sell you a thousand times over. Screw them. I say treat yourself. Sure, the Rolex is made of plastic. But the nice one-eyed Chinese man said it was real, and the intact half of his face had a very honest look.

Then we walked across SoHo. This is short for “South of Houston.” Houston is a street that runs east-west across Manhattan. It is pronounced exactly the same as the city in Texas. Sometimes, locals try to fool tourists by telling them that it is pronounced How-Stun. Then they go back to their lofts, drink trendy cocktails, laugh about your ignorance, and penetrate models. Don’t let them fool you. You know how Houston is pronounced. If anyone tries to correct you, tell them to go fuck themselves.

Oh, along these lines, if you are in New York, they don’t say North. They say Uptown. They don’t say South. They say Downtown. Do you ever say “north” and “south”? I can’t believe what an ignorant provincial you are.

Anyway. SoHo is full of art galleries and artists who sit out on the sidewalk hawking their paintings and wishing they were in the galleries. Go there and be happy that you are not them.

SoHo and Greenwich Village used to be full of young, poor, starving artists. This is no longer true. Every apartment there costs two million dollars. Everyone who actually lives there is a rich asshole. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel ashamed for being a tourist. When the revolution comes, you’ll be part of the bloodthirsty mob, instead of a target of it.

Then we walked to Greenwich Village. It is like SoHo, except that, instead of artists, it has homosexuals. Or, it had. Now it’s just another charming enclave of rich assholes, but with more sex shops. There are actually three villages: the West Village, Greenwich Village, and the East Village. The main difference is that the West Village is to the west and the East Village is where you will get murdered.

Then we went to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. If you like comedy, you should know about this place. It does several shows of improv a night, seven nights a week. All shows are $8, $5, or free. Many of them are excellent.

It was Sunday, so we went to the Asssscat Improv Show. Now I, like all right-thinking people, understand that Improv comedy is asinine and a complete waste of your time. Oh, sure. Sometimes, the audience will shout out “cucumbers”, “lite beer”, and “a duck,” and the merry jesters on the stage will weave it into comedy gold. But most of the time, it’s dead air with audience participation.

This show, on the other hand, is very, very funny. Half of the players had been or were on Saturday Night Live, and, while this TV show is retarded, the people on it are very good. The 7:30 PM show was $8, and you can make reservations online in advance. The 9:30 PM show is free. But, of course, it’s only really free if your time has no value. You have to wait in line for hours to get in. Go to the 7:30 PM show. No better bargain is too be had.

Then we went to Babbo, a renowned Italian restaurant run in part by chubby Food Network superstar Mario Batali. Like all the best restaurants in New York, it is expensive, and you can be dressed pretty casual. Try to go here. It’s really, really going, and having been here will impress any foodies you know. Note that you need to make reservations a month in advance or you will get totally shut out.

If you go to New York, look for restaurants well in advance, Otherwise, you’ll just end up in the Times Square Olive Garden with the families and other losers.

Back to part 1

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