A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 17: We Melt In Their Hands

July 13th · 5 Comments

Times Square is on the short list of every tourist’s visit to New York, with its giant electric signs that not only instruct you to drink Coca-Cola but showcase America’s knack for marketing things in the glitziest possible way. I arrived hand in hand with Joo while feeling two competing sentiments: 1) Just see if you bastards can sell me anything; 2) Wow me!

At 10 p.m. the whole square was lit up like noon, and we stood at the corner of 42nd and Broadway gazing up at the Budweiser and MetLife Jumbotrons with our mouths open like all the other rubes. After a couple minutes of gawking I looked around at the throngs of tourists and thought…this is it? People actually travel from around the world to this square so the hucksters they already know so well – AT&T, Paramount, Hard Rock Café – can fill their eyeballs with even more brand impressions? What a bunch of suckers. Spending any time at all here, in a city as rich and varied as New York, seemed pointless, like forwarding through your favorite television show so you could see the commercials.

But one glowing billboard at the corner of West 48th St. and 7th Avenue kept drawing my attention. An M&M two stories high, with eyes and arms and legs, stared back at me. Its face was happy, then sad, then perplexed. There was a store below it called M&M’s World. Who knew? How do you dedicate an entire store to a bag of chocolates? I had to see.

The store was three stories high and spanned 25,000 square feet and was jostling with tourists. Among the 4,000 separate items of M&M-related merchandise were keychains, snow globes, video games and playing cards, and they couldn’t sell fast enough.
“Do you think my sister would like this shirt?” Joo asked me, holding up a yellow tee with the Peanut M&M’s logo in the middle of it.

And I had to nod and say yeah, I liked it, in spite of wanting to hate the shirt and the store and the whole notion of Times Square and every crappy piece of kitsch that America outsources to China. The shirt had a retro kind of look, so retro that I wanted to put it on and go play in the sandbox. Damn you, you M&M hucksters, you.

Tags: Entertainment · Sights & Scenes · Why I Hate This Town · Why I Love This Town

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mr.M // Jul 14, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks for the plug, check is in the mail.

  • 2 Cindy // Jul 14, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I am going to keep reading this because it has now become my daily laugh!

  • 3 mohi // Jul 16, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    A peanut M&M shirt!?! Kevin is allergic to peanuts and what kind of message would that send? 🙂

  • 4 Kimberly Winston // Jul 22, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    WHO LEFT THAT MESSAGE FROM MR. M??? Hilarious. Ugh. At the risk of becoming this blog’s little old lady who constantly says, “In my day . . .” But, here goes. Times Square. When I was growing up in NY it was the seediest place. Whores, drunks, people asleep (or dead?) on the sidewalks. That was in the 1970s. Then when I returned to NYC in the late 80s, it was undergoing its transformation. It was actually an okay, kind of fun place. It hums. At New Years we had to board up our grownd floor front windows in case the crowd got rowdy. But something awful has happened to it, I agree David. I love your description of it being like fastforwarding to the commercials. It is. I used to live in the West 40s in the 1980s and it was a cool place then. Not great, but Howard Johnson’s was still there with its fried clams. It is no more. My mom and I used to have a friend that lived in the Hotel Edison when it was just above seedy. Now its swank. Is the Edison coffee shop still there David? That’s kind of a neat place – lots of theater history and you might actually see a celeb.

  • 5 Anjali // Jul 27, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Mohi, that shirt is PERFECT for you (leave it to Ferris to spoil the surprise for your next bday present). You can wear it anytime you want to send him a not-so-subtle message. What’s a little angioedema amongst friends?

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