Monday, February 25, 2008

whirlwind of a trip

New York Album
As you may have heard, I went on a whirlwind trip to New York City this weekend to see my most favorite idol Clay Aiken, who is playing Sir Robin in Mont Python's Spamalot on Broadway. This is a really fantastic moment for Clay fans everywhere since he is actually doing something cool after being completely shafted by his record company with the last album. My friend Regi and Sillygurl bought tickets as soon as the tour was announced so we got 2nd row center tickets. We had to pay an arm and teeth for them but it was all worth it for this once in a lifetime show.

I was actually overly ambitious in my plan as I didn't want to take any vacation so I thought I could do a red eye flight to NY from Seattle and arrive Saturday at 8am. Hang out with friends, go see the show and come back on a 4pm flight on Sunday. Now everything worked out perfectly but I was dead tired as I only got one hour of sleep on Friday night and I was having way too much fun to rest afterwards. So this is not highly recommended haha.

After I got to our hotel, the Westin Time Square, I found out that we got upgraded to an "exercise room", which means there is an exercise bike in the room, along with weights and a big rubber ball. Although i have no idea how you suppose to do anything with it since with the exercise bike there is barely any room to stand. I also have to comment on the amazing $200 shower head in the bathroom (everything in the room can be ordered by catalog). OMg, it was totally amazing, emitting just the most gentle yet totally satisfying stream of water that softly massages your body.... err i will stop now.

First Stop: Rockefeller Center

We made Rockefeller Center our first stop because Sillygurl really wanted to tour the NBC Studio which is located inside 30 Rock. I totally didn't know that so we were all looking forward to it. The NBC Studios offers an hour tour of the studio and some of the sound stages. We signed up for the 1:30 tour, since we still had about an hour to kill we decided to look around the conveniently located gift shop right outside the ticketing counter. Among Friends mugs and Heroes shirts I found this lovely cardboard of Matt Lauer.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures on the tour, but it was really interesting to see the inside of a TV station. The first thing we saw was literally hundreds and hundreds of coaxial cable wires running along the ceiling. I joked with Regi that if I sneaked up and cut one, it will take them days to figure out which one broke. Then I heard the people behind me say exactly the same thing -_-!! Then we saw the studio where Brian Williams does nightly news. Apparently he writes 90% of the news himself and he writes them down in order from last to first so that when he starts reporting, the first item will be fresh in his mind. We also saw people working in MSNBC studio, which of course has 24/7 news. The anchor desk actually rotates 270 degrees so people don't get bored watching the same background all the time. The news people working in there has two computer and a TV each, one computer to write their drafts, the other to keep constant watch on the Internet for any breaking news from the competitors, and they get TV feed from all the news channel running all the time just to make sure they don't miss a scoop. (come to think about it, 24 hour surfing sounds like a perfect job for me!!). We then went to the SNL studio and since it was Saturday, we were able to see the crew rehearse a skit. Tina Fey was there and it was very cool to see live TV in the making! Carrie Underwood was the music guest on Sat and they say she was actually in the building preparing! too bad we didn't get to see her. Lastly, we were taken to a green room (make up room) where they had a fake news desk and weather screen set up and they asked for volunteers. Regi and this kid volunteered first but then the kid was too scared and backed out and I seized the opportunity! So Regi got to report the news and I got to stand in front of the green screen and wave my arms. IT was so difficult because the monitor in front of me was not a mirror image but an real reflection so everything I did looked backwards. The guide walked me through pointing at New York, (I totally got it backwards the first time), then the west coast, and then pointing to various numbers on the screen like High, Low and Sunset time. After I got the direction down, he said "now, you gotta read the lines on the teleprompter AND do the pointing!" OH boy!! I was able to pull it through tho (thank god for multi tasking skills) and I only almost missed New York because I didn't realize when they say weather "here" it means NY hahah. It was loads of fun, too bad they didn't have videos for us, I would have totally paid for that!!

Second Stop: Ground Zero

The last time I was in New York was before 9/11 and I barely even remember seeing the WTC, so now that I am back, ground zero is a must trip. For some reason in my head, I had the idea that they had already built the memorial, but of course that is not the case, the area is still a hole lined with concrete and a small tent with a small display. It was still a very powerful experience, especially seeing the list of all those people that died. The lone guy sitting on the ground doing "Amazing Grace" on the flute really moved me.

Stop 3: Spamalot
Ok ok, I will spare everyone the details, Needless to say, Clay was amazing, the show was actually really awesome in itself. I highly recommended if you ever get a chance (it is on tour). Truly hilarious and silly stuff.

The only sad thing is that usually Clay goes out to sign autographs after the show. But this weekend he was sick so he didn't come out. and we will not get another chance sigh. But its ok, the show was totally enjoyable, as well as the Baked Alaska at Sardi's at our after show party.

A brief note about Sardi's, I have never been to a restaurant that is so fancy and old fashioned. When we sat down, they started handing out little plates and silverware, in anticipation for dinner. and then when we all sat down, we said we probably wanted desserts instead since it was late, then the waiter came and took all our plates and silverware away with perfect calmness. And then after we read the menu, Sillygurl decided to order an appetizer, then the waiter still perfectly calm, came back and laid the plates and silverware back out for her! Also you don't see the waiters running back and forth like in other restaurants, they almost have one waiter for every two tables. That is taking dinner procedure to the extreme!!

Stop 4: Canal Street
SillyGurl was determined not to leave NY without doing some shopping, so we headed out to the famed Canal Street, famed of course for its thousands of tiny stalls selling Chinese counterfeit everything. It was quite an amazing sight even though I am quite familiar with various flea market stalls in other parts of the world. I gathered from quick browsing that counterfeit Dolce and Gabbana bags are totally in!! I also saw counterfeit Burberry scarfs that were exactly the same as mine, this infused me with a brief feeling of superiority for having the real thing haha. Speaking of bags, it is probably one of the most fascinating things about Canal street. Because like I said before, all bags being displayed are D&G and you don't see anything else. But then you notice when you are walking, there are all these shady Chinese women sneaking up to you and whispering in your ear "do you want see hand bag?"., reminiscent of some other street peddlers of illegal product often shown on TV. if you say yes, they direct you to some back alley (soo sketchy) and take you into this little camouflaged door, go up these tiny narrow stairs into a windowless small room where you finally found out where all the "good" stuff is. IF you ask how come I know so much about this, that is because we did exactly this thing. We found ourselves in a tiny room that is filled with counterfeit Coach, DB, Fendi and Gucci bags all selling for $30 ish. They are pretty good counterfeit too. I was totally amazed at the secret operation that is going on. All the peddlers have walkie talkie and are in constant communication which I assume is to plan escapes in case the inspectors come. I didn't end up buying anything ( not really into designer bags) but that was certainly an experience.

After our brief encounter with the underbelly of the counterfeit handbag business, it was time to fly home. I had a really good time in NY, saw my favorite guy in one of his best roles in his career, hang out with wonderful friends and saw some truly amazing things. Not bad for one and a half days eh?


Velius said...

That's an amazing trip for 1 weekend haha. I can totally relate to the shady street dealers. In Shanghai, I was there with Norm on a trip and he wanted to see "CDs." They led us into this dank cell like room that only had 1 little lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. As soon as we went inside, this guy blocked the door out. The main guy then literally took a briefcase out, flipped it around and opened it in front of us revealing his secret stash. Totally reminicent of those movies.

ender said...

Baked Alaska.....*drool*

Tochi said...

Wow, sounds like a really fun trip!

I looked at your photos first and was wondering why you took 3 photos of the four knights popping their heads out. I didn't realize until I saw your photo in the post. lol. You have the best expression out of the three.

Kungfucius said...

Definitely not bad for one and a half days since it sounded like you made the most of it :)

Kabitzin said...

You got some poor service. In my experiences on Canal street, the ladies use the walkie talkies to have the items brought to you so that you don't have to go to their shady shop!