New York City is a buzzing hive of scoundrels. They have no intention of putting in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wages. That’s for suckers like you and I. They live to surgically separate people from their money as quickly and stealthily as possible. And they’re always coming up with novel ways to do it. [Come to think of it, that sounds like the dictionary definition of the advertising industry.]
Currently, there are some Buddhist monks strolling around midtown Manhattan with big smiles on their faces. They bow slightly to tourists, give them some prayer beads and hold their hand out. OF COURSE people give them money. They’re Buddhist monks!
Well, folks, they’re not. They’re a bunch of Chinese dudes who live in Queens impersonating monks. They bought some ceremonial robes and cheap prayer beads and—PRESTO!—instant monk. Apparently, word has gotten out that it’s an easy way to make a buck because I’m seeing more and more of them, especially since summer arrived. It’s been reported in all the papers but, as far as I can tell, nothing’s being done about it. I caught one of the holy Lamas taking a cigarette break on the steps of the stage door at the Nederlander Theater on 41st Street.
Hey! Those guys aren’t supposed to smoke! Aren’t their bodies supposed to be temples? Ah, well. Maybe they’re not a bunch of benevolent pacifists after all. For instance, I saw this headline in New York Daily News yesterday:
I remember (now, fondly) the three-card Monte grifters of my early NYC years. I was played for a fool once or twice but quickly learned you can’t beat them. It was intoxicating. There was always a shill so folks could see how easy it was. They’d let you win a few times to suck you in. You’d stand there with a fist full of cash and a big, dumb grin on your face, impressed with your brilliance and thinking you knew how to beat these bastards at their own game. The end result was always the same. You’d be liberated of that cash you’d just won and then some. You had to admire their ability to use your greed against you.
It made for great, free, theater. I spent many afternoons in Central Park during my broke-ass years watching them reel in fish after fish. Those guys never paid out. The scam was, if someone accidentally won and selected the right card (which, believe me, rarely happened), they’d kick their boxes over, yell, “Cops!” and scatter in different directions with their pockets full of cash. Your cash. It was beautiful. Nobody got physically hurt. People just felt stupid. A friend came to visit and I BEGGED him not to get involved but you know how that ended, right?
If you’re planning a visit this summer, stay away from the monks. I warned you.
My Bride made a rare trip into the city for work yesterday and took this spectacular pic of The Flatiron. It’s her favorite building in all of NYC. When it opened, one architectural critic glowingly referred to it as a great battleship steaming up Broadway. Hell, yeah, it is.
Here’s another architectural marvel on Amsterdam and 71st St. This is The Dorilton. It’s a beautiful Beau Arts co-op (originally apartments) constructed in 1902.
It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and featured in many architectural guidebooks. It’s one of the most flamboyant buildings in the city. Criminy. I wish I had a pied-à-terre there. If I did, my life would be perfect and I’d have to stop complaining. The Dorilton sits on the northeast corner. On the southwest corner, diagonally across the street is this abortion:
I don’t know or care what the name of this fugly mess is. This is the product of greedy real estate development turds. Why spend all that delicious money on design flourishes? That would just cut into profits.
I took these early yesterday morning. Bryant Park, 6:30 a.m. Nobody is around at that hour. It’s just me and a cup of coffee cart coffee.
Asbury Park, 2009. That was then.
Asbury Park, 2015. This is now.
*Sigh* Why does this makes my chest hurt?