New York & D.C. Travelogue April 2002
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Friday, April 12th, 2002

On Friday I had a telephone interview from the Man Cow show in Chicago. They wanted to talk about the Cheerios episode of "How much is inside". This was my sixth radio interview, and it went poorly. The D.J. seemed to have an entire peanut gallery in the studio with him, which made me feel outnumbered. I was also unexcited about it, because a listener who was actually interested in my website wouldn't even be able to hit cockeyed until the Slashdot avalanche was over. Anyway, before the interview was over, the traffic guy came on the air and started with, "He was a little stiff", I suppose not knowing I was still on the line. It left a bad taste in my mouth. Ah well! That's show business!

The morning interview got me out of bed bright and early, so I got ready and got tickets for the Ground Zero Viewing platform downtown. The truth is grim: killing fields turned memorial turned tourist attraction. I asked at the ramp & walked six blocks east to pick up a ticket at Water Street.

I wasted a little time wandering around Wall Street before heading back to the site. The amazing thing for a small-town boy like me is that the buildings that are around the WTC site are giant skyscrapers, and yet they weren't even half the size of the World Trade Center Towers.

I handed in my ticket around 11:30 am & waited on the ramp. People had written hundreds of notes on the plywood walls of the ramp. Some had left flags or T-Shirts. It was somber. We were let up in a 30-person group & stood on the platform, about 25 feet up and 25 yards from the World Trade Canyon across the street. The pile was gone.

Ground zero, on April 12th, looked like the first stage of a large construction project, when they burrow 3 stories down into the earth and begin building sub-basements. There was nothing to see, except the size of the hole. My vision for a memorial here is another set of skyscrapers like the first, with 6 black stories on top that are occupied by some appropriate memorial to the people that died there.

I've heard that people wouldn't want to come work in such a building, but I have to think that it would be the safest building in the world if it ever got built again.

Ground Zero Pixaround Photo

As I left, I spotted a rogue "NY hearts Regis and Kelly" sign discarded nearby. Weird.
I took the subway uptown & visited Penn Station to get a ticket out of town. I was going to Washington DC next. There turned out to be two trains to DC, the fast, luxurious Acela and the old standard train. The extra speed and luxury of Acela pushed the one-way NY-DC price from $71 to $125. I decided to spring for the more expensive trip.

I walked North to Times Square, pausing to take in the scene at a new McDonalds venture: McDonuts. I guess the Krispy Kreme success has everyone thinking. I Decided to try the Met again, & took a couple of subway cars north. The suggested price of admission into the Met is $10, but you can pay what you wish. I paid $5.

I asked what the least anyone had paid was, and the cashier told me without hesitation, "one cent".

The Met has an amazing display of Arms and Armor, and photos without flash were allowed, so I clicked my way through. Lots of Armor. Horse Armor, English Armor, French Armor, Turkish armor, Japanese armor. I don't easily grow weary of armor. I also loved the swords and axes displays.

I walked up to the musical instruments section next. I spent about 25 minutes up there, without taking any photos. I'm either not interested in musical instruments or the lighting was bad.

I checked out other sections of the museum also, but nothing beats the armor in there.

Oh I should mention something about New York. The number one bottled water is called "Poland Springs". I'd never seen that brand before, so I kind of chuckled at the name. Poland Springs? Anyway, it is the default bottled water in New York, so I got over it pretty fast.

That night Keke, Crystal and I ventured out to a bar in Greenpoint called "the Splendid Bar". We downed Heinekens in the taxi on the way over there. It is still pretty foreign to me to drink in a car. That's probably a good thing. The Splendid was a great bar. Open and lively. Just the right amount full without being crowded. Crystal quickly noticed that nearly every woman in there had two-tone black/blonde hair. It was a little strange.

Other than that, It was great. We celebrated my last night in New York City.

Ticket to Ground Zero, NYC

Moped Barbecue Duck Delivery

Stars and Stripes on the viewing platform ramp

A view into the site

In Loving Memory of Colleen M. Supinski

Bicycle Rickshaw Cameraman

Armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

My favorite helmet is in the background.

Gauguin, Cockerham, Van Gough

Saturday April 13th, 2002

On Saturday I took the subway back into Manhattan, made my way to Penn Station & caught the 1pm Acela to Washington. It was a high-speed train, which is a function of high-speed motion and fewer stops.

About an hour into the trip, I think I was still in New Jersey, I spotted a bunch of strange, large sculptures on the side of the tracks. They flew by the window one at a time. I think there were about 9. If anyone has information about these, I would appreciate an email.

The train stopped in Philadelphia, which comes highly recommended by Keke, and I got a few photos of the skyline. I think I got a photo of the old capitol building too. Beautiful.

Trains are giving airplanes a run for their money on the New York to Washington route. Apparently the two hours of waiting around for an aircraft to load and a train's constant contact with cell-phone towers have put them on something of an even playfield. Trains are quite comfortable. I had plenty of room to stretch out, a 110v electrical outlet for my laptop, a work space and a decent view. What an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The fact that I was traveling to an exciting new city with a posh hotel room didn't hurt either.

Sitting across the aisle from me was a priest. He was alternating between and reading a novel and talking on his cell phone. I overheard, "arch-diocese" and "how much of that is public knowledge?"

I arrived at Union Station in Washington at 4pm, and walked out to Washington's light rail system called the Metro. I bought a ticket from an enterprising homeless man and took the train 5 stops to McPherson Square, where my hotel was. Indeed, it was right across the street.

Washington's Metro is plush. No food or drink is allowed, and I don't recall seeing any graffiti or "work from home" garbage in there. All but one station I visited was underground. The metro had one feature that I haven't seen anywhere else, big circular lamps that pulsate when a train is approaching. They are activated before you can hear the train or see the train, so there is a bit more time to prepare yourself for boarding (or for running down the escalator).

My hotel was the Garden Square Hilton, which I snagged through Priceline at US$54 a night. Three and a half stars meant a refrigerator and coffee-maker in my room. Plush.

I threw down my luggage and went downstairs to wander around. I walked east past the old convention center, then south past the MCI center and Chinatown. People were crowding the restaurants near the arena, sporting Capitols jerseys. I think a game was starting soon. The weather was beautiful.

Washington is weird. It was a weekend, so I could understand having a downtown that looked like a ghost town, but it was more than that. It was clean. Manicured almost. Some roads were 5-lane one-way streets with hardly a single car on them. Bizarre.

I looked to the left as I crossed a street & spotted the capitol building. It was immense. Pretty impressive. I figured I would have plenty of time to see it up close later on, so I kept wandering.

Next I found the Federal Trade Commission building. I wondered how often the people in there had to address the Herbalife Corporation. As if to answer my thoughts, I passed a bus-stop with "work from home" post-its stuck to both sides. Boy, they were really asking for it, huh?

I wandered around until it got dark, stopping to buy a phone cord so I could connect to the internet from my room. The cord worked, but the Earthlink connection in DC was funky, or the hotel wiring was funky, but I didn't have any luck connecting to the internet. I had to settle for the shared computer and 16-color monitor in the "business center" of the Hilton. I shouldn't complain, the connection was good.

That night a mysterious fire alarm emptied out the hotel around 9pm. After about 30 minutes they let us back upstairs. Annoying, but the other guests were in a jovial mood, so it was practically fun.

It was Saturday night, so I tracked down an 80's-theme club called ... dance-a-rama or something. I met some nice women there and stayed until they closed.

Subway Advertising

On the Acela Train to Washington

Small Eastern Port near the tracks

Chinatown Gate in Washington

Legal Sea Foods borrowed my golden fish idea

Streets of Washington

the Washington Memorial

Double barracade at the Washington Memorial

Breathtaking Second Division Memorial

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Read my other travelogues: Turkey & Bulgaria 2001 |Minneapolis 2001 | Burning Man 2001 | Europe 1999 | Costa Rica 2000

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