I parked in New Jersey and caught a bus for the city. I stepped out onto the corner of 8th Ave and 42nd street at about 7:30pm. I didn't have a lot of time to spend there, as the last bus out of the city departed at half past midnight, but it was nice just being back after so long.
I was planning on going down to Little Italy for dinner, but I decided to take a stroll up Broadway through Times Square. I'm a firm believer that no trip to NYC is complete unless you visit at least one pop music land mark of some sort, so I wanted to walk by The Brill Building.
Having achieved that, I caught a subway for downtown and soon found myself strolling down Mulberry Street. I was looking for a particular restaurant I had eaten at before. Though the name escaped me, I knew roughly where it was on Mulberry. I soon located it, Benitos II, and went inside. Like most of the restaurants in Little Italy, it's small, with only 12 tables and a tiny kitchen. I've eaten at a few restaurants there over the years, but they have the best red sauce of all the ones I've tried. And since I knew that mussels were going to be a part of my meal, I wanted some awesome red sauce.
I topped it off with a glass of cabernet sauvignon and manicotti stuffed with ricotta. Despite being well stuffed myself by this point, I couldn't leave without finishing off the meal properly: a fresh canoli and a cup of espresso.
After dinner, I finished the stroll along Mulberry down to Canal into Chinatown. Along the way, I heard some shouting coming from across the street ahead. I couldn't see what was going on, but I could tell it was an irate customer making a scene at one of the sidewalk tables of one of the restaurants. Naturally, I crossed the street so I could have a better view as I walked by. A middle-aged black lady was getting seriously ghetto on the restaurant owner, who was calmly listening. Now, imagine the stereotype of sassy black angry lady with the head going and the arms waving, but add to it the most garishly white wig I've ever seen. Not only was it white, but it was kinda like the way Sally Field used to wear her hair on Gidget.
I thought about blackfacing Sally and whitening the hair in photoshop for the full-effect, and wisely thought better of it. Anyway, she was holding a plastic bag with a couple of "doggie" boxes in them while she was yelling at the owner. Just as I walked by their table, she slammed the thing onto the table and yelled "I DIDN'T ASK TO COME HERE!".
I hopped the subway again on Canal Street and headed for Battery Park. I had decided that since I didn't have a lot of time to DO a lot of anything that, in light of recent events in Pakistan, visiting some 9/11 related things seemed appropriate. I walked west along the northern edge of the park until I found The Sphere and accompanying eternal flame. My intent was then to walk up Broadway through the financial district to the World Trade Center site and see the new buildings that are under construction. In the dark, and it having been so long since I last did it, I found myself on West Street instead, but I managed to find my way there. I found a place to sit for a while and just looked at the new buildings. They're just skeletons at the moment with no glass or interior, just floor upon floor of nothing.
When I had had enough of commiserating with the past, I took the subway back up to midtown. I decided to take a walk through the remnants of Times Squares once infamous red-light district. All that's really left of it is a couple of strip clubs and peep show places on 8th Avenue. I only saw one street walker, though to be fair, it was a Sunday night. She was a middle aged Asian woman with caked-on makeup. I passed her in a pedestrian crossing. She had on some sort of shoulderless, black dress and a leather jacket since it was a little chilly, but... she was wearing the jacket off the shoulder, like, kinda drapped down around her elbows so she could show some skin.
When I got to 50th street I turned and headed east, crossing the Theater District over to 6th Ave to Rockefeller Center. I've always wanted to do one of their tours and see all of the frescos and other art work that's integral to the structure. I've always been a little fascinated by the building. Now that I'm back on the road and will have semi-regular opportunities to visit NYC in the future, it will be among the top things I want to do next time I'm there.
I walked back over to Times Square. By now it was midnight, which meant I needed to get to the bus station. I took a final picture of the city that truly never sleeps.