Random replies to random travel thoughts

Seth Godin posted a provocative piece (is that redundant? Seth’s goal is to be nothing but provocative) Saturday entited Random travel thoughts. In it he challenges the conventional wisdom about a lot of the headaches of airline travel.
As a fellow business traveler I have seen and contemplated many of Seth’s observations. Pragmatist that I am, I thought I’d expand and rebut a few of his points. On the whole, I agree with his thesis (“we can do better”) but not his overall view.
Why does a banana cost twenty cents at the supermarket and $1.61 at SFO? Are hungry people supposed to subsidize non-hungry travelers?
This is simple economics at work, not airline policy. My $4.06 frappuccino at any other Manhattan Starbucks cost me $5 at the Javits Center last week. A bottle of water that costs 20 cents in bulk and $1.25 at the corner store is $4.50 at Yankee Stadium (this year… next season, at the new park, it’ll be $9). Captive audiences demand premium payments.
Why doesn’t the airport have sleeping benches?
Sleeping benches encourage loitering. Apparently some airports, like the new American terminal at DFW, bring out springy hammock-like cots when people get stuck at the airport overnight.
After seven years, why is random yelling still the way that TSA screeners communicate their superstitious rules to people in line?
Security in general is a joke to all but the dangerous. Why did the security guards at Yankee Stadium make my brother throw away a perfectly good, safe Bluefly shopping bag and put his things in a clear plastic bag instead? Ridiculous. Unless you’re the guy with the gunpowder.
Why does the FAA require the airlines to explain to every passenger how to buckle their seatbelt?
I’m guessing someone sued. I wonder how Seth feels about snarky flight attendants who poke fun at their own requirements, or the Virgin America safety film that assumes you’re yawning and disinterested, and assumes the same vibe.

Sarah Palin’s 1984 Miss Alaska Pageant Video, Swimsuit Competition

On Friday I posted in this space a link to a YouTube file of Sarah Palin’s Miss Alaska swimsuit competition. YouTube quickly removed the link, but investigative blogger nonpareil Andy Baio saved the footage and posted it on his own server. Take a look: this woman could be next in line for the presidency come November. (Andy is also the one who unearthed the YouTube post.)
Related: Katie Couric interviews Sarah Palin. Repeat: this woman could be next in line for the presidency.

Shake Shack UWS

Regular readers of this space know your host is something of a burger fan. So it is no surprise that I enjoy Shake Shack in the backyard of my office by the Flatiron building.
My wife, jealous for the past year at my proximity to the Shackburger, has had shpilkes for months in anticipation of the Upper West Side Shake Shack on 77th and Columbus. The New York Sun ran a thorough update on the new location today, including this nugget:

When the decision was made to open another Shake Shack, the location of the outpost wasn’t chosen from a particular comparison of neighborhoods. “Randy Garutti, who is our managing partner, committed himself fully to Shake Shack about a year and a half ago,” Mr. Meyer said. “Randy happens to live two blocks away from this site….”

Recent tweets

For those not playing the Twitter game:

  • Ordered dinner to bring home to my wife. Working near my old apartment makes this feasible. But carrying sushi on the subway…? 06:30 PM September 23, 2008
  • New best resume note, seen in a cover letter: ” I am documentation incarnate. If documentation was a casbah, I would surely rock it.” 03:31 PM September 17, 2008
  • the web 2.0 expo floor feels awfully web 1.0. Flashbacks to “who can get the best swag” contests circa 1998 11:33 AM September 17, 2008
  • My least favorite resumes are the ones that make me go, “Why did you send this to me?” I prefer the purely horrible to the clueless 05:22 PM September 16, 2008
  • If I made “no typos or grammatical errors” a criterion for granting interviews, I’d lose two-thirds of my applicant pool sight unseen. Sad. 11:51 AM September 15, 2008
  • “Other skills” seen on resumes this morning: driver’s license; reside only 2 miles from the train; wrote for Shecky’s bar guide 11:22 AM September 15, 2008
  • I still call it Ofoto, don’t you? 02:05 PM September 09, 2008

Last and first

Fan familyMy infatuation with the New York Yankees, and by extension Yankee Stadium, dates to my first game in 1978. I was five. My parents brought me–I believe with friends who had a son near my age–and someone (I like to pretend it was Reggie Jackson) hit a foul ball within a row or two of our seats. This being 1978, the stadium wasn’t all that full, and my parents encouraged me to chase the ball. I was too shy to do it. But I was amazed that I could be that close to the action, and I came home with a WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS 1977 pennant that hung on my wall for the next 15 years.
I’ve been a Yankee fan ever since. And I’ve been to scores of Yankee games, many during the Yankee dynasty of the late 1990s. I’ve chanted Roll Call from the bleachers, sung “New York, New York” more times than I can count, and even gotten thrown out of a game once.
In recent years, I hadn’t been to Yankee Stadium all that much, maybe one or two games a season, as priorities shifted and life intervened. Still, I remained a Yankee fan in full, soaking up multiple articles daily in the New York Times and following every trade, promotion and signing.
I’m a sentimental guy, so the closing of the stadium saddens me. The intentional destruction of such a historic location is a shame. I’ve had a heavy heart in recent weeks as my beloved Yankees stumbled toward a third-place finish and a quiet end to Yankee Stadium.
But I was surprised by just how much I wanted to be there. To soak up the atmosphere. To look at the scenery. To see the 4 train in the gap in right field. To feel the weight and pride of the Stadium as I did when I was five, and 25, again as a 35-year-old. So I got tickets to a game, once with my family, then again with a friend. But still I needed more.
And so it was that Saturday found me on the 4 train, my son, Nathan, in a carrier on my shoulders, him in a batting-practice onesie, me in my away jersey. My wife, Amy, packed the diaper bag and wore my cap as we headed to Yankee Stadium for one last game. A day game, the last one, on the final weekend of games, for Nathan to see for himself.
Nate was all of 115 days old as of yesterday, and his memories of the day will be slight, at best. But I can tell him we were there, enjoying a Yankee victory on a glorious September afternoon. How we had great seats in the lower level, just to the third-base side of home plate–“I think the best I’ve ever sat in,” said Amy–for a fast-paced 1-0 game, won on a Robinson Cano single in the bottom of the ninth. How we took lots of photos, and strolled close to home plate, and rode the 4 train like true New York fans. And how my little boy enjoyed it all: happily taking in the sights and sounds the first four innings, making new friends everywhere we walked, gamely braving crowds, sleeping on the subway. He even ate lunch at the game, just like Mom and Dad. It was terrific.
And Amy, bless her heart, indulging me and Nathan both, gamely changing his diaper in a stadium ladies’ room, feeding him in the mayhem of the ninth inning, lingering long past the final pitch to take pictures and soak up the moment: a more accommodating, loving wife and mother would be hard to find. I’ve lost track of the number of times I have thanked her this weekend. Yet the joy in my eyes tells her more than I could say.
The outing has made for an extremely emotional weekend. I hadn’t fully grasped just how important my Yankee allegiance is to me, or how much I revered the ballpark. Sharing that with my son, however silly it may be at his age, was truly special.
“Someday,” I’ve been telling people, “Nathan is going to thank me for bringing him to the old Yankee Stadium.” But that’s only part of the story. I owe him my thanks, for being such a good, fun little kid, for making our trip a success, and for being here for me to share with him.
I became a father on May 28, but on Saturday, I became a dad.