TartFestshomon: how I saw it

We took the train down from New Haven, and arrived in Grand Central Station in mid-afternoon. We took a train down to the Wall Street Station, and meandered our way around the area for a while - in the freezing air -until we found our hotel.
We checked in and they sent us up to the 8th floor of the Exchange Hotel on Front Street. It was a very nice room:

(You'll note that Monkey brought some of her favorite accoutrements from home, including her stuffed cat Jumbles and her Pokemon pillow. I will note that in all the changes to New Blogger, they still can't get it so I can post a picture midway through a post.)
We hung around the room for a while - Monkey watched the plasma television, Loki looked around the room and read, and I took a shower. I called Tart to tell her we were there and to ask her how to get to her place. We hit the road, armed with our maps and our directions.

We encountered our first snag when we discovered the Wall Street Station going uptown was closed. So we trudged up Maiden Lane, on what I must remind you was a very cold evening. We found the Fulton Street Station and headed uptown to on the J M Z train. Except that the train's final stop was Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall, where we transferred over to a different J M Z and headed up to Essex Street, and then we promptly got on an F train headed uptown instead of towards Brooklyn. Boo!

Anyway, we finally got to Brooklyn, and we had a long, cold walk ahead of us. We stopped at a market to pick up some beer (DogFish Ale? and something else? I don't know, I don't really drink beer, Loki will have to fill in the blanks) and I got a small packet of cashews because up until this point of the day, I had eaten exactly nothing.

We finally found our way to Tart's apartment, which is adorable, not as small as I anticipated, and delightfully warm after our walk. I went into my New England defensive mode and put my hand out to shake, lest anyone attempt to hug me (Sidebar: I like hugging, I really do, I just am very nervous about hugging people I've just met, even though I sort of know them. I'm weird about this, I freely acknowledge.)

Loki commenced with the boozing, and Tart made me a very nice black Russian. Monkey was in shy mode at first, but Tart drew her out pretty well - you'd almost think she worked with children or something. I gave my brief impressions of everyone in my previous post.

I had a nice conversation with Sean, who works in advertising - we talked about product integration and "pos-mens" (I don't know about Sean, but this could be why I don't get invited to many parties). I told Toast he reminded me of my brother-in-law who happens to be a right-winger, which required an explanation: they hold pretty much opposite opinions, but they both have a mildly aggressive, forceful, no apologies way of expressing their opinions, and I like that. Of course, I like Toast's political opinions better, because they are mostly the correct opinion. And we talked a little bit about blogging, and John Howard, and how the bigger a blogger gets, the more their site becomes a cult of personality, which sucks a lot of the fun out of things.

I talked to Chemist about the differences between California, New York and CT. I feel like I'm too old to comment on this, but Steve is really good looking. Tart, too - they are both positively glowing with radiant youth.
Monkey growled and made claws at everyone - she told me later, when I asked her why she acts like a wild animal around people she doesn't know, and she said that it's what she feels like doing naturally. And now you know why we call her Monkey.
Tart served spanakopita and cheese & crackers and grapes, and the party was pretty loud and the people (other than me) were getting more and more drunk. I talked to Angelos' wife about teaching, and eventually, Loki and Mike were arm wrestling, and almost pulled down Tart's bookcase.

Everyone left around the same time, and we walked to the subway station. Well, most of us walked, some of us stumbled, although I won't say who. There was some conversation I missed, because on the train, Angelos and Erica were asking Loki if he was a creep or an asshole, and I was going to say he's neither, but maybe I missed something, and I hope someone can explain it to me. Everyone on the train decided they'd rather be an asshole than a creep, and as everyone was declaring "I'm an asshole!", one of the local denizens joined in to tell us he was an asshole, too. It's like drinking Dr. Pepper, I guess.

We got off the train first, and I am curious how long the F train sat there - it was still sitting on the tracks, with the Toasts and the Angelos' and Mike inside.

We couldn't get any further downtown than Fulton Station, so we had a nice long walk back to the hotel. Loki and Monkey crashed, but I was awake for a while, popping naproxen until the dull ache in my hip faded (the ache was more from the cold than the walking, I think. )

Next day's plans were fairly nebulous - I only knew there was some talk of going to MOMA and the dinner reservations at Uncle Nick's. We had a fairly nice continental breakfast at the hotel, and headed out to the Hayden Planetarium.

(Monkey posing with the gift she got in the gift shop)

We saw the planetarium show, which I mostly slept through, because it was dark and warm and the chair was comfy, and I was tired. Thankfully, the music cues were very effective and I was able to open my eyes for the more dramatic parts of the show.

We stayed there as long as we could, but Loki was due to work that night, so he had to go home. We went back to the hotel together, and after Loki was on his way, (and after I rubbed Monkey's feet and she rubbed my feet, which I told her made her my favorite daughter, don't tell Sio) Monkey and I headed up to Times Square - her request. Times Square was freezing and more crowded than I've ever seen it. Monkey had a goal: to ride the ferris wheel at the Times Square Toys R Us. We ended up taking a cab because no trains seemed to be going uptown. We went to 3 different stations before I gave up.

Another sidebar: my first visit to Times Square happened in the early 80's, when it was a fascinating mix of culture and sleaze. It's weird how much more I liked it back then.

The line was only twice as long as the ride itself, so I bought tickets. Monkey was terribly disappointed that they seated us in the Little People bus - I personally was hoping for My Little Pony, but...denied.

After that, we walked around Times Square a little bit, but it was cold and there were too many people. So we made our way to Uncle Nick's.

That's where I met Amy and the lovely woman whose name I can't remember, which is going to make me feel terrible. Sean was there as well. There were some service issues, and we didn't all sit together, but I had a great time talking to Amy during dinner. I had avgolomono and potato garlic dip, but my favorite dip was the fish roe - damn, that was some good stuff, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. It was fairly chaotic, and I can't even remember everything we talked about. But I know I had fun.

The eyeball incident: Sean had ordered a red snapper, and Amy bet anyone who wanted $5 to eat a fish eyeball. Mrs. Toast was in the restroom, but Toast said to leave it for her, and god damn, she didn't futz around, she put it in her mouth and chewed on it. I admire that woman, I have to tell you.

Monkey and I headed out. Once again, we were plagued by changes to the subway schedule, and we got out at Chambers Street. There were sketchy people hanging around, so we quickly got a cab and had a short little drive back to the hotel, where I know I personally slept like a dead person.

On Sunday, I didn't open my eyes until 9am, which is just unheard of these days. After showering, we went down to breakfast again, and went back up to the room and packed up all our belongings. We left them with the bellman and went to Chinatown - Monkey's choice.

We headed down to the water and took some shots of the Brooklyn skyline and Bridge.

(Trompe l'oeil Brooklyn Bridge)

When we got to Chinatown, we saw a street artist making these name plaques, and since they were pretty and cheap, I got one for Monkey:

We had a really nice, really cheap lunch at some dive looking Chinese restaurant, and bought some souvenirs, and then it was time to head back to the hotel, pick up our bags, and go to Grand Central.
While we were waiting for our train, I got Sio a New York Cheesecake (her favorite). We ended up sitting near these asshole rich kids on the train, but we had a lot of fun on the trip home, playing war with our NYC deck of cards, and basically making each other laugh a lot.
So that's basically my take on TartFest. I missed a lot of the action..I think..since I don't think many bars are kid friendly, but I had a great time meeting everyone, and I hope it isn't the last time I can get together with all these great people.


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