Otto… parts?

(Oh, just go to the slideshow.)

I took the day off yesterday, so you know what that means, dear readers! Yup: I hustled around in traffic, walked all over the place, and sweated like Patrick Ewing! (I swear: I’m taking tomorrow off and have no plans on leaving the house. I might go all John & Yoko and not even get outta bed.)

I’d have written about it sooner, but I stupidly checked my work e-mail last night instead of waiting till this morning. I discovered that one of the eight speakers at our conference (7 weeks from tomorrow) has to cancel, which means I need to scramble to find a replacement. And, being a neurotic, I began to fear that every single speaker who hasn’t sent back his or her confirmation letter is going to cancel.

Which is to say, it should’ve been a Xanax night, but I stupidly decided to play it straight. So, I woke up at 4am this morning and began formulating backup plans. This should explain some of the following disjointedness.

Anyway, I spent yesterday in NYC and, while it wasn’t very humid, the 90-degree temps really sapped me. I probably started out on the wrong foot by heading over to the Strand Bookstore, which never has good air circulation. Roaming downstairs to look through review copies and the philosophy section, I thought I was going to pass out. Fortunately, I stayed conscious long enough to snap this pic:

it sure does

I’m lying about starting out at the Strand. I actually started at a parking lot on 17th St. and 5th Ave., around 11am. The attendant asked when I’d be back and I said, “Around 7 or 8,” figuring I’d take my wife out for dinner after she gets out of work. He proceeded to park the car, hand me the ticket, and then say to me, “We close at 7.” I stared for a moment, then just left for the bookstore.

Since I know you’re all dying to find out exactly what I bought at the bookstore, here’s the list:

From the Strand, I walked down to Otto, a restaurant just north of Washington Square and co-owned by Mario Batali, where I planned meet official VM buddy Elayne for lunch. Elayne was in charge of a pair of kids — early teenagers, I guess — who came down to NYC from Connecticut so they could see a concert at South Street Seaport by Korn. Elayne asked if I knew them. “Not really,” I said. “I think they did a cover of Word Up! by Cameo. And they spell their name with a K.”

“That would explain why I couldn’t find them online.”

On to lunch. It’s one of Elayne’s favorite places to eat. The menu had an amazing array of pizzas, and I felt bad about settling for the Quattro Formaggi, but I’m a boring man. With a camera:

They say quattro, they mean quattro

Elayne was more daring, ordering a pizza with potatoes and anchovies. At one point, she left for a smoke break, asking me to entertain the kids with a story about the time Dad handed me a shotgun “in case anything happens” during a business deal he was making.

When she returned, she said, “Mario Batali’s here! He’s in the other room and he’ll take a picture with the kids!” So the four of us got up and hurried to the front of the restaurant, even though the kids had no idea who Mario Batali is. We tried explaining the celebrity chef phenomenon, but they didn’t seem to know much beyond Rachael Ray. I, meanwhile, was holding out hope that Anthony Bourdain would be on hand, too.

Elayne made quick introductions, and I snapped a pic of Mario with the boys:

The camera does not add 10 lbs. in this case.

I wanted to take a second one, just to show that he really does walk around in bright orange Crocs, but thought it’d be rude.

Back at the table, I said to the kids, “You guys don’t like REM, right?” They made faces and shook their heads. I mentioned that Batali’s good friends with Michael Stipe, and they laughed.

Elayne proceeded to tell the story of her very first NYC celebrity sighting: Carrot Top. “Pre-steroids?” I asked.

There’s not much more to tell about the day. I meandered with Elayne & the kids for a bit, then headed out to my wife’s office. It was good to finally see it, since I find it so difficult to visualize other people’s spaces. Now that I have some idea of what her workplace is like, I think I’ll find it easier to send goofy e-mails and IMs.

Anyway, I headed back into the city till her workday ended. Having left my books at her office, I needed to pick up something else to read for a bit. I stopped in at Shakespeare & Co. on 23rd St., only to find that the main floor is gutted and there’s just a small store downstairs while renovations are done. I picked up a copy of Winter’s Tale (30% off everything in the store), read/sidewalk-gawked in an Au Bon Pain near Union Square, and then headed back to her office.

As it turned out, we were both too stuffed from our lunches to want any dinner, so the parking lot situation worked out. We grabbed the car, made a surprisingly quick dash to the Lincoln Tunnel, and got home with plenty of time for me to worry about the conference!

(The photoset has a bunch more pictures that I didn’t post.)

2 Replies to “Otto… parts?”

  1. Thanks for the pics, Gil. What a nice day…the Korn concert was even tolerable (I say this having spent the entire performance in a nearby wine bar).

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