Last Wednesday afternoon I was on my way to Times Square. Usually I try to avoid this place as much as possible. Once you have established a life in the City and do not have the need to search for
overgeneralized overcrowded touristy stuff you pretty much know you should stay away from Times Square. However, last week the Aunt was in town. After a brief visit to Chicago in March (read more here), I once again had the chance to catch up with a piece of my American side of the family. She and her husband, the Uncle, both work for Frito-Lays and supposedly he had won the biggest award handed out in the Chips Factory. The Ring of Honor Award is only distributed to 17 people nationwide and another handful of employees around the world. It is aimed towards the crème de la crème of the sales force.
The company hosted an entire 4-day-trip for the lucky winners to New York. It included the flight and hotel stay in Greenwich/ CT, and an array of things to do in the City. A boat ride along the Hudson River, an excursion to the Statue of Liberty, a gala on Thursday, and and and. Numerous buffets, dinners, parties crammed into three evenings – they kept their winners quite busy! A hectic time at Times Square must have been included somewhere on top of their priority list as they were invited here two nights in a row. As it happens to be one of these times was reserved for a dinner at the Hard Rock Café! Yes, that one.
Now you must know that I have never set foot into the Hard Rock of NY until that date. I never even bothered to check out their guitars or T-shirts. Vegas, sure, you gotta check out the epitome of party and booze in Vegas. But not New York. It opened up only a few years back in 2005, so it’s not like it’s a definite must-go tourist sensation. However, I suppose it is kept quite busy with all the masses, due to its top location around 44th St and Broadway – the heart of Times Square. It is most definitely easy to find, right across the police station
from where the drunkenards can be picked up after a late night out.
While waiting outside for the Aunt to show up I kept shaking my head at the masses that streamed by and eventually stopped counting the quazillion amount of times I was ran over and bumped into. People’s manners definitely deteriorate once they believe they are in a seemingly maskless crowd of folks.
The Aunt came out, all quirky, and pulled me around the next street corner. I was supposed to put on an orange knapsack so that the security would let me through. “We have to try to smuggle you in and this might work,” she announced, overly ready to start Operation Hard Rock. Fair enough, her husband and coworkers were waiting in front, forming a shielding group by itself. While she involved the front guard into an endless conversation on how to get to Greenwich from here (meaning the one in Connecticut, not Greenwich Village), they took me in the middle and we marched down the stairs, looking like complete tourists to everyone who is from New York. The poor security was still trying to explain how to take the blue line to W4, I am sure, when the Aunt finally got out of her self-induced mess and joined us downstairs.
The Hard Rock had separated the entire dining area just for this event. Indeed, no one was granted access to it except for the people on the guest list and people
who were smuggled in like me. So while the shoppers were still trying to snag some old-school shirts upstairs to get at least some sort of rock shop flair, we were swarming around downstairs like busy bees searching for honey. And honey there was!
Since the aunt had already eaten, it was up to me to choose from the variety of different foods that were offered. First stop: the bar. After a refreshing drink I tried to cheese platter, which was a cheese chunk mounted on two tables with so many different cheese types it almost made my eyes tear. I was lucky to try their gourmet flavors as a mere 5 minutes later the table was cleared. Then off to the Sushi section. The cook was in the process of preparing a new platter and when he saw me taking a picture he told me to get into it. The photo below shows me holding the 15 pound heavy plate. Well, actually another cook is holding it but they both tried their best to make it look the most authentic.
In the end I decided to go with a cheese and vegetable burrito, which was nicely prepared, and some green asparagus pieces. They were tasty and crunchy, so I just had to get another round. While munching next to the gravy and salad station, we had time to look around. Many artists were offering their drawings during this entire circus. Of course the lines were insanely long for everything I was interested in, but other people’s results were satisfying to look at. Such as a picture of a name drawn out in animal –formed letters. Or a self-portrait of oneself in comic painting. All of these would usually cost a small fortune but the winners of the awards and their families received everything for free. I am not even sure the artists expected a tip of any sorts.
While the Aunt was excitedly telling me about their Jersey Boy venue in the afternoon, which she was thrilled to have been part of, we came across the suits left by deceased and famous rock stars. These suits can be found on the walls of the Hard Rock all around the dining area and are nice to look at. I also learned more about the rock and blues history, which she was eager to share with me after finding out how uneducated I was on this.
Of course a typical tourist picture could not be amiss: The guitar holding pose! I was dragged over to the station at which you have to stand. An oversized sign above and a small instrument for the model to hold – shoot! We took a few photos and managed to get them developed before the entire venue closed down. Unfortunately it only lasted for a good 2 hours and then my relatives had to catch their bus. It was a great time to hang out with the Aunt and Uncle and get to see what happens beneath the ground of Times Square Manhattan on a random Wednesday night. This has truly been one of the most touristy days I have experienced this year in New York so far and now I have some sweet pictures plus a nostalgic Hard Rock Café T-shirt to remind me of it. I am not sure I will ever experience the venue in this way ever again so I am just grateful I got the chance to be a part of this side of the sweet life here in the City! Rock on!