Thursday, January 23, 2020

A NY Minute

Some ideas are good enough not to pursue.

What do I mean by that? Years ago, I bolted from a lunch meeting to run up Wilshire Blvd. to stick more quarters in the parking meter. As I was walking back to the restaurant and my now cold Monte Cristo sandwich, I began checking my iPhone 3, it occurred to me there ought to be an app for this kind of thing.

It made perfect sense.

Imagine being a distance from your car, discovering you hadn't put enough money in the machine, whipping out your smart phone and magically filling the meter via the ether. Not only was this a brilliant idea, this could have been the key to my early retirement.

"Beverly Hills is the place I ought be. Swimming pools. Movie stars."

It's a good thing I didn't mortgage the house and hire a team of under-the-table Belarusian software engineers, because with a little digging I found out some hard-on in Boston had already beaten me to the punch.

It wasn't the first time this had happened to me. And it won't be the last.

As someone employed in the business of coming up with ideas, these delusionary visions of instant wealth and fame have haunted me my whole life. I'm the modern day Ralph Kramden of get Rich Richer Schemes.

Not long ago I had the idea for a book. It was to be a compendium of micro-stories, submitted by fellow or ex-New Yorkers, all pertaining to life in the Big Apple. The twist was that each vivid tale would have to be told in 150 words or less.

Anyone who has ever recorded a radio commercial knows that 150 words is the absolute maximum copy one can squeeze into a 60 second commercial. Hence the title of the book was going to be NY MINUTES.

But again, I'm glad I did not commit resources, or even effort, in to this endeavor.

Three years ago, with the ascension of Grandpa Ramblemouth, I decided to embark on a subscription to the failing NY Times. I have been a religious reader ever since. I have my favorite parts. I devour the A section. As well as the opinion pieces. I go through the Sports. And I give the Business section a good once over, some of that heavy duty finance talk goes way over my head.

I also discovered Sunday's Metropolitan Diary.

Here you will find a quilt work of stories that define New York City, my birthplace, to a tee. You can almost feel the burn of a folded slice on the roof of your mouth. You can hear the stomping of your upstairs neighbors as they traverse the apartment in their lead boots. You can picture yourself on the #7 line, wincing from the smell of urine and aghast at the old woman seated across from you, busily clipping her toenails while eating from a tub of day old egg salad.

It's that vivid. I invite you to give the Metro Diary a look.

And I leave you with my own personal iconic NY Minute story:

I was in Manhattan on a job finding mission. This was when portfolios lived not online but in big, heavy leather cases. I was working my way up 9th Avenue. I know, what self-respecting ad agency situates themselves on 9th Avenue? I couldn't locate an address I had scribbled on a scrap of paper.

Hell's Kitchen is not an area where you want to look like a lost tourist. Or anyone carrying something of value. So after aiming around, fruitlessly, for 45 minutes I came upon what I took to be a soft-spoken old man donning an expensive looking black overcoat.

"Excuse me sir, do you know where I might find this address?", I said and slipped him the scrap of paper.

He put on his old man reading glasses, looked at the address, put the mental picture together in his head and replied, "I think it's down two blocks, make a left and it's the first building on the right."

In addition to looking very distinguished, he was about as gentle and helpful as a stranger can be.

Then, seeking a little affirmation, I held out the scrap of paper one more time and said, "Are you sure?"

He squinted at first, almost as if he didn't hear my question.

And then he snapped at me, like a frothing un-neutered Rotweiler...

"What am I, Rand-Fucking-McNally?"

It was perfect.

1 comment:

Write Josh said...

:60 radio spot? my great grandfather used to tell me stories of these things. i must know more.