July 14, 2002- Bastille Day
I woke up at about 9:00 AM to the sound of Brad cleaning the bathroom. I laughed for a moment and passed out again until noon. Given the opportunity, Shawn and I immediately started playing Sony while waiting for the 45 minute cleaning ritual of Pat before we headed out on the most exhausting day of the tour. We would see every tourist attraction in the entire city in four hours and thirty five minutes. Washington Square, NYU, then a subway to ground zero, Wall Street, back to up to Times Square, Rockefeller center, Grand Central Station, and a random Cathedral…slices of pizza on about 3 different occasions (by the way!). And yes I know there’s a hell of a lot more to see but try to stay with me here. We saw some serious shit. I was ready for bed.
For me, Ground Zero was the most important sight of the day. I stood exactly where I had taken a picture of the towers a couple of years ago. A giant hole was all that remained. Nearby an ad hoc memorial had been constructed by the friends and families of all who died in the attack. People placed pictures and small tokens of their loved ones along a construction fence surrounding the site–A cluttered mess of innocent people’s lives. Thousands of letters, flags, candles melted down to the asphalt, and worn out photographs of the victims covered half a city block. I was speechless.
Pat was most impressed by Wall Street. The vision of all the money that changes hands on that little street danced in his thoughts as he sat on the steps of entrance to the New York Stock Exchange building. I’ll agree, there really is no other place like it in the world. Pat obsessed about becoming a stock broker and making a zillion dollars for the rest of the day. No comment.
The remainder of the tourist attractions were not nearly as appreciated. Pat just wanted to see them so he could check some more items off of his list of things to see and do. I took pictures of everything to make the ‘touristing’ more official. We spent the day scurrying from location to location, walking quickly and silently except for the occasional barrage of Pat’s questions that I couldn’t answer. Times Square was in great order. The porn shops have all been moved and even more giant video screen have been added. “I wonder what those things cost,” Pat asked. No response.
By the time we got back to the apartment, Brad’s girlfriend arrived from a weekend in Vegas. She was nearly as tired as the rest of us. And Brad, of course, was horribly hung over. The five of us were quite a sight. We watched Robin Williams put on his act on Broadway while we got ready to go out yet again. Pat watched Robin in wonder, knowing that we had just been exactly where he was now broadcasting. Sunday night during the summer is a relatively quite time for the Big Apple. Most of the wealth of the city goes to the Hamptons for the weekend. Expectedly, we did quite a bit of walking and getting lost, stopping only for a couple of drinks in quiet lounges before we gave up and turned in. Manhattan hosts the best club scene in the country and unfortunately we would have to wait for another trip before Pat could get a real taste of what I’ve been telling him for so many years. The good news, of course, is that all the walking we did probably burned the calories of countless whiskey and coke combinations. In a way, we got a better taste of NYC. You walk everywhere and…more then likely, your shoes aren’t too comfortable.