Most of my friends are sick and tired of me raving about New York. About how I love the energy, how I love the subway, I love the fact I can see the top of the Chrysler Building out my freakin’ window. I love the pizza and the subway and the fact that I live two blocks from the best damned Cheesesteaks I have ever eaten. (Actually that last one makes me a little nervous).
But screw them, here’s another fun little story about why I love New York.
A couple weeks ago I went on a trip to Vancouver to dub a cartoon I’m working on into english. New York may have great pizza, but Vancouver has great voice actors (I mean, seriously, check Tabitha’s credits) and a very favorable union agreement (are you listening, SAG??) and I know the talent there, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer. So we decide to fly over to dub a couple of episodes. We were on a pretty tight schedule – we literally auditioned on Friday, picked our cast from MP3’s that were sent to us, and we flew in Tuesday to have final callbacks on Wednesday to tune everyone for a record Thursday & Friday (and we mixed on Saturday). The talent pool in Vancouver is so good that you know you can just basically show up and one of the usual suspects will give you something great.
So the show we’re working on, we need the final cuts of episodes we are doing to make a “dubbing script”. Basically we have to list every line & noise we need recorded next to the timecode marker where it is located at on the Quicktime so that the engineers can just type in the minute, second & frame and presto, we’re off to the races. Problem is, the files are these 5 gig monsters that are coming from Thailand, and due to a series of technical problems, we don’t get smaller versions (to work from) until 11pm Monday.
And we’re getting picked up at 5:15am for a flight out of Newark on Tuesday morning.
So I work at the office (I first race home to start downloading the high-rez version on my faster home connection as a backup in case the work connection times out again) and my co-worker works from home. We work and we work and we work and we get the darned things done and emailed to Vancouver by about 4:30am. I race home to pack but as I walk out the front door of my office I think “man, I’m starving; I never really had dinner”.
So I walk – no joke – 200 feet to a deli. Now, in Vancouver, I always heard people from back east moaning about how there are no good deli’s. I never really got it – I mean, the deli? Like the one in Safeway, where they sell 100 grams of black forest ham and slices of havarti? And those crappy oven-cooked chickens, and for some reason that weird jello salad? Like, really? Who cares? Go eat some sushi and shut the hell up already.
Yeah, Ok, NOW I finally understand that those people mean. They’re not talking about THAT. Because THAT isn’t a deli. That’s a dude with a meat slicer and a scale wearing a paper hat selling odd jello salad. No, a DELI, the New York kind, is a magical place where they make “food”. Competent cooks (not chefs – those guys work in restaurants; I’m talking COOKS here) can make you whatever you want, so long as it’s generally portable. Wrapped, Rolled, Hero’d, whatever. If you can stick it in a bag and walk away with it, your man at the Deli’s got you covered. You can even step it up a notch with these crazy-ass giant buffets where you can serve yourself whatever you want, you just load it in a tray and they charge you per pound (I avoid those, because I have no self control). The dudes just keep cooking. Chicken, veggies, salads, soups, whatever. It’s there and it’s cheap and it’s rad.
So here I am in the deli – at 4:30am. Behind the counter is a happy latin american man who smiles at me, apparently pleased that I’m looking to give him something to do (it’s not exactly a mad rush). He’s got a grill, a boatload of ingredients, a dozen different types of buns and wraps to put it on, and he’s awaiting my command.
Sheepishy I ask “it’s 4:30am, what can I get?”. I mean, it’s so early. Surely there’s a limited menu…?
A slightly confused look, a subtle cock of the head; then the glorious answer:
“Whatever you want”.
At 4:30am, on a TUESDAY.
And I walked – WALKED – all of fifty steps to get it. Five minutes later I’m wandering toward the Subway with an array of delicious italian deli meats, cheeses and crispy veggies on a toasty fresh bun with a dash of elegant oil and vinegar and a dab of spicy mustard. For SIX BUCKS!
NEW YORK, BABY!!