Category Archives: Life in New York City

Quick Trip to Resorts World Casino in Queens, NY

A lot of people don’t know there is an actual casino in New York City.   This is probably because while technically being located inside New York City, it is so far away from everything that taking a trip there is probably not a good use of a tourist’s time.

I decided once it opened, that I should never go visit this place.  The idea of having a casino just a subway ride away was probably going to just result in degeneracy on a whole new level.

That said, I did end up going after MyVegas had announced rewards for this casino.   The rewards are pretty lacking.  There are dining rewards, gift shop rewards, but no free play.  Why do you not have free play DAMMIT.

So off I went.  I didn’t write about that first trip because it went kind of like this: I lost all my money in about ten minutes.  And discovered that spending $50 in their gift shop = one hand lotion, one bar of pomegranate soap and one pack of gummy bears.   Their selection of stuff is so tiny and extremely overpriced.  I mean let’s be fair, all casino gift shops are over priced.  But I was expecting more things to choose from.  I was not expecting to go home with SOAP.

Then I boarded the A train to get home.  That was a nightmare.  The A train connects to the Air Train for JFK airport.  When I got on the train, it was jam packed with so many people coming from their airport.  With so much luggage (who needs that much stuff?!?) and even more entitlement.   There were people who had clearly walked onto their train with their luggage and duffel bags, dumped their stuff right in the doorway and kept walking into the train.   I had to step over a whole lot of stuff to get onto the train.  Other people could not get out of the doorway and into the actual train, because of all the luggage blocking all the walkways.

I vowed I would never go to Resorts World again.

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And then I did.

I took a day off work recently and decided the hell with it.  Off to gamble I go.   You are allowed to use three MyVegas rewards per trip.  So I got a $25 credit in the gift shop, a $50 credit in the gift shop and then $25 in dining.  I kind of regret the dining reward.  I wasn’t hungry so I thought I would use it on my way out and get something to bring home with me.  But their drinks (including water) are $4-5.  I did not want to spend that much for a bottle of water.  So I got two sandwiches to go, and a cup that gave me unlimited fountain drinks.  Then I carted the sandwiches around while I gambled.  I should have just purchased the reward for just the fountain drink.

I don’t like this casino.  I wanted to play some Buffalo slot machines.   They are not set up like ones in Vegas or Atlantic City.   You sit down, you see the machines are 40 lines.  You may want to play two or three credits per line.  But the machines are not set up where you can choose the number of credits per line.  The first machine I tried, you could choose one credit per line ($.40 cents), five credits per line ($2.00) or ten credits per line ($4.00.)

I wanted to play two or three ($.80 or $1.20) but I could not choose this.  So I played $.40 each hand, and this was extremely boring.

I decided to walk around a bit to see what else was out there.  I finally found a machine that was set up to three credits per line, $1.20 per bet.  On the very first hand, I got the bonus.  Which kept retriggering.  Until I finally ended up with $476.31.

buffalo win resorts world casino queens

Well now!  Maybe this place isn’t so bad after all!

I decided I would play the $76 and skedaddle.  I played around for a very long time.  I kept doubling $20 bills and then losing $20 bills.  At one point I had to go into the bathroom just to count my money because I had no freaking clue where I was with it.  I was at $520 and decided one last $20 and then OUT OF HERE.

I played the $20 on video poker.  This was weird.  As I was playing, a little fairy pops up on the screen and begins changing my cards.  This is a feature of the game, but I could not find any explanation of it in the game rules.

Once I lost that $20, I went to the gift shop to use my $75 credit from MyVegas rewards.  This time I got two bottles of hand lotion, a bar of green tea soap and a pack of gummy bears.

If you have earned 35 points on your trip, you can take the casino shuttle for free and avoid the A train.   The bus just so happens to stop a mere 20 minute walk from my apartment. And bonus: That stop just also happens to be at my bank.

When I went to print my bus ticket, I saw I had earned $15 free play and $25 dining.  I wanted so badly to go back upstairs and use it.  How cool would it be if I was ready to leave with $500 in winnings and then won another $500?!  And then used the dining credit for desert to take home? But I was a non-degenerate and did not go back upstairs.

The shuttle bus took an hour to get to my stop.  There are only three stops.  For some reason, the bus drives on surface streets and not on the highway.  I don’t have any idea why.

I got off the bus, deposited $500 in my bank account, treated myself to an XL Dunkin Donuts coffee and went home happy.

Until I went to the ATM a week later, and discovered my debit card was missing.   The last time I saw it was when depositing that cash.  I have no idea what happened to it.

So while I was a winner, I was also a loser.  But if given the choice between losing money or my debit card, debit card wins every time.

How to Get into Manhattan from Any New York City Airport

Today’s post comes to you by special request from someone who attempted to read the Jfk Airport’s ground transportation instructions and got confused.  Which makes sense since the MTA is a jerk.   Once I started typing this out, I realized just how difficult it will sound to someone who has never been here before.  I apologize on behalf of the MTA for this.  I also apologize on behalf of myself for taking well over a month to type this out.

New York has three major airports, none of which are in Manhattan.  One isn’t even in the state of New York.  JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airports are both in Queens.  Newark Airport is in New Jersey.

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How to Get From JFK Airport into Manhattan

1.  Taking a Cab:  Recommended when you are traveling with someone who can split costs and/or when you have luggage you cannot easily manage on your own.  Note: This is the only viable option for you if you have luggage you cannot manage carrying up steps on your own

Cabs from JFK to Manhattan are flat rate – meaning  you do not pay the meter.  The flat rate is a whopping $52.50.  If you have four people and are not used to public transportation, or if you have more luggage than you can handle carrying up many steps with out an escalator, this may be the choice for you.

Please do not forget to tip the cab driver on top of the fare. It is not okay to stiff them because you feel the fare is too high. It is not their fault  you chose to travel to a city where the cost of cab fare (and everything else for that matter) is so ridiculously high.

2. Using a Combination of the AirTrain and Long Island Railroad: Recommended ONLY if your hotel is located within walking distance of Penn Station AND you do not have luggage that you can not manage easily.

The MTA wants you to take this option because they make more money off of  you.  This option costs either $13 or $21, depending on several factors.  BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!  Unless you are staying at a hotel right near Penn Station, which where the Long Island Railroad will leave you, you then have to get to your hotel from Penn Station.  That will cost you more money.

How this option works:  You take the AirTrain from your gate to Jamaica Station.  There are signs everywhere, you cannot miss them.  You do not pay until you exit, so just hop on.  Make sure you get on the one going to Jamaica.  This is really easy to figure out, it is not a guessing game.  There will be signs above the train doors.

Once you get to Jamaica (last stop) you exit.  Upon exiting, you then have to buy a Metrocard to pay for the AirTrain that you just took.  There are lots of Metrocard machines right there, you cannot miss them.  The cost of the AirTrain is $5 BUT the MTA charges you an additional $1 to buy a new Metrocard.  So you are paying $6.

Once you pay your money to leave the AirTrain, you are at the Jamaica Station stop of the Long Island Railroad.  From here, you have two options.  One is to take the Long Island Railroad, the other is to take the subway.  What’s the difference, you ask?

Taking the Long Island Railroad from Jamaica to Manhattan: The Long Island Railroad is a commuter train designed to bring people from Long Island into the city.  The total trip from here to midtown Manhattan will take no longer than fifteen minutes.

If you are arriving between 6:00 am and 10:00 am on a weekday, you are going to be taking a peak train.   The same applies if you are going back to the airport between 4:00 and 8:00 pm on a weekday. This will cost you an additional $9.50 to board IF you buy the ticket before boarding.  VERY IMPORTANT:  If you buy your peak time Long Island Railroad ticket on the train, it will cost you $16.50 instead of the $9.50 it would have been if you had purchased a ticket in advance. Off peak tickets cost $7.00 each way if you purchase a ticket in advance, or $13 if you purchase it on the train.

You can purchase tickets at a vending booth on the level you exit the AirTrain from.

Also VERY IMPORTANT:  If you are indeed taking a peak train with luggage, you may actually not even be able to get on the train because it will be way too packed for  you and your luggage.

EVEN MORE IMPORTANT:  If you have luggage AND you can fit on a train, your dilemma is still not over.  When you get to Penn Station, there is no guarantee at all that you will find a working escalator or elevator.  Or maybe you WILL find a working elevator that is filled with smeared feces or two inches of urine.  If you do not believe me, then you should ride any elevator in Penn Station.  Then you can come back and apologize for calling me a liar.  It’s okay, I forgive you. So PLEASE keep in mind:  You may have to carry your luggage up steps to exit the platform.  

3.  Using a Combination of the AirTrain and Subway:  Recommended if you are solo OR if you are traveling to anywhere not in walking distance of Penn Station.  Not recommended if you have luggage that is hard to handle.

This option is the cheapest.  It may also be the best for you, depending on where you are actually going to.  This can also be complicated to figure out.  I will explain:

The MTA would like you to take the AirTrain to Jamaica and exit like described above in the Long Island Railroad option.   From here, you would exit to outside, where you will be walking on an above ground walkway for the Long Island Railroad.  Keep walking until you reach the other side.  There is an elevator here that takes you downstairs to the E train.   Take this.  Take it to where?  Well that depends on where you are going.  You can use hopstop.com to get your exact directions.  Just make sure you put in the correct date and time.  The subways here are always running weird at nights and on weekends.

How to Get From LaGuardia Airport into Manhattan

Note: There are no subways at LaGuardia.

1.  Taking a Cab:  Recommended ONLY IF you have more luggage than you can handle.  Cabs are expensive.  Avoid them at all costs, especially from airports in NYC!

2.  Taking the Bus to the Subway:

Q72 bus – this bus is absolutely worthless to you if you are going in to Manhattan

M60 bus – This bus stops in Queens at the N and Q lines.  Note: You have to walk up stairs to get to the station platform.  There is no escalator or elevator.  Consider how heavy your luggage is.

This bus also stops in Manhattan at Lexington and 125th Street on the 4, 5 and 6 lines.

The Q70 bus – This will drop you off in Queens at the E, M, F, R and 7 train.  What train line do  you need?   Again, look it up on hopstop.com – making sure you have the correct date and time.  For one example, the M train is a train that runs completely different on weekends than it does on weekdays.   PUT THE CORRECT DATE IN WHEN YOU DO YOUR SEARCH.

How to Get From Newark Airport into Manhattan

Newark Airport is located in New Jersey.  You may think this means that it is the hardest one to get into Manhattan from.  Well you would be wrong.  It is actually the easiest.

1.  Taking a Cab – VERY EXPENSIVE.  Do not take a cab.  Not only is it expensive, there will likely be traffic.  In addition to this, you have to pay tolls.  Do not take a cab. If you cannot manage your luggage on public transportation, STILL DO NOT TAKE A CAB – READ ON

2.  Shuttle bus.  These exist.  I do not recommend them unless you have too much luggage to handle on your own.  I took one once and it took over an hour to go the sixteen miles from midtown Manhattan to Newark Airport.  But if you decide to take one, they are $16 for a bus to midtown Manhattan.  These stop at Grand Central Station (41st Street between Park and Lexington Avenues), Bryant Park (42nd Street) and Fifth Avenue) and Port Authority (41nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues)

If you have too much luggage to handle, you can take the shuttle bus and then catch a cab once you are in Manhattan.

3.  AirTrain.  This is so much easier than taking the AirTrain from JFK.  Why?  Because you have zero choices.  This makes it simple.  You board the AirTrain and half an hour later, you are in Penn Station.  Easy Peasy. REMEMBER:  Not every track in Penn Station has escalators or elevators.  You may have to walk up steps with your luggage.

If you have any questions or if you are confused (the latter is likely, I tried to keep this simple but unfortunately, the complexity is out of my control) please ask away!

Las Vegas Trip Report: The Day I Was a Degenerate Winner!

Note:  This is an older Las Vegas trip report that I am posting for the entertainment of Las Vegas addicts and anyone else who loves fun.  It was written back in 2008.  Most of this information is now outdated and some places mentioned no longer exist.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 – Day Twelve of Twenty One

I’m up at the Palazzo at 8:00 and out at 8:30. I head over to Encore to see what I missed last night. It’s really nice but nothing surprising.  It appears to be butterfly themed.

Encore Las Vegas butterflies Encore Las Vegas butterfly carpet Encore Las Vegas butterfly light Encore Las Vegas butterfly mosaic tile

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Of course I forgot my Wynn player’s card, which annoys me. In theory I could go to the booth and get a new one AND inquire as to why I used to get email offers at my old email address, but have not gotten ONE since I waited on line for a day and a half just to give them my new email address.  But I don’t.  Instead I walk over to Treasure Island and get a picture of the mountains in the background.  This picture would be so much cooler if not for all the crap in the way:

mountains

I go inside and give Slingo one last shot and I lose. Then I play Monopoly – the old school nickel ones – and I get a $50 bonus. But I don’t cash out and I lose it. Idiot.

Back to Palazzo where I try the Survivor slot that paid me yesterday and it won’t do it again. I go back upstairs and shower and check out. I waited foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr for the Deuce bus. When it finally came, it was packed. I decide to wait for the next one. I was literally waiting over an hour. Ugh.  I am now starving since I didn’t eat breakfast.

Once I finally get back downtown, I get a Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwich to go and head back to my room at the Golden Gate and eat and feel better. Time to go back downstairs. I lose and lose.  Today’s budget is gone. So is tomorrow’s. I decide I’m going to go one more day into debt. I figure if I’m going to do this, I may as well play dollar video poker. For some reason I go marching across the street to the Las Vegas Club. I put $100 in a dollar video poker machine and I hit Aces for $800. Really?

I start screaming mentally, I’m so happy and excited. EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS. I HAVE EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS. WHEEEEEE LOOK AT ME I HAVE EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS. Okay I didn’t really mean that, stop looking at me. STOP LOOKING AT ME.

As I’m waiting to cash my ticket, I am doing the math.   I’m three days in the hole and I still need money for today. Funny how that EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS doesn’t seem so big right now, but I’m still very happy about it.

This is the second time I’ve done this on dollars and EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS remains my biggest win. Look at it. It’s so pretty.  And I only held one Ace!

dollar aces

I’m back in my room at 2:45 to take a nap. I can’t sleep, of course. I’m back out at 4:00. I lose all around the Golden Gate. I buy a Diet Pepsi and realize  too late that  it’s a regular Pepsi.   I drink it anyway and the sugar makes me all loopy and gives me an incredible headache.

I go back to the Las Vegas Club and use my 2x points coupon from the American Casino Guide.  Because you know, I did not use it before I decided to play DOLLARS YOU IDIOT.

I play around a bit and then I see video poker with a wheel. Uh oh.  I put in $20, playing Double Double Bonus video poker. Nothing. I put in another $20 and switch to Triple Double Bonus video poker. And that is when I get this:

lvc tdb aces kicker with wheel

This plus my dollar Aces means I’ve now won over $1000 at the Las Vegas Club today. This place has been lucky for me in the past. But as we all know, any casino/game/specific machine that is an ATM one day, can be a bill collector the next. I play around a bit and don’t do too bad, but not good.

For dinner, I eat at The Great Moments Cafe inside the Las Vegas Club. I don’t really want anything on the menu so I order the appetizer sampler and that is my dinner.  My head hurts and I’m fuzzy from the sugar from the regular Pepsi. I play around the Golden Gate a bit.  Won some. Lost some. I didn’t detail this in my notes.

I went back to my room at the end of the night with an extra $120 in my “savings”, on top of the replaced budgets for the next few days.  Whew.  I vow to stay in and I watch Law and Order so I can preserve this moment when I am not a degenerate loser, but a degenerate winner.

I love television.  I used to shun the idea of ever turning on the television in Vegas – I’m in Vegas. The hell do I need television for?  But over the years, as my trips have gotten so much longer, I’ve found myself bolting to my room to see Survivor or the Amazing Race. Tonight it’s Law and Order.

“Oh You Are from New York? Were You There on September 11?”

I have been asked this quite a few times in my life. Exactly two months after the towers fell, I was in Las Vegas.  When you are a gambler, you sign up for player’s cards at casinos and earn comps.  There are a lot of casinos in Las Vegas.  I showed my ID to people a lot of times.  Every time, I got asked about it.   After that trip, it died down a bit.  Then I started going to Europe and it began all over again.  Every European who has ever asked me about it, has done so with the most sincere look of interest on their face, as if I am about to expound a fascinating firsthand account of that day.   I hate to disappoint them by telling them that while yes, I was indeed here on that date, you saw more than I did.   Including the collapse of the North Tower, which had a television antenna on top of it.  While you were watching the tower collapse on your television screen, you were watching the antenna that gave me television reception collapse as well. 911_collapse Continue reading

I live in Brooklyn, on the N train line.  Back in September of 2001, it ran under the World Trade Center.  I passed under it at around 8:30 every morning.  On September 11, I had to be at work early to let caterers in for a morning meeting.  I was long gone from that station by the time the first plane hit.  I was at my desk at work when the first plane hit.  Someone sent out a company wide email saying she had just seen a plane crash into the World Trade Center and included a warning for anyone who needed to travel down there that morning, that it would probably be a madhouse.

No one knew what was going on.  It was an interesting piece of news for sure, but everyone just pretty much went back to whatever they were doing before hearing the news.  What I was doing was aiming for “Employee of the Year” by sitting online talking to friends on a message board, no big deal.

Then the second plane hit.

I found out about this by a post on the message board I was reading.  I didn’t believe it because how could that be possible?  Come on now, TWO planes happen to hit the World Trade Center back to back?  Pfffffffft.

It was then that I discovered that the majority of news websites were no longer loading.  I could not get on ANY news website.  What the fuck is going on?  Wait, is this real??  Hello?  Can someone please tell me what’s going on?  I can’t seeeeeeeeeeee!

At this point, my job announces that anyone who wants to leave is welcome to.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do.  The trains were taken out of service and I wasn’t really dressed for an eleven mile walk home.  I wasn’t even really in a rush to get home.  I was content to stay in front of my computer and stay updated.

I went outside to smoke a cigarette.  It was LOUD outside.  Sirens screeching like a mother fucker.  All you heard were sirens, all you saw were people walking around like zombies.

Then a man starts to walk by with headphones on.  He stops suddenly, clutches his chest and starts choking on his next words which were “The South Tower just fell.”  Um.  The South Tower did WHAT NOW?

People who ask me as a New Yorker for some firsthand account of the day really do not comprehend what it was like being here as it was happening.  Every time something new happened, it was just met with a WAIT WHAT response.    I don’t really think I was horrified at all as this was happening.  I was just kind of confused as to what was real and what was not because it was not possible for all of this to be real.  It was so impossible to get any legitimate confirmation on anything.  The news websites were overloaded for what I remember being an entire day.   It all seemed so ridiculous to me that surely some of it is being fabricated.  This is too insane to be real.

Then came the rumors about the Pennsylvania plane. Why would a plane be hijacked in PENNSYLVANIA?  That cannot possibly be true. WHAT?  The Pentagon is on fire?  Come on now, this is not the time to be making stuff up.

Finally, I left work. As I walked downtown, the streets of New York were like a movie.  There were so many cars pulled over, with their radios all blasting the news in synchronicity.  It was kind of creepy to walk through.   There wasn’t really much traffic as I work by the Queensboro Bridge, which was closed.  All bridges into Manhattan were closed.  I remember walking down the middle of the street while the sirens were still blasting in the background of all the car radios.

At some point during my walk, it was announced that the MTA put some trains back in service.  I got this information while listening to AM radio on my walkman.  The rest of the world was home watching television, getting live updates.  I was less than five miles away; I had still not seen a thing.

I got on a train to Brooklyn.  Obviously, it was being rerouted.  It could not go on it’s normal route under the World Trade Center since the World Trade Center was now inside the train station.

Cortlandt_St_station_demolished

We went over the Manhattan Bridge.   Never been to New York?  Don’t understand the proximity of the Manhattan Bridge to the World Trade Center?  Here is a picture taken on the bridge as the collapsed World Trade Center burns in the background.

September 11 2001 View from Manhattan bridge after both WTC towers have collapsed

As soon as the train went outside, everyone got up and pressed up against the windows.  It was dead silent on the train, no one said a word.  The train stopped on the bridge and we sat there for a while.  No announcements, nothing.

When I got home, I still didn’t really know what was going on.  I turned on my television.  I had no reception.   I didn’t really know why, I honestly just figured that it was temporarily down like the internet and phones.  I had no idea that the television antenna was on top of the World Trade Center or that I would not see television again for over a month.

I spent most of the night in my second bedroom, posting to my friends online.  There are two windows in that bedroom.  One is covered by a cardboard advertisement that I have resting on the window sill.  The other one is broken and doesn’t stay open so I keep it closed.  When it came time to go to bed, I went into my bedroom where my windows had been open all day/night.  I was overcome with how badly it reeked of burning.

Think about things that have bad smells.  Have you ever complained about a coworker burning popcorn or microwaving fish?  Have you ever smelled burning wires?  Or burning plastic?  Burning hair?  Well picture the smell of two skyscraper’s worth of employee lunches, appliances, wires, paper, desks, chairs, carpets, entire bathrooms…oh and two full sized planes and 2996 burning bodies.  That is the smell that had overtaken my bedroom and every bedroom in New York that night.

When I woke up on September 12, my television was still out.  I still didn’t really comprehend why.  I checked my work email and confirmed my office was closed.  I left my apartment and turned left to go to the corner store to buy newspapers.  On my way back, I was shocked to see that to the right of my apartment, was the world’s biggest cloud of burning hanging up in the air.  To the left, blue sky.  To the right, burning death.  Literally burning death.

Back home, I sat and read the papers.  I had the Daily News with the now famous picture of a severed hand.  I am not going to post it.  If you have never seen it and would like to, you are going to have to Google.

September 13 came, my job reopened.  The business next door received a bomb threat.  We were evacuated and the office was closed for the remainder of the week.

When Monday came, I still had no television reception.  I left my apartment for work and went to the train station.  MTA employees were handing out new subway maps that no longer featured the N line.  It simply wasn’t on the map.  But we are at the N train platform.  You could tell they underwent some weirdo training because they kept repeating “there is no N line” and I kind of wanted to scream “THIS IS THE N LINE”.  But they were adamant.   This was now the M line.  The M train was stopping here and the N didn’t exist anymore.

From that day forward, commuting to work was difficult to say the least.  My train didn’t exist anymore.  It’s replacement went into Manhattan but not to my job.  I started taking a new route to work but that involved taking the D train, which a ton of people were also doing.  So that train was always overflowing with people.  I had to walk every morning to a station that was four stations further away from Manhattan than the nearest station to my apartment.  It was the only way to get on a train.  People were calling 911 and pulling emergency breaks like maniacs.  If someone had a hair on their head budge slightly, people panicked in fear of a subway bomb.

The D train goes over the Manhattan Bridge.  Every morning on the way to work, every evening on my way home from work, we went over the Manhattan Bridge.  Every morning and every evening, I saw the spot where the towers used to stand, marked with an enormous cloud of smoke.  Every morning and every evening that I saw this spot, I listened to the train conductors announce that the air conditioning was going to be turned off as we crossed the bridge due to air pollution.   The towers burned for three months.  I don’t know if most people realize that.  Three months.  Every day for three months I heard that air conditioning announcement. Twice.

At work, one of my managers had called me in to talk to me.  He let me know he had no expectation whatsoever of me showing up on time and to not worry about it.  Don’t leave earlier, don’t stress out, and don’t worry about it.  He has since passed away but I still think about that kind gesture every time he crosses my mind.

Next up, there was new security in place at the building I work in.  We all had to be issued badges with our pictures on them and could no longer enter the building without swiping the cards at the entrance.

During all this time, I still had not seen any footage of the incident.  I still did not have television.  I was so emotionally drained from my new schedule that I had no interest in looking it up online.

Once I figured out that my television reception was not coming back anytime soon, I decided it was time to get cable.  I called to sign up and was told there was over a one month wait, due to the overwhelming amount of people who like me, were signing up because they had no longer had television reception.  By the time I finally got cable, it had been six weeks since the towers fell.  Life was slowly getting back to normal.  I still had never seen any footage of that day because by the time I got cable installed, they weren’t showing it 24/7 any longer.

In late October, the N train came back.  That was really weird.  I moved into my apartment in 1998.  The N train, as far as I was aware, had always run express in Brooklyn, and then took the long way underground to go local in Manhattan.  I had no idea that the N train was intended to run over the Manhattan Bridge and only ran underground because the Manhattan Bridge had repairs being done on it that had apparently spanned eleventy billion years.  Now that the N train cannot run underground, the MTA finally finished the work on the bridge and the N train is now an express train making my commute so much quicker.

I think most people think of cities like New York to be a giant mass of strangers.  That isn’t exactly true.  I see the same people every day on the train.  You never acknowledge each other, but you get to know each other.  Oh hey, there’s that kid who’s mother encourages him to nearly knock down any person in his way when he bolts for a seat.  Oh hey there’s that weirdo lady who dresses up as if she is going to Easter Mass every day, who spends the entire hour on the train reading her bible while moving her lips, and for some reason, stands up at 57th Street and moves to the door, but doesn’t get off at 57th Street, ever.  Oh hey, there’s the guy with the mullet.  There’s that adorable hipster couple who are adorable despite being hipsters.  You recognize these people.  You see them every day.  You learn what stops they get off at.

There was this one couple I would see just about every day.  She used to sit on his lap and they would make out the entire time they were on the train.  They annoyed everyone.  Every day they would exit at the World Trade Center.

Once the N train came back, you could see everyone doing a mental check. “Okay there’s Mullet, there’s Mama’s Boy, there’s Crazy Bible Lady, there’s Adorable Hipster Couple” and so on.  But Annoying Couple were missing.  I don’t know why this bothered me as much but it did.  I didn’t even know these people.  The World Trade Center doesn’t exist anymore.  OBVIOUSLY anyone who used to take the train there would not be doing that now.  Their job is no longer there.   There is no reason to go to work if you do not have a work to go to any longer.

But we passed under the towers every morning at around 8:30.  They got off the train at the towers every morning at around 8:30.  They had sixteen minutes to get inside before the first plane hit.

I did not know these people.  I don’t even know if they worked in the towers. When I would see them on the train every morning, I would roll my eyes.  They annoyed me. They annoyed everyone.  But for some reason, I became fixated on their absence.  I wanted to know what became of them.

A few years later, I stepped onto the N train on a weekend.  I actually got excited.  OH MY GOD THAT’S THE ANNOYING GUY!  Then I noticed he had gained weight and had huge bags under his eyes and reeked of pure misery.  I am not sure I have ever seen a person look sadder in my life.  I am sure I can guess what happened to make him look like that.

That Las Vegas trip I mentioned earlier.  I had booked it prior to September 11.  After, so many people were petrified of flying.  That caused an insane amount of flight cancellations and I was able to cancel mine and rebook at less than half the price.

I still don’t know how to answer when people ask me about living in New York during the attacks.  I don’t know anything.  I only know what I experienced and it just seems so trivial compared to what happened.  There were 2977 victims who died, none of which I ever met.  I only know what changes I saw in my daily life and they were nothing compared to the lives of every person who was directly affected by this.

In 2004, September 11 fell on a Saturday.  Several channels show “September 11: As It Happened” on that day.  I sat on my couch and for the first time ever, I watched it as it happened. For three years, I was oblivious to the footage that the entire world watched that day.  For the first time, I finally realized that this was all real.

What’s It Like Living in New York City? Rant #2 AND Rant #2.5 – Canal Street Train Station

The Canal Street train station is located on…Canal Street in Chinatown.  There used to be a venue here called The Knitting Factory, which has since moved to Brooklyn.  But for many years, it was located a few blocks from this train station.

The Knitting Factory had shows that started at reasonable times, and as such, ended at reasonable times.  This should have been a plus, but the MTA does not like its riders having any positive advantages, so they made sure to turn this positive into a negative.

Case in point, the sign located on the N train platform that reads “Late nights, N runs on local track”.

Okay great.  But WHAT TIME is “late night”?  Was this sign made up by a youngster for whom getting home and into bed by midnight was a regular occurrence and not exactly “late night”?  Was it made by a suburban housewife for whom staying in “the city” past sunset was “late night”?  Who knows?  Certainly not anyone who would need to know.  Like me, who needed to know in order to get home.

Many nights, I would be leaving The Knitting Factory…let’s say around 10:00 pm-ish.  Is this “late night”?  How am I supposed to know if I should be waiting for my train here or on the local track?  And where exactly is the local track?  Well let’s find out, shall we?

In order to get to the local track from this platform, you must first walk up 21 steps.  Then you walk up a little bit of a hallway, then down 23 more steps, through an underground tunnel, then up 25 steps and there you go – you are on the local track.

Now if you are reading this and thinking “so you are complaining about having to walk  up 21 steps, up a little bit of a hallway, then down 23 more steps, through an underground tunnel, then up 25 steps? That doesn’t sound very far you lazy piece of shit”.  NO . THAT IS NOT THE PROBLEM ASSHOLE.

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The problem is that if you are waiting for your train on this track, your eyesight does not travel far enough for you to see up 21 steps, down 23 different steps, through an underground tunnel, then up 25 more steps.  So you cannot tell if your train is here or there.  Now do you see the problem?

So you wait on the N/Q train shared platform because you need to take an N train.  A Q train passes.  That is not your train, you need the N train.   Just because a Q train came instead of an N train, does not mean that it is “late night” and your train is not stopping here.  Because see, both the Q and the N stop here.  So your train could be next.  But what if it isn’t?  What if a second train comes and it too, is a Q train?  Does that mean it is “late night” and your train is up 21 steps, down 23 different steps, through an underground tunnel, then up 25 more steps?  I don’t know.  Because see, when I leave work every day, I wait for the N train on a platform that is shared with the N and the Q and the R train.  If I miss the N train that I can catch if I leave work 4 minutes early, then I stand there forever and its usually a pattern of two back to back R trains, followed by a Q, then by a third R train, another Q train and then the N train.

So now standing here on this train platform and a second Q train comes, can you really be sure that it is “late night” and the N train is not stopping here?  I don’t think so.

Now what happens if you just go straight to the local platform?  Try your luck there.  What if no N train comes there either?  What if you get two or three back to back R trains and decide “well okay, it must not be “late night” so I guess I will go down to the express track”.  What if as soon as you leave, an N train does come on the track you just left?  Only you do not know it because you are too busy walking down 25 steps, then through an underground tunnel to walk up 23 steps, then down a hallway and then down 21 more steps to the express track?

Why wont the MTA just fucking TELL YOU what time is “late night”?  Why can’t the sign simply say “N runs on the local track after <INSERT AGREED UPON START OF LATE NIGHT>?” rather than the confusing “late night” time they give you instead?

WHAT THE FUCK TIME IS “LATE NIGHT”?

Am I right?  I am right.

NOW.  Rant #2.5.  I went to the Canal Street train station to get a picture of HATE to post here.  Oh the MTA how much do I loathe thee.  When I got off the train to take the picture, I noticed that the sign has been changed.  It has not in any way been changed to tell you what time “late night” is.  Oh no.  It was changed to this:

0805131655-00Now what does  this mean, you ask?  Well I will tell you since this sign has no intention of doing so.

As it turns out, as of yesterday, the R train is going to be making all R train riders want to murder for the next FOURTEEN MONTHS.  The tunnel it runs though is going to be closed so the MTA can repair all the damage done by Hurricane Sandy last year.  So now the R train is going to do some weird things.  In relation to the above sign, it is going to run as a shuttle service in Brooklyn, serving only the end of the R line stations starting from where it last meets up with the N train, and continuing onto R-line specific stops.

This sign tells you that during “late night’ (WHAT TIME IS LATE NIGHT) you are to take the N train and transfer for the R at 36th Street.  That is correct.  You may think the only infuriating thing about this sign is the “late night” confusion.  But it isn’t.  Because on weekdays* the R train is NEVER running to Brooklyn at ANY TIME OF DAY ON ANY WEEKDAY* for the next FOURTEEN MONTHS.  So what happens if you need the R train?  You end up on this platform.  You look at your watch and think “Okay its 5:00, that is not “late night”.  So I must need to go to a different platform”.  So you go up 21 steps, down 23 different steps, through an underground tunnel, then up 25 more steps to the R train platform.  Then once there, you find out that the R train is not going to Brooklyn  because the R train is not going to Brooklyn for the next fourteen months.  So then you have to walk back down 25 steps, through an underground tunnel, up 23 steps, down a hall and down 21 more steps to get back to where you just were.

*BONUS The R train IS running to Brooklyn on weekends only. You would be catching it on this platform 24 hours a day all day Saturday and Sunday.  Even during “late night” (WHATEVER THE FUCK TIME LATE NIGHT IS).

And this is how and why I found it easier taking trams in foreign countries, even with stop names like this:

Levského 17:04 0.000
Sídliště Modřany this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:04 0.258
Modřanská rokle this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:05 0.543
U Libušského potoka this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:06 1.002
Poliklinika Modřany this stop is barrier-free 17:07 1.327
Čechova čtvrť this stop is barrier-free 17:08 2.045
Nádraží Modřany this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:10 2.694
Modřanská škola this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:11 3.220
Belárie this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:12 3.717
Černý kůň this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:13 4.782
Nádraží Braník this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:16 5.499
Pobřežní cesta this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:17 6.147
Přístaviště this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:18 6.879
Dvorce this stop is barrier-free 17:20 7.773
Kublov this stop is barrier-free 17:22 8.562
Podolská vodárna this stop is barrier-free 17:24 9.190
Výtoň this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:26 10.183
Palackého náměstí transfer to the undeground this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:27 10.677
Palackého náměstí transfer to the undeground this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:29 10.845
Karlovo náměstí transfer to the undeground this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:31 11.261
Karlovo náměstí transfer to the undeground this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:33 11.414
Lazarská 17:35 11.785
Vodičkova 17:36 12.000
Václavské náměstí transfer to the undeground this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:37 12.286
Jindřišská this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:39 12.793
Masarykovo nádraží this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:41 13.155
Bílá labuť this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:43 13.604
Florenc transfer to the undeground this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:44 13.896
Karlínské náměstí this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:45 14.363
Křižíkova transfer to the undeground this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:46 14.707
Urxova this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:48 15.176
Invalidovna transfer to the undeground this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:50 15.838
Palmovka transfer to the undeground this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:53 16.896
Stejskalova 17:54 17.497
U Kříže 17:55 17.873
Vosmíkových 17:56 18.335
Bulovka this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 17:57 18.806
Vychovatelna 17:59 19.243
Okrouhlická this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 18:00 19.529
Ke Stírce this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free 18:02 20.071
Kobylisy transfer to the undeground this stop is barrier-free this stop is partially barrier-free

 

What’s It Like Living in New York City? Rant #1 – Barclays Center

I have decided to take advantage of the fact that i live in New York City and do some posts about it.  While I intend to post some nice things about living in New York at some point, that point will not be today.

Today I will be ranting about Barclays Center.  I hate this thing.  It is New York City’s brand new arena, located in Downtown Brooklyn. It can hold up to 19,000 people.  It has been open less than a year now.

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

I honestly do not know if this thing is painted a rust color or if it was made out of cheap metal that rusted.  For the intent and purpose of HATE, I am going to act like I know for a fact that it is the latter.

This rusted out piece of crap was built right at a major transportation hub.  Not only do many subway lines stop here, it is also a stop on the Long Island Railroad – which is the commuter rail between New York and you guessed it – Long Island.  The Long Island Railroad is also what us Brooklynites are expected to take to JFK Airport.  It is only fifteen minutes to the JFK Airtrain from this stop.

Sounds good right?  WRONG.

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The MTA (that would be the Metropolitan Transit Authority – the organization that anyone who lives in NYC can tell you is the worst run organization on the planet) decided to use Barclays as a reason to fancy up this train station.  Never mind that the MTA is constantly crying poor and raising fares, and doing illogical things like making my train local in Manhattan because of budget woes.

The budget woes are a lie. They clearly have plenty of money to waste.  How so?  Read on.

This stop on the Long Island Railroad has forever been named “Flatbush Avenue”.  But with the new “I hope you have a tetanus shot” monstrosity that is Barclays Center, they decided to change the name to Atlantic Terminal.  Without telling anyone.  Why on earth this was necessary completely eludes me.  Does having the new name mean that people who have never ridden the subway or the Long Island Railroad before are suddenly now going to?? “Oh Honey look, we can take the train to Atlantic Terminal, that sounds fun!”  NO. IT DOES NOT.  THERE WAS NO REASON TO CHANGE THE NAME. NONE.  I can’t even imagine how much money went into changing the name.  Money the MTA claims it does not have. But they are LIARS.

Now maybe you are wondering what the big deal is.  Seriously, it is just a name change, who cares?  Here is why I care.

Once upon a time, I was going home from Long Island.  I had to buy a ticket at the ticket machine (they charge you an extra $5 if you buy one on the train).  I tried picking my destination stop – Flatbush Avenue – as I have done millions of times before.  But it was not there.  What do you MEAN its not there?  Why can’t I pick Flatbush Avenue?  Am I typing in the wrong letters?  What the hell.   So I end up buying one to Penn Station, which is the same fare zone and figure I will just use that.  Easy Peasy.  I board the train and ask about why I can’t buy a ticket to Flatbush Avenue and it is only then that I am informed they changed the name to Atlantic Terminal. WELL WHY DON’T YOU LET PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THIS?  LET PEOPLE TYPE IN “FLATBUSH” AND THEN TELL THEM ON THE SCREEN THAT THE NEW NAME IS “ATLANTIC TERMINAL”.  WOULD THIS BE SO HARD?

I had it easy though.  A friend of mine had it much worse.  She was on Long Island and did not know what time her train going back home left.  She called the automated number for The Long Island Railroad to hear the schedule.  This is a whole other source of HATE.  A few months prior to this happening, the MTA, who cries poor, had money to redo their automated phone thingy.   It used to be “type the first three letters of the station you are going to”.  Now, no more.  They spent money that they don’t have; fixing a system that was not broken.  Now you have to speak the station you are going to.  No option left to type in the letters.  Long Islanders refuse to pronounce anything the way it looks.  So for the past few months, you would call and tell the automated thingy where you were going and it would never understand the station you were saying.  Presumably because you are not speaking with an entire pack of gum in your mouth, causing you to talk like a mongoloid.  (I grew up on Long Island; I am allowed to say this about Long Islanders).  So you would have to try and speak Long Island.  Ronkonkoma becomes “Ronkon-kuh-muh”.  Jamaica becomes Juh-may-kuh” and so on.  For reasons I don’t understand, you must also speak in a low toned voice if you are from Long Island.  Think: Big Ang (yes she is from Staten Island but I cannot think of any “celebrity” from Long Island to use as an example)

Anyway – back to the automated STUPID HATE – usually you were able to get the correct information by your third try.

But upon no one knowing the name of the train station was changed to Atlantic Terminal – this happens:   “You have indicated you are going to Syosset, is this correct?”  NO FLATBUSH.  “You are going to Babylon, is this correct?” NO YOU ASSHOLE I SAID FLATBUSH.  “You are going to Jamaica, is this correct”?  ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME I SAID FUCKING FLATBUSH.  IT DOESN’T EVEN SOUND LIKE JAMAICA.  I FUCKING HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU.  After waiting 20 minutes for an operator, she learned that Flatbush is now Atlantic Terminal.  WELL WHY DON’T YOU JUST SAY THAT?

But HATE doesn’t stop there.  In addition to changing the name to “Atlantic Terminal” without telling anyone, they also attempted to make this station fancy. FAIL.  There are six tracks for the Long Island Railroad here.   There used to be a staircase shared by two tracks. So if your train was on track one or two, you would walk down the staircase intended for tracks one and two. Simple.  Those are now gone.  Instead of having three staircases going to specific tracks, they now have two staircases going to all tracks.  In addition to that, they also made the staircases smaller.  The staircases used to look like this.  You can easily fit three or four people wide across one.

0723131708-00

Now with the new staircases, they are narrower so you can only fit two people wide.  As if that was not enough, they put a fucking divider in the middle.  So if there are people walking up on both sides of the staircase, you have to wait before going down. No one can move to the side because of the divider.   If many people keep walking up when you are trying to get down, you eventually have to start hyperventilating and trying so hard to not DEATH because you cannot get down the stupid staircase.

0723131711-01 (1)

If you are going to redo an entire station at a major transportation hub, you should at the very least put in an ESCALATOR.  You want people to use this train to go to the airport. So why would you not put in an escalator for people with luggage?  It would also fix the “Everyone is walking up and I cannot get down” problem.   AM I RIGHT?  Jesus.

Now to be fair, there IS an old elevator here.  Much like every elevator in any subway station in New York, it reeks of piss.  They all do.  So rather than make an escalator, the MTA would prefer for you to either utilize the “lug” in “luggage” to go up the stairs (that you may not be able to walk up if people are coming down on both sides) or to breathe in piss on an overcrowded elevator.  This before transferring that piss to your luggage and eventually into your apartment. What’s the big deal anyway? It is not like NOT rolling your bag into a puddle of elevator piss meant you were not bringing residual piss into your apartment from the subway floor anyway, right?  Right.

Up next in this series:  I discover that my train station is Brooklyn’s very own Angkor Wat.