New York City, USA
05.02.2006 - 05.02.2006
View Work Trips 2005 - 2006 on GregW's travel map.
40 years of the "big game." That's right, it's Superbowl XL - as in extra large. And if you are going to watch an extra large game, you need to watch it in an extra large city. So I return to the same country as this whole "Superbowls around the world" thing started 6 years ago. The only country which competes in this so called WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, and the country the outcome of this game matters to the most - the United States of America. And befitting of the extra large title, I go to the extra large city of New York. 8 million people inhabit these small islands, making it the 13th largest city in the world and the second largest in North America behind Mexico City.
Here's the funny thing - 35 years on this planet, and this was my first time visiting New York City. And it's only an hour and a half flight from home or an 8 hour drive. I'd been to New York before, but I'd always been flying through, or just landing there and driving out to Long Island or New Jersey. This was my first time spending any time in the actual city of New York. So on Friday and Saturday, I did the touristy things. I hung out in Times Square, wandered around Rockefeller Center, Marveled at the Chrysler Building, went up the Empire State Building, got choked up at the World Trade Center site, worshipped and prayed to the gods of money at the New York Stock Exchange and wandered across the Brooklyn Bridge in the rain. I pointed and clicked everything (I took 242 pictures in a little over 50 hours). I ate hot dogs from dirty water and mile high sandwiches at the Carengie Deli. I stared at subway maps, more than a little overwhelmed at the options. And I started to talk about places as intersections, not addresses, hoping that the locals didn't catch on I didn't belong.
But, of course, I didn't belong. But I'll be across the river in New Jersey for the next 3 or maybe even 6 months, which will give me, hopefully, lots of opportunity to become more New York and less small-town tourist yokel.
Sunday was the big game, and so after an exhaustive internet search, decided on going to a bar called Scruffy Duffy's in Hell's Kitchen. The area from 35th up to 56th west of 8th Avenue in New York is referred to as Hell's Kitchen. Local lore has it that it is so named because a rookie cop commented to his partner that the area was hell. His long serving partner, Dutch Fred, said, "Hell is a mild climate. This is Hell's Kitchen."
Scruffy Duffy's is often high rated in surveys of the best sports bars in New York City, along with the ESPN Zone. But the ESPN Zone is a chain, and I felt like going local, so Scruffy Duffy's was the choice. I didn't realize until arriving, however, that Pittsburgh Steeler's fans in New York City had claimed the bar as their headquarters early in the season, and the black and gold was in force on Superbowl Sunday. There were Steeler's signs and Steeler's music and even a massive crocheted "Terrible Towel," the yellow towels that Steeler's fans wave to urge on their team. I was neutral in regards to who won, but couldn't help but get swept up in the Steeler's fever that had gripped the bar.
In general, the game itself was rather dull. But the bar was joyous as the Steeler's widened the gap between them and the Seahawks, and ended up winning the game 21-10. Upon the final ticks of the clock disappearing, the place erupted. People cheered and wept, grown men hugged each other, women went "Coyote Ugly" and danced on the bar. It was a fun night surrounded by people who actually cared about the game, and reminded me what an event Superbowl is. At least in the USA.
For other experiences viewing "The Big Game", check out the rest of my Superbowls Around the World blog entries