Sunday, March 19, 2006

What happened next...

Continuing the account of the recent NY trip...

The next day was Saturday and we managed to get the most sleep of the entire trip that Friday night after coming in from seeing the performance of Spamalot. We managed to rouse ourselves and met Tina from Cotswold (long time GIJOE mail order icon) and Buddy for brunch at a trendy little restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. I had the tuna burger. We talked at length about the state of GIJOE collecting and also hooked up with John Waterhouse who writes for the Atlanta Journal / Constitution newspaper.

This was to be the last FREE day before our flurry of Toyfair activities ensued, so we wanted to do something specifically New York. Albeit a little more than a tad touristy, we decided we would visit the Statue of Liberty. I had been to NY twice before and yet I had never seen Lady Liberty. As we hailed a cab, we noticed it was beginning to snow - the beginning of the greatest snow fall in Manhattan history! Not really the place for a Georgia-boy!

The cab ride was long and as with all NY city cab rides - fraught with danger.
We arrived at the pavilion at which tickets could be purchased and after a security check, we boarded the ferry that would take us out to the statue. The air was already hovering at freezing temperature, but once the ferry was out into the water, it quickly cooled down almost fifteen degrees. The snow intensified also and was now blowing sideways. Most of the tourists on the ferry retreated to the heated interior except for quick forays onto the deck to snap a quick photo or two.

I often take a 12" GIJOE with me when I travel for photo opportunities, but this jaunt had left me joe-less. Buddy, however, had planned ahead and quickly produced a customized 12" figure. As I stood with the figure so Buddy could get a shot with Liberty in the background, I noticed a few chuckles from a trio of knit capped men who looked to be forty-ish. I immediately assumed they were making fun of our past-time, when suddenly one of them called out, "Eagle-eye!" It took me a minute to realize this was a reference to one of the later versions of GIJOE just before the line was cancelled back in the late 70's. JOE had gained the ability to shift his gaze left and right via a small lever on the back of his head - hence the advertising moniker : "Eagle Eye GIJOE".

Buddy and I walked over to them and found out they were from Glasgow, Scotland and had fond memories of Action Man (the UK version of GIJOE) from when they were kids.
I was immediately struck by the odd connection I suddenly shared with these strangers from half a world away because of a childhood toy and an adult hobby.

We all traded a few memories, some laughs, a business card or two, and then shook hands and said good-bye. We soon arrived at the statue. Buddy and I took photos of each other in the 'John Lennon pose" (see previous post) fighting to keep the lens of our cameras free from snow. It was EXTREMELY cold and since the gift shop was closed and access inside the statue is by reservation only these days, a quick circle round the statue and a few photos later, we were back on the ferry hungry for the warmth it offered.

We quickly evaded the booths of souvenirs, found a cab, averted our gaze from the numerous street performers dressed as the Statue of Liberty (yes...really) and made our way back toward our respective hotels. Time passes quickly when trying to navigate Manhattan and so it wasn't terribly long before our planned dinner at Lamela's, which is a great restaurant in Little Italy. Benson Yee, of Transformers fame met us there and also joining us were John Waterhouse, Tina, and Buddy. What grand hidden conspiracy had placed this unique mix of people at one dinner table remains a mystery. I am sure though, the intent couldn't have been to generate conversation. While there was a great deal of talk, it was hindered by the bachlorette party at the end of the room complete with a few loud, drunken dinner guests. The hi-lite of this display was when the bride-to-be was asked to take a bite of a whip cream-tipped banana - it's base nestled between two scoops of ice cream.

The things you see in New York...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I ain't as good as I once was...

It seems like an age since I returned from my NY trip to cover the International Toy Fair. Within days of my last post, I was struck ill. I missed three days of work and a trip to the doctor confirmed I had strep throat. In addition, I'm sure I had also become the breeding ground for some other microscopic nastiness as my symptoms went far beyond the awful pain of strep. The recent hit country song by Toby Keith,as he laments the effects of age on his once 'ready for anything body' immediately comes to mind as I think about how sick I was and how difficult it was to get back to normal. I think the 5 days of 5 hour sleep, the constant moving from warm indoors to the 25 degree NY streets over and over again during the day left my immune system unwilling or unready to fight off anything. Add to that my boss and traveling companion Brian Savage had been sick for days. I think I was the leading candidate in the election to be struck down by creatures unseen. As a result, I've been extra busy at work and have found little time to post here, however, I promised a rundown of the NY trip. So here goes...

An over view of Friday the 10th of February goes something like this:

Brian and I left the office Friday morning and flew out of DFW bound for JFK. We had a good flight and I watched most of 'Good Night and Good Luck' on the airplane. We rode the train into Manhattan and then took the subway attempting to find our hotel. We exited the subway too soon and walked a good 10 blocks to our hotel. People were just getting off work and heading out of Manhattan for the weekend so you can image the chaos. Our friend Buddy Finethy from Atlanta was already at HIS hotel and awaiting our arrival. We made it to our hotel room and we were greeted by a lovely view of construction on the adjacent roof top. The words "helltown boys" were sprayed on an exposed beam just outside our window. Eerie but oddly exciting and definitely NY.

A quick phone call and Buddy made his way to our hotel. Dinner first and then a show! We headed out to eat being encouraged to step inside a 'south american meat restaurant'. Sure enough we sat at a round table and were offered copious amounts of meats, all served after a strategic hunger-dimishing offer of salad and bread. We sat and talked for a while and it was really nice to see Buddy again. It felt good to spend time with someone from the motherland who had been there since I had moved away.

8:00 was showtime at the Shubert Theatre and we had tickets to see SPAMALOT! This was quite a treat and quite the revelation of how the Monty Python cult film fave was turned into a Broadway musical. Some scenes were almost verbatim from the movie while MANY others were wild extensions of concepts only hinted at. The inclusion of the Lady of the Lake as a principal character was most noteworthy. Wow!This actress could really belt out a tune! It was a really neat experience and set the tone for the rest of our time in NY city. More on that later...