The Unbearable Banishment: 42nd street rec. room

Friday, August 28, 2009

42nd street rec. room

If you’re walking down 42nd Street on your way towards either Times Square or Grand Central Station and fancy a quick game of ping-pong, you’re in luck. This summer, Bryant Park (42nd and 6th) has outdoor ping pong tables set up. The net is a piece of sheet metal.

When I moved to New York (mumble-mumble) years ago, I didn’t dare go anywhere NEAR Bryant Park (or Union Square, for that matter) unless I was looking for a bag of weed. You conducted your business and got the hell out as quickly as possible. It was scary. Now, you can play ping pong. That’s quite an arc.

I didn’t know about it until I stumbled across a heated match between this old rattlesnake and a young buck. It looked like they were taking it pretty seriously. I don’t think they were playing for fun. Sometimes, people in New York take things way too seriously.

Not long ago I did a post about what I thought was the “best” pizza in New York. It was tongue-in-cheek. Picking the “best” of anything is an exercise in futility. It’s purely subjective and open to an individual’s personal taste. (But I do like watching the Oscars.) Well, I got an earful from the city pizza capos. They accused me of having unsophisticated tastes and other unflattering characteristics. Pizza! My God! Who cares!?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

you write of a city that has been gentrified beyond recognition. there have to still be the seedy sections, i'd think? or is the real estate so valuable that it's ALL been cleaned up?

August 28, 2009 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

So where does a young newcomer to the city get her pot now that Bryant Park has been taken over by the ping-pongers?

August 28, 2009 at 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ping Pong? What happened to good old Chess?

August 28, 2009 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: Some parts of 8th Avenue near the Port Authority bus terminal are still pretty dicy. Honestly, I don't pine for the "old" New York like a lot of people. It's nothing to romanticize about. it was awful.

Cat: I have no idea. I stay away from weed becuase it's so powerful now. In high school we use to go out on a Friday night and smoke 10 joints. If I did that now, I'd require hospitalization.

2BDs: Welcome! There's chess right down the sidewalk! Seriously! Pick-up games go on all day long.

August 28, 2009 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Jason Quinones said...

i used to trek out to brooklyn (by car with my buddies) for my pot.

we'd knock on the basement apt. door and the mailslot would open where we'd we stick in said amount of money. after a monemt or two your bag of goodies would be handed back to you according to the dollar amount you slipped through the mail slot.

or on occassion i'd go to my buddy's house where he had the dealers deliver to his house. he was a preferred customer.

an old co-worker of mine ages ago used to go to local bodega to score. she handed the shopkeeper a pint of milk for purcahse, the cash(for the pot) and a special business card. the card was the signal that she was looking to buy and the shopkeeper would take the cash amount and whilst packing up the milk would bag up the pot along with the milk.

August 28, 2009 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Jason Quinones said...

and yeah brynat park is practically a dave and buster's with all the makeshift bar's and lounges and game setup's. bocchi ball, ping pong and the like.

August 28, 2009 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

It is hard to imagine it being scary - it is so nice now. When we visited recently they were showing movies there at night. We walked thru and around the park at various times of day and night and saw all kinds of people enjoying the park but never felt threatened in any way. Atlanta GA is definitely scarier. There's so much to admire and appreciate in NYC and it is nice that you can do that now without fear.
But I'm a tourist... the gameplan is working!

August 28, 2009 at 3:15 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Jason: I had a weed bodega as well! I think we all did. Weed is REALLY expensive now. That's another reason why I don't bother. Plus, it just makes me paranoid and boring.

Lori: You wouldn't recognize the city that I moved to all those years ago. We are much better off now, despite the sanitization.

August 28, 2009 at 10:37 PM  
Blogger Jason Quinones said...

@UB: i agree. same here. me too.

August 30, 2009 at 11:12 AM  

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