One trait I’m glad Steven has inherited from us is the almost magnetic pull towards war surplus stores. I’m obviously not into war or anything, but I’ve always been fascinated by the strange stuff to be found in these places, and so has Susan. So I was pleasantly surprised when sometime over the weekend, Steven mentioned hearing about some legendary surplus store on 42nd street that he’d like to go to.

Kaufman’s? Holy crow, me and Susan went there all the time! In the 90s, I remembered them starting up a website and moving to New Mexico…but apparently the original store is/was still on 42nd street. A visit to Kaufman’s could definitely be worked into the schedule, because we had to head over to the West Side anyway for the other stops on my agenda.

So we once again headed out on the Flushing line, this time all the way to Times Square, where Kaufman’s was just across the street (where it’s been for 75 years!). After a typical surplus store visit (wandering aimlessly and not buying anything), I suddenly had the bright idea to pick up some sandwiches and drinks at a deli/grocery store next door, because I knew there was very little in the way of food on Central Park West. Then we hopped on the Broadway local and headed to 66th street, so we could walk to…the Ghostbusters building!

Susan and I had a “classical” education and so did our kids, which means that they were raised with Ghostbusters. I wasn’t crazy enough to drag Steven to all the locations they filmed the movie at, but how could we miss Spook Central?!?!?!?

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After this fun little diversion, I had to make a pilgrimage to the Dakota and Strawberry Fields. I’ve avoided the place for 35 years, so it was about time. What can I say, I get rather emotional.

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I also had an insane moment when I happened to see this once-in-a-lifetime “wedding scene with homeless person” right in front of my nose, but this time I had a camera with me. I tried to explain to Steven how this was some kind of Trifecta of street photography:

I'm pretty sure they were oblivious
I’m pretty sure they were oblivious

At this point, we were supposed to jump back on the subway again to the Museum of Natural History and the Planetarium. But the weather, which we thought was going to be 50s-and-rainy, was suddenly 80s-and-sunny. And we were in Central Park! So I thought I’d run over to the carousel, or that big rock in the Sheep Meadow, or something. But I got somewhat disoriented, and the next thing you know, we were at the bandshell. So I had to show Steven the bandshell, and explain what it meant in the Sixties, and I took him over to see Bethesda Fountain too, but it was all closed off for some sort of shindig for Big Donators for the park. Fuck that, I sez, and we snuck around barriers and such until we could at least get an unobstructed view. Doing that really made me feel at home…I was breaking the rules in Central Park one last time!

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Finally, we made it up to the Museum, but it turned out they close a lot earlier than I thought. We started freaking out — how could we possibly see the whole thing in 3 hours? — but then I realized we couldn’t see the whole thing in a whole day anyway. And I still remembered the best things, which are the dinosaurs, the planetarium, and the gems and minerals. At least, those are the things we always went to, and I’m happy to report that after millions of years, they’re all still there. Except the planetarium…in spite of all the money they spent to reinvent the place and make it look “bright and modern”, it’s lost most of its character. And what did they do to the sky show? Turned it into a syndicated movie…feh. Sorry, NdT.

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Here are some gems, minerals, and fossils, mostly for Susan and my brother-in-law Herman.

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After all that running around, we were hot and tired and hungry. So I whipped out my faithful Yelp app, and it said there was a Shake Shack just about 100 yards away! I told Steven how Shake Shack was a relatively new but already legendary place (they just went public in January) that was a food cart on 23rd street back around the turn of the century (boy, does that sound weird) and immediately became a hipster sensation, with people waiting on huge lines just to get a burger and shake. I never had a chance to check it out before, so this was mandatory! Luckily, the line moved pretty quickly, and we got a table exactly when the food was ready.

I gotta say this: as much as we California people love our In-and-Out Burger, Shake Shack is Totally. Fucking. Amazing. It’s like another hidden level in a video game or something. And it’s priced pretty reasonably too (it was $25 for the two of us…but it’s not Arby’s, you know?).

Just as we were finishing our burgers and shakes, we happened to be looking out the window as two blondes from New Jersey got into a BMW and did this before driving away (watch about 45 seconds or so). It seemed to be a definite Upper West Side moment:

After going back to Flushing and running some photo backups, we were hungry again, so we ended up eating a couple of interesting-tasting skewers from a food cart (we later found out these guys were actually on Google Maps and even Yelp).

Next: If It’s Tuesday, We Must Be Flying

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