January 2009

Anyone who’s spent much time in Manhattan in the past few years is all too familiar with the hideous 12-foot inflatable rat that labor unions station outside buildings to protest the building’s union-unfriendly owners and/or tenants. The rat spent a few months stationed outside my office building recently, protesting (I think) the pseudotrendy, pseudogourmet soup-and-wrap haven Cosi on the corner. It disappeared, but this week I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this creature again every day on my walk to work; it’s stationed on 5th Ave between 33rd and 34th Streets.

This time, though, it’s got a friend: a very well-dressed inflatable pig, complete with top hat, vest, and pinstriped shirt. I’ve seen the pig before, but I’d never seen them together.

Inflatable Union Pig and Rat

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As Gene Kelly, Frank Sintra, and¬†Third Guy¬†famously sang, New York, New York, is a helluva town. I was born here, grew up here, and, despite having moved to the suburbs a few years ago, still consider myself very much a New Yorker. There have been countless songs, books, stories, plays, and poems written about the greatness that is New York City, but none of them mention the person I saw this morning outside Penn Station wearing a giant red tomato costume. That’s what I’ll be doing: showing you the sites and sounds of New York not in the form of tourist spots and landmarks but in the form of the crazy/fun/unusual/annoying/ridiculous/sublime things I see here every day. I hope you enjoy the tour.

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