I Love New York: The Dawgs to Take a Bite of the Apple


After spending the morning in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I returned to the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) and chatted with Paul, the erudite NYAC doorman, curious about various celebrities he had met.

He had met many; the list was long and diverse.

Actor Anthony Quinn, who once lived in the NYAC, was down-to-earth and a pleasure to be around.  John Fogerty (Credence Clearwater Revival) is a strong family man and a favorite of Paul’s, as have been Pat and Shirley Boone for decades. Henry Kissinger is a good guy.

One of Paul’s more memorable experiences was a “lock-out” (where someone accidentally locks themselves out of their room).
Paul went to the room to let the occupant, someone named Welch dressed only in a bathrobe, back in.  It turned out that “Welch” had the first name Raquel.

“I’m sorry you were locked out of your room, Miss Welch,” Paul said diplomatically.

“Why should you be sorry?” replied Raquel.  “You weren’t the idiot who locked me out.”

Paul and Raquel became good friends.  “She looks as good as she ever did,” Paul offered.

The most unpleasant guest?  Probably Arnold Schwartzenegger.  The Oak is not a people-person; his body guards are not with him so much for physical protection as to keep people, even little people, away from him.

At one end of the 6th floor NYAC gym is an enormous banner telling of NYAC members who medaled in the Olympics and how many have won gold medals (119).  Discus thrower Al Oerter leads the army of NYAC gold medal winners with four, having finished first in the 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968 Olympics.

Paul discussed quite a few people and it was all very interesting.  New York has celebrities like Redmond has techies.

My wife and I went to see a Broadway musical, and the playbill made it evident that a couple of young actors were ecstatic about making their Broadway debut (!) because, as Old Blue Eyes once said, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

The most memorable moment of the few days spent in the Big Apple was not on Broadway or at the NYAC or the Art Museum, however, but during the first evening when I got off the train at Penn Station, and made my way through the hordes and maze to 7th Avenue to catch a cab.  I stood in the line about 20 feet from the large and incredibly bright Madison Square Garden marquee that lit up 7th Avenue with a series of promotional ads featuring coming attractions – Duran Duran, Taylor Swift, etc.  I was more concerned about grabbing a taxi but the marquee was impossible to ignore even though I had my mind on something else.

As I watched, the marquee switched to basketball.

Duke,” was all it said in bright, bold letters, followed by a colorful video of the Duke basketball team on a fast break finished with an affirmative jam.

Marquette.”  Another video segment followed, highlighting the Marquette team, lighting up the streets, sidewalks and hundreds of people along 7th Avenue.

Villanova.”  The video was bright, clear, and most pedestrians, whether waiting like me or walking somewhere else, were watching the Villanova basketball team.

Then came the sobering moment when the video backhanded me and made me realize and focus on what I was watching.


The Huskies video was very similar to the Duke video with a fast break and an impressive display of athleticism at the end…I think it was C. J. Wilcox but, in the instant rush I had when seeing a promotion of the Huskies on the Madison Square Garden marquee, I didn’t focus on the specific player.  I was immersed in pride for the whole team.

It occurred to me that while Madison Square Garden is at 7th Ave. and 32nd St., this will be the Huskies’ Broadway debut (!) – in the Big Apple on national television.  Considering venue, game times and days, and that the games will be played at the beginning of the season, the Marquette and Duke games should average over 7 million viewers per game, a number large enough to fill Madison Square Garden every day for a year.

As I watched the marquee, two things impressed me: 1) how far Washington’s basketball program had come under Lorenzo Romar, and 2) the extent to which the Huskies’ sojourn to the Big Apple would cement Washington’s place among the nation’s top basketball programs.

“With the way we’ve scheduled, the new TV deal for the Pac-12, and for us to spend a week in New York this winter, this is [all] great exposure and a
great experience for our team,” Lorenzo Romar has said.

No kidding.

Another team or two appeared on the Madison Square Garden marquee but I wasn’t paying attention.  Rather, I was basking in the glow of the implication of what I just watched; an implication brighter than the marquee above me.

The next morning we took a cab to Ground Zero.  We didn’t take the tour, we just got as close as we could, and took pride in what was rising out of the 9-11 ashes.  While the designs of the new buildings were inspiring, one New Yorker later told me that, to him, the larger new building, the Freedom Tower, was like a huge phallic symbol facing towards the terrorists.  “F— you!” he summarized in an unmistakable New York accent as he faced eastward and gestured for emphasis.

New Yorkers talk like that.  So do people from New Jersey.  It’s quite common.  And I agreed.

In contrast, as we studied the 9-11 site, my wife asked me to say a prayer and I did.

The Occupy Wall Street bunch was somewhere around but they weren’t near us.  The New Yorker to whom I spoke had similar sentiments for the protestors, also invoking the Oedipus complex.

Some say that New Yorkers are cold and socially indifferent.  That has not been my experience; quite the opposite.  Abrasive.  Outspoken.
Skeptical.  But never cold or indifferent.

“It used to be that New Yorkers kept to themselves but that all changed with 9-11,” said the man with the thick accent and gender-oriented imagination.  “As terrible as it was, that brought us all together.  Anyone who was in New York when that happened,” he said as he jabbed the air with his finger, “bonded with anyone else who was there.  It was like that.”

New Yorkers are great with strangers too if you understand how New Yorkers think and act.  Basically, they say what they think and act the way they want.  Nothing personal.  Get by the ostensibly unbecoming behavior and, Washington fans will find, New Yorkers are wonderful people.

When Washington comes to the Garden, the Huskies will have a great opportunity to show New Yorkers and everyone else that Washington basketball has come of age.  Being there in the first place is evidence.  But a win or two would validate the invitation.  Following their Broadway debut(!), hopefully the Huskies will leave the Big Apple with a feeling that validates the statement on their souvenir cups: “I love New York,” savoring a victory or two while knowing that if they can make it there, they can make it anywhere.