myself and frankie wiggin.
new york city.
7/9/17 – 7/10/17
by the time:
19 hours in the city limits.
14 hours of aimless exploration via a 50/50 blend of longboarding and walking.
9 total hours of driving.
-4 of them listening to jesse itzler’s audiobook “living with a seal”.
6 total hours of sleep from 7am saturday morning until 5:30pm monday evening. (58.5-hour span).
-3 of them on the floor. 3 of them in the back of a 2016 jeep renegade.
3 hours eating.
2 hours at a concert.
-1.25 of which spent dancing like madmen.
by the money:
$117.20 for 2016 jeep renegade rental (mad props to jess from enterprise on this one).
$58.75 in gas.
-$35.00 at nyc’s absurd $4.29/gallon price, $23.75 at marcellus’ modest $2.29/gallon price.
$19.89 for green protein juice and cookies ‘n’ cream shake from juice press.
$17.96 for super-duper waffle from juice & java.
$13.91 for mediterranean falafel salad from chop’t.
$8.69 for the iliad and odyssey on sale at barnes and noble.
= $236.40 total spent.
he asked me to go to a concert with him in central park to see some band i’ve never heard of named “tribe called red” with his friends i’ve never met from a grounding camp the day before i intended to take a week-long vacation from work when i’m short on money.
why on earth would i say no?
the only plans we made were to leave his house in marcellus, ny at 3am sunday morning, make it to the concert at 6pm, and leave nyc at 2am so I could make it back in time for me to coach a soccer camp for syracuse university at 8am monday morning. this plan-less agenda led to the most successful and fun filled day of my life that i wouldn’t trade for anything. there’s
something so liberating about having no plans. it gets you out of your comfort zone and forces you to get a little creative with what you’d like to do. having 11 hours straight of free time in new york city with nobody to answer to is not something to take lightly. you better make sure you come out guns blazing and make the most of every last minute. no time for pussy footing around or taking time to rest your legs or stopping to charge your phone. 11 hours of free time in the busiest city in the world means you should be the busiest you’ve ever been. no excuses.
hacksaw ridge was the movie of choice to prepare our minds for the trip. starting that movie 6 hours before we needed to leave frankie’s house before we even got any sleep was the choice we had made. the final credits lulled us to sleep at around midnight meaning best case scenario we would have just shy of 3 hours of shut eye to get us through as many hours of exploration as our bodies would allow us to get. i made sure i got every last second out of that time that i could to sleep. we left the driveway at 3:03am en route to the nearest nice n easy gas station to top off the renegade. $23.75 later at 3:15am a black dodge ram with a familiar light bar came pulling in to the pump right beside me. once their door opened up and i heard the giggle of my best childhood friend drew my half-asleep brain found new energy. what are the chances of that? after we caught up and joked around waiting for frankie to return with the pizza pringles and donuts i requested we set off on the open road. it didn’t take long for frankie to sneak a few more z’s in once we got close to the pennsylvania border.
we arrived at 7am on sunday morning. we somehow managed to park the renegade on the side of the road on 5th ave right between 78th and 79th streets. for those of you who don’t know that’s across the street from central park. the exact meeting spot for the concert later that night. clutch. also for those of you who don’t know parking on the side of the street is free in nyc on sundays. double clutch. without hesitation we started the journey by scouting out the park on our longboards. peeping the meeting spot for later. finding the closest bathroom which had no fewer than 1 homeless persons bathing themselves inside at any given time. encountering belvedere castle along the way. loving the fact that we saw about 27 dogs in the park. none of which were wearing collars. ballsy move by every master.
once we were able to relieve our bladders we decided to head to lower manhattan. after a quick pitstop in times square we were on the hunt for casey neistat and the beme headquarters. no casey. no entry to the beme headquarters. but we did get to see his office he works in from the street. that’s a win in my book. we left there to go to juice press. a regular spot of casey himself. i ordered perhaps the healthiest greenest drink that i will ever consume in my life. made up of kale, coconut oil, nut butter, and a various assortment of other green stuff i expected it to taste like grass. i was half wrong. after a few sips it started to get an after taste of peanut butter with grass in it. it was better than i’m making it sound. trust me. frankie got a purple berry smoothie of some sort. probably the wiser choice. as i walked back to the most interesting chairs i’ve ever sat in at an eatery next to the power outlets sent from the heavens i caught a glimpse of a childhood favorite of most americans. a cookies ‘n’ cream shake. but this one was also super healthy and vegan and whatever else the hipsters are into these days. naturally i bought a bottle and once my phone battery reached a healthy 96% we aimlessly took off once again. after noting that the snapchat geofilter said we were in tribeca we made nods to jay-z as we rolled down the oddly empty streets.
it was at this time we realized that super healthy juice was not going to be enough to fuel 2 young men spending the day adventuring the city. we checked google suggestions to figure out the nicest cheapest place to eat breakfast within a few blocks of where we were. jack’s wife freda was the target. juice & java ended up being the destination. a quaint little open air cafe also specializing in crazy health nut food but with a menu large enough to satisfy any appetite. i saw the name “super duper waffle” on the menu and knew that was my next victim. a nice belgian waffle topped with strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and almond served with a side of fresh whipped cream and organic maple syrup. right up my alley. frankie had some caesar chicken wrap or something like that. not up my alley. we were surrounded by a few other couples and served by a socially awkward young man and a bubbly young lady. the whole staff was wearing great tshirts with sayings that would make a mother smack their child if they heard them utter the words. after frankie snapped a picture of the waitresses shirt we took off with a new found energy. that new found energy led us about 27 feet outside the cafe to the street corner where the uber that frankie ordered for us scooped us up. frankie sat up front. i had the luxury of sharing the backseat with a nice young asian lady who would not as much as look my way. 8 minutes later we were back within 2 blocks of the renegade we beached earlier. time to recoop.
not even noon yet and i already felt like we took on the entire world. frankie and i split up when he decided his need to pee was greater than his need to rest his feet. i laid in the back of the renegade for all of 4 minutes before i too discovered that the need to pee became far too great to ignore. i laced up my chuck’s once again and took off for the same hobo-occupied bathroom we went to earlier that morning. i took a wrong turn in the park and ended up on top of belvedere castle. one wrong turn led to one of the coolest views i’ve ever had in my life. but i still needed to pee. this time a different homeless man with a different bathing technique was inside. fully naked sitting on the toilet in the stall right next to me was a man who sounded like he was quite enjoying his time splashing the water out of the toilet bowl. don’t ever take your situation for granted.
on my way out i was playing snapchat tag with frankie to figure out where his nose led him off to this time. i slowly made my way back to the renegade taking in the views of the castle, the nyc skyline visible from within the park, and all the beautiful people sun bathing in the grass. boy were they beautiful. after getting frankie’s instructions of “you know that one rock you climber on earlier? walk straight into the trees from there” we met back up within minutes. he found all his friends from the grounding camp he attended a few weeks ago. the ones that we were going to the concert with. i have never been accepted with open arms more-so than i was with these people. it was like i knew them just as well as frankie did. they got right into some of their exercises in meditation and opening up their bodies and minds to really take in the now. that’s some deep shit that everybody snears at but secretly wants to do themselves. i instantly fulfilled the role of lead cameraman for their facebook live session and got a taste of what i’m in for when i attend the next grounding camp (that’s right frankie, i’m all in).
we spent a short while afterwards just talking nonsense and sharing food amongst one another before frankie and i decided it was time to explore again. i searched for the nearest barnes and noble book store and there were only 9 within 4.6 miles of where we were. we picked the closest one, grabbed our boards out of the renegade and hit the sidewalks with aggression. both of our minds were refreshed but our bodies apparently didn’t get the memo. fatigue was setting in. but by golly this was a large and beautiful book store. after frankie made a half-asleep attempt at finding his next book by osho i decided it was time to break my streak of going to book stores without buying a book. right there on the bargain buy shelf was a copy of the iliad and the odyssey by homer. these are 2 stories that i have always wanted to read but being that i have such a strong love hate relationship with reading i have just never convinced myself to do it. after standing in line for a few minutes behind one of the most awkward old ladies with a staring problem i have ever encountered it was back to the jeep. our bodies finally convinced our minds that it was nap time.
we set a strict 15 minute limit to the time we would let the car idle on the side of the road while r-134a chilled air pumped out of the vents on full blast. once that time hit we had a solid hour to plug our minds and bodies into the charging ports. never have i ever had to make such a hard decision of either staring at people as they walked past or staring at the inside of my eyelids. who doesn’t love people watching? especially on the streets of nyc. but the decision was made for me rather quickly once i laid down. after what was probably the quickest 60 minutes of my life frankie and i headed out to meet up with the squad to find the summer stage. after a half-assed attempt at following the shared location pins on frankie’s iphone we headed through central park on our boards in what only felt like the correct way to us. we stopped briefly to take in the view from a rock overlooking the boathouse restaurant frankie’s dad told us about. for 5 minutes we got to see 3 nyc rats, multiple stereotypical asian tourist families, and 4 couples who rented row boats rowing the boat backwards, all while catching a whiff of the mary jane being smoked 15 feet away from us. great unintentional concert pre-gaming by us.
back to letting our instincts guide us. we found this nice fountain right near the water filled with amateur photographers and amazing buskers. as we watched in awe at this man playing an instrument neither of us had ever seen before these 2 men went walking past with decently large snakes draped around them as scarves. frankie snapped a picture at the same time i saw the squad out of the corner of my eye. it’s funny how our lack of plans and guidance just kept working out for us. we followed our ears to the sound of some drums. that led us to this amazing scene of a conglomerate of people from all walks of life having a drum circle rhythm session with dancers entertaining the mob of people that gathered around. we soaked up what we could of that beautifully rare moment of humans being decent humans. off to the stage.
we simply went to take a short cut to the entrance area when one of our guys stepped over a rope. you would have thought he had dynamite strapped to his chest with his thumb on the detonator with the way the 4 closest security guards reacted. no big deal. he just stepped back over the rope and we made it to the entrance the long way. signs out front read “no skateboards allowed”. 3 of us had skateboards. after the most laissez faire check of our backpacks that allowed me to bring 2 rather large knives into the concert with no problem i had to surrender my longboard to the confiscation crew. they handed me a 50/50 ticket that would allow for me to pick my board up when we left. interesting process that ended up working out just fine.
we found a spot in the back center area of the sitting/dancing floor. we slowly got into the groove of things and all of our feet started to tap as the opening act was finishing their first of 4 songs. when the main act took the stage the energy kicked up a notch. i am by no means a dancer. i always use to be too embarassed to even attempt getting down on the dance floor. but it just felt so right here. i felt so free. we all did. the whole group had our own dance party more intense than anyone else attending the concert. with moments of sheer joy and synchronized chanting i have never felt more connected to any group of people moreso than i did in that moment. and i have only known these people for maybe 6 hours. by the end of the set we were all sweaty messes with our hair-dos looking like someone just found a bunch of hair and glued it to our heads. that’s how you know you did it right.
we got a gentleman to take a few group photos of us and we parted ways. who knows if i will ever see these people again. i sure hope i do. i made connections in that tiny amount of time that i are stronger than connections i have built up over years. hopefully they will be attending the next grounding camp that frankie takes me to. him and i headed towards the confiscation table to grab our boards and we boogied back to the renegade to recollect ourselves. hunger quickly set in so we found the nicest cheapest healthy food spot nearby that was still open and rode down the now empty sidewalks to satiate our stomachs. on the way one of the most magical moments happened.
it was when i was trailing frankie by a matter of inches that i thought the concrete was going to claim its first road rash victim. frankie nearly ate rocks as he hit a large crack and his board decided to stop on a dime. newton’s first law didn’t fail so frankie went flying forward. the tail of his board popped up and grazed my knee cap as i busted a gut laughing at him because that’s what friends are for. as i turned back to make sure he was okay he scooped up his board as we simultaneously noticed the humongous full moon between the trees of the concrete jungle. we both saw that as a sign from someone or something that we were doing something right. it sounds so small and meaningless. but it was a truly breathtaking moment i will never forget. p.s. frankie won the fight with inertia and gravity.
we got to this food spot called chop’t which was another accidental pit stop we found on the way to a different restaurant. it looked promising. for anyone who knows about core life eatery this place is identical but different. a smaller yet more diverse menu made the choice a little difficult. the lady in front of us must be a regular tough customer of theirs who has no patience for new employees still learning the ropes. mad props go out to workers in the food service industry in nyc. they deal with some real shit on the regular. i got a mediterranean falaffel salad with spicy peppers and a spicy chipotle vinaigerette. frankie got a classic cobb salad. i elected to allow the restaurant to do what it does best which is to take my entire salad and make it chop’t. literally. they use a mezzaluna to quickly and efficiently chop my whole salad into tiny pieces making it much much easier to eat. frankie was lame and gave a hard no when asked if he wanted the same.
before we left we made sure we got our moneys worth of the all you can drink teas and lemonades. we also stayed past closing time to use their bathroom to freshen ourselves up. nothing beats a nice nyc-restaurant-bathroom-sink-shower after a day like we had. this was our final stop for the day before we headed back to the renegade with no sense of urgency. i don’t think either of us said a word all the way back to our hotel room on wheels. we were both caught up in recapping the last 24 hours in our minds. we got to the door of the renegade where our shoes immediately came off. our strict 15 minute a/c rule played it’s all too brief role before we killed the power and shut our eyes. there has never been a more relaxing and comfortable moment in my entire life. and shoot. i had at least 3 more hours of sleep to get before our alarms went off to leave the city. how could life get any better?
2am came quick. frankie has never seen times square at night and i promised him we’d drive through on our way back home. the closer you get the less it feels like night. i literally had my sunglasses on while driving at 2:15am and i could see perfectly. the glow of the billboards made me completely miss the fact that i hadn’t had my headlights on for most of the drive out of the city. we stopped to fill the near empty tank with petrol before leaving the island. the price of gas here was literally $2 higher than at any of the gas stations near home. that’s almost double. how can anyone afford a car in this city? we followed the detour to the lincoln tunnel and said our last goodbyes to the city that never sleeps except for apparently that particular sunday night.
i got us as far as the new york state line before i made the smart decision of waking frankie up from his peaceful looking slumber to drive us the rest of the way. apparently my brain can still make good decisions with such little sleep so that’s reassuring. we no longer were bouncing from white line to white line with my eyelids working at 1/16th the speed of normal. i felt like in the time it took me to blink once we must have travelled at least 150 feet. but don’t tell our families that. we stopped at a rest stop that was under renovation but they still had portable rentable glamorous bathroom trailers that were nicer than most bathrooms i’ve ever had the pleasure of pissing in. next thing i remember i woke up as we turned on to frankie’s road. we said see ya later with our go-to fist bump and it was off to my apartment with about 15 minutes to shower and grab my clothes to head straight to coaching the syracuse university soccer camp for the day. i was stuck coaching the 13 year old group of girls. not ideal considering my current state of being.