Up 6:45am. Didn't sleep except for when I had a porn dream. How did I end up in that one?
To the lobby for a 7:30am taxi. Five minutes prior to departure, the wife saw me, walked by and planted one on my cheek, and continued walking without a word. Kavorka! I told you. I have the Lure of the Animal.
I was on the same flight with Bev, Percy, Noel and Leann, so Abdoul got 2 taxis for us. I thought he was arranging them in advance but he flagged them down instead. He was about to leave himself, accompanying Sana and Ayaka on the train to Casablanca. He was starting another tour that day and they were flying home out of Casa.
Taxi to the airport was only 15 minutes, and 70 dh per person. That's half of what the G instructions said. Nice.
The flight was to Amsterdam on Transavia, a discount airline operated by KLM that reportedly pays its pilots less, which is why Air France pilots were striking this week. A bunch of Dutch teens were in front of us in the check-in line. I caught one of them checking me out several times. This kavorka is more acute than I realized. A teen! And she looked like comedienne Danielle Soto, so I got an extra warm feeling. [Typing this just after the Crispy show on the 29th when I used this as her intro.] The flight was full of flawless Dutch teens with small turned-up noses and good tans, which by their late 30s will disintegrate into unsightly mottled complexions characteristic of their proud nation.
The scheduled 10:10am flight left the gate at 10:35am. The gate didn't show up on the board until shortly before departure. Apparently they wait for the plane to land and then see what's available. Only 8 gates so it's kind of informal. I tried to nap the whole time and might have dozed off. Arrived on time at 2:55pm (1 hr ahead of Morocco). My brother was in this very airport 2 days ago. I could tell from all the cat hair. Drank from a water fountain. First non-bottled water in 2 weeks. Back in civilization!
My next flight to JFK was scheduled to leave from gate F5. This would be the sixth F5 I've seen in person this year, and the first that didn't involve someone being CONQUERED. (Enough wrestling links...google that one yourself.)
The agent in Marrakech checked my bag to JFK but said I had to get my AMS-JFK boarding pass at AMS. In the terminal KLM has self-service kiosks for this purpose. Every one in line (including me and the Canadians, with whom I'd reassociated) got an error message and instruction to go to the "transfer desk". Didn't know where that was. We went a bit further and saw a huge line people waiting to be helped (next to additional kiosks with confused passengers around them). We got in line just in case, but overheard an agent tell someone to try the kiosk again and answer "no" to the question "Did you check any bags at your destination?" I tried this and it worked, and the Canadians followed. Hopefully this doesn't mean my bag stays in Amsterdam forever.
At this point we had to go to our separate gates, so we did our FINAL final goodbye hugs.
For some reason my boarding pass said I was on standby. But, I'd been assigned seat 44K since June. I went to the gate and inquired. A nice man with a full beard AND a handlebar mustache cheerfully told me that it's KLM's fault and they overbook flights and he'll try to get me a seat. He mesmerized me with his good customer service. Except for failing to explain why I lost my seat. If there are more passengers than seats, the people who booked late in excess of capacity are the standby group. Not the people who booked early and already have seats. This wasn't necessitated by a change of aircraft, either. There was a 44K on this plane, and it was assigned to someone it wasn't assigned to. Asswhores.
I had about an hour before standby processing, so I went to McDonald's. Had a Quarter Pounder (not Royale) with cheese. The guy asked me if I wanted ketchup or mayo for my fries. Apparently they keep ketchup in stock in case a moron shows up who hasn't seen the movie AND is insensitive to local customs AND has an unrefined palate.
Time for boarding. Here you get your boarding pass scanned and then go into a waiting room, where you wait, and then board the plane. Oh yeah, I remember this from my work trip to India in 2001. I don't remember it as well from subsequent trips to Amsterdam. Just inside the waiting room I was diverted to a desk where Handlebar Guy was cheerfully sorting everything out. He saw me and said "I have a seat for you." Took a few minutes to get to me as it was "rush hour", as he informed an impatient (and therefore presumably American) passenger. They have rush hour over there, in English!
I got switched to 35B in an exit row. So I can't nap and have to stow my bag overhead instead of under the seat that's not in front of me.
Whoa. I'm flying from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam.
Flight left 5:20pm. I tried to nap but instead generated ideas for New York sightseeing. I concluded that 30 E 60th St and 35 78th St would be perfect places to go in the middle of the night. I literally had all my glasses wit me.
Used up half (4 hr) of the flight napping/resting, eating and working on these notes. Had dinner and 2 small bottles of wine. Now feeling sleepy.
In preparation for landing I was required to put my shoes on. Exit rows suck.
Landed at JFK 7:20pm (scheduled arrival time) but we taxied for 50 minutes before getting to a gate. Cute Dutch flight attendant sat on a folding seat on the other side of the exit row, facing us, talking to the guy next to me about the delay. She had the worst stink-breath ever. I didn't offer her bread or a cough drop. She was sassy in a Dutch way. Re waiting for a gate: "We were in the air 8 hours and they didn't know we were coming?"
Got my bag (whew) and went through customs. I asserted to the US Government in writing under penalty of perjury that I had not handled livestock on my trip. That goat was a pet and photographic prop for tourists, and I have no knowledge of any use as livestock. In case this comes up later.
I got flagged for a thorough bag search. Single guy travelling alone returning from a country where marijuana plantations are a tourist attraction...OK, makes sense. Among my toiletries he found my condoms. I pointed to them and sadly said "Unused. In fact they're expired so you can throw them away." He asked me about the girls there and I summarized the sad state of the locals, and as for non-locals, well...unused. He asked what I do for a living. I said unemployed. He asked how I afforded the trip. I said I worked for 16 years and saved my money instead of blowing it all on malt liquor and gold chains and pomades and hos and Cristal and rims and making it rain. I mean I said I worked for 16 years and saved my money. Kept it simple. I gotta keep remembering I'm not normal.
Around 9pm I checked in for JFK-LAX on Delta and tried to drop my bag. Agent said I can't drop it till 4am (for a 7am flight). Huh? I've never had to wait till 3 hours before any flight to drop my bag, or take possession of my bag during a long layover (I've had a few that were 8-12 hours). Had a fleeting thought of abandoning the trip into the city and sleeping on my bag in the airport like a loser. I saw a bunch of those losers, BTW. But there had to be an alternative. I went to the Delta baggage office and waited in line a bit, hoping I could store it there for a few hours. As soon as I mentioned the long layover to the agent she started shaking her head sympathetically. Common question apparently. But she directed me to the API office where you can store your bag for a fee, which I was expecting to pay in the first place. Waited in line for at least a half hour behind some normal people and some assholes who had 6-8 bags apiece. Under what circumstance does a person travel with more than one bag, let alone a cart overflowing with a mountain of bags, often comprising hard-shell luggage from the '70s? Moving? Wouldn't you ship it all separately? Got to the front of the line and stored my one bag at 10:15pm. It'll cost $11.
Took the AirTrain then at 11pm got on the A train at Howard Beach, which is the best-smelling train platform anywhere. Sweet flora and cool humidity. Figured I burned 2 hours of my 12-hour layover waiting for stuff.
Got to Penn Station 11:50pm. Out on the street the first thing I saw was a lamb/falafel/gyro cart. That was on my to-do list (the lamb the night before WrestleMania 29 was one of my most succulent meals ever), but I'll see if I can work in a meal timewise.
Outside the Herald Towers on 34th St on the 10-minute walk from MSG to the Empire State Building.
Arrived here 12am. My dad says we went here twice years ago. I know the first time was on a Cub Scout trip in 1978 (I have photos in a photo album with koalas on the front that I've been trying to locate for 20 years) but I don't know when the second visit would have been.
There's another elevator after this that goes from 80 the observation deck at 86. I didn't get a pic so I can't confirm if 86 is marked in Braille. I'm thinking that would be weird since the only thing on 86 is an OBSERVATION deck. Or maybe Sol Rosenberg would find it helpful.
From the Empire State Building, looking north.
Chrysler Building to the northeast.
South. 1 World Trade Center way down there. I told the woman at the ticket counter that I hadn't been here since 1978 and she said it's changed quite a bit since then. Yep.
West. I've always loved aerial shots of Madison Square Garden (featured over the years on WWE broadcasts) and now I have an aerial shot. Ho ho ho. Also, the sky in NY looks like the atmosphere of an imaginary planet, as it should.
The top. How can right angles exist in the sky? I must be at the nexus of the universe. (I wanted to go to 1st & 1st but ran out of time.)
North again. On my iPhone instead of my camera and I like the lighting better here.
I had a few things I wanted to see. I've been to New York lots of times but rarely at night, and rarely with wandering time. Took the subway up to Rockefeller Center. Looked for the Howard Stern studio and found the building but there didn't seem to be any marker.
30 Rock. When I see this I expect Letterman or the SNL host to come out here for some wacky gag. As you can see, it's raining! Yay!
Ooh, I'll be seeing the NY and LA headquarters of NBC in the same calendar day. I live near the latter (10 minute-walk) and can see it from my street, and used to date a girl who worked there. Yahoo! Personals was so much better than OkCupid.
St. Patrick's Cathedral. Since the last time I was here ('80s) I forgot this was a thing.
Atlas statue at Rockefeller Center. Raindrop at upper left. Tough pic under an umbrella.
Rockefeller Center Lower Plaza, where the skating rink is in winter. Nice photobomb by Prometheus on the right.
Sculpture called "Split-Rocker" being uninstalled. I had to google this later, to find out why a giant non-specific mammal head with an iron rod through its brain was blocking me from getting a better angle on the previous photo.
Today Show streetside studio.
Caroline's. Used to be a comedy club. Now it's a bringer show club. Aw, so cute! It thinks it's in LA.
Not too much time left for this show, so I had to get a pic. In 1983 David Letterman and Steve Martin inspired me to become a standup comedian, in 2008. I portrayed Dave in La Salle University's chemistry department "magic show" at the 1991 open house for prospective students. Three shows in one day. I've always loved running shows. La Salle, Wiffleball, Crispy. I should figure out how to make money that way.
I had to stop watching Letterman when I moved to LA (after missing only 6 episodes in 8 years) because the grad student dorm (Hershey Hall, which later converted to offices in deference to Jimmie Jane) didn't have cable and the over-the-air signal was too weak for my VCR (I could watch channel 4 live but not record). But I sort of followed the show and knew that Hello Deli was something.
Times Square to the south.
Times Square to the north. I saw an ad here for a musical called "Holler If Ya Hear Me". If you need tickets, I know a hookup.
It was 1:55am here. No time now for the Jerky Boys locations (back uptown) but I figured I still had at least an hour to kill before going back to JFK. Headed toward MSG looking for something I had an appetite for. I wanted lamb but it would be tough to walk and eat in the rain. I wanted a beer but all bars I saw were closed (2:17am as I made this note).
The hell with it. I got a lamb gyro and a Coke from a street vendor. If heaven was real, it would simultaneously contain and be contained by a lamb gyro, and the whole philosophical yummy mess would be contained by my belly! Walked as I ate, mostly shielded from rain. It was really just an on-and-off drizzle. Walked along the Fashion Walk of Fame. In by far the biggest upset of this travelogue, Yves Saint Laurent does not have a plaque on the Fashion Walk of Fame.
Near the Garden I remembered there was a bar Dave and Loob and I went to a couple years ago. I found it and it was still going strong. Paced across the street finishing my spicy lamb gyro and Coke, pondering whether I could handle a beer on top of that and my intestinal distress in Marrakech and given that I had a flight in a couple hours. I determined that I could.
Entered the Blarney Rock Pub and got a beer at 2:56am. Is tonight the night we change the clocks? I asked about German beers and they don't have any, but there's a Brooklyn Oktoberfest. More than close enough. Door was closed to new entrants at 3:05am but drinks were still being served. Not really sure what the laws are here.
There was an empty chair next to me and a cute blonde sat in it and after she and her friend had me take a photo of them they started chatting me up. This has NEVER happened in 23 years of going to bars in LA, but it happens in 10 minutes in New York. Kavorka? Or is it because I'm outside LA?
They asked how old I am. I said I'm probably older than the two of you combined. Correct. 45 > 42. Two 21-year-olds are infinitely more pleasant and enthusiastic and friendly than one 42-year-old. They're more realistic judges of guys. Blonde said she wished they'd gotten there earlier (to hang out with me). Brunette said I look like Tom Hanks. OK, I know which one is my favorite. I invited both of them to JFK, since I had to leave imminently, because I'm a gentleman. We wrapped it up with pics/friend requests/tags and they will follow my travels on Facebook. (Blonde subsequently went through all my Facebook photos and liked my Wyatt Family sheep mask profile pic. Hot.)
Me with a lower face that isn't mine, Corinne and "Nancy Drew".
iPhone pic. Why do I still look so bad, considering I'm deep in the throes of kavorka here? (Microsoft FrontPage 2002 just tried to correct "kavorka" to "Kevorkian".)
Left my ladies and headed back to JFK.
The World's Most Famous Subway Station. The Garden that I said I'd be at after the garden yesterday.
Across the street from MSG. This is worse than that Islamic center near the World Trade Center site. Way worse. Utter sacrilege.
If this was the LA subway it would say "RANDOM INTERSECTION WHERE WE CONSTRUCTED A SUBWAY STATION AND EXPECTED RESIDENTIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AROUND IT AND IT NEVER HAPPENED BECAUSE WE'RE LIBERALS AND WE CAN'T LEARN AND FORECAST THINGS THE WAY RATIONAL PEOPLE DO".
On the subway 3:40am. Tried the E train to Jamaica instead of the A to Howard Beach. Got me to JFK faster. Retrieved my bag from API 5am. Well-timed arrival.
On the plane, the Delta safety video was the funniest ever. Duck feet! Pilot with scarf!
Left JFK on time at 7am.
Surprise pic of the Nassau Coliseum, site of 1/3 of WrestleMania 2!
Had my head against the window all 6 hours of the flight. Probably slept some because I was following the map and don't remember the part up to Ohio and then the Texas-Arizona portion.
Landed 9:55am, 15 minutes early! I took the FlyAway bus as usual but instead of going to Union Station I took the new one to Hollywood & Vine that started running this month. It's a minivan and not a bus. Got on at 10:32am at Terminal 5. We picked up passengers at T6 and T7 and then stopped so the driver could charge everyone's credit card. On the Union Station bus we pay when we get there. The charging went till 10:46am. Arrived at Hollywood & Vine (actually Argyle) 11:13am. Just missed the 11:17am subway because of long lines at the ticket machines. Evidently the fare went from $1.50 to $1.75 in my absence, and the look & feel of the machines was different too, so I guess people were confused.
To my apartment 11:48am. Dropped my stuff on the floor and before doing anything else I got an ice cube out of the freezer and ate it.
Time to get drunk now and post this travelogue on chrisputro.com. Goodnight!