Times Square Fun


I think it’s been a couple of years now since they turned Times Square into a pedestrian-only area. Up until yesterday I had managed to avoid experiencing it. I usually avoid Times Square like the plague. But the restaurant where we were having dinner is on 42nd Street and The August Wilson Theater, where “Jersey Boys” is being performed is on 52nd Street. I tried to steer the group into heading down 8th Avenue, rather than Broadway, which would have allowed us to scooch around Times Square, but some of the others, perhaps sensing my plan to deprive them of the mayhem that is Times Square on a Saturday night, actually suggested we take Broadway. On purpose. I think I overheard my brother-in-law mention something about how it might be “fun”.

Feeling uncharacteristically positive following the show, I ignored the urge to ask him what other things he would place in the “fun” category. Waterboarding? An afternoon at the DMV? Anyway, I acquiesced. Somehow, while winding my way through the clusterfuck, I managed to notice large numbers of people dressed up as superheroes, cartoon characters, and other idiotic things. This is new to me. I have been in Times Square countless times in my forty-seven years and I have never seen anything like this nonsense.

At first I thought their presence was indicative of a wacky promotional activity or that there was some kind of convention of dresser-uppers come to town. But, no, it was neither of these things. It turns out that this is a money-making enterprise. You can have your picture taken with one of these idiots and, in return, you are supposed to give them money. Whether the amount is negotiated beforehand or given in the form of a donation remains a mystery to me, investigation of the financial arrangements between the parties was impossible to determine, being forwardly and quickly propelled as I was by the hordes of people on Broadway. I had lost sight of my brother-in-law. As a result I couldn’t ask him if he was having fun.

It is almost incomprehensible to me what the thought proceess could possibly be that would compel someone to stop in a sea of people, grab family members or traveling companions, and begin the maneuverings necessary in this type of crowd to obtain a photograph of one’s loved ones in front of The Hershey Store with Wonder Woman, or Elmo, or even The Tin Man who, by the way, had the best costume by far. Because it wasn’t a costume at all. He had actually painted himself in silver paint. I don’t know if the axe was real, but the funnel hat looked pretty authentic. Why would anyone want to do this, especially considering that if you actually enter The Hershey Store you can take a FREE picture in front of “The World’s Largest Hershey’s Kiss”? That sounds pretty irresistible, though I have, thus far, managed to resist it myself.

If gargantuan Hershey’s Kisses aren’t your thing, there’s always the kind of creepy and off- putting, yet familiar, “Naked Cowboy”. This is the nut that stands in the middle of Times Square in a pair of big boy underpants, which are emblazoned in red sequins across the backside with the words “NAKED COWBOY”. The only other parts of his costume are a cowboy hat and cowboy boots (where one is supposed to deposit his tips). He accessorizes this look with a flag-themed guitar. I understand he sings country songs; I’ve never gotten close enough to confirm this. But he’s been a fixture for years. He’s like the proverbial train wreck, though. You just can’t look away.

Last night when I couldn’t manage not to look away, I noticed that he wasn’t the usual guy. And he was in the wrong spot. The guitar looked different, too. Then I realized that he was Asian. The original Naked Cowboy is definitely NOT Asian. Maybe the real Naked Cowboy has begun to outsource or franchise his brand. Or this Asian Naked Cowboy is a poseur, out to horn in on Naked Cowboy’s territory. If so, I imagine there’s going to be some trouble.

The City of New York managed to rid Times Square of the peep shows and the hookers, but The Naked Cowboy remains. There was some fuss a few years ago about removing him, which resulted in some legal wrangling, but The Naked Cowboy prevailed. So, while he may not be my cup of tea, I give him credit for fighting City Hall and maintaining his right to be an eyesore. And there’s something to be said for the tradition of artistic expression.

Certainly an argument can be made that The Naked Cowboy is a performer (indeed it may have been how he retained his right to remain in Times Square), but the rest of these bozos (oddly enough, considering the circus-like atmosphere, clowns were underrepresented by the costume coterie) are just clogging up the sidewalks. Frankly, if they could squeeze out the Spidermen, Cookie Monsters, and Minnie Mouses, I’d support the return of the prostitutes. Yeah, I could mastermind that plan. That might be fun.

18 thoughts on “Times Square Fun

  1. The people we met in NJ are truly THE most friendly people I’ve met anywhere. After we moved back to Canada we lived in our house for 2 years before we met our next door neighbours! I love your blog. Keep up the great work!

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  2. javaj240 says:

    There’s nothing quite like a Jersey girl. I love that your daughters still consider themselves Jersey Girls! Canada Girls just lacks the allure, somehow (not to mention the alliteration)! But they’re probably nicer, which isn’t always a bad thing, LOL.

    My mother-in-law retired and lived in Columbus, not too far from Mt. Laurel. I’m a North Jersey girl, myself.

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  3. We lived in NJ for 3 years and visited New York often. We miss it a lot! I remember my daughter crying because we wouldn’t let her near the creepy Elmo with the 2 lazy eyes. After reading your article, you’ve made me miss it even more. Chaos and ALL!

    We are back in Canada now. I have to say, I agree with Fern’s daughter!! LOL!

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    • javaj240 says:

      Yeah, I don’t think I could live anywhere ese. I’ve visited other cities and they have their charms but, ultimately, I love Manhattan. It suits my attitude. They accept me there. It’s kind of like being called to your home planet, ya know?

      Where in NJ did you live?

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  4. MJ Conner says:

    When we were in New York, I tried to avoid the crazy hot spots. We stuck to the UWS area for the most part. I like to people watch, but just the normal people in their daily lives, not the other tourists. I’ll be honest – Times Square scared me a bit when we were there. It’s just too much! It was after that when we decided to avoid that part of town the rest of our trip. I think we experienced New York more how a local would have. We even went to the bank, the library, and hung out at H and H Bagels for breakfast. Nothing big, just relaxing. I loved it.

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    • javaj240 says:

      There is no place more relaxing than the NY Public Library.

      The Upper West Side is one of my favorite neighborhoods.

      Times Square is what it is. It’s nowhere near as scary now as it was in the 70s and 80s, LOL! It’s changed a lot, kind of like from Dickens to Disney.

      I love New York. I really do.

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  5. javaj240 says:

    My daughter says the same thing about the US and is ALWAYS threatening to move to Canada or GB.

    I’m surprised a woman of the world, such as yourself, has managed to avoid NYC. I think you would love it. The Naked Cowboy is a must-see.

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  6. I’ve never been to New York City but definitely want to go. My daughter wants to move there. Either there or L.A. She hates Canada. We suck as a country according to her. I’d go to New York just to see that naked cowboy.

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  7. Thanks for taking one for the team in order to give us this amazing recount! A better description of it I have never seen! Love it!

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  8. why am I here in a handbasket? says:

    I love new York City. I love the freak show of people, but all the cartoon characters would have pissed me off.

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  9. javaj240 says:

    For Asian Naked Cwboy’s sake, I hope you are right.

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  10. Maybe the naked cowboy called in sick and got himself a subsitute? That way he keeps his spot

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