24 hour arty people

Turkish baths, a botanical garden and lots of shots: We challenged three readers to join us on an all-day, all-night culture marathon around the city. Who'll drop first?

8:30 AM — 5:00 PM  |  5:45 PM — 9:00 PM  |  10:15 PM — 4:30 AM


8:30 am


(86 E 7th St between First and Second Aves)
I can’t handle coffee. More accurately, I can’t handle caffeine; it really throws me for a loop. But this being insanely early for a Saturday morning (and insane is just barely hyperbolic), I don’t express my disapproval as my cohorts arrive and fuel up for what lies ahead. In this competition, TONY has challenged three readers to a 24-hour marathon of nonstop activity. The first to drop out loses; the last one standing wins bragging rights and a good, long nap. I have in my pocket a secret itinerary for the day (based on their suggestions and TONY’s), and my three competitors make it clear that they are not playing around. One of them even sent me this threatening e-mail: “It’s ON, Colin! Not even your comfortablest shoes will prepare you for the likes of me.” Needless to say, I’m nervous.

Katie Ett, native Ohioan and receptionist, and Meghan Cass, concierge for the well-to-do, are already at the café when I arrive. Once Brian Mak, online marketer extraordinaire, shows up, I realize that I’m not going back to bed for a while. Energy is high, the marathoners are bonding and yours truly is wondering what the hell he’s gotten himself into.

9:00 am

Russian and Turkish Baths

(268 E 10th St between First Ave and Ave A)
This institution has been around since 1892, looks it and seems to be frequented in the early morning by remnants of that era. After I face the prospect of getting naked next to an old man who appears to be wearing a sweater under his clothing, I put on the goofiest robe and sandals this side of Istanbul, and we head into the Turkish room for a coed steam. Katie only hangs for a bit (citing that steams make you tired), Meghan is just trying to sweat out the night before, and Brian loves the heat, showing scary stamina early on. This guy is going to be a problem…why won’t you people just go back to sleep?

10:30 am

Jing Fong

(20 Elizabeth St between Bayard and Canal Sts, second floor)
After retrieving Brian from the shvitz, we head downtown for dim sum. If you have the chance, I’d recommend going with a diner who knows Cantonese (like Brian) and who can pick out a breakfast of shark-fin dumplings and gelatinous almond pudding with fruit cocktail on top. Throughout the meal, Katie has a look on her face that says, “I’m not on the Ohio farm anymore.” Meghan’s vibe: “I am going to barf shark fin and almond pudding onto your shoe.”

11:45 am

Table Tennis Foundation

(384 Broadway between Walker and White Sts, lower level)
Everybody enters this unmarked basement ready for a real, face-to-face trial. There will be winners down here and there will be losers. Our feeling of grandiosity quickly subsides when we encounter hordes of (mostly Asian) preteens who are taking fierce lessons for their competitive Ping-Pong team. As we struggle to keep a rally going (props to first-timer and fast learner Meghan, and to Katie for constantly singing “You’re the Best” from The Karate Kid), these tiny masters smash the little orbs across the nets of the dozen tables with ease. Jealousy and humbleness set in. There are winners and losers, all right, and all four of us fall into the latter category.

2:00 pm

The Morgan Library

(225 Madison Ave at 36th St)
The effects of our steam session are kicking in (cue evil laugh by the TONY itinerary planners—fall asleep and lose!), just as we settle in for a conversation about the nature of conversation between Atonement author Ian McEwan and Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker as part of the PEN Festival. Meghan is close to nodding off and Brian keeps notes to stay awake, but, as it turns out, everyone finds the talk extremely engaging. We all identify with two topics of the back-and-forth: James Joyce’s short story “The Dead” and Homer’s Odyssey.

4:00 pm

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

(1000 Washington Ave at Eastern Pkwy, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn)
As we take the 4 train to Brooklyn, Brian studies for his upcoming GMAT, and Meghan describes her incredibly complicated boy situation. Our conversation turns to silence, however, when we enter the Sakura Matsuri festival at the Botanic Garden. The beauty of the cherry blossoms renders each of us speechless. Well, the beauty of the cherry blossoms and the outlandish outfits of many of the younger Japanese women. Katie remarks: “I wish I would have the confidence to wake up in the morning, put on a little maid costume, miniature hat, knee-high boots and say, ‘Now I’m ready to go to work.’ ”

5:00 pm

The streets of Crown Heights and Park Slope

We leave the flowery wonderland and are greeted by the real world. Meghan suggests calling a car service, but Brian and I think we can hail a cab more quickly. We are wrong. Thirty-five minutes later, the team is finally riding in one of Bloomberg’s fleet, silently dreaming of beers to come. Perhaps Pinker would describe our cognitive psychology as “worn the eff out.”

5:45 pm

Pete’s Candy Store

(709 Lorimer St between Frost and Richardson Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
Frustration mounts: Pete’s annual Kentucky Derby Party is more crowded than a Lower East Side tenement in the 1890s. After a few minutes, Williamsburg resident Katie suggests (well, commands) that we get out in a hurry.


8:30 AM — 5:00 PM  |  5:45 PM — 9:00 PM  |  10:15 PM — 4:30 AM

6:00 pm

Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern

(188 Bedford Ave between North 6th and 7th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
Everything is in its right place when we arrive at Rosemary’s. Gigantic beers in Styrofoam cups are poured (ten hours after my first hankering), and we are finally rewarded with a moment of peace. It doesn’t last for long, as the Kentucky Derby kick-starts and—oh shit, did they just euthanize that horse on the track? It doesn’t really get more ominous than that. After we pour out some Bud (Rosemary’s doesn’t sell Olde English) for Eight Belles, our own race continues…

7:30 pm

Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

(307 W 26th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves)
After an arduous L train ride (when is the Hipster Express working correctly?) and improvised crosstown bus foray, we aptly find ourselves at the temple of extemporization. The Let’s Have a Ball crew (which includes writers from 30 Rock, the Cone Zone and Colbert) is on its game, our laughter is invigorating, and when an audience member suggests Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” we knew we couldn’t. This happy bonding lasts all of five minutes, until we get outside and it’s raining.

8:30 pm

A New York City taxi cab

Saturday-night traffic sucks. Believing put on notice.

9:00 pm

Parkside Lounge

(317 E Houston St at Attorney St)
We finally get to a Mexican restaurant for some Cinco de Mayo festivities, but the long wait postpones our celebration, so we give our names and then walk down the street to the closest bar we can find, which just so happens to have Ms. Pac-Man. Brian, who has abandoned booze for the time being along with Katie (aww, are you guys sleepy?), is quite handy with the joystick. Meghan and I stay within our skill set: drinking.


8:30 AM — 5:00 PM  |  5:45 PM — 9:00 PM  |  10:15 PM — 4:30 AM

10:15 pm

El Maguey y La Tuna

(321 E Houston St between Attorney and Ridge Sts)
This muy authentico, no-frills joint is a gem. The enchilada sauce has just the right forceful kick, Katie and Brian’s two different moles are distinct and flavorful (Katie says it’s the best she’s ever had and Brian’s is actually called “underground mole” by the waiter, whatever that means), and they give me a sombrero, for cryin’ out loud. The group struggles to empty a pitcher of margaritas, and when the waiter brings free shots of tequila, it must be the first time ever in the history of the world that a group of twentysomethings is not excited to receive them. Nevertheless, we put them down and press on.

11:00 pm

Cake Shop

(152 Ludlow St between Rivington and Stanton Sts)
We swing by the third-anniversary party of this bakery/record store/bar/concert venue to check out a couple of bands and rub elbows, elbows and more elbows with the full crowd. The suffocating atmosphere prompts the following text message: “This is Katie. I’m outside. Hipsters suck.”

12:00 am

Landmark Sunshine Cinema

(143 E Houston St between First and Second Aves)
After a bodega stop, Katie, Brian, Meghan and I—plus three bags of candy and a couple of beers—head into the Sunshine for the director’s cut of Alien. As we’re about to get our tickets, Meghan brings the hammer down: She’s out. She wants to go to a friend’s birthday and, she says, the movie (wickedly planted in the middle of a night of partying) wasn’t in the cards. After hugs and kind words, Meghan departs. Katie and Brian say they’re sad to see her go, but I know they’re really glad that one has bitten the dust.

2:15 am

Sing Sing Karaoke

(81 Ave A between 5th and 6th Sts)
Turns out Katie is a karaoke vet and Brian…well, let’s just say he really gets into it when his number is called. However, earlier in the day, he’d turned his Adidas visor-beanie around and told us that he wanted to write lyrics for a karaoke freestyle. Meghan and Katie had to inform him, regrettably, that (a) you can’t write lyrics for freestyle rap and (b) that’s not what karaoke is. Such details have been cleared up by this point in the night, and our crew (which now includes the returned Meghan—how much fun could a 40-year-old’s party have been compared with hanging out with us?) is the coolest in the house (did you really just pick “Sweet Caroline,” people?). We set the bar high with my “I Swear” by All-4-One. Katie keeps it going with some Phantom Planet. Brian, mercifully, doesn’t freestyle, and all of our tunes are performed as a group (how cute). As the place is closing down, a drunk guy approaches and says, “You guys had by far the best song selection. It was awesome.” We know, dude, step off; we don’t have room for groupies on this train.

4:30 am


(144 Second Ave at 9th St)
We march on for a little sustenance after the surly karaoke bartenders forced us out at closing time. As our Eastern European waitress finally plops down the right plates on her third try, my competitors look beat. I see my opening and go in for the kill. So…who wants to go to church? Katie stops cold, a noodle from her mac and cheese dangling from her mouth. Brian, intrigued by the curveball, nearly rallies but then drops his head in defeat. To them, a beautiful dawn walk through the Financial District followed by a taste of city history (in the form of 8am services in George Washington’s tabernacle) isn’t worth the winning to them. Pussies. After some delicate diplomacy but not much debate, they agree to drop out simultaneously, so that they can both win and avoid a date with the Lord.


E-mail inyc@timeoutny.com and tell us your pefect itinerary. We may take you out for an upcoming issue.