Become the hero-or heroine-of your own story. Just watch out for the kryptonite.
Thu Jun 25 2009
Photographs by Jolie Rubin
Start: Valhalla, 815 Ninth Ave
End: Phone booth, 17th St at Fifth Ave
Distance: 4.3 miles
Time: 3 hours
1 Mortals tremble as the sons of Odin quaff superior ales from the spigots at Valhalla (815 Ninth Ave between 53rd and 54th Sts, 212-757-2747). It’s the perfect bracer before setting out on our Walk of Heroes. This journey is not recommended for the faint of heart. Worlds and lives may be broken before all is done. Stay the course. All is not yet lost.
2 Walk east toward Broadway, and behold the innocent pedestrians, unaware of the paladin strolling boldly through the sunshine. You may envy them their petty concerns, this need to pick up the laundry and score sweet seats to Rock of Ages. They do not understand the weight of responsibility that rests on your shoulders. But the shopkeeps at Midtown Comics (200 W 40th St at Seventh Ave, 212-302-8192) just might. They guard two floors of G.I. Joe action figures, DVDs like the 25th- anniversary edition of Transformers season one ($26.99) and graphic novels, making this one of the best places in the city to read about your fearless colleagues. Be sure to time your visit to Amber Benson’s signing on Saturday 27 at 3pm—her book, Death’s Daughter, follows a heroine who happens to be Death’s spawn.
3 Continue your travels through Hell’s Kitchen, the fiery realm of Mephisto and Gordon Ramsay. Stop at the Trapeze School New York (518 W 30th St at Tenth Ave; 212-242-8769, trapezeschool.com) to show off your inborn skills at one of Joshua Dean’s aerial conditioning classes on Thursday 25 (6:30pm, $35) or Sunday 28 (4:30pm, $35), utilizing static trapeze and other apparatuses in a circuit-training format. Soar with a grace that would make the Man of Steel totally jealous.
4 As you race toward the Hudson in search of civilians to save, gaze at the grim land of New Jersey, and consider that a true hero made his mark at this very spot: It was here that Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed a plane on the water without loss of nongeese life this past January. Pay homage to his act at 23rd Street and the West Side Highway.
5 Spidey uses powers garnered from radioactive web-builders to scale skyscrapers. Hone your own climbing skills at the Field House at Chelsea Piers (Pier 62, 23rd St at the Hudson River; 212-336-6500, $22 per class). Practice on the climbing wall Tuesday through Thursday (7:30--9:30pm) before you graduate to tall buildings.
6 Make your way east against the sun until you come upon a Men’s Wearhouse (655 Sixth Ave between 20th and 21st Sts; 212-243-3517, menswearhouse.com). Stock up on the mild-mannered “biz cas” threads you require to fool the populace. Right next door is Scuba Network (655 Sixth Ave between 20th and 21st Sts; 212-243-2988, scubanetwork.com; $299--$399 for scuba-certification course). It’s a simple task to become internationally certified via online or in-person classes, followed by a few sessions in the pool and open-water dives with an instructor. Purchase your diving equipment at the store (you need a mask, a snorkel, fins, an instructional kit and a slate) and receive $100 off the certification class price. You’ll soon be fit to put Namor and Aquaman to shame.
7 Emerge from your dreams of Atlantis and sushi; it’s time to toughen up. Frank Castle (the Punisher) didn’t learn how to trash criminal vermin overnight. He had experience—and weapons. Head to the nearby West Side Rifle and Pistol Range (20 W 20th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-929-7287, westsidepistolrange.com). While you can’t shoot handguns without a license, anyone 21or over is free to fire .22-caliber rifles ($65 per person includes 20--30 minutes of instruction and 50 rounds) after passing a background check.
8 Lest we become too beholden to troubled male heroes, consider the deadly Elektra. The on-again, off-again lady-ninja love interest of Daredevil is a martial-arts master. Follow in her footsteps by enrolling in a class with Master Andrew JeaHo Hahn at the International Martial Arts Center (4 W 18th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-242-5759, imac-nyc.com; monthly memberships begin at $175). Hahn is an eighth-degree black belt in tae kwon do and a sixth-degree black belt in aikido, and his instruction offers a mixture of both. Under his tutelage, you’ll never fear another warrior attack.
9 We were saddened to hear, straight from the twisted metal synapses of Brainiac, that there aren’t too many phone booths around our metropolis available for quick changes into garishly colored tights. These days, it might make more sense to duck into a local Starbucks. Purists will be gratified to learn, however, that public phone booths can be found near the corner of 17th Street and Fifth Avenue. Please refrain from casting a spell of retribution when the cops haul you in for exposing yourself in public. No hero should take that long to primp.