Funny things happen when you grow up in New York City. While the Big Apple is universally recognized as the greatest city in the world – and rightfully so – New Yorkers inherently know that to be true. We wear that hometown pride on our sleeve.
New Yorkers are born with a different energy, a joie de vivre, that undeniable you-talkin’-to-me attitude and an internal GPS that gives us the ability to hop on a bus or subway and know exactly where we are and how to get to where we’re going. We also are among the few Americans who still know what a bus and subway are.
I moved to Florida many moons ago but as they say, you can take the kid out of New York…
I hadn’t been back in ages. The last few times I flew back were for funerals. I promised myself that the next time I traveled north would be for a far more festive occasion.
So when my extended family invited me up for a hearty Thanksgiving meal, I decided to take a trip down memory lane. Join me, won’t you, on this fun little pictorial.
I fit in as much of my old stomping grounds as I could within a 48 hour period, taking breaks to amass far more calories a day should be allowed… but when in Rome.
Our trek started outside my extended family’s Upper West Side brownstone where my mother swears I was conceived. You all have the cozy confines of this four-story building to blame. Bow-chicka-BOW-wow! Also notice the cold weather. This blood-thinned, Florida resident, however, came prepared. Onions have layers, SportsChump had layers.
Earlier that morning, my folks attended the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I flew in later that morning so I missed it. I was never a big parade guy anyway. That would require me getting up early. Plus, technically it’s just people walking for miles in a straight line. Where’s the excitement in that? But they went so I figured I’d throw in a picture of Spidey for ya’.
First stop on the old SportsChump stomping grounds tour shows me in front of funky diner deliciousness. Victoria China, now renamed La Nueva Victoria, was without a doubt my favorite restaurant growing up, despite my father’s protests in taking me there. He must have known something about the food I didn’t. Victoria China was nothing special to the casual observer but it was so much more for a wide-eyed youngster. It was a melting pot of everything New York City stood for. Nothing fancy on the inside, the restaurant offered a combination of Latin and Asian cuisine, both my favorites. What I remember most, aside from the fried rice and bistec palomilla, was the old Asian guys behind the counter shouting loudly at each other while they cooked. Except they weren’t speaking Chinese. They were shouting in Spanish! Only in New York.
Throughout my childhood, I was in and out of public schools, private schools and Hebrew schools. For the first, second and fifth grades, I attended B’Nai Jeshurun on 89th Street between Broadway and West End. It’s the same Yeshiva that Ben Stiller attended only years earlier, which means I was THIS close to being in Zoolander. A shame since I’ve been working on my new look for years.
Zabar’s is any foodie’s wet dream. Located on 80th street and Broadway, in the mid-1970s, Zabar’s occupied only one storefront. Now it takes up nearly the entire block and it’s just as crowded as ever. From deli to bakery to cheeses to cooking items, Zabar’s is a must stop during any trip to Manhattan. I suggest you go hungry.
SportsChump and an ever-graceful plié outside Lincoln Center. The only reason I even know what a plié is is because I once lived blocks from there. Perhaps my form could use a little work.
No trip to the city is complete without a slice. Extra cheese is two dollars.
A trip to the USS Intrepid made me feel the need, the need for speed. Can you hear the Top Gun theme playing in the background, Goose? Hiiiiighway tooooo the Danger Zone! They even had the Space Shuttle in there. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let me take it for a spin.
On any given day or night in Manhattan’s Times Square, there is something going on: places to eat, people to see, stores to shop in, horns a-honking, lights a-flashing, cabbies giving you the finger and countless culinary aromas to tempt your appetite.
Here I am outside Radio City Music Hall where the annual NFL Draft is held. You can almost hear the Jets fans booing from a distance.
Let’s hear it for New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothin’ you can’t do. Now you’re in New York, these streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you. Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York. – Lyrics courtesy of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
Marco, Nick and I have been friends since birth. Friendships over forty years are hard to find. As always, thanks for the hospitality, gentlemen. Oh, and please send more Tred Red.