Big Easy/Big Apple

Which is not to say that there aren’t several things New York can learn from us…

Iced coffee: Yo: if I see one more idiot New York waiter step up to the drink station, fill a glass with ice, and pour in still-piping-hot coffee…well, I dunno what I’ll do, but it won’t be pretty, and it might involve paprika. Hot coffee on ice isn’t just nasty, people; it’s a sacrilege on par with serving oysters en brochette to a rabbi during a Passover Seder, or bringing sushi into my dad’s living room. Iced coffee is made with a goddamn coffee toddy. Somebody please give Dean & Deluca $30 so they can save the city’s apparently clueless tastebuds.

Public restrooms: The sun is shining and the air is crisp as you step onto the sidewalk, ready for a full day of shopping. You grab a coffee from the place on the corner (hot, not iced, ’cause you know how that’ll go) and head to midtown. Then, after about 30 minutes in H&M, you start to feel it. Another 15 minutes, and you’re leaving clumps of potential goodies in the dressing room because your bladder has swollen to the size of an 18-month-old child. You ask the sales clerk if the store has a restroom. No. Instead of getting sassy and asking whether she and her fellow employees have to do their dirty work in shoe boxes in the basement, you rush down the street to Starbucks, only to learn that their restroom is for customers only, so you buy another coffee (bad idea, as you’ll later realize) and ask for the key, but you’re told that the toilet is out of order. Repeat this scenario at McDonald’s, Macy’s, and Toys R Us. Finally, after 20 blocks, you find a hotel, bluff your way into the lobby (“I lost my key”), dash up an escalator to the banquet rooms, and find an open restroom. Of course, by the time you schlep back to H&M, the process starts over again.

Neighborhood bars: As much as I hated Cheers (having featured not only the loathsome Ted Danson but my personal nemesis, Kirstie Alley), there was something comforting about the notion of a corner bar where you could go for a quick after-work cocktail or to meet friends at the start of a long evening out. Someplace kinda fun and cute, without the attitude of a club or the skeeze of a dive bar. New Orleans’ neighborhood bars excel at walking this fine line–and as an added benefit, they also have public restrooms (see above).

Charming homeless people: The Bead Lady, Ruthie the Duck Lady, the Disco Preacher, the Woolworth’s Preacher: say what you will about our homeless people, but at least they know how to market themselves to an often-indifferent public. We may avoid giving them handouts, we may try to look the other way, but who can truly ignore a guy in a rainbow-striped umbrella hat high-stepping to music only he can hear and singing gospel songs to a flowering pear tree?

7 Comments so far

  1. Lisa (unregistered) on January 31st, 2006 @ 7:18 am

    Doesnt every NOLA local and frequent visitor have their favorite “character”? I’m almost as anxious to see if my favorites have returned as I am to have a Port of Call burger and some Fiorellas chicken!

  2. Laureen (unregistered) on January 31st, 2006 @ 7:32 am

    Right ON with the iced/coffee,espresso in my case. Yep, painful.

  3. Chris (unregistered) on January 31st, 2006 @ 10:28 am

    One of my fondest memories ever of being in New York was sneaking into a bathroom at the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South to take care of some business. Talk about a nice bathroom!

  4. jonno (unregistered) on January 31st, 2006 @ 9:09 pm

    Indirectly related to the iced coffee issue, I’m always galled (yes, galled!) when I’m charged for iced tea refills when I go out to eat anywhere north of Virginia. At up to $3.95 a pop in some restaurants, that shit adds up, yo.

  5. Steve O'Keefe (unregistered) on January 31st, 2006 @ 9:55 pm

    Late night hours. Since Sept. 11, Manhattan shuts down a lot earlier than it used to. I shut down three places in one night: a Starbucks, St. Mark’s Books, and a bar. Lots of restaurants are not seating at 10 p.m. For a city that never sleeps, they sure close up shop early.

  6. Banzai Bill (unregistered) on January 31st, 2006 @ 10:06 pm

    Now, you know, Miss Ruthie was “never” homeless….

    I heard from Harry Anderson that Ruthie is doing fine, having been evacuated out of the city prior to the storm. She is now back, though I have never really known exactly where she lives these days.

    I MISS seeing her in the Quarter. But, speaking of Quarter Characters, Lucky Dogs will be back in the Quarter in a few weeks.

  7. Di from RI (unregistered) on February 21st, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

    You’re right about the ice coffee. In Rhode Island, it’s a necessity, even in the winter. But travel a little north through Massachusetts, and people do the the same thing: poor hot coffee over ice after looking at you like you’re from a foreign land. Glad to hear another place in the U.S. knows about this delicious drink.

    Hang in there New Orleans…we’re praying for your recovery.

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