Going Into Hiding

Monday, November 02, 2015 Road Junkies 0 Comments


NEW YORK, NEW YORK - CHAPTER 2:  IN WHICH WE UNCOVER SOME HIDDEN AGENDAS

Our plans to explore lower Manhattan were shifted aside this morning by security concerns.  With the theft of his cell phone in Paris still in his mind, Ken harbors a certain wariness about pickpockets in busy urban centers.  The hotel where we're staying empties right out into Times Square, an ideal haven for sneak thieves because it's often so crowded you can't see your own feet or take even a few steps without being jostled.

Enter Clothing Arts, designers of the pickpocket-proof pants.  I had read an article about the company's clothing in Forbes, and their Brooklyn showroom was on our list of places to go for that borough.  To give us peace of mind, we decided to fast forward to Brooklyn today and make Clothing Arts our first stop.   So we walked a couple of blocks to the Rockefeller Center transit station and bought two 7-day unlimited ride passes for $32 each—a real bargain considering a single one-way fare costs $3.00.

After exiting the Church Avenue subway station in Brooklyn, we walked a short distance to the address on 14th Avenue where we expected to find a Clothing Arts retail shop in something like a strip mall.  Instead, we were presented with a six-story full-block warehouse type facility with a distinctly industrial air.  And it was encased in scaffolding.  Thinking this might be the back side of the building, we walked around the corner, where we found only loading docks.

Where are the displays?  The mannequins?
Calling the phone number we found for Clothing Arts through Google Maps, we reached the charming Katrina, who enquired whether we had made an appointment.  She explained that this wasn't a retail shop but encouraged us to come on up anyway, providing guidance for locating the building entrance and an elevator that would carry us to their utilitarian fourth floor workspace.

Ken thanks Katrina for her assistance.
When we arrived at their locked door, Katrina buzzed us in and ushered us into what turned out to be the design studio and shipping facility.  A storage room functioned well as a temporary dressing room.  After a couple of test drives to narrow down the size with the best fit, Ken found the perfect pants to foil pickpockets.  With multi-layered security—zippered pockets, reinforced by buttoned tabs or flaps, snaps, and even secondary zippers—these pants would require far more time and effort than a thief can afford to devote to removing your belongings.  Ken promptly transferred everything from his old pants to the new ones, clipped off the tags and wore his new pants out the door, feeling much more secure.

Green-Wood Cemetery
From Clothing Arts, we were just a few blocks from Green-Wood Cemetery, where we wanted to search for a few letterboxes.  Established in 1838, Green-Wood was an early example of a "rural" cemetery, an expansive landscaped burial ground in a park-like setting following a style imported from Europe.  With very little public parkland and public art in the city at the time, Green-Wood grew into a premier tourist destination, attracting more than a half million annual visitors and rivaling Niagara Falls in popularity.

Autumn was in its glory at Green-Wood.
Walking through the curving lanes lined with elegant monuments and stately trees in their autumn splendor, we certainly understood the cemetery's appeal to those early tourists.  In the intervening 150 years, Green-Wood has become the final resting place to many well-known New Yorkers, including toy retailer F.A.O. Schwarz, stained glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany, musician Leonard Bernstein, newspaper editor Horace Greeley, and numerous entertainers, inventors, politicians and other famous and infamous locals.  Its more than 360,000 permanent residents are distributed over almost 500 acres, which proved a bit too much for pedestrian exploration.  After finding one of the letterboxes on our list and searching unsuccessfully for another, we left the cemetery and hiked over a few blocks to Batata, a Middle Eastern sandwich shop, for lunch before boarding the F train toward Manhattan.

On the way back to the Doubletree, we stopped to check out tonight's offerings at the Times Square TKTS booth.  Finding one of the shows on our wish list available, we headed over to the Play Express window, where one can buy tickets to Broadway and Off Broadway plays without queueing up in the lengthy lines for tickets to musicals.  Finding the window shuttered, we enquired of some nearby TKTS employees.  After explaining that the window was closed because only Off Broadway plays were on the list tonight, one of the agents ushered us to the front of the line at window #1, where we quickly bought half-price tickets to Clever Little Lies.  

New York blue bloods patrol the streets
Happy to have time to freshen up and relax a bit, we returned to the hotel until dinner time.  A cozy restaurant called Bea got the nod due to its convenient location next door to the theater on W 43rd Street in Hell's Kitchen.  As we were walking toward the restaurant, we encountered heavy police presence on 7th and 8th Avenues.  Barricades lined the sidewalks, and communications and command vehicles were parked at regular intervals.  Though we hadn't heard the news, it was immediately apparent that President Obama must be visiting the city.  What other event would shut down blocks of city streets at rush hour and put hundreds of officers on the street in a concentrated area?  Sure enough, one of New York's finest confirmed our suspicions.  Mr. Obama was scheduled to attend a Democratic Party event in Manhattan this evening.

Ken's dinner at Bea was tasty, but I had the misfortune of inadvertently ordering a mushroom pizza topped with Taleggio cheese, which I now know to avoid.  When the food was delivered to the table, it smelled like someone had just dropped a pile of sweaty gym socks nearby.  Instead, the stinky cheese man had come to visit.  The pungent odor of the Taleggio matched its flavor and the combination overwhelmed and completely defeated my appetite.

Marlo Thomas and Greg Mullavey in Clever Little Lies (photo from NYTimes.com)
Clever Little Lies, however, restored my positive mood.  The ensemble cast brought to bear the benefit of their extensive acting experience in stage, film and television in this comedy of hidden sins.  Marlo Thomas has top billing but Greg Mullavey, who plays her husband, stole our attention.  As the couple tried to keep their son's wife from learning about his affair, Mr. Mullavey's timing and delivery of both spoken lines and expressive gestures were the best parts of the performance.

Tomorrow we'll try again to check out lower Manhattan—with wallets and cellphones behind their protective shields.

MONDAY, 2 NOVEMBER 2015