It Was Wicked!!!
(Wednesday, March 15th, 2006)
I arrived at my hotel in the Broadway district a little after 1:30pm having left Washington DC at 9:00am. I was rather surprised to find that it wasn't really that difficult to drive in New York City traffic. If you keep your eyes open, keep your wits about you, and drive just as aggressively as the rest of the drivers, you'll do just fine. Oh, and just realize that other drivers will be doing every stupid thing possible.
My hotel was very nice and located just two blocks from the Gershwin Theater where I would be seeing Wicked later that night. It wasn't that cold in the city, but it was windy which made it a bit uncomfortable. I walked around the area of my hotel and found a restaurant called the Brooklyn Diner. I sat at the counter next to a woman (I never got her name) who was maybe a little on the nutty side. But she was friendly and we did have a nice conversation as we both ate. For a small diner, it was pretty expensive. But the food was good.
I had lived in upstate New York for 6 years but had never been to the city, except for flight layovers at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. And those don't count. I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time to do a lot of stuff so I picked the things I was most interested in: seeing a play on Broadway, and going to the top of the Empire State Building.
I had actually thought that I would visit the Empire State Building on Thursday morning before leaving for Boston. I had, instead, decided to just walk around the area. I walked around Times Square and it looked kind of different than how I had seen it on television and on web cams. But it was cool.
I continued walking and realized that I was heading in what I believed to be the general direction of the Empire State Building. I had looked at a map back at the hotel, and when the concierge told me that it was probably a 30 minute walk from the hotel, well that just seemed like it was too far. But as I continued to walk, I thought I would just see if I could find it. And I did. You know, you can almost walk past the building and just not realize it's there. When you're standing right beside it, it doesn't seem that tall.
There are 2 observation decks that you can go to in the ESB: the 86th floor and the 102nd floor. Being a lover of high places, I chose the latter. The 102nd floor option isn't shown on the ESB official website (http://www.esbnyc.com) but it does exist (honest). It costs a bit more, but it was worth it (to me).
The 102nd floor observation deck isn't as spacious as the 86th floor. It's the circular area near the top of the building just below the tower. There are windows 360 degrees around the observation deck. To describe the view as breathtaking is an understatement. I could sit up there for hours looking around the city. The city itself is truly a marvel. It just seems to stretch out forever. I find it amazing, but a little sad at the same time. There is very little natural habitat except for Central Park which is much larger than I thought it was. It's a very visible landmark from atop the ESB.
After my tour of the ESB, it was time to head back to my hotel and get ready for the play which was at 8:00. I shaved, showered, plucked and primped. I wanted to look nice. I decided that jeans and a t-shirt were not appropriate for the "theatre" so I put on some dress pants, a nice dress shirt, and dress shoes. I then walked the two blocks to the Gershwin Theater. After I got there, I realized that I really didn't need to go through all the trouble. There were plenty of shlubs in jeans and t-shirts. I wouldn't have looked out of place at all. Oh well, this was going to be an experience and I wanted to experience it the right way.
And what an experience it was. It was phenomenal. The performances were incredible. The music was terrific. The story was captivating and both serious and fun. If you're not familiar with Wicked, it's the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. It tells her story of being an outcast because of her color and all of the political intrigue that was going on in the wonderful land of Oz that caused her to lash out at popular society. She wasn't evil, she simply misunderstood and passionate about her cause. I felt for her character so much that there were times that I cried. I paid through the nose for the ticket and it was worth every single penny. I may have been the first to stand for the ovation.
After the play (which ended at 11:00), I felt energized enough to go back to my hotel room, get my video camera, and then go out and get some nighttime video of Times Square.
I knew I wasn't really getting to experience even a small part of everything that New York City had to offer, but to stay in my hotel for another night would've cost me an additional $300 and I had done most of what I really wanted to do. I was leaving the next morning to visit friends of mine in Watertown, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.