31 October 2005

Halloween Week in NYC

Hello from New York City,

It's day four of my seven day trip, which means my vacation is
officially half over; but, the best is yet to come. Tonight we are
going to Red Bamboo for dinner - an all vegetarian restaurant with
some of the best grub ever to grace this ex-omnivore's tofu hole.

Honestly folks, the fake meat here is so realistic even my meat-eating pals were impressed to find out the "marinated meat medallions" were 100% wheat gluten. Make all the soilent green jokes you want, until Mike Wallace does an expose, I am Red Bamboo devotee. Max, Alley, I don't know which of you found this place, but, you have my eternal thanks.

Tomorrow is a double-whammy of hipster goodness. We got tickets to
see The Daily Show AND we're going to the NYC West Village Halloween Parade.

"You're going to a parade? I thought you hated parades."

That's right, I do hate parades, but that's because most parades hate
me back. First of all there's the pre-parade. When I lived in
downtown Portland, this meant closed streets, restricted bridges,
barricades where there should be parking spaces, and hordes of
suburbanites duct-taping lawn chairs to the sidewalk. Note - it is
not possible to duct tape anything to a sidewalk. During the parade
itself, every minivan and SUV is called from the suburbs into the city
center like ants to a dropped lollipop.

Adding to the congestion are the parade-goers who, after stowing their vehicle in a parking lot, immediately forget about the other cars on the road. Minds preoccupied with the state of their lawn chairs, they cross against the light snarling and glaring at the cars who are legally trying to cross the intersection.

When the parade finally gets going there's the obvious irritations including: noise, horse poop, groups no one cares about (Battleground Chamber of Commerce, I'm looking at you) and general lack of overall purpose. In the aftermath, there's nothing but coffee cups, fast food wrappers, confetti, and other bits of trash that clutter the streets and cause small birds to choke to death.

On a larger scale, parades are one of the worst forms of advertising
disguised as something that is beneficial for society. To enter a
float in The (Pasadena) Rose Parade a company must pay over $300,000 annually and sign a contract for several years. In return, the Rose Parade people promise millions of "impressions" on American families.

Here's why The NYC Halloween Parade is the homemade sock puppet to The Rose Parade's Joe Camel:

* The parade is run by a non-profit group

* The increase in tourism brings millions of dollars to community businesses

* Anyone can be in it. Neither a float nor a costume is required, but
some kind of decorative Halloween element is encouraged. I hear many
people choose to make giant puppets.

* When the parade was televised for the first time, it was on the
sci-fi channel and was hosted by Susan Sarandon.

* It's listed as "one of the 100 things to do before you die"
(alongside the Iditarod, Bastille Day in France and Australia's Nude
Surfing Championships).

Though the parade has its share of corporate sponsors, trash-creating
attendees and traffic snarls, I think its heart is in the right place.
Though I won't be dressing up to attend the parade, I'm hoping I'll
see some great costumes that will provide inspiration for next year.
I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween this year - and I'd love
to hear if you're dressing up or doing any extra-special tricking or

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