Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Much belated weekend roundup: bullet points ahead!

So mere 36 hours after returning from Japan, I was off again, this time to Charlotte to see my friend Paul get married. Let's wrap this up as quick as I can.
  • Laguardia seriously needs some rail access. I hate paying $25 for 15-minute cab rides, Grand Central/Port Authority buses are at the mercy of both Manhattan and GCP traffic, and does anyone really like the M60 bus that makes the long trek along 125th St and Triboro Bridge?

    I miss living in Astoria. Well, not really.

  • I kinda like the little American Eagle commuter jets. Sure, the rides tend to be bumpy but I like that you can leave your big bags at the jetway. I hate checking my shit in but I also don't like dragging a lot of shit onto the plane. Best of both worlds, I think. I think of them as the Bowery Ballroom to Boeing's Hammerstein Ballroom.

  • The wedding isn't until Saturday evening but I fly in Friday to catch up with the Drakes aka my Thanksgiving Family. They's good peoples.

  • Unpacking at the hotel, I realize my shirt and suit pants are in serious need of laundering. I drop them off at the front desk after getting reassurance that they'll be ready by tomorrow evening.

  • Of course, I forget to ask what time tomorrow. The wedding's at 5:30 so "tomorrow evening" is cutting it a little close, causing me to mildly freak out. I call the front desk and after about 15 minutes, the official response is "They'll be ready between 3 and 4 but it could be as late as 5. Call back tomorrow morning."

    This does not comfort me and I can see myself turning into the Asshole Guest. I blame the jet lag. Well, at least I didn't do a Russell Crow or a Foxy Brown.

  • I meet up with my friend Neil and his wife Casey who are staying at the same hotel. Yeah, way too many of my friends are married already.

    We make our way to one of, like, three bars in Downtown Uptown Charlotte. And they're charging $5 cover. What the fuck? It's actually not too bad and the post-rehearsal dinner party is out on the rooftop.

    Snap judgment: Charlotte bar crowd reminds me of the DC crowd, college town-vibe except with older people. I think Neil and I were the only non-white people there so not too different from the West Village.

    I promised to exchange numbers with a bunch of people but never got around to it. I kinda feel bad. Again, I blame the jet lag.

  • I wake up and call the front desk to pester them about my laundry. Yes, I really am the Asshole Guest.

  • Neil and I walk around aimlessly trying to find breakfast in Uptown Charlotte. No one serves breakfast here. This town officially blows balls.

    The problem is that although Charlotte desperately wants to be a big city and have a vibrant city center, most people drive in from the 'burbs and leave when they're done working. There's just no demand for a true downtown (which makes the "Uptown" name all the more appropriate), which makes it inconvenient for visitors and leaves the town utterly lifeless. Maybe the new basketball arena will help but I doubt it.

    Anyway, we end up meeting up with the rest of the group at a sports bar attached to the Marriot. It's really a shame - you either stay in the hotel ghetto or drive to the outskirts if you want to do anything.

  • I get back from lunch to find my freshly laundered shirt and pants hanging in my room and it's not even 2:30 yet. Color me impressed. And a bit embarrassed for freaking out over it. Then I realize I forgot to pack a belt. Dammit. Thankfully, there's a mini-mall attached to the hotel and although most of the stores are closed, the menswear store happens to be open. Another crisis averted.

  • Try to nap but I can't. So the logical thing to do is go running. Three observations:
    1. It's hot as crap.
    2. I'm in crap shape.
    3. Uptown really is crap.

  • Nothing much to report from the wedding itself other than the bride having trouble with the vows. Otherwise, the ceremony is short and sweet, the way I like my cucumbers.

  • The food at the reception is decent, not spectacular. Roast beef gets points, as does the cheese. The band is fine except a bit loud. People mostly keep to their groups, though really, I did come down to hang out with my friends, mostly. No high jinks to speak of.

    Overall, I give the reception a 6.3 out of 10. I've seen better, I've seen worse. Go back to the hotel, head out for a couple more drinks and I am done for the night.

  • Overpriced breakfast buffet at the hotel. Mmmm, bacon and grits.

  • I call Tate who had offered a ride to the airport to let him know when I need to go but he's not there. An hour later, I don't have a response so I call again. Another hour later, still no response.

    My flight is now an hour and half away and I start to get worried. I call Fish to see if he can give me a ride on short notice. Nope, he's about 45 minutes away and there's not way he can make it into town. I manage to find a cab but that's $20 I didn't want to spend.

  • After a slight delay coming out of Charlotte, I land in Laguardia. Now, my first instinct is to catch a cab but I feel like I've spent way too much money already. And look, an M60 bus is pulling in. And with a free transfer to the subway, I can make it home for $2!

    Well, there's a reason other alternatives cost at least 5 times as much. It takes about 45 minutes to get out of Queens and across town to 125th St and St. Nicholas (what's with avenue names in Harlem anyway?), and then another 45 minutes to get down to Grand St. I am beat beyond beat. The travel time to and from the airport should never be longer than the flight time. Seriously.

  • Anyhow, congratulations to Deborah and Paul, and thanks to the 3 readers who actually made it this far down. That was way too long. And to Charlotte - sorry for the harsh words, but you do suck, really. Happy to be back in NYC, funky aroma, falling choppers and all.
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