(Ha! No castration for ME, Susan! Thank you to those that wrote in suggesting I sell my removed testicles on eBay, but I guess I'm not done with them, after all. Also, let's all pretendt to take Mr. Roger's magic train and make believe that it's NOT four months later than when this happened. Thanks. --Ed.) ...so after dispatching the ninjas in my closet, I went to sleep. The next morning, Susan and I hopped a train bound for Philly. Ultimately, we were headed for the Big Apple, but we were taking a round-about route for reasons I won't get into. On the way to New York via New Jersey Transit (yeah, we touch soil in every northeastern state), we took stock of our possessions: We both brought cell phones, so we could fit in to the big New Yorker lifestyle that we'd seen on those Pizza Hut commercials. This fell within the 1.5 month window I owned a cell phone in. They suck. I hate them. I gave mine away and splashed naked in the river...uh, metaphorically. I also brought a Palm Pilot, and my laptop, so I could NOT write this journal entry, but I'd be prepared with something of value in case I got mugged. There's nothing more awkward than explaining to a mugger that you just don't have anything worth taking, so I avoiding that discomfort by carrying 2,000 bucks worth of technology in my backpack. Susan brought along a copy of "Steal this Book," which, if you haven't heard of it, is all about how to screw the system for free food, shelter, and other basic human necessities. It features chapters entitled, "Fuck Chicago," "Fuck Washington," and of course, "Fuck New York." The copy smelled of whiskey, which I thought was superbly appropriate. We took turns flipping through it while I started the hotel hunt. Last-minute-hotel-hunting follows a basic principal. Take a travel guide, magazine or whatnot that lists all the hotels in a given city. For completeness, there should be a few five-star joints and a couple of shithole hostels. Organize these into two categories: ones you will sleep in and ones you will not. There are many factors involved here, but there should be no gray areas in your final decision; it's on one list or the other. No maybes. Throw out the ones-you-will-not list. Then, start going down the other one alphabetically. Stay at the first one that has room. This prevents you from getting too picky about your accomodations, since there's the real deciding factors are arbitrary (alphabetical) and random (what's actually available). We ended up in a Best Western, which always brings to mind saloons, gunslingers, and women of loose morals. The reality was a different stereotype all together; imagine the run-down hotel that was, maybe fifty years ago, an upscale waypoint for Presidents and plutocrats on the go. Now, the hotel is for the proletariats, and while everything is covered with a thin layer of dirt, it still possesses a sense of dignity and style. Susan and I crammed into the tiny elevator, and made our way to the fourth floor. I was first to open the door, and as I peeked in to check for more ninjas, I learned a valuable lesson about the hotel industry. Take notes, there will be a quiz later: "Double room" does not mean "two beds." As I closed the door and turned around to face Susan, the best I could come up with was, "Uh...you want the first shift on the floor?" We dropped the topic and our backpacks and headed out to the big, scary city. There's not much to say; New York is, well, New York. The odd thing about it is that I never feel scared walking around the streets in the middle of the night there. I have no idea why. The city just vibrates. It's great. We wandered through Time Square, arcades, restaurants...nothing shuts down in this damned city. There was construction of what looked like a giant dog in Rockefeller Plaza. The art in STORE WINDOWS blows away the best that Charlotte offers in its museums. I love this city. Not much more than wandering around happened on this day. We almost ran into Trey Anastasio coming out of the NBC building, but just barely missed him. Hum. So off to bed (singular) we went. I briefly flipped through the TV. Built in Nintendo 64. Cool. Henry V on public access. Neat. So I settled to the floor for a good night's sleep, as Susan protested. "Look, either you get in the bed and I sleep on the floor, or we both use the bed, but you aren't sleeping on the floor." "Y'know, there's an AWFUL lot of letters to Penthouse that start out this way." After much coaxing, we shared the bed, and it WOULD have been a good night's sleep, if the secret agents hadn't placed that bomb in the bathroom... --ryan.