Earth Traveler

My Business Is Pleasure

Posted October 13th, 2009

As most people know, many years ago I was born.

And ever since then I have lived in and around Los Angeles. But for whatever reason I have always felt a strong attraction to the East Coast of these United States. Maybe it’s because both of my parents are from the East Coast. Or maybe it’s because genetically I prefer colder whether with my Russian and English lineage. Or maybe it’s because I quickly grew tired of the fakery of Los Angeles.

No matter the reason, I have made a point of getting out to the East Coast (mainly Boston and NYC) about once a year to soak it all in and recharge the proverbial battery. And so I once again headed East on a trip that was mostly for business but would wind up more of a vacation (like most of my life).

On this trip, as part of my campaign to not be considered the worst person in the world, I took my oldest nephew along for the ride. We’ll call him “Tyler” – because that’s his name.

The airport experience went as expected, though I don’t understand why I have to take off my sweatshirt. The only thing I’m hiding under that is my big belly.

For some reason I always forget what a horrible idea a red eye flight is. But at least Tyler is being taught the lesson that with all good things, there will always be some suffering. I learned this from many different ex girlfriends.

Speaking of which, I don’t know why, but I think about ex’es a lot on flights. I know what you’re thinking: I’m always thinking about ex’es. True. But more so, is what I mean. Maybe it’s just to cheer me up from the thought of the plane crashing into a mountain.

The flight’s film was Ice Age 3. Spoiler Alert: not historically accurate. Also, animals can’t speak. Of course, maybe they could back then. We can never know for sure.

I feel bad for hijackers who don’t want to crash the plane and actually just want to land somewhere else. 9/11 ruined it for them. Passengers won’t just sit by and let them make demands. Except in France – those guys are wimps.

A few hours in and I’ve got a heck of a dilemma. I had one tiny pillow that I could use for my head to sleep or on my lower back to ease the excruciating back pain. Tyler had my sweatshirt, which would make a fantastic pillow for me. He was using it as a pillow for himself. I wondered if he’d notice if I took it from him.

We landed in Boston in the early morning and after getting my bearings we ventured off to the subway for a ride into our downtown hotel.

And then I sort of lost Tyler on the subway. Here’s what happened: while we were switching trains we jumped on a train and then I realized that we were headed in the wrong direction. Before the doors closed, I jumped off and I really thought Tyler was right behind me. And he was. Right behind the closed doors of the train.

I yelled for him to get off at the next stop and wait. He seemed to get it. I would catch the next train to the next stop and meet up with him. The next four trains that pulled up were out of service and not going to the next stop. Crazy thoughts about what might be happening to Tyler filled my head. Maybe he would try to take a train back to my stop and then we would be looping around forever. Or maybe someone would abduct him. Or worse, maybe he would tell his mom.

The fifth train was the charm. I hopped on and at the next stop there he was. I was all apologies and he didn’t seem to be traumatized in the least.

I always expect the worst when it comes to hotels I’ve never been to before. That way if it’s nice, it’s a real nice surprise. The Courtyard by Marriott was a VERY pleasant surprise. Very clean, the staff were friendly and we got a fantastic view of the city.

I settled in for a nap that turned into a “sleep” – anything over an hour is no longer a nap. Tyler also got some sleep and we were ready to hit the town.

Before we left, Tyler dropped a monster stink bomb in the bathroom and it turns out that the bathroom had no fan so we got the hell out of there before our hair fell out.

We did a little sightseeing, including a visit to the Prudential Center and a visit to the 50th floor SkyWalk. Great views of the city, but nowhere to sit – except the floor. I can only sit on the floor for so long before I feel like a homeless person.

I won’t bother you with the details of my work stuff on this trip. Besides, it’s none of your “business.” Get it? Business! Okay, I’ll move on.

Towards the end of the day, it’s off to Boston’s Fenway Park – home of the Boston Red Sox baseball club. This is probably the main reason why I brought Tyler along. A baseball game at Fenway Park is one of the top sporting experiences available that does not involve animal sacrifice.

On the way to the game, the subway is jam packed with people headed to the game. And I almost crushed one to death when the train jolted a bit. She got over it, but was giving me the stink eye all the way.

To sing the National Anthem, they brought out the ringmaster for the PT Barnum circus. I don’t have a joke here. I think it speaks for itself. They also had someone sing the Canadian National Anthem, because the opposing team is from Toronto and Toronto is in Canadia.

Then they brought out Johnny Pesky. I don’t care if you don’t know who he is. I do. Everybody there did. Anyway, he’s 90 years old and he’s a Red Sox baseball legend. And there may or may not have been grown men tearing up. I may or may not have been one of those men.

Right before the game started, a young boy went out to the pitcher’s mound to throw a “first pitch” as part of the Make A Wish program. Tyler immediately was envious and wanted to know how he can get out there and throw a first pitch. Easy. Get a terminal disease.

The stadium food was awful, but at least it was very expensive. Looking around the stadium and seeing all the locals I saw that relatively speaking I am much better looking in Boston than I am in Los Angeles.

The game wasn’t very good, but towards the end there were a few rain drops and then, to quote Bono: “The sky ripped open. See the rain coming through the gaping wound, pelting the women and children [and Jed and Tyler].”….

The torrential downpour ended the game early. That’s a great word, isn’t it? Torrential. When else do we use that word? Laughter. Applause. Orgasm.

By the time we got back to the hotel, the rain had stopped but we were soaked. Tyler had a jacket – smart kid. I did not – dumb adult. The monsoon created memories that will last a lifetime and mildew that would last the whole trip.

After sleeping WAY in, Tyler and I headed out for more sightseeing around Boston. I thought it would be fun to take one of the trolley tours all around the city. But it turns out that 11 year olds are just not that interested in the Boston Tea Party, the freedom trail or Paul Revere’s role in the American Revolution. Kids these days.

We were able to get off and get back on the trolley tour whenever we wanted and that was good because Tyler was coma-bored. We wound up using the trolley as our transportation all day. We went for a walk through Boston Common. Tyler didn’t really have any interest in this until I suggested we might be able to find an ice cream vendor in the park. And we did. We also found a crazy guy screaming about the Patriots winning their football game the next weekend; and we found reefer heads and a “preacher” giving a sermon about everyone burning in hell – next to his shopping cart. [Note: the crazy guy in the park was right about the Patriots winning. Not sure about the preacher.]….

Then we hopped back on the trolley and rode that all the way to Fenway Park. Right next to the Will Call booth is a “scalp free zone” where you can get tickets from people without having to worry about getting overcharged by scalpers… or arrested.

Our tickets for the second night at Fenway Park were on top of the Green Monster – a unique thirty foot wall that cuts off part of the outfield. We got there well before the game and we were able to watch batting practice again. However up on the green monster we were being bombarded with baseballs. The guy next to us gave Tyler a ball that he caught. This was very nice of him. Though I think he was doing it for me more than for Tyler. You see, I missed the one hit at me. Missed isn’t the right word. A ball was hit toward me a bit to the right. I reached up for it and it bounced off my hand and over a fence and over the street behind us and hit a parked car. I have since thought of a hundred reasons why it was okay for me to “miss” that one.

Tyler was very excited about his baseball. But he would have had more, if it wasn’t for the two grown men running around grabbing baseballs. Two men who brought special gloves and who were blocking out kids. They wound up with about 20 balls. I told Tyler that, though I do not advocate children using bad language, this was an example of a time when he could call someone an ASSHOLE. And so he did.

Next up is the National Anthem and maybe one of the worst singing performances witnessed by mankind. I just don’t get it. We can put computers in our pockets. We can order pizzas on the Internet. But we can’t put an end to a-cappella groups. I know we’ve got a lot of smart folks working on cancer and AIDS but couldn’t we grab a couple of those guys to handle this situation?….

Did I mention it was freezing? There was no rain, but the game-time temperature was around 50. However, with the wind up on the Green Monster, it was about 4.

Well the Red Sox lost – again. But it was an exhilarating game that went down to the very end. Also, Tyler got to see his first “Sweet Caroline” performance at Fenway Park – where every man, woman and child sings along to Neil Diamond’s classic(?) song. This is the coolest thing that any stadium, arena or public gathering does. Yes, it’s cooler than the Anaheim Angels’ Rally Monkey and it’s even cooler than the Yankees’ grounds crew dancing the YMCA.

When we got back to the hotel, Tyler said he really needs a bottled water. So I suggest the free water available in the sink. I may as well have said to drink from the toilet. What is wrong with America that an 11-year-old boy can only drink water that is bottled. When I was 11 and thirsty, I used to drink water from a hose… in my neighbor’s yard… and he was a child molester.

Now, you may not care about this next fact, but I sure did. I hadn’t pooped in two days. It’s becoming a situation. There’s no room at the inn, if you know what I mean.

Next up for us was a train down to New York City. While I despise the athletic squadrons of that city, it is my favorite city in the wide world. Pretty uneventful train ride, but I did notice that kids that are bored eat food. I don’t remember doing that when I was younger. But I also don’t remember being thin.

Arriving in New York City, I figured it would be a good idea to walk to our hotel from the train station. It was only a few blocks and it would give Tyler a chance to really see the city. And he did.

In those few blocks he saw skyscrapers, taxi cabs, two arguments and a friendship between two men end. Not to mention, an f-word about every 30 seconds.
The hotel was bit disappointing, but only compared to the one we had in Boston. Oh well, we’re just staying one night. We dropped off all our stuff and we were off to get New York pizza and do some sightseeing.

The pizza was delicious and then we walked a few blocks to Times Square – which is not quite as spectacular during the day, but is still quite a scene. And then we took the subway down to Battery Park so we could head over to the Statue of Liberty.

The bad thing about Battery Park is that the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park is located there. I had forgotten this or blocked it out or whatever. I’ll bring it down a notch here. There are very, very few perfect moments in life. There’s always something that didn’t go quite right at the time or that you found out about later. As it happens, I had a perfect moment with a special someone over a special weekend at the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park. This was a few years back but it’s still difficult to reconcile in my mind how a relationship can go from how it was that weekend to being burned to the ground.

Okay, so moving on. We were off to the Statue of Liberty. As we walked around Liberty Island I kept thinking about the first X-Men movie and how it ended on the Statue of Liberty. No, I don’t watch too many movies.

There were no “Crown Tickets” available (tickets to walk up to the crown). But that’s fine by me, because there was no way in hell I was going to be walking up that many stairs. Call me when you’ve got an elevator or escalator installed.

While at the base of the statue I was actually able to see up Lady Liberty’s dress. And, yes, her legs are VERY hairy. She is French after all.

When we got back to Battery Park our next stop was the Ritz-Carlton. Just kidding. I’m not a masochist – well, not that much of a masochist. So we went back down to the subway, but our MetroCard wouldn’t work. I still had $7 credit left. Three different New Yorkers told me I won’t be able to get that back. Oh, I will. I will get my $7.

So I have to buy a new card. Lame. Also, in Boston, Tyler rode the subway for free. Not in NYC. With my newly purchased MetroCard in hand, we headed up to Central Park for a little more sightseeing. I was more interested in getting a coffee and Tyler was more interested in getting an ice cream. But both are readily available at Columbus Circle.

Refreshed by our refreshments, we walked along Central Park South and admired the park, the fancy buildings and the goofy tourists talking in all kinds of foreign-speak. There’s also all the horses and their carriages and their poops.

We took a break in front of The Plaza Hotel. Tyler and I decided that we could tell people that we had “stayed at The Plaza” – just depends on your definition of “stay.”
We met up with a friend of mine and headed up to the new Yankee Stadium for another match of baseball teams.

The new Yankee stadium is an awesome structure and very fan friendly with no real flaws worth mentioning. But it does seem to lack the menacing qualities of the old stadium which still stands next door like some discarded lover. The first time I went to the old stadium I was almost scared by the way the crowd seemed to hang over the field. As much as I hate the Yankees I was impressed with their home field advantage.

Speaking of hating the Yankees. Since the Yankees were playing the Kansas City Royals, the Royals were my second favorite team for a night. Actually it was more like the Royals minor league team because it was the end of the season.

The game was somewhat uneventful on the field. But off the field, the cold night brought on a hot chocolate shortage that sent fans from concession stand to concession stand in search of something to keep them warm. Sure we could have gotten hot dogs but we would all look a little strange trying to keep our hands warm by wrapping them around hot dogs. It might look like something else if you did that. Generally I don’t care what other people think about me, but I don’t want people to think I’m holding a penis.

The Royals actually won. Yay for the Royals. After we left the stadium it was time to get back to the hotel. Our subway stop was Times Square so I was able to show Tyler how amazing that place looks at night.

I want to give a special thanks to the pimps and ho’s outside Cheetah’s gentlemen’s club for giving me something to explain to my nephew.

One last stop before the hotel combining two of my favorite things about NYC: a midnight pizza slice.

Tyler passed out immediately. I however did not. I was finally able to, um, relieve myself – bowelly speaking. Women hate when you compare any pain to the pain of giving birth to a child. So I’ll just say that it was like giving birth to a billiard ball and leave it at that.

We had a sort of early morning wake up. Early for me anyway. So the first thing we needed to do was get Tyler fed and get me caffeinated. The line at the Starbucks was huge, so Tyler suggested we just go to the empty cafe next door. I barked at him that we would wait at Starbucks. Coffee is not an addiction.

We grabbed a cab to go towards downtown. And the cabbie took us through times square. And shockingly there was a ton of traffic. Brilliant move on his part. That cost me an extra 3 dollars.

We were really only in NYC for about 24 hours and it was already time to head back to Boston for our evening flight. The train back had a lot more passengers and Tyler and I were lucky to be able to sit across the aisle from each other.

About 15 minutes outside the city the lady sitting next to me offered to switch seats with Tyler so he can sit next to me. But she is not doing this out of kindness. She wanted me and Tyler to be more quiet because this was a “quiet” car. There was no sign to this effect and the porter did not mention this widely held belief. It’s a train lady. Get over it. But I didn’t say anything because if someone wants to do something that helps me, I don’t care if they are doing it out of spite.

When we got back to Boston I thought it would be fun if we took the harbor ferry across to the airport. So we took three different subway lines for one stop each and got out at Long Wharf. But it turns out that ferry doesn’t run anymore or at that time or whatever and I really wasn’t in a mood to figure it out so we got back on the subway and rode that on out to the airport.

With about 90 minutes to kill Tyler and I stopped for lunch/dinner at Legal Seafoods. The music they were playing was amazing. I heard indie rock songs I’ve never heard anywhere but on my iPod. Tyler ordered lobster. Lobster? What can I say? He has expensive tastes. When our food came out, so did the jazz music. I hate jazz. Someone was getting even with me musically.

I tried paying for the meal with my personal debit card: failed. My business debit card: failed. I don’t have a ton of money but I do have enough to pay for a meal. Or maybe even two. I was able to pay for the meal with my credit card. But then I spent 20 minutes on the phone with my bank as they tried to figure out what was wrong. Nothing. Nothing was wrong. Whatever. Thanks.

We had just enough time to get Tyler’s sister a present. Tyler said he thought his sister would only freak out a little if we didn’t get her something. That was not a chance I was willing to take.

Once we were in the air we were treated to the good stewardess/bad stewardess routine. The bad stewardess was a bit over the top but she stayed in character the whole flight. Kudos to her.

The in-flight movie was The Brothers Bloom. Really United Airlines? I will bet you there was not more than two people who wanted to watch that movie. I was not one of them and neither was Tyler.

Tyler must have been tired because he was bummed out by everything. It reminded me of a girl I dated for a while. I don’t want to say who, but she was Danish and her name rhymes with Steva.

I quickly learned that it’s better for me to sit in the window seat so Tyler only has to bother the guy in the aisle seat to go to the bathroom. Sorry, guy in the aisle seat.
I want to commend United Airlines for cleverly adding rows of seats that are more spacious (for a fee) by simply taking out ALL the “extra” space from other rows. I couldn’t find a comfy position and then the guy in front of me put his chair so far back I could have done some minor dental procedures.

About half way through the flight Tyler asked me how much longer the flight was and I said we had two hours left. He looked really disappointed and then fell asleep for two hours. I miss that about being a kid. At the end of the flight I spent about ten minutes waking him up from his sleep coma.

And so another travel adventure came to a close. And I can’t help feeling that this trip was entertaining and educational for me. I learned that you should always bring something that is water-resistant when away from Los Angeles. I learned that traveling with a minor is a lot more work than with fully grown people. You constantly have to make sure they are fed and rested and clothed and entertained and not lost on the subway. If this is what parenting is like then I’m going to have to seriously reconsider any interest in that field.

But I also learned that I am a good looking guy when seen through East Coast colored glasses. So, ladies of the East Coast, get ready. I’ll be coming back shortly and I’m bringing my belly and my average looks with me.

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