My fellow New Yorkers, we live in what is undoubtedly one of the top 5 cities on the planet. GET OUT THERE, FOOL!
Too few people these days take the time to simply wander around. It’s a lost past time, as computers, video games and T.V eat away at our dwindling leisure hours. Not so for Superduperdad! Nor for Superduperkid… Well, OK, sometimes but not when we take our patented, one-of-a-kind New York City walk-abouts!
Here’s one of our favorites:
We start by catching the J,M,Z train a short stroll from our crib in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I now conveniently live about 50 feet from the train the Greatest Rapper Ever took his name from but previously we’d begin our journey with the 15 minute walk from our old home by the sleeker, sexier Lorimer stop on the L train (If any two stops in NYC have more attractive young women consistently popping out of them then those first two Brooklyn L stops, I’d love to hear about it.)
In mere minutes, after the invigorating and expectation-enhancing above-ground ride over the WB Bridge, we emerge from the Delancey/Essex St station to wander dizzily through the morning sunlight the few blocks to Economy Candy. (Note that it’s closed Mondays.)
No doubt, that in contrast to this old stalwart of the Lower East Side, Dylan’s is the sexier, hipper, and younger niece, a veritable Taj Mahal of high fructose decadence who’s tremendous well of charm and energy must be experienced by ANY lover of sweets… but, well, Economy Candy has a timeless quality that holds its own against it’s more youthful and trendy competitors.
Like Dylan’s it has an impressive selection but with perhaps more of a focus on old-time classics such as Now n’ Laters and those hard little dots you had to rip off the paper with your teeth.
(Admittedly Dylan’s, pictured here, is the NYC candy store that looks most like Willy Wonka’s factory… no small endorsement.)
Now I’ll get more into this in a later post, but suffice it to say that SuperDuperKid has been schooled in the deep-seated indoctrination techniques of American Capitalism, and so, has been taught for years to avoid that sickly lust for buying that infects so many of us these days. He’s as likely to walk out of there with more than ONE treat as Darth Vader is likely to enter and use his light-saber to behead one of the friendly DR and PR chiquita-teens who works there. The ONE-TREAT rule holds even if the freakin’ apocalypse should occur during our visit.
After our pick has been made (usually a Pez-dispenser for SK and perhaps some gummy brains for yours truly, both to be saved for the movie later that afternoon) we continue west straight down Rivington and run smack into Sara D. Roosevelt Park, the perfect opportunity to whip out a soccer ball from our tightly-packed knapsack or perhaps launch into an impromptu game of our own brilliant invention, “Hat Tag.” Besides your standard playground this park has a giant soccer field so you’re good to go whatever your fancy may be.
Moving along, we hit Bowery and, depending on our mood, might bang a ralpher and walk the block or so to the Newmuseum. It’s 12 clams for an adult but free for the under 18 crowd. (Note: Also closed Mon, and Tues… Art and candy lovers seem an awfully sensible lot, eh?) In any case, you may make the perfectly fine choice to simply peruse the ground floor store and exhibit and have your art needs satiated for the day. This museum is weird and childlike enough to keep most kids intrigued.
More often than not, we’ll continue west down Prince into Soho and stop at the Apple Store. SK can refresh his Lego Star Wars skills in one of the comfy bean-bag chairs while Dad picks up a repair or grabs that new video nano. Well, once the economy turns around anyway…
From there, we begin our ascent northward, right up Thompson until we hit the Village Chess Shop. SK once checkmated me within the first five minutes of play here, and it’s no wonder… The once-mighty New York Press called it ‘the best place to think in public” and it certainly is good for quiet reflection and a rest of the ol’ strollers while exercising the brain. They also have a great assortment of sets, from tiny portables to gorgeous full-scale kingdoms.
After I’ve laid SK to waste (except for that ONE time he bested me in the shop, which of course I never hear the end of…) and I usually do lay him to waste, due largely to his insistence on executing pawns instead of going after my king, as he should be doing) we continue up Thompson to one of N.Y.C’s enduring spots of lore… Washington Square Park.
For a 30-something like myself, WSP encapsulates so much of what makes NYC what it is: The fading but still sometimes pungent whiff of 60’s-style hippie-dom and decadence, the slight touch of menace from the shady shysters and drug-dealers who, admittedly, are much rarer here nowadays… that peculiar blend of urban and rural that no other city has quite like the Big Apple… These are what helped define New York City for a suburban lad coming over the bridge in the 80’s to buy drugs, classic rock posters, pizza, beer and whatever else would confer with certainty that you were Not in Jersey Anymore.
If the park doesn’t quite retain that same glamor with the old intensity it once had, well… it’s still there in some form and never short of interesting sights and characters. There’s also a classic playground here that any kid can appreciate, even if he’s not a big fan of the break-dancers, folkies, or jazz combos plying their trades throughout the park.
After a burst of pizza-derived energy from the joint right at the exit of the park’s northeast corner (free replacement slice after SK drops his on the floor- sign of a fine establishment!) we make our way further north up University towards Union Square, usually to catch Hollywood’s latest animated spectacular at the Regal Theater in Union Square.
Drained and ready for some chill time, we depart from the world of talking chimps and dancing snakes for the relative normalcy of the L train back to Brooklyn. No problem falling right to sleep after a day like this, calories burned and senses mega-stimulated. Now go stimulate your own!