Perfect Day (2008)

Michael Musto

I'm wondering what my ideal New York day would be like, mainly because that was the assignment, but also because it's incredibly gratifying to imagine such a 24-hour period of nirvana with a side of corn dogs and a sprinkling of radical fairy dust. Well, I'd spend the day gamely cheerleading for our damaged entertainment scene, while sending a big old "fuck you" to the terrorists by living, loving, and seizing back some joy. Grabbing at the escapist delights of our free world is the best revenge, and in New York, you get the extra bonus of being able to grovel before culture you couldn't possibly find in Peoria (or a cave in Afghanistan).

Photograph by Sylvia Plachy
And that includes schlock culture. Call me trivial, but for sheer fun, I'd drag my tired cineast over to TOWER VIDEO (383 Lafayette Street, 505-1166), which has a unique assortment of classics, turkeys, and camp artifacts, all of which are well suited to taking your mind off things. A Raquel Welch dumpling called Shoot Loud, Louder . . . I Don't Understand eerily represents all three of the above genres—in fact, that one's about as close to kitsch heaven as you can legally get for $1.49 plus tax.

I'm culturally eclectic, so I'd then journey all the way across the street to OTHER MUSIC (15 East 4th Street, 477-8150) for even higher camp—a copy of that Judy Garland Speaks! CD, in which the late legend yammers on about how much she detests her ex-hubby and "sadist," Sid Luft. This bizarre recording is riveting and poignant, but ultimately so boozily relentless that you want to scream, "Shut up loud, louder . . . I don't understand!"

And then the brave trek uptown would begin—try to understand—to a land of loud, louder neon, where Sanrio's HELLO KITTY shop (233 West 42nd Street, 840-6011) is delightfully filled with items both kitschy and functional. (Is there a difference?) It might be deeply embarrassing to get caught at such a crassly commercial establishment, but it's important to buy, buy, buy these days, and comfortingly enough, the house slogan is the reasonable "Small gift, big smile!" Besides, in Times Square, you're guaranteed not to ever run into anyone you'd ever know.

Still more time to fill until taking my seizure medication? Then I'd schlepp to some of the obvious New York attractions that a lot of people think are too banal to waste time on, but which happen to be so obvious because they're that good. (And we now know the importance of treasuring the clichéd.) For starters, I'd pick up half-price tix for a Broadway matinee, ANY BROADWAY MATINEE, seeing as the legit theater needs the help, and besides, I've had tap shoes and bugle beads in my blood since my little Fosse hands popped out of the womb. I will even see replacement casts!

Then I'd high-kick up to the CENTRAL PARK CHILDREN'S ZOO (65th Street and Fifth Avenue, 861-6030), where the cutest star attraction is a pubescent alpaca with the funkiest hairdo, who'll gleefully lick pieces of 25-cent feed out of your hand. As someone who's never had children, I need this to feel wanted.

The child in me would feel elevated at the METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART (82nd Street and Fifth Avenue, 535-7710), though I recommend that you bring someone who not only adores art, but is willing to carry you up and down all those kooky stairs to see it. I loved the recent Jackie Kennedy show—it was only up one flight—and, unlike the critics, didn't think the outfit with the blood would have worked in that context. In fact, I love any museumlike the CLOISTERS (Fort Tryon Park, 923-3700), which provides sumptuous medieval splendor. Plus I hear there's a sex park right nearby.

Naturally, the day would end online, where there are two Web sites that must never fold: UPROAR.COM, which has an incredibly addicting version of Family Feud, and ASK JEEVES, to which you can ask questions like "How can I adequately fill my vagina?" and it will actually try to answer. But wait a goddamned minute. Everything I've mentioned is what my life consists of. I'm the luckiest kvetch in the world. Fuck you, Mr. Bin Laden!


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