Sunday, May 23, 2010


The Meatpacking District has become so trendy it can make a tourist puke. But there is one well-known off the beaten path gem; Pastis.

After my favorite restaurant, Bolo (damn you Bobby Flay!!!), closed about two years ago we've been spending more meals at Pastis. It is always crowded and expect to wait at least 45 minutes for a table for two during the dinner rush which lasts from ~8:00PM to 11:00PM. They switch to a supper menu at 1:00AM which is a scaled back version of the dinner menu.

Service can be hit or miss but I've never had a bad meal at Pastis. Even dessert at this place is amazing!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Getting into SNL on Standby

(This is the day after, see below)

Getting to see SNL live has been a goal for the last 10 years. With as many times as I go to NYC it's remarkable that this was my first time actually getting to go.

SNL does an annual lottery in August which doesn't allow you to specific the dates (Google for info). I've entered in the past and was never selected. This time I decided to try standby and it was the season finale with Alec Baldwin. I knew my odds were slim to none, but I had to try.

The standby tickets are given away at 7:00AM day of the show (Saturday morning). People started queuing up on Wednesday! We arrived at 6:45AM and the line was about 200 people long (I know this because of the ticket numbers).

You get a choice of dress rehearsal or live standby tickets and are advised to pick the lowest number which gives you the best odds of getting in. In our case, the live show had the lowest numbers, and since it didn't start until 11:30PM (required to be there at 10:45PM) I figured our chances were better as many would give up being that late.

I was right. We received ticket numbers 104 & 105 and were the last group of five standbys to make it.

We were initially seated behind some lighting rigs that made it really hard to see the stages. After about five minutes a PA asked us if we wanted to move up into closer seats that were reserved for people who didn't show. Of course! I can't even say who we sat next to.... But it was another NBC universal employee.

The whole thing was surreal and an amazing experience. Best of all, it was free (less time spent in lines with anxious anticipation).

In retrospect, if you want to try standby, I have some advice...

  1. Get to the AM line as early as possible without ruining the day. Consider taking a nap afterward since you'll have standby tickets in hand at 7:00AM and will need to be well rested for the PM shows. I would not be a "camper." The folks who started waiting on Wednesday made it in, then again, so did we and we were 200 people behind them.
  2. Get to the PM line on time.
  3. The NBC staff are great. And by great, I mean amazing! They will do everything they can to get standbys on the show to include bringing more seating into the studio if they can fill it. No need to beg--if it's meant to be, it will happen. Listen to them! They will give advice and instructions throughout the process.
  4. Do not bring a camera--they will take it. We had enough sense to not even try.
  5. Use the restroom before getting in the PM line. You can do this in the lobby of Rock Center. There is no leaving the studio and returning. Get something to eat before hand--there is no snacking in the studio.
  6. Dress well. Not three-piece-suit well, but look presentable. Have a great attitude--be excited!!! This increases your chances of getting selected to move forward to better seats. The PAs need all of those seats filled and are constantly looking for people to move forward to fill empty seats. Be one of those lucky people!
  7. In the AM line, consider choosing the live show instead of the rehearsal if the numbers are close. Believe it or not, more people were willing to be at Rock Center at 7:00AM than were willing to show up at 10:45PM. Of course the rehearsal, from what I've read, is a lot of fun and sometimes you get to see skits that don't air.
  8. The numbers... There were around 35 regular ticket holders and VIPs that did not show. Only about a third of the standby ticket holders showed. So don't be discouraged if you get a high number. 104 & 105 were still low enough to make it.
  9. Have a back-up plan. The last thing you want, if you don't get on the show, is to go back to the hotel room and think about what could have been. Go out, see the town, and get a drink--it's still Saturday night!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gray's Papaya

Getting into New York late, with plans to get up at 6:00AM the next day, leaves one with few fine dining options. Thankfully, there was this Gray's Papaya location in Chelsea close to the hotel.

I have seen a Gray's mentioned a few times on the foodie channels and had wanted to someday checkout the original but was unwilling to dedicate the time and a "real meal" to the adventure. The Chelsea location made it easy.

Walking into the place is a trip in itself. It's like entering a different universe. There are no tables. It's easily 100 degrees and the guys behind the counter are not lovin' it.

I got two dogs (with sauerkraut) and a papaya drink for ~$4.75. The papaya drink is a must. Yes it's strange and even stranger combination. The dogs were great and there was some really good spicy mustard on the counter. I was pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Notice to Liberals

Want to see where the liberal ideology is taking America? Look at Greece!

The situation in Greece in deteriorating rapidly. It's the adults v. the children. The children want their entitlements, the adults have run out of money to pay them their entitlements, and no one is willing to lend a country that isn't willing to work any more money.

The IMF bailout will help Greece stay in the black short-term but only with severe cuts in spending (otherwise known as austerity measures). These cuts will dramatically impact the Greek standard of living since so many in the country depend on government social programs or government jobs.

This is what happens when you grow the scope and size of government, via social programs, to a level where the private sector can no longer support it.

We often hear that we need more government and more programs in America to provide for social and economic justice. But how much justice are we able to provide when the entire system collapses? What will happen to people who, for generations, have become dependent on government assistance? The message "get a job" is a difficult one because, in such a scenario, the private economy has been destroyed and there are no jobs.

We have the opportunity now to bring balance back to government. To constrain the size of government to a level that we can support, yet we are consistently moving the opposite direction. Less than half of the country pays Federal income tax. We have more voters than taxpayers! We are steadily replacing the private economy with the public economy--which can only consume, not produce. Is this sustainable? If it isn't sustainable, who will bail us out?

If liberals really believe in their programs, they have to be willing to defend them. That means bringing economic sustainability and balance back to Washington. A message consistently heard at Tea Parties that liberals vilify and mock.

Unless liberals wake up and realize what is at stake, they stand to lose 80 years of "progress."

Sunday, May 2, 2010


It's been a long time...

My efforts have been going to other places lately, much of it doing good things. I made a major change a couple of months ago and am all the better for it!

It seems other things have been changing as well and not for the better. To put it succinctly: America is no longer ideologically compatible.

Half of this country believes it is entitled to the labor and property of the other half while paying little or no tax. We continue to punish working Americans for going to work and providing for their families while rewarding those who couldn't care less. Bailout is no longer a buzzword--its a lifestyle.

Our "new thought" leaders implement historically proven flawed ideas and policies pretending that they will work while holding the country hostage through taxation, debt, and inflation. Many speculate that we can no longer pay to service the current level of debt, let alone write new debt to continue funding bankrupt social programs.

The vanguards of the value system which made America the greatest country in the world are absent, having been either bribed by the architects of failure and fully complicit in it, or marginalized into obscurity. We now have situational ethics which distort right and wrong and allow the most incapable among us to demand their wants and needs be met no matter what the present or future costs.

Looking back, I believe we will view this time as an opportunity to get what we deserve. Bondage, deception, and broken promises or freedom and prosperity. Sadly, we may no longer be able to share the later together.