BBQ and books in New York City

At Madison Square Park
Near the Empire State Building

To continue my report of David I.S., Thomas K.Y.’s, and my latest visit to Manhattan, on Sunday, 12 June 2011, host Corbin A.Y. got us a classic breakfast at East Side Bagel & Appetizing. After saying goodbye to Andria K.Y. and Maia Y. for the morning, we again headed downtown.

We met Thomas at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Madison Square Park. (His host Stuart C.G. also rejoined us later.) While mostly college friends had joined us the day before, this time, the “Westchester crew” arrived — Damon F.P., Carlo R., and Ron J.K. Unfortunately, fellow Stepinac alumnus Steve M. was unable to come down from Connecticut because of a train fatality. Fellow Binghamtonians Dexter V.H. and Steve A.L. also eventually joined us.

Dave was pleased to find Dinosaur Bar-B-Que represented, and I enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches, sausage, and beer. The guys, some of whom hadn’t seen one another in years, caught up on relationships, jobs, and computer talk as we chowed down. It’s hard to believe that we’ve all been friends for 25 years or more!

Rather than waddle to the New York Expo or “Figment NYC” for even more food, Corbin graciously took us to his and Andria’s current offices, where we were able to lounge and talk without difficulty. As with “herding cats” the day before, I learned the value of including a private space for hanging out in the agenda for such visits. Who knows — next time, I might even run a one-shot game!

We then walked to the Strand Bookstore, one of the biggest independent brick-and-mortar booksellers left. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend as much time in the stacks as I had hoped, because I had to get Carlo (who had met us on both days) to a restroom after he became ill from something he had eaten. Spicy or fatty food, undercooked meat, and overeating and fatigue are hazards no matter where one travels.

Carlo eventually got his second wind, and we “urban hiked” to more retailers, including Cosmic Comics, which had lots of back issues, and the well-organized Time Machine. Dave didn’t find the obscure titles he sought, but Carlo learned about recent events in the DC and Marvel universes. Both retailers had good indie selections.

Since Carlo and Damon were tiring out, we stopped at a Pinkberry for yogurt snacks rather than press on to Book-Off, Metropolis Collectibles, Midtown Comics, or St. Mark’s Comics. So much to see, so little time! As I noted previously, I should block out time for roaming separately from group gatherings.

As we gradually disbanded, Dave, Thomas, and I found ourselves back on the Upper East Side. We stopped by Corb & Andria’s place and then met Stuart and his sons Sammy and Benji. We first tried to get dinner at Flex Mussels, but that restaurant was full, and we didn’t have a reservation. Fortunately, our second choice, Ithaka, had traditional Greek food. Dave and Thomas lived in Ithaca, N.Y., when they taught at Cornell University.

On Monday, June 13, Corbin escorted Dave and me to Penn Station, where we departed for Albany and Boston, respectively. On the way back, I began reading the fantasy mystery The City and the City, which Janice had read. Thomas planned to grab another dinner with Stuart before catching a red-eye train back north early Tuesday.

Since then, I’ve been busy with my second annual review at work, turnover in my department, and getting over a bad cold that Ron, a co-worker, and I all caught earlier this week. Among other things, I also watched the recorded half-season finale of Doctor Who, which I liked, despite a spotty season.

This coming weekend is Free RPG Day, as well as the opening of Green Lantern (although this Muppet trailer is more amusing). My Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Landstelecom fantasy game and FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures: “Vortexspace opera will also resume for a few sessions.

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