Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Harder to Keep Full
In the 1980s I used to frequent the Comedy Cellar on MacDougal Street regularly, sometimes more than once a week. What drew me there was New York City comic Gilbert Gottfried. His work and style are very New York-centric. I have found that many non-New Yorkers do not really enjoy his humor.*
One bit he did regularly in his comedy routine was about plankton. Gilbert would tell how some comedians may do a joke or two about plankton, but that he did a full routine on the subject. He then launched into a rant about how he knew that someone in the audience would say that they knew a place in Brooklyn that had good plankton. Gilbert would then point out that yes, they did have it, but it was not fresh, but frozen.
This material is brilliant because it illustrates exactly how the true New Yorker thinks and speaks - a smug confidence and security that New York City has everything with many choices, even in areas that are extremely narrow and specialized. And we are picky. Good, special, unique places are accumulated like feathers in one's cap. The sentiment concerning security in knowing that all is here was echoed by Woody Allen. I wrote about this on December 24, 2007 in Being There:
It reminds me of a Woody Allen comment about why he needs to live in NYC - that there's a restaurant in Chinatown where he can get a certain favorite dish at four o'clock in the morning. Not that he ever has or will go there at that time. It's just knowing it's there.
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory at 65 Bayard Street has been in business since 1978 and is run by the Reid family. Though heavily touristed, as one might expect given its Chinatown location, many still love the range of exotic range of ice cream flavors including avocado, banana, tangerine, black sesame, almond cookie, pandan, green tea, ginger, peanut butter and jelly with sorbets such as lychee, strawberry shortcake, taro, longan, zen butter and mango-papaya. There are naysayers, as always, but reviews are typically good with the feeling that everyone should visit at least once.
As business ideas are copied, appropriated worldwide and even imported into our city, those places that are unique to New York are becoming fewer and fewer. Many a New Yorker is like a proud warrior, collecting feathers as he or she can for a cap that is becoming harder to keep full ...
* I was saddened to hear about Gilbert's news scandal regarding jokes he has made, distributed on his Twitter feed about the Japanese tsunami. Known for his voice as the Aflac duck, Gottfried has been fired by Aflac. He has since apologized.