New York, New York is a wonderful town

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But getting there is a big pain in the butt

From the Publisher/Arnold G. York

Last week, Karen and I did a quick turnaround trip, Thursday through Sunday, to New York City to visit family and see whatever fall leaves were left.

There was a time when getting there was half the fun. I’m sure that phrase is no longer in the books because there is nothing fun about traveling anymore.

We went via Delta, which, in our past experience, has done a pretty decent job. Unfortunately, the day we flew out was the day that papers carried stories about Delta going into bankruptcy, and I suspect that it was already cutting back on staffing. The line to get through security was out the door and down the block. Now, I’ve been through this with Southwest, and it can, when it needs to, put on extra people and move large groups through fairly quickly. Apparently Delta had never heard of this cutting edge technology of putting more people on the job when the rush is on, so there were 500 very antsy people standing in line, getting progressively more antsy as they became less sure they were going to make their flights.

Our IDs and boarding passes were checked at least several times by people who had absolutely no personality and worked for TSA. I’m not sure if TSA is government or private, but apparently it has a very unusual training program. First, it removes its employees’ personalities, then their ability to communicate and, lastly, any vestige of humanity. Into this void must be inserted some sort of a gas that fills them with delusions of grandeur, and then they’re obviously told that they’re not people making very little in dead-end jobs, but they’re really the first line of defense against terrorism. They’re an army of freedom fighters, eagle-eyed and vigilant, protecting us. There is nothing worse than an automaton with a badge, other than an automaton with a badge and an attitude, and a line of 500 people thinking about what they would like to do with those badges.

Well, we finally made it onto the plane, although not by much, even though we were there two hours early. And then the second wave hit. It turns out you have to buy your food from Delta. Almost everything that looked decent Delta was out of, except for a turkey and cheese on a bagel-a cinnamon bagel at that-with apple butter for a condiment. Karen and I looked at each other perplexed as to how anyone could have thought that combination up, but what the heck, we were hungry so we Zen-ned and went with the flow.

New York City and the third wave

Got off the plane without incident and went to get our one checked bag, along with about 1,000 other people, who were all milling around, looking like the villagers in a Frankenstein movie because not one, but both, baggage carousels had broken down and not a single bag was coming down. The only Delta employee who could be found, poor thing, refused to come out of her little cubicle, for which you can hardly blame her, and periodically would make an announcement apologizing for the delay. By the time we got our baggage 90 minutes later, she was telling us that she was very, very, very, very, etc. sorry for the delay. Well, we grabbed our bag, granted her absolution and got into the taxi line, which, much to my amazement, was relatively uneventful-other than the New York City Thursday night rush hour, which like L.A. runs in both directions-and made our way to Manhattan.

My sister and her husband are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary as are Karen and I, so we decided we would celebrate and go to someplace special for brunch. Karen went to check out Per Se, which is the New York branch of the Northern California Restaurant ‘French Laundry’ and is located in the spectacular new Time Warner building on Columbus Circle, with windows that face Central Park. They introduced Karen to the maître d’, the captain, the waiter and the most important member of the culinary team, the man from Citibank who would arrange the financing for the meal and see that all the necessary trust deeds were signed and filed in case we decided to order wine.

Well, we decided to pass on that and instead took a chance on a restaurant for brunch called Petrossian on 58th street near Columbus Circle. It’s famous for its vodka and caviar and blinis. It was one of those places with beautiful ironwork and turn-of-the century doors in the entrance where you say to yourself “someday we’ve got to try that place,” but never do. Well, my recommendation to all of you is try it, it’s a find. Imagine a New York Upper West Side restaurant with a prix fixe brunch for $25 per person, which was excellent and beautifully served, with excellent and very reasonably priced French wines.

As for the rest, the leaves were still beautiful, the cabs cheap and the entire West Side full of people pushing baby buggies.

Broadway has had a tough season and my mom, Rose, is still putting along. She’s 97 1/2 years old, still lives in her apartment in Brooklyn, with 24-hour help, not quite sure where she is or who she is, but like the Energizer bunny, just goes on and on. Periodically, the building management in her rent-controlled apartment checks in to inquire about the state of her health. They invariably leave disappointed. Those old girls are tough.

P.S. If any of you have favorite places, restaurants, hotels or B&Bs, let us know and we’ll pass on the word.

P.P.S. Petrossian is located at 182 West 58th St., 212.245.2214, and I get no commission on any of you.