Then Rockefeller Center.
While we were browsing in the air-conditioned NBC studio gift shop, a girl with a clip board asked us if we wanted to watch Jimmy Fallon rehearse his monologue. After she assured us it would only take an hour, we figured why not?
After going through a security screening, we waited here for about 40 minutes. The "Naked Cowboy," a guest on the show that night, walked by. Oddly enough for a person whose shtick is nudity, his outfit was made up of several patches of long fur. Or something. I didn't know who he was at the time and I thought he might be crazy, so I was trying not to stare. Supposedly we missed Heidi Klum, the main guest for the night, by about three minutes.
We took an elevator up and then waited just outside the studio. Some of the writers answered questions and talked us up while we stood there. It seemed like a pretty intense job. The studio itself was really small. Jimmy Fallon came across as a very hard-working, down-to-earth guy. He read through a few pages of jokes, noting which ones got the biggest laughs, and thanked us for being there. Here's the surreptitious forbidden photo Shaun took as we walked in:
Radio City Music Hall is between Rockefeller Center and our next stop, the Museum of Modern Art. We didn't go in. But here's the sign.
Due to our late start and our Jimmy Fallon detour, we didn't get much time at MOMA. We'll have to go back.
We had a good panini there, and a delicious local beer.
We saw Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World, rather ignominiously hung (we thought) in a hallway near an information table. But I guess it's good that it was in a high traffic area--we were in such a rush that we surely would have missed it otherwise.
If you are OK with a little "language," do go see something at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. That's what we did next after grabbing some food. Tickets cost from $5-10 (reserve them online ahead of time) and they have all sorts of things going on, with several different episodic shows most evenings.
Drinks are lowbrow and super cheap, and it is good fun to sit in their dark little den of a theater. Get there early for a good seat. As you can see, any closer and we would have been sitting in the performer's laps.
As fun and "New York-y" as that was, the evening's grand finale was eating dinner at Gramercy Tavern. You can't make a reservation for the Tavern (you can for the more formal dining room), but they have a three course menu for only $35 every night after 5:30, which is a ridiculously good bargain.
Shaun and I got to the restaurant at about 10pm and were the only ones in the small entry waiting for a table, when Shaun pointed to the front door with a reflexive jerk of his arm. Conan O'Brien and his wife had just walked in, not ten feet from us.
What does Conan look like in his down time? Well, his hair does not bear its characteristic wave in the front. It was sticking out in all directions, like a bird had built a nest on his head. He is still very bearded. And very, very skinny, in a black button-down and black pants. Rather like a depressed scarecrow. Not unpleasant but completely unapproachable. His wife was slim and pretty and blond and not glammed out in the slightest.
The host did not give away our table and the O'Briens ended up very graciously eating at the bar rather than waiting for another. Shaun had an excellent view of them the entire time.
We probably could have gone home happy after just that first day, but I'm glad there were three more to follow!
UPDATE: For those of you interested in the food at Gramercy Tavern, Shaun was underwhelmed overall, and I (as is often the case) thought the appetizers and desserts were great, but the main courses were merely fine; nothing special.
My meal: lamb papardelle with olives, lemon confit, and swiss chard (I should have stopped there; it was perfect); grilled hangar steak with collard greens, spaetzle, and green garlic sauce (meh); and rhubarb bread pudding with sour cream ice cream and caramelized white chocolate (mmm).
Shaun's meal: chilled zucchini soup with cucumbers and fried oysters (yum); trout with shiitake mushrooms, basil and snap peas (didn't even try it); and chocolate pudding with salted caramel and brioche croûtons (so good.) Hungry now?