The Worst of Times

There’s the best of times, there’s the worst of times. Mostly, it’s the worst. I’m talking Times Square. The place where the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. We all think Times Square is the place to be in NYC. Actually, it’s nothing but a brightly lit tourist trap on steroids.

Being in the center of Times Square is like being a mouse in the electronics department at Best Buy. You’re surrounded by thousands of beady eyes all fixated on the surrounding LED and Jumbotron screens while fellow rodents step on your tail trying to get a better view.

They say New York is so nice they “named it twice.” But, you won’t mention Times Square twice, unless you’re making a 911 call.

“Hello 911, how can I assist you?”

“Help, I’m in Times Square.”

“What’s the problem?”

“I’m in Times Square.”

Around 1892 the area now known as Times Square was the center for the horse carriage industry. It was called Longacre Square. This was way before Elmo and the Naked Cowboy immigrated to Manhattan.

Evidently fossils of horse droppings linger around Red Lobster and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, because the summer heat stirs aromas that go far beyond “peel and eat.”

 The area grew into a low entertainment district with vaudeville theaters and was nicknamed Thieves Lair. Pickpockets were as plentiful as Trump Bobble Head dolls now adorning the windows in 42nd Street souvenir shops. Today the pickpockets have moved to Wall Street and deal in hedge funds and cryptocurrency.

In 1904 the New York Times moved operations to a skyscraper on 42nd Street and the area was named Times Square. Theaters, hotels, music halls and Howard Johnson’s brought culture. It was called ‘HoJo’s” because the waitresses were working the counters and the alleys. There weren’t many tips selling fried clams, but bearded clams behind the dumpster was a cash cow.

The ball drop began on New Year’s Eve in 1907. Mobs of people showed up to watch a ball slide down a pole to let them know the new year had arrived. It really was a feat because in such frigid temperatures it’s hard to get any balls to drop. Today, a crowd of one million celebrates in Times Square— rain or shine.

Everyone is herded into pens like Conagra cattle. They’re handed party hats and noisemakers and stand there for hours. No public restrooms, no place to sit while drunk strangers from Beaver’s Hole, Wyoming, scream “New York, New York” into their ears.

So, I say, “Enjoy the dawn of a new year with a pair of cold, soggy Depends™ and swollen ankles. I don’t want to hear about your PTSD– Post Times Square Disease.” Evidently it’s about enduring the pain. A glass of champagne and a clock aren’t Survivor-like enough for you. But let me clue you in, you were voted off the island as soon as your diaper reached maximum capacity.

Times Square became the gateway to the theater district. Broadway brought in millions of out-of-towners who wanted to see the latest musicals. While bridge and tunnel housewives rushed to Hello Dolly, the husbands were sneaking around to 42nd Street to hear the Sound of Mona.

Times Square in the 60’s and 70’s became the seediest part of mid-town. Adult theaters, peep shows, sex shops and unscrupulous businesses like Trump Tanning Booths dominated what became known as the “Great Orange Way.” Fantastic Broadway shows continued to be produced. Camelot brought in the tourists whileCamel Toe brought in the cash.

Petty crooks and rats started avoiding the area between 42nd and 47th Street. You couldn’t cross the street without seeing prostitutes perform the dance of the seven Johns. Even Peter Pan featured Captain Hooker. Tinkerbell was pregnant and Peter Pan’s shadow was a pimp who claimed Peter owed him money for a night spent with Tiger Lily. Times were tough.

Mayor Ed Koch started to redevelop the area by moving the hookers to Hoboken and sticking the rest in the new Marriott Marquis. Theaters were renovated and new construction replaced the union offices of the Manhattan Union of Pimps. The Union President, Huggy Bear, moved to California and became a police informant.

In the nineties, Rootin’ Tootin’ Rudy Giuliani continued to scrub Times Square clean. It evolved into the Disney Age of the 42nd Street. Mickey and his gang came in and took the old call girl and put her into Cinderella’s gown, and a tiara. She looked great from a billboard but up close you could still see track marks and a hot pink thong. This Cinderella’s looking for her 1999 Prince not the Charming one.

Rudy helped change the landscape of a New York landmark. Post 9/11, he became known as ‘America’s Mayor’. Since then, he’s become everyone’s crazy drunk uncle. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer has more street cred. The former mayor has become a social media buffoon. With a diagnosis of dyetaxia (dementia from hair dye) his salt and pepper brain stem has left him, at best, incoherent.

During recent testimony at the Department of Justice, Giuliani claimed he was responsible for the death of Osama Bin Laden. Rudy’s been working covert ops as agent .0007. He said although Obama and Hillary took credit for the mission that took down the 9/11 mastermind, he was the real assassin. In Operation Islamic Drag Race, he infiltrated Bin Laden’s secret compound disguised as one of his five wives— Rudilla Aman Fatima Giuliani Laden.

“With my professional makeup skills and a fierce head-to-toe barqa, I became part of the family. Osama called me his big desert rose. He was poisoned with a tainted Nathan’s Hot Dog I’d hidden in his Ramadan Baba Ganoush. Using my MAC foundation compact, I was able to tunnel out of the compound undetected.”

Rudy reported he’d also spied on Hillary Clinton’s Pizza Porn Ring disguised as a pepperoni. “I uncovered they were using pineapple illegally smuggled from Hawaii as a topping.”  FBI Director, Christopher Wray, advised Giuliani pineapple was shipped from Hawaii which is a US state. No smuggling was taking place.

The former mayor insists the corrupt DOJ and FBI hide all crimes committed by radical liberals. There’s a rumor Rudy plans on exposing Hunter Biden’s crimes by disguising himself as a laptop.

Giuliani’s successors continued to bring in new retailers, restaurants, media firms and bigger and brighter signs to Times Square. Everything about this area, referred to as “The Crossroads of the World” is over the top. It’s the most visited place globally with 360,000 pedestrians mobbing the area daily. Sponge Bob Square Pants should be handing out Xanax for my York State of panic.

The Hershey’s and M&M’s stores are selling a sugar rush to the huddled masses. Who doesn’t want to visit the mega M&M’s store and fight a crowd of candy addicted tourists drooling over a wall of M&M’s? Let’s spend $50 dollars for a bag of the exclusive Bloomberg Blueberry flavor.

The crack dealers might be gone, but the refined sugar withdrawals took their place. Wait until little Tommy from Crow’s Foot, Tennessee is back home pawning his mama’s engagement ring to score a two-pound Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. From New York City to the Betty Ford Clinic, it’s a natural progression.

It’s a cacophony of noise. An assault to the nostrils. There’s nothing like summer heat to amplify Manhattan’s finest international fragrances. Enjoy the gentle wafts of curry, cilantro, garlic, onion, cumin, ginger, paprika, beer, whiskey and United Nations of body odor. Stop by a food truck and eat a falafel— you’ll feel awful.

Bring your kids so they can snap a photo with a favorite super hero or cartoon character. There’s anorexic Spiderman whose costume has more sags than a gastric bypass patient. See Optimus Prime transform his Jose Cuervo tequila into an empty bottle. They can converse with Elmo while he’s on a smoke break. Hear how his costume has given him an unidentified rash far below where you’d want to tickle him.

There are many great places to visit in Manhattan that don’t involve being accosted just for walking. People who live in the city avoid Times Square at all costs. That’s an important fact left out of the brochures.

Instead, stroll 5th Ave. and ogle some Tiffany diamonds, visit galleries in Soho and admire modern art made from recycled breast implants. If you really must sightsee a geometric shape, checkout Columbus Circle. There’s a beautiful city away from ball drop central.

If you really can’t tour the Big Apple without digging into the worm, just be ready for panhandlers, sidewalk merchants selling everything including black market kidney transplants, guides trying to sell you tickets for bus tours, Naked Cowboy wannabes, break dancers, and thousands of selfie takers. The perfect photo op is to pose with Lady Liberty. She’s there wearing her robe, holding her torch, waiting to greet you. Watch the angle. On the closeups she looks a little manly. Wait! Is that Rudy?






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2 thoughts on “The Worst of Times”

  1. Four thumbs up!!!! (I had to borrow a couple…..)
    I did a puppet show with my colleague Humphrey who resembles the Cookie Monster for the childrens room at a seminar at Times Square decades ago. I got someone to take a photo of me and Humphrey in front of the ball tower there. Now I can show it to people and say with some degree of honesty that “I performed on Times Square!”

    Yes, I know that is cheating………

  2. I am in New York often and Times Square is a very unique place. You have captured the mystery of it! A good laugh.

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