Nate, Heather, Bialystock and Bloom

This was the week I turned in my grad school app, and so I've come up for air. I've allowed myself to leave the computer for more than just bathroom and food breaks, and it's been a literal breath of fresh air. Walking the streets here is so invigorating, perhaps because everyone walks at such a brisk pace. I've never been to a city where so many people walk faster than I do.
I haven't run since the marathon, but Tuesday night I played two hours of pickup basketball with some bankers down in SOHO in a church gym. I heard about the game through a friend of a friend, who connected me with her friend, who heard about the game through his friend. And it turns out that I knew this guy (the friend of a friend of a friend) from a summer camp from 1992. Six degrees of separation in this world, but with over one and a half million people living in Manhattan alone, you can eat through six hops in one subway ride.
Running a marathon? Not much help in the sprinting of full court basketball. In fact, I venture to say that the benefits from running a marathon translate best to, well, running a marathon. Running up and down the basketball court, I almost passed out at one point, but it was a good feeling. Anywhere in the country, you can find a pickup hoops game, and it has to be one of the most foolproof ways to immediately see other guys for what they are. Pickup hoops is like a truth serum of some sort. It bares people's souls (and yes, some i-bankers do have souls, contrary to popular opinion). Like hunting in Hemingway's day, I suppose.
Wednesday, an old high school friend came to town. I haven't seen Nate since the early to mid 90's, and I also finally got to meet his wife Heather. Nate is as I remember him, and he still has a sharp memory. I enjoyed hearing news of former classmates and having Nate fill in missing names and events from my high school days. Heather is amazingly sweet, and they were kind enough to tolerate this NY novice as a pseudo tour guide. We visited Rockefeller and the newly lit Christmas tree, Central Park (where I learned from Nate and Heather that John Lennon got shot outside the Dakota building which is on the West side of the Park), the Plaza Hotel (where Carmela and Meadow Soprano took their annual mother-daughter tea, and where Tony stayed when Carmela booted him out of the house), and Times Square.
Nate and Heather were also kind enough to treat me to see The Producers. I actually knew very little about the show, only that it was THE SHOW to see when Lane and Broderick were playing it. I'd also seen a scene or two as played by Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. It was much funnier than I anticipated, a type of meta-Broadway show.
Just after I made it home that evening, I got a call from Bill, playing in NYC that night only, at the Paramount Hotel. So I retraced my steps up to Times Square and caught up with him at the hotel bar.
I've also ventured out more this week for food. My favorite eatery nearby is Wichcraft, the sandwich shop companion to Craft and Craftbar. Wichcraft's sandwiches are tasty. Really tasty. The shop name is apt.
Union Square is host to a whole series of holiday tents where artisans are hawking crafts and clothes and the usual assorted junk. I walk past most of it when getting off the subway without wasting a glance on any of it, but today I stumbled on a soup vendor. The smells called to me and summoned me. What better to repel a late autumn, early winter cold snap than a bowl of hot sweet corn chowder. Tasty. I haven't visited the Soup Nazi yet, but if his soup tastes like this, then I'll shut up and place my order promptly. No questions asked.