(Super Bowl XLVIII is Sunday in New Jersey with two Western teams involved, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. Golferswest.com’s Bob Sherwin is in New York City all week, with his NYC-based daughter Mary, to represent and provide insight as to what the fans are experiencing in this cold and captivating capital of the world).
NEW YORK – New York is famous for its original design in which the streets were laid out like a grid.
This week it’s a gridiron.
About 13 straight blocks, spanning north, south and through Times Square on Broadway between 34th and 47th streets, are devoted to the NFL experience.
FOX Sports, which will broadcast the game, has a temporary booth with live interviews and commentary virtually all day. Folks gather around it like they’ve never seen a hairpiece.
There’s a full-sized goalpost and an turf in which participants can kick field goals for a chance to win $10,000.
In another section, a temporary building houses the Super Bowl trophy and there’s actually a line backing up out of the building for people waiting to take a picture of it. The building is also used for fans wanting autographs from NFL legends, who are brought in at various intervals.
A toboggan run has been set up on an adjoining street. There’s another line there to ride it down but it’s a little lame. People were getting stuck halfway down. Another precaution, perhaps, by the NFL to limit concussions.
What you don’t find here are many team colors, Seattle or Denver. Clearly, this is not a home game for these teams. Nos. 12 or Nos. 18 are not in abundance. Maybe they will be as the week continues but right now it Rangers this and Yankees that.
The most prominent uniform on the Manhattan streets is fur, which I thought was dead. Well, it is. But there was such a campaign to eliminate fur coats, jackets and hats that I thought people would be embarrassed to wear the animals anymore. Or afraid of a new paint job.
Not here. Mint is back. Long coats. Waist jackets. Russian hats. Stoles. Women as well as men. Dressed to impress, or anything to hold off the cold.
Celebrities galore – and one to ignore
Throughout the week, there may be more celebrities from all worlds – sports, TV, movies, politics and media – than perhaps any Super Bowl ever. It’s New York, after all, the media and entertainment capital of the universe.
Sports Illustrated cover girl Kate Upton made an appearance during the media sessions. Makes me wish I was a regular reporting hack again. Well, not really.
Walking around the city today we saw a handful among the thousands of faces, some quite obscure.
Jerry Springer passed us walking down 5th Avenue. No fights broke out.
An original Ghostbuster Harold Remis – or someone impersonating him – crossed the street in front us at near Rockefeller Plaza.
Melissa Lee, the host of CNBC’s ‘Fast Money,’ walked through Times Square. That’s an obscure one.
Late in the day, Eric Stonestreet, who plays Cameron Tucker on ‘Modern Family,’ passed us as he was escorting family members. He had been a guest on David Lettermen.
Seattle’s most celebrated rapper, Macklemore, should be here by Sunday along with super fan Joel McHale, the star of sitcom “Community.” Not sure who would represent Denver. John Elway will be here. He’s the team president. Not a lot of other famous folks from the Mile High city. The good ones are all dead.
There were a pair of ‘celebs’ on the plane from Seattle to JFK Tuesday night. One’s a reach, Glenn Phillips of the highly TV advertised personal-injury Phillips Law Firm, with branches in Seattle and California. He was sitting in coach, which tells me he doesn’t fly first class unless it’s on your dime.
The other was tennis legend Martina Navratilova. I didn’t notice her until baggage claim – and wish I hadn’t. I was taking pictures of the various Super Bowl signs around the airport and, when I recognized her, I snapped a quick one of her. No big deal, right?
Martina and I go way back. She had been one of my all-time favorites ever since I wrote a story on her 30 years ago (that long?) when I worked for the San Francisco Examiner. It was on her nutrition and fitness and she couldn’t have been more accommodating. It was one of the nicest connections I’ve had with an athlete and I wanted to mention that one-time meeting.
When I approached her and told her of our interview back in 1984, she snapped.
“Who told you to take a picture of me? You think I’m just an object and not a person?”
Whoa. She’s changed.
I didn’t quite understand her rage, especially from someone who has had photographers in her face for 40 years. Is this as invasion of privacy at the JFK baggage claim?
“If you wanted to take a picture with him, just ask.”
Didn’t want to tell her that I didn’t really want a picture with her, but just of her. It’s the journalist/tourist side of me. I had no idea what I would do with it.
At one point I offered to delete it, if that’s what she wanted. It had no real value to me. She just continued.
“I’m a human being, not an object,” she said. “Would you want someone taking a picture of you?”
“If someone took a picture of me,” I responded, “I’m not sure I’d be quite as reactionary.”
She just went on, and off.
I gave her enough rope and didn’t want to really get into it with her (you always know what to say about a half hour later). An apology was unnecessary, which I think she was waiting for.
“OK.” And I slithered away. Damn paparazzi.
As my NYC-based daughter said when I told her the story, “you’ve been here one day and already got into an argument. Welcome to New York.”
Tour of the day
For those coming to New York, this week or anytime in the future, here’s a neighborhood tour (read: where locals hang out) – courtesy of the aspiring dancer daughter Mary, who has lived here nearly three years.
Our tour today – East Village in lower Manhattan.
We had dinner at an authentic Italian restaurant Gnocco. Great pizza with a crust that is credit-card thin. And in New York you eat it like New Yorkers, not like new mayor Bill de Blasio. He used a fork – a fork! – at a Staten Island pizza joint recently and was mocked in the media. The fork he used is now on display at GoodFalla’s.
No, the way you eat pizza here is you fold it and take big bites.
From there we went to a speakeasy. Or a facsimile. It’s called Please Don’t Tell on St. Mark’s Place. You walk into what appears to be a legitimate hot dog deli – and you can get a hot dog. But there is an old phone booth to your right. You go in, shut the door, pick up the phone and a woman answers. She eventually opens the door against the back of the booth to a new bar.
Unfortunately, our reservation – you need reservations – was at midnight and it was 10:30 p.m. We didn’t want to wait and they wouldn’t let us in – even though we told him we knew Martina Navratilova.
We went to another speakeasy a block away called Death and Company. We had a half hour wait so we spent that time at a hole-in-the bar nearby, Amor y Amargo. Cool atmosphere; good drinks.
Death and Company – you don’t forget that name – was dark and moody with more good drinks, just a little more expensive.
We ended our evening at Central Bar on Ninth St. It’s one of two ‘Seahawks’ bars in the city. The other is Carlow East on the upper East Side.
Nearly two weeks earlier, Mary was at Central for the 49ers game and couldn’t stand the tension. She said the place was packed and electric. At one point she was encouraged to stand on the bar, which she did. She had the best view in the place, of the crowd and the game. She’s also now on the bar’s promotional website.
We finished the evening there with a few more drinks and, with all the customers departed, the bar-tender played Pearl Jam’s Alive for us and we rocked our way home.