April 18th was, by all accounts, the most beautiful day possible in NYC – 80 degrees, sunny, almost no humidity and it was Friday! Yes, I live in LA now, where this weather is “just another day,” but in NY, a day like this is rare gem, almost magical; you don’t just see the sunshine in the sky, you see it in people’s faces! Everyone had spring fever – they were smiling, laughing, taking extra-long outdoor lunches – the energy walking through Manhattan felt like an all-day recess. Here was the crowd at Union Square late in the afternoon:
All anyone wanted to do was hang out in the sun and just veg. Of course, this is NY, where no one really knows how to just sit around and do nothing. Little did I know, a much more spectacular “awesome Friday” celebration was in the works… but more on that later. I was 3,000 miles from home and it was time for me to wander the city and soak up some of the unique atmosphere and culture that makes a vacation worthwhile!
Yes, I am a nerd. But this was Best Buy in NEW YORK! And just look how classy that sign is, I knew all manner of unique, east-coast-electronics goodness awaited me inside. How would the store be different? What would the salespeople be like? Am I joking? Sadly, no. Even sadder, upon entering the front door, I felt like I had just walked through a wormhole into the brand-new Sherman Oaks Best Buy; it was identical. From the two-story layout to the complete and utter failure of the employees to explain the difference between DLP and LCD, I felt like I had never left home. Ladies and gentlemen, if you ever find yourself out of town and feeling homesick, just walk into a Best Buy and wipe those tears away! Before long you’ll be annoyed and frustrated just like you were at home, desperately feeling like you need a vacation – except now all you’ll have to do is walk out and you’ll soon remember that you’re already on one.
Whoa, what’s this? Looks like New York’s got an HD channel with my name written all over it! I’m glad it’s 100% HD, I’d hate to be associated with one of those cheap HD channels that only broadcasts in 620p. What’s it all about? I’m looking at the website now… they’ve got a show called “THE CIRCUIT: A new weekly web series highlighting the interesting and absurd in the world of technology.” Wait, a web series? WTF does a web series have to do with being an HDTV channel? Ok let’s click. Oh dear, this description of the pilot episode doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence: Apple laptops, drugged monkeys and glowing pigs fill this week’s episode of MOJO’s The Circuit. You’ll meet our ruggedly-handsome and geekily-chic host, Deepak Ananthapadmanabha, and be introduced to the flashy style and witty writing you’ll come to expect every Tuesday at noon, right here at MOJO HD. Flashy style and witty writing? Me thinks they could use some of that Mojo they claim to be touting. And a host named Deepak Ananthapadmanabha?? Huh? Do Indians have a thing against changing their names for show business? Deepak’s last name sounds like an entire phrase in Huttese. Oh, wait a sec… ok, I understand now – here is the show’s slogan: Word to your motherboard. Eeesh. Oh well, I guess it’s unfair to expect much from a channel that advertises on the awning of a hot dog stand. Onward.
Here is one of my favorite NYC street games: Trashcan Jenga! Rather than find another trash can, you carefully place your refuse on top of the growing pile, keeping your fingers crossed the whole thing doesn’t topple over. If it does, you look like an ass – if it doesn’t, you can walk away with a smile on your face and the knowledge that you’ve done your part to help keep the city clean. Oh, and it’s 10 points for every inch above the fill line; I once racked up 350 points for placing an empty Coke can on top of a nearly three foot pile! Homeless guys hate that.
I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean! It’s not barbecue, it’s BBQ? I did see it in the Japanese part of town, so that might be all the explanation anyone needs. If I get a chance I’ll go back and ask them. In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment with your best guess! Speaking of guessing…
Here is an interesting and mysterious display over the Virgin Megastore on 14th street… can you guess what it’s referring to? Actually, it’s hard enough to figure it out when you see it in action, but without seeing the numbers changing in their particular fashion, it’s probably impossible. So I’ll tell you! From left to right, the first half of digits tell us the time, 19 hundred hours, 18 minutes, 37 seconds and 168 milliseconds. From right to left, we’re counting down the time until midnight: 4 hours, 41 minutes and 22 seconds. At midnight, all the numbers change to zero and the count starts again, probably making the nature of this clock far more obvious. If see if I can get a video of this nerd-tastic moment before I leave. Meanwhile, across the street in Union Square, something was brewing…
A huge dance party! But this wasn’t your ordinary “hundreds of people spontaneously start a dance club in Union Square” type event, no no… this was a silent dance club; everyone had headphones on, grooving out to their own particular brand of booty-shaking move-music. I’d read about these things before, so I had an idea what was going on pretty quickly, but seeing it in action was a lot more fun – a huge, seething mass of party goers tearing it up – to total silence. I didn’t have any headphones with me, but since my cell phone can play MP3s through the built in speaker, I cued up Basement Jaxx Where’s Your Head At, pressed the phone to my ear and boogied down with the rest of the crowd. We jumped up and down, laughed, waved our hands in the air like we just don’t care and celebrated with huge smiles what had been the perfect NY day. Here’s a few more pics of the party:
Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about how I offered a skateboard punk $1 to risk his life – and he took it!