Winnie the Pooh at the Charging Bull

The office building I work in is at Bowling Green. According to the New York City Parks website, “Bowling Green is New York City’s oldest park. According to tradition, this spot served as the council ground for Native American tribes and was the site of the legendary sale of Manhattan to Peter Minuit in 1626.” So, the area is a popular tourist attraction. The Smithsonian’s Native American museum also faces this park.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The most popular attraction in the park seems to be the Charging Bull rather than the museum. Every day there are people crowding around this bronze statue to have their pictures taken with both its face and its balls. The balls seem to be more popular. I suppose that’s not surprising. The bull is supposed to represent the power and unpredictability of market forces and represents Wall Street and the Financial District.

Winnie the Pooh Costume Scammer

Winnie the Pooh Costume Scammer

This week I spotted a new arrival: a Christmas themed Winnie the Pooh and accompanying muscle, presumably to strong-arm tourists into giving up money after taking a photo with the costumed person. This is a pretty common thing in the Times Square area and became a point of public conversation during the debate over topless women posing for photos in Times Square in exchange for cash. I’d never seen them in the Bowling Green area, though, and after that one time I never saw them again. I wonder if they were driven out by the police, by crowds of tourists telling them to get out of the way so they could take photos with the Bull, or by the police, or some combination of those three?

Regardless, I’m glad to see those two assholes gone. The crowds of tourists around the office building can be aggravating, because they obviously aren’t in a hurry during my lunch break and they sometimes block the sidewalk, but it’s understandable and I can’t be mad at them for coming to this city and having a good time. These people that dress in costumes and strong-arm people into taking photos with them and giving them cash afterwards, though? They’re parasites and they’re disgusting. It’s better than outright robbery, but not by much. I hope they stay gone.

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone is having a great New Year’s Eve!

My wife and I are staying home. We had a nice meal, we’re watching the live stream Chromecasted to our television and we’re going to enjoy a nice bottle of wine. Most importantly, we’re staying warm. It is extremely cold outside, and I can’t imagine standing in Times Square for hours waiting on a ball to drop in this weather. People usually start showing up to claim spots around noon.

Speaking of the live stream, so much of the show is in Spanish it’s almost not worth watching. I was also disappointed when the old guy that was on stage with his daughter turned the event into a political platform by demanding the legalization of the status of illegal immigrants in the United States.  The United States is the land of freedom and opportunity, but that doesn’t mean you can just sneak across the border, show up at a government office and demand a portion of the American Dream. You have to get it legally. Every country has laws. This one does too. Immigrate legally. If a person can’t respect the most basic law of a country, then why should they be rewarded? I feel like the only reason some politicians are pushing for legalization of illegals is so they can increase the number of taxpayers and further fatten the government’s already over-bloated coffers.

Anyway, the way things are going, I might as well just learn Spanish. This will be a majority Spanish-speaking country before the end of my life. Most jobs in New York City already require a person to be fluent in Spanish. I imagine the same applies for most cities in southern California and the southwest, though that makes more sense since that area is closer to Mexico.

It’s sort of ironic, really. My great-grandmother immigrated to this country (legally) and only spoke only Spanish. My family acculturated and I speak only English. Now I’m going to have to learn Spanish to keep my economic options open.

Anyhow, there is less than an hour to go until midnight. Time to stop ranting about politics and start enjoying the evening.

Happy New Year!

Mostly Naked People and Huge Crowds at Times Square

IMG_2450

Last Thursday night my wife and I went downtown to meet up with an old friend who was in town for the week and we decided to walk through Times Square to take some photos. You know, the tourist thing. I even bought a few “I Love NY” magnets at a souvenir shop.

Times Square is always packed but with the weather being so mild, it seemed like there were even more people out than usual. Besides the crowds, it seemed like the number of panhandlers had increased as well. We saw a few “acts”, but in Times Square, you mostly find people who are dressed up in unusual ways that try to get you to pay them for having your photograph taken together with them.

IMG_2462

The last time we were there, there were only a handful of people dressed up as animated characters. Now, there are dozens, sometimes with two or three of the same character standing right next to each other. Sort of takes the magic out of it, if you ask me. Not that there was much to start with, but if a kid sees three Iron Mans standing next to each other, how is he supposed to feel excited about having his photo taken? You have to at least let the kid pretend you might be the real deal, right?

There were also people dressed up in costumes to bait adults into paying for photos. A few years ago, there was only one naked cowboy; now there are two naked cowboys, a naked Indian, and some naked women as well. Well, not completely naked, but mostly naked, stripped down to their underwear and, in one case, panties and pasties.

It was fascinating watching my wife’s friend’s reaction to all this. She seemed shocked. I asked her if she wanted her photo taken with the half naked cowboys, with their junk hanging out, and she seemed really disturbed. She had earlier described the hoochie shorts women in America wear, that leave the bottom half of their butts hanging out of their shorts, as scandalous. She probably thought the mostly naked people in Times Square were scandalous too. I suppose it is. People wear less at the beach, but maybe it’s more about wearing clothes appropriate to the situation. And I suppose that’s the point of those people showing up there half dressed. They’re counting on the shock value to pay off in real money that people will shell out to have their photos taken with “crazy people” who are almost naked in Times Square.

We wound up staying in Times Square until around 11 PM. I don’t think we’d ever been there that late before. I was surprised by how bright the area still was at that time of night. Because of all of the electric billboards, it might as well have been noon on an overcast day.

Excuse Me. Have you seen these droids?

Stormtrooper Mask at Toys R Us

Have you seen any droids around here lately?

The missus and I have been so busy over the last few weeks that it seems like we’ve hardly had a moment to just sit down and stare relax.  I think about it sometimes.  Just going out to the park, sitting down and watching people walk by, watching the squirrels, and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city.  I think fondly about the time we spent wandering around in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  But then, I start thinking about the long list of things that just have to get done, and I put aside thoughts of having fun and relaxing for another day.  Except for last Saturday.

Last Saturday, we decided that we needed some time to just relax and have fun, so we went to Times Square, stuffed ourselves with the all-you-can-eat shrimp dinner at Red Lobster and then spent about two hours wandering around in the Toys ‘R Us store, also in Times Square.

It was a lot of fun!  Some of the toys were pretty cool, like some Hex Bug things I saw.  If I had the time and space, I wouldn’t mind setting up one of those tracks myself.  Some of the toys also sparked some good conversations, where my wife and I reminisced about the toys we had as kids and how they’ve changed.

I’ve always enjoyed games, puzzles and video games.  That was a great way to spend the afternoon.

As for the picture above of me in the Stormtrooper mask, well, I put it on and asked a store employee if he’d seen any droids in the area.  He said it was funny, but his eyes weren’t laughing.  They should have been laughing.  No, seriously though, he didn’t seem as amused by my lame joke as I was.  That’s ok, though.  The joke was more for me anyway.

4 Year Anniversary Dinner at Olive Garden in Times Square

Two glasses of Olive Garden Rosso House Wine

Two glasses of Olive Garden Rosso House Wine

Last Saturday was my and my wife’s fourth anniversary together.  We spent our first anniversary in Singapore.  Our second anniversary was in the Philippines.  Our third anniversary we spent apart.  I was here in the US and she was in the Philippines.  We spent a lot of time talking about how we would spend our anniversary this year, after having missed one.  I don’t recall what we had in mind anymore, but I think it was especially appropriate that we went to Olive Garden in Times Square for our Anniversary Dinner, since we spent so much time talking about being together in New York while we were apart.  Plus, the food is pretty good!

Olive Garden's Lasagna Classico

Olive Garden’s Lasagna Classico

Olive Garden's Shrimp and Crab Tortelline Romana

Olive Garden’s Shrimp and Crab Tortelline Romana

The amount of food was just right for me.  My wife wound up taking a lot of her dish home in a take-out bag, but she had a big breakfast and I just had cereal.  Our dishes came with a soup or salad and breadsticks.  We both got the chicken & gnocchi soup.  It’s outstanding!

I’d like to have done more over the weekend, but I suppose we can put off a trip until a little later in the summer when the weather is nicer.  Coney Island maybe?  We did spend some time talking about the last four years and it’s hard to believe it has been that long.  Time seems to have gone by so fast.  It seems like just a little while ago we were doing the 5k run at Pulau Ubin for Run350, or watching fireworks in Singapore on New Year’s Eve, or hanging out at Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand.  Time seems to be moving even faster now that we’re both so busy.  Hopefully we’ll find time in the coming year to go out, despite our hectic schedules, and create more wonderful memories together.