Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"I Like the Island Manhattan. Smoke on Your Pipe and Put That In."

The bar on Monday was quite a lot of fun, and an interesting experience. It was a hidden door bar. Apparently to cater to the deep-seated need New Yorkers have to feel cooler than everyone else, the best bars do not have signs, or really anything to indicate that they're there. You have to be hip enough to know where it is before you can come in. Check out the door to Apotheke:

Yeah, this looks like a good idea

Additionally, the intersection where the bar is located is known as "The Bloody Angle" because of the area's history of horrific Chinese gang violence. And it's not known as that to just a few on the inside - that's the name that showed up on my phone's Google Map when directing me to the place. The place (so they say) is a former opium den. One of the girls with me was from Hong Kong, and she said the sign above the door says it is a karaoke restaurant. So, maybe between the opium den and the bar there was karaoke and chicken. Or maybe they brought in the karaoke sign to help hide the door from the undeserving.

In any case, once you get inside, there's a much more posh vibe. Bartenders wear lab coats and mix your drinks in old fashioned vials and beakers (or, you know, martini shakers). The furniture and decorations are very Victorian feeling, but a fantasy Victorian where The Killers were playing.

We had a good time, but atmosphere ain't cheap. The bill (with the added 20% gratuity) came out to about $18 per drink (it's a surprise - classy places don't put prices on the menu). I'd had one drink, and was not too put out. The guy who'd had four was extremely put out.

Yesterday my cold was worse, making me kind of annoyed and sniffly for the first day of class. It was the core seminar, which everyone in the major has to take. And it was very nice, the professor seemed happy to ease everyone into graduate studies. We all introduced ourselves and discussed our interests, and he gave us tips for strategic reading and analysis. He encouraged us to take care of ourselves and enjoy the city, and also not to be shy about getting to know the faculty. While I appreciate the easing of transition, I think I came in a little too keyed up, expecting a full on class. Combined with the cold, I think I came off as a bit overeager. But whatever. I am eager. There are worse traits. And there are about a hundred pages of reading to do for that class by next week, so I don't think I'll have misplaced energies for long.

Today I had no classes, and I went with a group to see West Side Story on Broadway during the matinee. ("Twenty dollars a ticket? Well I was going to read, but my professor told me it was important to enjoy the city!") It was excellent, though the guy who played Riff was kind of flat. It's a shame, since if you're not dazzled by charisma and "Daddy-o's" you start to notice that he's really not very likable. In the movie he's my favorite character. In this, he just seemed like a racist jerk. The actress who played Anita was amazing though. Plus, the show had been updated and translated so that the Sharks and their ladies spoke Spanish primarily with each other. It made it feel much more real, and helped pull me in despite how well I know the show.

Afterwards I went with a couple of people to enter the lottery to buy front row tickets to Wicked for $26. We did not win, but there weren't so many people that winning seemed impossible. I think I'll just keep going back once or twice a week until I make it. It's not a huge commitment; at 5:30 they take the names and at 6:00 they draw the winners. After not winning, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant. Times Square is crowded, but certainly not boring.

My cold is starting to get a bit better, and I'm very interested to see what my class tomorrow will be like. Seminar is kind of a survey course meant to touch on everything, but tomorrow is Media, Memory and History. A very specific class taught by the department head. It's mostly second year students - I had to be waitlisted for a month before I got it. I'm excited to see how that goes.

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