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Vacating 2008: Thanks for coming along

     Sunday, July 20: Just returned from our eight-day New York vacation, mostly in NYC, with the last couple of nights on a lake outside Syracuse. Thanks to the thousands who followed along. Now, time to get back to work! 

     WAaa1lakeelcome to Friday, Day 6 of our NY vacation. Getaway day. We are rental carring today from Manhattan north about 4 hours to Syracuse. Actually just north of there to the Finger Lakes region. Tonight through our Sunday return, we'll be staying with friends at their place on Lake Skaneateles (pictured). From NYC to a tranquil lake. Sounds like culture shock. But the welcome kind.

     Last night we ate at an Italian place called Felidia's on 58th. Upscale? Put it this way. The menu was all but indecipherable. The food? Sublime, as you'd expect. Thed price? Made me glad I don't live in NYC.

     Fittingly I'll be without Internet access up there, so this will be my final dispatch until late Sunday when I return. See you then.

     THURSDAY, DAY 5, A 75-MINUTE CRUISE, ART, EMBARRASSING BUS: Hello Thursday, Day 5 of our New York vacation. Today we devote to general sightseeing as we wind up the Big Apple portion of our holiday and prepare tomorrow to drive up to Syracuse to visit friends on a lake. We'll be trading the hurly burly for something closer to tranquility. I have always loved the phrase "hurly burly," and always will.

     Last night we supped at S. Dynasty on Lexington, one of the best Chinese/Thai restaurants I have ever experienced. Followed by the obligatory pub, Annie something. You may get the idea by now that i enjoy a pub.

Aaa1art Aaa1cruise_2       Today we took the Circle Line harbor cruise (pictured right) out of Port 83, well narrated and enjoyable, then lunched at Charley O's at 8th and 45th. Later we did the epitome of tourist-kitsch: we took one of those double-decker bus tours! Hey, don't I get points for admitting it? It actually was a worthwhile excursion uptown including an intersting tour of the new Harlem. Along the way we did Central Park, rolled a couple of homeless people, and hit the gargantuan Metropolitan Museum of Art (pictured left; while my anti-enlightenment sons kicked and screamed). Stole a gorgeous Renoir!

     Thinking Little Italy for a late dinner. Will check in later.

     Anything new in So-Fla sports by the way? I heard Norman Braman severed the new Marlins stadium with a chainsaw, but maybe something got lost in the translation.

     [Non-vacation update: Phillies acquire another starting pitcher, Joe Blanton, in a trade with the A's. Marlins chances to win NL East get that much tougher].

Aaa1uggla      WEDNESDAY, DAY 4, DAN UGH-LA, CONAN THE O'BRIBARIAN, CHAINSAWS: All-Star Game now in the top of 116th inning, still tied 3-3. Of course the AL finally won 4-3 in this morning's wee hours, in the 15th inning, ending the longest game (4:40) in all-star history. Hanley Ramirez rapped a pair of hits but Dan Uggla (lacking spinach) had what has to be the worst individual game ever in the Midsummer Classic: 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a double-play grounder, and a record three errors. Uggla, indeed.

Aaa1jerseyboys      Took in "Jersey Boys" at the Austin Wilson Theater last night while Cote Boys subwayed to the game. The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons was really great, even though I've never been a huge fan of their music (or his voice). The guy who played Frankie was spot-on. Post-play late meal at nearby Rosie O'Grady's.

Aaa1conan      Today (we'll somehow manage without baseball!), we lunched at McAnns on 46th, then hit the Top of the Rock (Rockfeller Center), which is a supreme sacrifice by me because I'm not thrilled with heights. Later we were in the audience for the taping of tonight's Conan O'Brien and His Fantastic Hair. Meryl Streep was not on, but Seth Green (the Robot Chicken co-creator and voice of Chris on Family Guy) was funny, and British comic Russell Brand was funnier. Got close enough to Conan to have a sense of the amount of makeup being worn. Looked a bit like a corpse that had been animated. But funny! 

     Probably hit Chinatown for dinner tonight and hope they've removed "fragrant meat" (aka dog) from menus like the Bejing restaurants have in anticipation of the Olympics. Back later.

     By the way, what's been happening back home? Fish traded for Favre yet? :) Heard about Josh McCown's cut finger. Slow news day? Aside to Dolphins: Free advice. Write it into contracts that your quarterbacks may not play with chainsaws.

     TUESDAY, DAY 3, I LOVE A (LOOONNNG) PARADE, HO YIP, ALL-STAR GAME: Welcome to Tuesday, Day 3, of our NYC vacation. Just got back from the All-Star Game Parade down 17 blocks of 6th Avenue. Poorly run. Took two hours because there were long lapses between many player-bearing cars; should've taken 45 minutes.

Aaa1madonna      Biggest applause: A-Rod (with some "Where's Madonna!?" calls), Derek Jeter, Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson. One of the few to hear boos: Bosox manager Terry Francona. Most notable no-show: Manny ("Being Manny" Ramirez). Most creative no-show: Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman had someone else riding in the car marked as his -- and signing autographs. Marlins Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla received modest but not embarrassingly small applause.

     Had a quick pre-parade lunch at a little Chinese joint. I think the name of it was Ho Yip. Unless "Ho Yip" in Chinese means something really obscene, in which case I got the name wrong. Probably. 

     Still can't believe Josh Hamilton didn't win the HR Derby last night. Justin Morneau!? My kids had a big debate on how the winner should be determined: Total Home runs or as is. What do you think?

Aaa1larrydavid Aaa1benjamins      Dined last night at Benjamin's on East 41st Street. No celebrity sighting, except for a guy who looked just lik Larry David, but wasn't. There is probably a bad steak somewhere in the city, but I haven't found it yet.

     Tonight's the All-Star Game. The kids are going, while the wife and I hit the play "Jersey Boys" and then a dinner-to-be-named.

     MONDAY, DAY 2, HANLEY GETS MOBBED, HR DERBY, OLEG THE HUMAN COMPUTER, McSORLEY'S : Looks like Josh Hamilton will win the Home Run Derby! Sure. Ex-heroin addict wins with a 71-year-old guy pitching. Ho hum.

     Aaa1mcsorleys6 p.m. Monday vacation bulletin: Just returned from McSorley's in the East Village, and a couple of hours' libation, along with the mandatory cheese, crackers and onions side for $3 -- the best bargain in NYC. Bear in mind as you consider my apparent adult-beverage intake that I am on vacation here, not working, save for the blog updates. The absence or limited number of typos in these updates testifies (if misleadingly) to my relative sobriety. Anybody been to McSorley's? Been in the same spot since the 1850s. God bless America!

     We're at one of the official MLB hotels, where All-Star related press conferences took place today, so it's perfect for star-gazing. My sons are loving it. Saw Hanley Ramirez mobbed by autograph seekers until security shepherded him into an elevator alone. Heard a 20-something in a Yankee cap tell a buddy, "After A-Rod, that's the best player in baseball." Chase Utley over there. Jonathan Papelbon. Jim Leyland fast-walking down 42nd in a silver-gray suit.

     Took the 6 downtown to Canal Street for pizza lunch at Lombardi's in the Little Italy/Soho area. Improptu subway serenade by four older black guys doing do-wop harmonies. Applause. They passed a crumpled McDonald's bag in lieu of a hat. Two bucks well spent.   

     Woke up earlier Monday, Day 2, to an overcast New York City. Saw "Avenue Q," the play, at the cozy Gordon Theatre last night, and it was unexpectedly terrific. Really funny. Irreverent. I must say this, though. The puppets and even their voices seem to be somewhat of a Sesame Street ripoff. There's even a disclaimer about the play having nothing to do with Jim Henson. Other than that: Great.

     Grabbed some pub grub and a couple of Stella's post-play at a local tavern (the Wheelpost, I think?), then a nightcap at the hotel bar.

Aaa1oleg      Had a memorable taxi ride. Got in and the guy started doing his act. For a second I thought we'd lucked into Cash Cab, the TV show. Instead we were in the taxi of "Oleg Roitman, The Human-Computer," (pictured) one of those math nerds who asks your birthdate and instantly tells you the day of the week you were born, and is right. The NY Times did a piece on him; click here. Weird. But it made a six-buck fare fly by.

     Tonight is the Home Run Derby. My kids will be  there; bought two tickets through the Baseball Writers Association of America. (Yes bought; didn't get for free!). I must say, the Derby field seems weak, lacking a classic, big slugger like Manny or A-Rod. I mean, we love that Dan Uggla is in it. But nationally? Partake of The Daily Poll on the HR Derby. Not who you hope wins, but who you predict will.

     Check, will be adding more stuff as Apple Monday unfolds.

     SUNDAY, DAY 1, COTE IN THE APPLE: Jet Blue-d into LaGuardia today with the wife and two sons foAaa1dog_2r a week's New York holiday. Love New York. Not New York fans. But their city. Ever flown on Aaa1apple_3a plane with a dog on board? How bizarre to hear barking at 35,000 feet. People who would travel with a dog are the same people who would buy little plaid sweaters for them. I won't be in the paper during my time away (that's your vacation) but I will be updating this blog post throughout the week, in a blatant plan to write off my hotel's Internet charges. Given the state of American newspapers, I hope The Herald can afford it.

     All-Star Fever grips the Apple as you'd imagine. Staying in Manhattan, near Grand Central. Lunched at Bryant Park Grill (Tuscan Platter). Shared a hotel elevator with Rockies pitcher (and all-star) Aaron Cook. The professional memorabilia army is out in force, lurking around the hotel, a bunch of autograph-seeking sycophants. I say professional because these are not wide-eyed kids, but armed adults seeking profit. I understand why players regard these "fans" the way soccer moms do pedophiles.

     Not enough Yellow cabs or car horns in Manhattan, by the way. Almost as many taxis here as home-foreclosures in South Florida. New York Post front-page headline: A-ROD LOVE NEST!

Aaa1giambi Aaa1avenue_q      Hitting Broadway tonight. Seeing "Avenue Q," which, because it involves puppets (I think), promises to be either wonderful or absolutely abysmal. Anybody seen it? Might hit Little Italy afterward. Also in search of a fake Giambi mustache. All-Star stuff begins in earnest tomorrow with the Home Run Derby. Stay tuned.