New York – Day 1 of a Beginners Guide

While having lunch with an acquaintance a few weeks ago, it came to my attention that traveling to New York to Knoxville is currently inexpensive.  After conducting research, and accepting a couple of days off from work, I decided to visit The Big Apple.

Never traveling to New York before, I also decided to document each day.  When I visited France and Italy right after High School, I took a journal with me, but didn’t document a large part of the events.  That lack of documentation is something I regret, so I decided not to make the same mistake again.

Not only is this the first time I’ve been to New York; it is also the first time I’ve ever taken a vacation this far all by myself.  No traveling partners, no friends to visit in the city…all alone.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve traveled alone for work related conferences and events, but to travel for leisure alone

Years ago, this type of trip would have scared me to death.  The fear of being alone somewhere new, the idea of not sharing it with somebody always caused me not to do it.  No longer having that type of fear, I went ahead and booked a flight and found a hostel.

Planning and Landing


Allegiant Air flies out of Knoxville and lands in Newark. The flights are set three days a week: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.  For this trip, I decided a Thursday to Sunday mini-vacation would be perfect.

Upon landing in Newark, it is really easy to find the air train to the train stop at the airport.

Standard selfie in the hostel bedroom

The train ride to Penn. Station is roughly 40 minutes and allows you to see rustic, urban views of New Jersey, plus a cool skyline of New York City.

Knowing I was going to be at Penn. Station, I was able to find an extremely affordable hostel via airbnb in Chelsea. The hostel cost less than $80 a night, and is conveniently located on 8th Ave.  In fact, this hostel takes all the profits from the hostel and uses it to help feed the homeless.  How cool is that! To learn more about the hostel, visit their aibnb site – Chelsea Retreat Rooms.

Day 1

Once I unpacked at the hostel, it was time for a late lunch. After searching online for the best pizza in Chelsea, I came across Pizza Suprema. Their margarita pizza was awesome. So awesome that I ate it before having the chance to do the  obligatory eating a pizza selfie! 

While eating, I doubled checked the weather and one thing was certain, my first day in town was going to be the warmest. With that in mind, I decided to walk to Time Square and soak in the touristy sites.

Walking to Time Square was great! In fact, I had a stereotypical event happened, in that an up and coming drag queen offer to “buy” one cigarette from me. She then went on to tell me about her show and mentioned a “private” viewing.

I don’t have any photos of Time Square to really share. Maybe later on in my trip. Hell, if you want to see photos of Time Square, there’s always Google!

Later that evening I was able to take in two great shows, and I’m not talking Broadway…or the private show that was mentioned earlier.

Two Night Stops

The Comedy Cellar is a place I’ve wanted to visit for years.  All the greats have performed there and I wanted to experience it first hand. Since I didn’t make a reservation, I had to wait with all the other slackers and procrastinators to see if there would be any room left for the show. While waiting to see if my name would be called, a traveling drug dealer shouted at me between his blunt hits –

Get your black eyes to stop avoiding my black face. I don’t have any cocaine for you.

Please note, I didn’t ask this man for any drugs, nor was I looking for any.

What I was looking for was a way to get into the 8pm show.  Luckily for me, I made friends with door man, and secured the last open spot for the show!

The lineup was stellar. An Emmy award winner writer for Last Week Tonight, a writer for last years Emmy’s…the list goes on and on. Plus the food was okay.

After getting my laughs in for the night, I walked on down to Smalls Live to catch the 10pm show. With a one drink minimum, I loaded up on coffee and relaxed while the group played some killer jazz. The first act consisted of a pianist, xylophone player, soprano saxophonist, tenor saxophonist stand up bass player, and drummer. The pianist was a Brit and looked like a stand in for Ed Begley, Jr. the xylophonist looked like the hippest dude in the room, and all the women chasing him during intermission was living proof of that statement. The drummer was the front man and has been coming to Smalls since 98.

Enough rambling for day one.

Any suggestions for the rest of the trip?

Lessons from Bill Murray

bill-murray-birthdayYesterday was Bill Murray’s 63rd Birthday.  Bill has been a staple in my life.  As a child, I was fan of Ghostbusters; as a teen, I was a fan of Caddyshack; and now no Wes Anderson movie is complete without Mr. Murray playing a supporting role that steals the show.

But beyond his roles in Hollywood; what can we learn from Bill Murray?

Earlier in the week, the Huffington Post had an article titled: “The Life And Times Of Bill Murray In One Awesome Infographic”  While reviewing it a few items came to light:

Be True to Yourself

People say I’m difficult and sometimes that’s a badge of honour. – Bill Murray

As the infographic points out, in 1999, frustrated with “Hollywood” Bill dropped his talent agency and replaced it with an 888 phone number.  What some would consider career suicide actually benefited Bill; just take a look at the numbers:

Bill Graph In the 1980’s and 1990’s Bill was in a total of 26 movies.  In the 2000’s Bill was in 24 movies!  He almost did the same number of movies in half the time.

Though one may take a quick look at this and question if the quantity had any quality, then one may forget that Bill received his first (and currently only) Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in Lost in Translation.

Be Loyal to Your Friends

There are people who drove me crazy, but they got the job done. And when I see that person again, I nod my head. Respect. – Bill Murray

Though Bill may not be “friends” in the traditional sense with the following people, he has been very loyal to them throughout the years.

  • David Letterman: Bill was David Letterman’s first guest on both his late night shows and has appeared 22 times on David’s shows.  With the most recent being this great clip.
  • Wes Anderson: Since 1998, Bill Murray has starred in 6 Wes Anderson films.  Though that may not sound like much, that is every film Wes Anderson has done since 1998.

Regardless of who you are, once you make a connection with Bill, you’re in it for life.

Know How to Have Fun

I don’t want to be that guy mumbling into his drink at a bar. – Bill Murray

It seems comedy comes easy to Bill because he knows how to have fun.  Recently he has made news for crashing parties and randomly playing “guess who” to people on the streets.  If anyone else did this, they would be accused of being crazy or self-centered, but not Bill.  He truly does this to have fun with people and, in his own way, celebrate life.

So, take a few pages out of Bill’s book and enjoy the infographic, courtesy of Mike Seiders.  Oh and Happy Belated Birthday, Bill Murray!

Can Big Banks Learn from Alec Baldwin?

As everyone knows, earlier this week Alec Baldwin acted foolishly on an American Airlines plane.  He then publicly blasted the flight attendant for the way they handled the situation.  After being silent about it for a few days, Baldwin decided to spoof the incident on SNL and was able to save face.

After watching this, I started thinking about Alec’s Capital One commercials.

Which of course got me to thinking about Big Banks and led to this blog: Can Big Banks Learn from Alec Baldwin?

Last month Big Banks had a lot of bad press; they were criticized for trying to pass a monthly debit card usage fee.  Big Banks tried to hide it, then tried to justify it, and finally stated they were no longer going to institute the new fee.

Imagine if a Big Bank would have produced several commercials, both online and TV based, making fun of the fact that actually considered adding a monthly debit card usage fee. Does the idea of a big bank making a spoofed comedy commercial sound crazy to you?  If so, consider Ally Bank.  Ally has been doing comic commercials for a few years now.  The only difference is they are making fun of other banks instead of poking fun at themselves.

If Big Banks like BoA, Regions or SunTrust would have shown a comedic side after deciding to not charge additional debit card fees they could have held on to some customers and earned some good publicity.  Instead they sent out traditional press releases announcing their decisions, which made them look even more stuffy and disconnected from the angry public.  One day they may learn their lesson.  One day…

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