It's that magical time of the year in the Big Apple! What that means for those of us that work in the midtown area is that the twenty square block area between Central Park and 50th Street and Lexington and 8th Avenue are completely crammed with tourists from all over the world. They can be found weaving slowly down the street, looking at their phones, wondering which iconic landmark to visit. As you try to cross the street and go down the subway, they walk slowly, blocking your way, staring mouths agape at the wonder of Radio City Music Hall, the majesty of Bergdorf Goodman, the awesome loveliness of that big-ass tree, the overwhelming beauty of Uniqlo and the Gap and the Lego Store!
One of my favorite things about Christmas in New York is the bootleg characters panhandling on 5th Avenue. These are people who manage to find or create an unlicensed costume of some famous Disney or Sesame Street character and then accost people who try to take their photos. Here's a picture of Elmo asking for change in front of some kind of military vehicle that is menacingly keeping watch over the thousands of tourists thronging the streets in front of Radio City Music Hall. This particular Elmo is relatively dirt free and not very aggressive, and he didn't seem at all upset when I took his photo and didn't leave a tip, which is quite rare.
Here's a picture of the window display at Bergdorf Goodman, with a reflection of the Plaza in the background. I work at the Plaza on occasion, and I was struck by this scene as I was leaving work. It appears to be a dinner party hosted by a very fancy lady who invited her favorite half-men, half-animals to attend. Smoking jackets required. I'm not sure if she knows that they are standing a little too close to her, and they look a little too hungry for such a hoity-toity event. Pass them some more crab cakes before someone gets hurt!
This is a mariachi band that played at my friend Jorge's annual Tamalada, which is a Mexican holiday party with all the tamales you can eat, lots of booze, and dancing to this fantastic mariachi band. The guy on the right is playing an instrument I had never seen before, which is called a marimbol. It is like a massive bass version of a kalimba, the African thumb piano. It has huge tines in a big hollow box, and it makes an amazingly rich, resonant bass sound. I love Christmas in New York.