Gang of us headed down to Virgil's for a quick dinner before our live blogging gig at the Victory Party Tuesday night. Virgil's is on West 44th, ten blocks down Seventh Avenue from the Sheraton, and half a block in from the heart of Times Square.
When I was a more freqeunt visitor to the City, I spent most of my time down in the Village and Times Square wasn't much more than the name of a part of town I somehow managed to walk around even when I was uptown and near it. I can only remember going there two times in my bohemian days. Once to a discount camera store and another time to a store that specialized in renting vintage weapons to theater companies. My friend Rennie needed a broadsword or a pike or a halberd, I forget which, for some play he was directing in the Village.
And, not needing any cheap cameras or medieval weaponry in the meantime, I haven't been back that way since. Which means that Tuesday night was the first time I've been there after the big change.
Only two things were familiar. We passed a couple of discount camera stores. And there were scruffy looking men out on the sidewalks handing out flyers and coupons to passersby.
"Three dollars off the price of admission!"
Of course, difference was, back in the day, if I'd used any of those coupons shoved at me, there'd have been naked women as part of the deal, and the coupons I accepted as we passed Tuesday night---always take the coupons, these guys get paid by how many they give away. And hold onto them for at least a few blocks so that their bosses don't look at the paper around their feet and in the trash cans nearby and accuse them of throwing the stuff away themselves and dock them---were for comedy clubs and chain restaurants.
Should add that the scruffy-looking men were scruffy-looking in the way college guys and struggling young artist types are scruffy and back then the scruffy-looking men were scruffy in the way someone who'd slept the last few nights in a cardboard box would be scruffy.
So I guess the Disneyfication's an improvement.
"This looks like Bill Murray's nightmare view of Tokyo in Lost in Translation," I said.
"Blade Runner," someone else corrected.
What it really looks like, though, is a giant outdoor mall.
But walk that half a block in, up West 44th to Virgil's?
You're back in New York.