New York City has a well-earned reputation for serving up tasty pizza—a quality that is rarely duplicated in other parts of the country and indeed the world. But with its many top-notch pizzerias and pizza restaurants come a lot of ill-tasting, stomach-upsetting losers as well. The sheer quantity of pizza places in New York ensures many a bad "slice" experience, and today I had one.
The lame pizza I stumbled upon was in the vicinity of New York University and Washington Square Park. From the outside the shop had a certain charm and looked like a place that would serve first-rate New York pizza. Patrons had to walk down a few steps to enter the place, which added to its appeal. But the alluring ambiance ended rather abruptly, I must say, when you physically entered the establishment. A blackboard out front trumpeted its $1.00 slice—impressive considering the going rate is $2.50 and more these days. However, once inside, another sign—call it the fine print—said there was a $1.00 tax on the $1.00 slice. Did Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council impose this tax in the dark of night? While I know they get their jollies doing stuff like that, I really didn’t think there was a separate pizza tax. Rather, I believe this was a little pizza parlor legerdemain—clumsy, sleazy, and illegal. And even at $2.00 a slice—still cheaper than the norm—it didn’t rise to the level of real New York City pizza. Not even close. Beware the $1.00 slice, even the ones without a $1.00 tax attached to them.
Fortunately, there were more uplifting and interesting events in my life today than bad pizza and unscrupulous pizza makers. I was witness to an NYU student acting as a tour guide for incoming students and their families. His name was Austin, and he told the assembled it was his boyhood dream to attend the university because of his favorite show, Friends, which featured Dr. Ross Geller, a professor at NYU, played by David Schwimmer. Why did I want to go to my alma mater? Because I could walk there, maybe?
Today’s busy day began with me riding the subterranean A train into Manhattan, instead of the Number 1 train (track work, what else?), my usual, brighter mode of transportation. I’ve always found that A train rides feature much more entertainment and homeless standup than on 1 train rides. I actually wanted to give a particular homeless man a buck or two this morning, because his importuning was simultaneously eloquent and poignant, but found it too difficult to get into my wallet while seated scrunched up next to someone. On my return trip, three spry youths took advantage of the A train's captive audience between its lengthy express stops—59th Street and 125th Street—to break dance, or whatever it was they were doing. They were remarkably agile in spinning around the subway floor, standing on their heads, swinging on the poles, and contorting their bodies into frog-like and pretzel postures. I would have given them a buck or two, too, but again concluded reaching into my wallet was more trouble than it was worth.