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Trip Report New York City April 2008

Saturday Part 1

Last time we flew out of at Tulsa International, there were 400 people in line at 5:30 am.
That Saturday morning, there wasn't a soul to be found. 
Sometimes two hours isn't enough time, and sometimes 30 minutes will do it.

Then we got a nine-hour reminder why we don't have kids.
Screaming, kicking, screaming louder, kicking harder.
The SWA dude finally got on the plane's intercom and says,
"Would you parents please restrain your beastial offspring
  from pressing the "Call Button" every 2 goddamn minutes?

Isn't it odd that parents need to be told to lease their little monsters?

So we're flying over NYC, heading for Islip, NY, where SWA lands.
The pilot, swear to Koresh, comes on and says, "Not sure why, but they've 
assigned us a very, very short runway, not sure why, so when we land, 
we're gonna hit the breaks like crazy so hold on and maybe say a prayer."

The passengers applauded when we landed safely.
I thought they only did that in damn movies.

Audio Clip One    For BCR Subscribers - we'll make it available to everybody soon.

We checked into a fabulous hotel called The Benjamin.

They have a Pillow Consierge - for free.
Not sure what that means, but we don't need some other dude in our bed.

Here's the view out our window.

This is from the 16th Floor which means nobody on the street can see it.
Why spend so much extra for art that only patrons of the hotel across the street can see?

I contacted Mr. White, who will now go by the name "Frank."

Why the name change?
Well, 'Frank' has three fewer keystrokes than 'Mr. White, but more than that,
going to dinner with Mr. White, ...I'd bet, is a lot like going to dinner with Sinatra.

No, seriously...

'Mr White' is much less famous than Frank, possibly due to his request that I not 
use his real name in these stories, but trust me, when Mr White-now-known as Frank
walks into a restaurant, casino or hotel, it's like being with E.F. Hutton when he speaks.
And no, his real name isn't Frank White.

OK, so 'Frank' and me grabbed a Pakistan-native driven cab-and went to this fine apartment 
on what a NY newbie might call the Upper West Side. Hey, I've been to New York before. 
You wouldn't believe what this apartment must've rented for.

In Tulsa, it might've been as much as $2000 a month, so in upper/middle (I don't know) 
West side, this ultra-fine Manhattan apartment could've gone for as much as $2300 a month!

I met some people that the average Okie isn't likely to meet.
One fella's name was Greg, and he was waaaaay into American history.

One of the first things he said to me was "Welcome to XXXXX, where Washington signaled
to Lincoln that the German Zeppelin had blown up in New Jersey" - something like that.
(I might've been guilty of a calm-the-nerves joint prior to this party congealing.)

You gotta understand, I'm the rube from Okieville and Mrs Bart and myself found ourselves in 
the Center of the Universe with three high-end Entertainment Attorneys and Greg the Historian.

Greg, who gave me permission to use his name, is what you might call "highly accomplished."
OK, he's not Roone Arledge, he's not as wealthy as Dick Clark, probably, but he does jobs that
are on the hueueueueuege side, but he told me he'd never been out-ed (That how you spell that?)
on the Internets, and I think his worldwide premier deserves better than what he could get on this page :)

But I will drop this hint:
Maybe he'll get the contract on the new Yankey Stadium Big Screen Scoreboard,
so if that contract goes to a dude named Greg, odds are it's our new friend. 

Like Tommy Mack, Greg started out playing keyboards in a band.
As time went by, he realized he had a talent for hooking things up and making them work.
Now he hooks up really, really big things - after he invents them - and makes them work.

...tequila was consumed at this party - that's OK, nobody was driving.

Tonight's word was "Italian."
We, as a group, had hoped to do a sunset cruise around Manhattan the night Mrs Bart and I arrived,
but Southwest Airlines doesn't always offer every convenience - like landing in NYC - because it's free.

That reminds me - I got a funny cruise-don't cruise story for you.
Lots of weird things happen when you have with a litigator.
(Isn't it odd how much litigator sounds like aligator?)

So we're going to eat some Italian.

It looked just like the restaurant where Michael shot Solozzo!

It's called Il Vagabondo and it was crazy Italian,
but they knew enough English to take our food and beverage orders.
Even the busboys looked like extras from Goodfellas.

Il Vagabondo is billed as the only indoor Bocce ball Italian restaurant in New York.
My old friend Frank said we'd be playing us some Bocce ball at Il Vagabondo.

That picture above? They said it was taken in 1969, but that dude on 
the left looks exactly like the restaurant manager, so I don't know.

So we walk into this place, I'm holding on, trying not to let my "Okie" show.

As you know, I'm one of the smartest people in Oklahoma - for sure.
But when I was with this Gang of New York, I was easily the stupidest person
in the room and that caused me to do a whole lot more listening than speaking.

Back at the Apartment, Frank and Paul were talking lawyer stuff, and now ? then
I'd catch a word or a phrase, but they were mostly speaking in a different language,
kinda like hearing Dr. House talk to his medical team on TV. 

Odds are this group thinks I'm shy, but no, the fact is I'm smart enough to know
how stupid I am so I just clammed up and enjoyed the over-my-head conversation.

We eight sat at a big, round table and the uber-Italian dudes brought us menus.

Then I had my first hallucination.
Glad I'm not under oath, but I could've sworn I heard Frank tell the Head Dude,
and I stress that I might have imagined this, but I might've heard Frank whisper
to the head waiter/manager of this fine, old-school, Italian restaurant...

"We're 'A' players, make us happy!"

Is that code?
Is that what it takes to bring out the good veal in an Italian restaurant in New York?
We didn't have a Catholic Monsignor with us, and you know what they say, 
"No red stripe, no great veal." but Frank knew the code so they treated us like royalty.
(Rumor has it John Gotti loved the Veal Parmigiana at Il Vagabondo

I don't know either, but the manager did kiss Frank's ring - and then the party started

Just like in Vegas, suddenly there were personnel every f-ing where. Once again, we were 
in a beehive of hyper-activity. This restaurant wanted to know what would make Frank happy 
and Frank doesn't shy away from telling them. Usually, the answer was "More champagne!"

Swear to Koresh, and regular readers know when I say that, that means I'm being
100% totally honest and you're NOT going to believe this.

Not sure why, but the fello who presented himself as the owner/manager asked Frank 
if he'd like to gamble double or nothing on the evening's tab.

That's the truest statement in this whole story.

Frank, not expecting a large gamble to be thrust in his face, said something intelligent 
"It depends on the game!"

If I was going to make something up, I could do better than that.
But it really happened, or I'm not an Eskimoe* named Ned.

We proceeded to have fine food.
For the first time ever, instead of having my usual children's helping of spaghetti and meatballs, 
I ordered the Chicken Milano, because I think Alyssa Milano would be a fun date if I was single.

"Born in Brooklyn, moron"

Oh, and did I mention that to my left was ...The Beatles' attorney?
I kinda hate to drop a name like that, but I musta been to a dozen dinners 
and I've never sat next to The Beatles' attorney before. 

Yes, the Beatles have more than one attorney, but if you try to profit from an unauthorized
Beatles recording, you'll hear from my good friend Paul and he'll decide what damages are.

When I met him, he was just as nice and polite as he could be, but there was something 
in his eyes that told me I didn't want to play any poker with the man. (That's a compliment)

Paul was as nice and friendly as he could possibly be,
but facing him in court would be like facing Gus Hansen at a poker table.
I guess that why The Beatles, Elton John and Jay-Z etc. depend on him.

So we're at this table with three high powered Entertainment attorneys, 

Frank continued to "hold court" at the table.
Frank was all "Bring me some honey fried mushrooms!" 
and they were all, "We're out of the honey fried mushrooms."

And Frank's all "WTF?" so they countered with an offer and peace was achieved.

As the night grew slim, it was nearing 11 and we were anticipating some Bocce ball.
Frank had mentioned several times that Bocce ball was the cat's pajamas, and that we'd 
be playing Bocce ball tonight  ...and then the unfortunate happened.

When our table notified the manager we were ready to play Bocce ball, he very respectfully 
told us that it was too late, that Bocce ball had to stop because they had an agreement with
the apartments above the4 restaurant that no Bocce ball would be played after 11 PM.

(Bocce ball is related to bowling - ball busting - at an Italian restaurant in New York?

Really, I never caught on if this was a gag or a spoof or what, but here's what happened:

This one attorney at the table objected.

Audio Clip Two

Frank looked at me and said, "That's MY lawyer!"

ha ha
I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.
He was Frank, high profile uber-litigator, saying "Get me this one attorney!" if he gets arrested.

So Frank and Lorn played Mrs. Bart and me in some Bocce Ball.
Lorn seemed to know more about Bocce Ball than the rest of us.

So we finally left there and stumbled several blocks past 3-4 closed taverns. We're all going, "WTF?" 
but apparently, when the Pope's in town, nobody goes anywhere so they all closed down early.

Here we are - in New York City, just before midnight, and we can't get a drink?

We kept stumbling, we kept finding closed clubs - WTF?
We're we invaded?
Did we lose a war?
What's it take to get a drink on a Saturday night in The City that Never Sleeps?

Note: the bars in Tulsa stay open until 2AM every night. 

Then, as we were walking Greg (A.K.A. Dr Technoid) told me a very touching story.
He said  in 2001, he and his tech team were overseas working on a project on 9-11 when
they heard the terrible news. Remember, New York is his home town and with all the
confusion, he couldn't get much information about what was happening.  Communication 
was a problem and I'm sure - being in a foreign land increased their difficulties, so Greg 
dialed up  where we were "blogging" live. I think four pages went up that day, 
and Greg said it helped a little to have that connection. He made me feel like I did a good thing.

Trenching on, we found Bill's, a tiny-ish pub on Madison Avenue.
They had a dude playing piano and singing every bad song Billy Joel ever wrote
and 4-5 Golden Girls singing and dancing to everything he played.

Frank kept ordering more champagne, then some red wine, then more champagne, then 
more red wine. One word someone used to describe Frank that weekend was "exhausting,"
but we mean that in the best way, of course :)

The owner told Frank that in the forty-eight years he's been there, this was the deadest
Saturday in his history - I blame the Pope.  So the place started to close, the piano player
left the piano unguarded and Frank sat down and played some very beautiful music.
I knew he played some guitar, and I know that many guitar players can find their way 
around a piano, but after all that Billy Joel piano mangling, suddenly that piano sounded
wonderful.  Frank is full of surpirses, as you'll find out if you keep reading.

We stumbled out of Bill's and eventually found Connelly's, where we did shots of something
and I was about to pass out so we went back to the fabulous hotel to play some online poker, 
which Frank had never played.

Oh, Frank's played poker in Vegas and Atlantic City and even Monaco, but he'd never 
played online before. If you remember the last Trip Report, last time I saw Frank play poker
the dealer was saying, "That's $2500 to you, Sir," so playing a dollar tournament on my laptop
could've been anti-climactic, but we had the best time - hell, we even won.

We played on my Full-Tilt Poker account, and he agreed to go 50/50 with me on the cost of 
the poker tourney, which came to a total of one dollar and twenty five cents.

Yeah, Frank's got that kind of money.

I tried to guide him, I was his online poker Sherpa, but he didn't want to hear my advice, 
my seasoned advice, my nearly-expert advice, so I pressed the bottuns to bet whatever he 
told me to and I'll be damned if he didn't win the entire tournament with his crazy poker moves!

Together, we won $4.50, so now I gotta pay him $2.25 in cash.

 Click  Here  for the next exciting chapter of our trip to New York

 We had four days in New York, and each day was more exciting than the last
  so stay tuned for every chapter - don't bail out!)

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