Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day in Times Square

Earth Day in Times Square.  An odd juxtaposition of the one-day celebration of using our renewable resources, appreciating the earth under our feet, and planting trees . . . celebrated in the center of heaven-knows-how-many kilowatts of squandered electricity and surrounded by concrete where the closest tree is 20 blocks north in Central Park.  In classic New York manner, though, we Manhattanites, as always, celebrate our hypocrisy in style.  I meandered through the Earth Day madness in Times Square to soak up the experience.

For the most part, the Earth Day celebration in Times Square today was a thinly veiled marketing strategy for pretty much everything under the sun.  So much so that locals and tourists alike that walked through the streets could literally smell the inevitable "free stuff" and hunted it down like tweens at a Juicy Couture velour sale at Bloomingdale's.  People smooshed past each other, ignoring lectures about recycling and green vehicles and climbing over each other to get free samples of soy milk (what that has to do with Earth day, I have no idea).

Here's the thing about events like this.  People are not there to be educated. They are not there to be entertained.  At all.  THEY JUST WANT FREE STUFF.  Screw the earth, give them the eco-friendly shampoo sample.  Seriously.  I was quickly made aware of two very nasty incidents that drive home my point.  First, a friend was politely tasting a cup of chocolate soy milk when a woman next to her asked for another cup.  The kindly young man behind the cart explained that it was one cup per customer.  In classic rude New Yorker fashion, she argued and made a general racquet until my friend gently intervened on her behalf.  The belligerent woman's response?  A half cup of soy milk in my friend's face.  No lie.  The good thing is the sweet kid that witnessed the whole thing gave my friend two cartons of soy for her potentially ruined green velvet coat.  Only in New York.

The other incident occurred at the Home Depot booth where the nice volunteers in orange aprons were handing out strawberry plants to children.  I watched as a very small woman approached and grabbed a plant unnoticed amongst the youngsters.  A burly man behind the group of kids shouted at the aproned workers that he wanted a strawberry plant.  (Really, guy?  I'm sure you have a huge garden behind your ghetto lower east side apartment that matches your washed-last-April dungarees, but these were obviously kid gifts).  Again, a very patient person explained that the plants were for children.  "But, you gave one to that woman.  I want one.  That's not fair".  At this, three kids looked up to the grown-up speaking their lingo.  "Sir", more forcefully this time, "The plants are for the CHIlDREN".  He widened his stance, "Yeah, well, you gave one to her, so I . . ."  The altercation blended into the general crowd buzz as I distanced myself from the fray so as not to be hit by any flying planters.  Wow, guy.  Just . . . wow.  Now, these two instances were not indicative of the general hubbub of the event, but they were definitely not the only two of their kind, I'm sure.  Yeah.  Happy Earth Day in New York, everybody.

So . . . in light of my general disgust for people's conduct in public, I would like to propose a New York alternative to Earth Day.  Since most of us obviously do not give a crap about the planet, I would like to propose National Don't-Be-An-Asshole-To-Each-Other Day.  I know it would be hard in this city where that's our M.O., but I think we can do it for 24 hours.  Just maybe we can try not to throw soy milk on each other, steal plants from children, plow people over with our bags, and mutter obscenities under our breaths at each other.  Maybe we could even try to adopt a little of the charm that is inherent in the Southerners we so often like to chastise.  Just for a day.  If the Earth gets one, we humans should, too.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bunches of Biscotti

I absolutely love finding new establishment gems in New York.  Now that this blog has helped me take my I’m-too-cool-to-enjoy-the-view New Yorker blinders off, I’m realizing I’m finding more and more fun and interesting hidden treasures during my daily travels around the city.  Last week, on my way to visit my friends Kimberly, I ran into an adorable little place called Bis.Co.Latte.  Located on 47th and 10th, this teeny little establishment had a sign outside advertising homemade biscotti.  Cute!  I checked that I had time and then headed in for a quick biscotti and a cappuccino (which, incidentally, always makes me miss Florence).

Um . . . where do I start?  First of all, it was quiet and cute and downtown-y.  Coffee shop criteria 1?  Check.  Second, and most impressively, I have never seen so much biscotti in my life.  Seriously.  Glass containers full of baked yumminess lined the entire wall from top to bottom.  And they didn’t just have vanilla almond and chocolate chip.  They had green tea spearmint, coconut almond chocolate chip, ginger peach, gluten-free, wheat-free, sugar free, and vegan.  Mixed berry, citrus . . . really?  I was genuinely overwhelmed.  And that’s pretty hard to do.  It was, essentially, the Char No. 4 of biscotti (see past blog).  I chose the coconut dark chocolate and a wheat-free ginger peach and sat down to wait for the mild-mannered young tattooed lad to bring me my frothy beverage.

By the time I was seated, I had already decided to blog about the joint, so I took a mental inventory of my surroundings.  There was lively harmonica music lightly blanketing the subdued seemingly intellectual conversation and I spotted a bookshelf full of fun, kooky vintage novels.  Amongst the titles were “1000 Record Covers”, “A Book of Cowboy Boots”, and “How to Idle”.  AND amazing, fabulous, fun biscotti.  I dipped and crunched, dipped and crunched.  Even the wheat-free flavor was ba-rilliant.  I checked the rest of the menu and made a mental note to come back for lunch.  The soup and sandwich at the table next to me looked delish. 

Whilst enjoying my quick treat, I noticed a prominent sign on the wall that read, “Our Philosophy: We want you to find respite from a busy day in NYC in a place where friends, neighbors, and colleagues can meet for a coffee break or a light meal and conversation”.  Above the “philosophy” was a NO COMPUTERS sign.  What?  A coffee shop with no WiFi?  How un-American of them.  Hmm . . . I looked around.  It WAS kind of peaceful.  And slightly European.  Maybe it wasn’t the cappuccino that reminded me of Italy.  Maybe it was the fact that people were actually communicating with each other via methods that didn’t involve a keyboard.  The philosophy creators were right, I thought.  The lack of an electronic presence was pretty liberating.  And peaceful.  Yet another reason to come back and have some more biscotti.  I checked my watch, chugged the remainder of my perfect cup of caffeine, and headed out to see Kimberly.  Now I know where to get my biscotti AND my peace and quiet.  A half hour well spent.