Originally I was going to just re-post this list from Eater NY, which only arrived in my mailbox a couple weeks ago: 50 Reasons to Love New York Dining in the Wintertime Yes, it would have been with irony, since today's the first day of spring according to the calendar. But instead I had the type of day that one wants to share with people, so now that Fun Foodie NYC Tours is officially registered with the City of New York, you can read about the whole experience as recapped on the Subway ride to my next adventure and eventually home.
Using the additional funds raised from earlier-mentioned campaign, I got my paperwork together (one of which I needed in the end of course), and hopped on the train down to 60 Centre Street. The Supreme Court Building--you know it, because it's always the one they use in Law & Order, and every other courthouse exterior shot, because it's so old and grand that it screams to be filmed, it says: "Important things happen here! Take notice!" I thought I had been inside before, but when I was inside it didn't look familiar at all. It's quite a spectacle inside. Not just because of the security (I'm a jaded NYer...I expect nothing less), but mostly because it's such a representative of our crazy mixed up government. So great in scope that it's somewhat intimidating, yet at the core, it's comprised merely of everyday citizens surrounded by old books. And, that last part is actually pretty literal. Not to mention the disconnect from what you're told one day and what you actually have to do the next.
Let's explore the end of that, shall we? So, on the helpful nyc.gov website there are all these tools for small businesses...including a survey or two you can take that will compile a checklist of forms and steps you may want or need to complete in order to get set up. The #1 item on my list is the Doing Business As, or Certificate of an Assumed Name paperwork. This is what led me to the messy Supreme Court site, where the offices of the county clerk are held. Of course, on this screen I'm told that the office is room 161. After I go through security, I have to check my camera, that I even forgot I had on me...damn it, now I just remembered I had it walking around Brooklyn and didn't even use it! What a waste! But getting back to the civic district...I ask the nice armed guard where to go for room 161 and he points me in the direction, where I find out that it's not the right place and I'm to go to the basement for room 109B. Sounds ominous...and it kind of was. When I got out of the elevator, I thought it would only be more appropriate if I the lights were flickering as they were already dimmer than just one floor above. I walk passed some other gated room and find the proper hallway to my left. I enter a room that greets you with copiers and very old, dust-covered books that probably hold the business certificates for City Hall itself! At first I'm excited by the romanticism in the history of the place, but then I meet my (less-than-happy) civil servant who will guide be through the rest of this process, and I'm brought back to reality, with our monotonous, I'm sure, exchange.
Of course, I think to myself, this is all apart of the game. While there was mention online about a coffee shop on the 1st floor, I didn't see it when I came in so I figured it wasn't real. But when I got back up to 1, I simply asked my old friend in the Kevlar where I could find such a place and he pointed me to the direction of the tucked away shop,, and assured me I would not have to go through all those scanners again....although that could possibly be illegal and if you think too much about it, rather worrisome. But seeing as how I wouldn't be spending too much time there, nor did I have any evil plans, I figured what the hell. Inside the shop the legal forms are advertised, but not displayed. I tell the grayed gentleman which one I need and take note of the signs that snarkily ask you to please pay the cashier for your goods before leaving "let's pretend I'm in business to make money" or something like that. Once I have my form I head back to the elevator rotunda for my lift to the ground floor records room, and my own personal civil servant (too far?) is there to guide me through the complex process of filling out my company name, given name, and address for both. And as he goes to get the paper notarized by a colleague and make copies, I take a moment to absorb my surroundings. I realize that I'm standing in what is the prototype office for caged up government employees. I watch the man who's dressed in jeans and some sort of print-screened shirt as he goes through the motions of pushing my papers through the system so that I may continue to live my life the way I choose to live it, with freedom, flexibility, and joy. I'm obviously drawn into the world of "I wonder". I remember that one of my fellow interns at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater works as a Court Marshall, and I wonder what it is that this guy does on his free time--maybe he's an artist? In a band? Fellow comic of sorts? Either way, this is not his happiness. And I see the pictures around the room of co-workers that pretend to enjoy one another to pass the days by, and as I'm moved to the cashiers cage to pay $120 for a couple pieces of paper, I notice the family photos she has to serve as reminders of the life beyond these walls. Now, I know that I'm making a lot of assumptions here. I know that there are plenty of people out there that don't care about the same things I do...but that's why most of those people tend to live in the suburbs. Seeing these things in, what I believe to be, the greatest city in the world, is like stepping into an alternate universe. Now, this is not my first time being confronted by government employees or government in general, but given the circumstances and location everything was just that much more heightened. Making my gratitude truly sincere when I was handed my receipt and told "Good luck" by a professional money-taker/well-wisher. The words were appropriate for so many reasons, but most importantly as the whole experience reminded me of just how lucky I am.
On the way out I shared the elevator with my CS man and a few other characters in the building as they politely laughed at one of their stale jokes that I'd say could be heard at any office...but it was about bullet-proof vests, so maybe not. I watched him go to the little coffee shop as I walked out the door and thought how much I wanted him to at least get a coffee outside so he could get some of that mood-lifting vitamin k. But then I figured for all I know he could actually hate the sun...so maybe he's happier to work in a dungeon of records. After documenting my accomplishment, I moved on to my next stop--Carroll Gardens, where I was fed and inspired and further sure that I had just spent a very important $120.