Murtzcellanious: The Pro's And Con's

It was an interesting week to say the least.

Last Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, I was in New York covering the Amazing Race Convention (appropriately named TARcon) for Inside Pulse.

After arriving at Laguardia on Monday morning, I decided to take the Super Shuttle over to the critically acclaimed Widro residence. This was a big mistake.

Note to tourists: The Super Shuttle is anything but Super.

I was placed inside a van with seven other people. When the driver sped off, I soon realized that there was no predetermined order as to who would be dropped off to their Manhattan location first. As a result, it was like a blind man’s chess game. Everyone kept hoping that the driver would read our respective macabre faces and ultimately make us the ‘chosen one’ of being dropped off next. Unfortunately, the Murtz Macabre is not what it once was and I was second last.

I guess it wasn’t so bad. I mean sweating beside a complete stranger isn’t all horrible (I guess if it happened somewhere other than a big blue van). One of the people in my van looked Korean and had a heavy Australian accent. I mention this because considering our close proximity to one another in this Hell-Ride, I overheard his cell phone conversation and he appeared to be some sort of fashion designer who was selling stuff to Beyonce Knowles the next day. I must be in New York!

Anyway, the exiting lane from the airport was completely rammed because of construction and because of the excess traffic that came along with George W. Bush and John Kerry’s respective appearances as well as the UN Convention thing that was also happening around the city.

It took about two hours to fly over to New York and the ride over to Widro’s took about three hours. I could not believe that the drive to Manhattan took longer than the actual flight! It was quite excruciating.

Anyway, I eventually got to my destination and when I tried to open the door to the apartment, I realized that the key was not working. I could already hear Widro’s tyrannical laughter as he had stranded me on this unfamiliar ground. Luckily, I was not born yesterday and after trying to pry the door to the building open many times (many many many times), I thought that the best move would be to wait for the kindness of a New York stranger to let the poor tourist in. All you New Yorkers must be laughing right now. Kindness and New York? What am I on?

Actually, it wasn’t so bad. A nice girl who ended up living right across from J-Wid let me in and I quickly started to plan the rest of the evening.

The plan was to wait for Widro to return from work and then start hitting up parties with all of the Survivor’s and Amazing Racers that I knew were also in town for TARcon.

I called Andrew Hyde (Amazing Race 3) and he told me that everyone would be hooking up for food later that evening.

Widro showed up soon after and I showed him all of the Canadian Pulse paraphernalia that I had brought along with me. For those of you that don’t know, Inside Pulse received one of its first mainstream press mentions last week in the Toronto Sun, and I brought Widro a copy.

Anyway, it is at this point that I will insert the first of my many tangents. You will notice (while reading this piece), that there are many Con’s associated with my trip to New York and I don’t just mean the guys that just got out of jail (*ba-dum-ching*). There was the TARcon. The UN Con. And then my favorite “Con” of all…


Alecon is Widro’s neighbor and has more personality than anyone I have ever met before in my entire life. She is also the new music promoter here at Pulse. Anyway, meeting her was a highlight of the trip. She is the definition of New York and I got a lot of ‘Friends’ déjà vu with Widro playing the role of Chandler and all these randomly cool people just walking in. First me. Then his brother. Then Alecon. It was straight out of a sitcom.

Anyway, more on Alecon later. I just wanted to explain the ‘Con’ theme that keeps running through this recap.

Widro and I made our way out and headed over to ‘Don Giovanni’s.’ It was this Italian pizza place (although I guess the name gave it away). There we met Tanya Vance (Survivor Thailand), Ken Stafford (Survivor Thailand), Andrew Hyde (Amazing Race 3), Brennan Swain (Amazing Race 1), Mitchell Olsen (Survivor Australia) and Dave (one of Andrew’s friends). Widro stayed around for a bit… but he had to run early. Apparently some of us really do have to work in the morning. My night on the other hand, had only just begun.

After dinner ended, we all went to a club. This turned out to be quite an ordeal. We let the decision of where to go rest in the hands of the New Yorker’s, which was a total mistake in hindsight and after entering some horrible dive on like 44th, we promptly left. Most of the gang was totally against going to ‘Posh’ and so we went to some other club/bar called ‘Tangent’ or something like that. For obvious reasons, I can’t remember the actual name.

Anyway, it was fun. We hung out and talked for awhile. One of the funniest moments of the evening came when everyone was inebriated. We all started dancing to the strains of 80’s music (Tanya’s rendition of Salt & Pepa’s “Push It” was a notable highlight) when one of the ‘bouncers’ came in and told us that we had to stop. When asked why, we were told that the club did not have a cabaret license and that they could not allow us to continue our merry frolicking. What a dick.

Anyway, since that pretty much killed the mood for the evening… we promptly made our exit at about 2 AM to recuperate our energy for Tuesday night’s festivities.

I took a cab back to Widro’s and luckily the man that never sleeps was still awake to let me back in.

We talked about the event for awhile and that was that before he had to sleep before working on Tuesday morning.

I stayed up and watched TV for a little while.

The next day, I woke up and quickly got changed for another day in Manhattan. Considering Widro was working and I had no plans for the day… I decided to call Alecon to see if she wanted to come over for a bit. She was over in a flash and we discussed a variety of subjects. I think the conversation ranged from Widro’s apartment to John Kerry to independent music over to Survivor. Any conversation that I am involved in inevitably ends with a profound discussion of Burnett’s Thursday night classic and Alecon held her own.

She asked me what my plans were for the rest of the day and I said that I was open until the Madison Square Garden thing until later that night. She said that she had to hand out some flyers for one of the bands that she was promoting and asked if I wanted to tag along. I said I was more than happy to.

The walk around Widro’s neighborhood was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. Almost immediately after we stepped out of the door, a girl stopped to talk to us and she was apparently studying to become a marine biologist. I was shocked. I mean here was this random stranger just stopping in mid-step to talk to a couple of complete strangers. I am convinced that this kind of stuff does not happen anywhere else. Alecon gave her a flyer and her name and the girl said that she would definitely stop by the show (which was happening on Friday).

We then continued our process up and down Avenue A. It was very humorous to see Alecon putting her flyers in that little glass window of newspaper boxes with a thorough disregard for any other material that was there before her’s. Classic New Yorker… although she claims she isn’t originally from here. Yeah, I don’t believe it either.

We stopped at one of those merchandise stands and Alecon stopped to check out some necklaces, shoes, purses etc. Luckily I was very entertained by her conversations with the shopkeepers and I was not bored at all.

Do you have these in silver?
I like them in silver.

Haha. I guess you had to be there.

Anyway, on our way back to the apartment we stopped for food. Alecon raved about the fountain soda and insisted that I try it. I didn’t know what it was (although I have later been told that it is the same kind of Coke that you get at a movie theater, it just isn’t in a can). She was literally freaking out at how good it was. I don’t think I have seen anyone more into a beverage in my entire life.

Anyway, we finished up and then went back to the apartment. I started to make call’s about what was happening later that evening and I found out that most of my celebrity friends were having a private party before the actual TARcon at Madison Square Garden later that night.

While I was invited, I wasn’t sure if that would be an awkward situation. I mean it would have only been celebrities and Widro and I would have been the only two people that weren’t on a reality show that were there (although I guess our respective lives are a reality show and Widro was on Boiling Points). Anyway, I told Widro (who had returned from work by this point) that I wanted to go straight to Madison Square Garden. He agreed.

By this point, Widro’s friend Nuri had come over and asked if I wanted to play a video game. We played some semblance of football on Gamecube, but it was weird because the game was taking place in the street. It was like streetball football. Anyway, he thoroughly destroyed me. It was funny too because Nuri is one of those guys who actually commentates while he is kicking your ass. I am sure all of the Pulse Video game guys know what I am talking about. The guy that isn’t satisfied with just beating you, he wants to let you know about it. It’s cool though. If I beat somebody like 40-12, I would also be doing my John Madden impression.

We all split a cab and headed over to Madison Square Garden. After seeing a line-up of about 200 people in front of us, we both realized that the venue would be kind of small and that getting a table was not within the realm of possibility. We still managed to make our way inside after about 15 minutes, and filled out nametags. It was funny because everyone else at the party seemed to know each other and the other people that I knew (the celebrities) were at a different party until later. We filled out nametags (also funny considering that people kept reading ours and looking baffled) and headed into the bar.

There were lots of TV’s there, but not a single seat in the house. There was an open bar from 8-10 and Widro wanted to make sure that he ate first to take full advantage of it. This was a problem though because you need a table to get a waiter to get food. It was a vicious cycle and we couldn’t get in at the ground floor.

Wids finally saw a standing room area and although I suggested that we go to the ‘overfill area’ (tables outside the bar with TV’s set-up), he said that we had to be where the party was. I agreed.

We stood and he went to get some mozzarella sticks and nachos. It’s weird. We both like appetizers more than actual food. Anyway, we started to eat as the Big Brother finale came on. It was hard to hear much of anything so we basically just surveyed the situation.

The sound became a big problem during the Amazing Race finale because not only did the volume on our shit-box not work, but the crowd was very loud.

It was also hard for me to watch. I have argued with many people over this point, but there is no doubt in my mind that Colin and Christie are the best Amazing Race team of all time. This is a team that finished first in practically every leg. This is a team that managed to catch up with the entire pack despite being the only team to be yielded, and with no money in their pocket (since they finished last on the previous leg). While most of the celebrities that I talked to were happy with the Chip and Kim victory (as were the majority of people at the Convention), I was disgusted.

Chip and Kim did not race cleanly. Yes, I know the argument (I can already hear Chris Garry preparing to debate me). The yield was instituted for teams to use. Chip and Kim had every right to use it. Well, I hate to break it to you but no team used it before Chip and Kim. All the teams were in agreement that they would race their own race and not hinder anyone else’s. I also know that in hindsight, the yield did not mean much since all the teams caught up at the airport in Canada. That is not my point. My point is that it was a very cheap way to get ahead of Colin and Christie. This what I explained to Widro (who immediately joined my heel stable as we were the only two cheering loudly for Colin and Christie).

It is my sincere belief that if you were rooting against Colin and Christie during The Amazing Race 5, you are not a fan of the show. You probably bought into the editing and this is a sad state of events. Colin is not abrasive. He is just competitive. Every show needs its villains and I feel awful that the greatest team in the show’s history was slotted into this role. In any event, it cannot be changed. Unfortunately… neither can the show’s results but any reality-television expert will tell you that this season was only about one team. The team.

I was obviously distressed after the show was over. I try to keep an outside perspective, but it is simply impossible not to become attached to teams. That’s what the entire appeal of reality television is. I made it my mission to talk to Colin and Christie that evening.

After the show was over, Widro and I walked around waiting for the celebrities to appear. They finally did at about 11:30.

I could tell that Widro would rather be hanging at his place and said that he could go when I noticed that the majority of the stars were being swarmed by chaos. Widro took off and I began my ascent around the room.

The stars were coming primarily up an escalator outside the bar. It was a pseudo-papparazzi type atmosphere as the deluge of camera flashes were enough to blind me. It was at this point that I realized that discussing Pulse with people was going to be quite a difficult task.

Instead, I decided to survey the situation. It’s actually quite similar to how I act at a club. The chances of having the balls to approach anyone are slim to known, so instead you have to just convince yourself that they will come to you (which almost never happens).

After basically wall-flowering it for awhile, I decided that I had to increase my Pulse rate (see… screw the WWE… even we can get the cheap pop up in here) and talk to some people. I made my way over to Chip and Kim and apparently at least 75 people had the same idea. I can jostle with the best of them most times, but this time my jostle-factor was outjostled.

In any event, I realized that I should try and make my way over to the people that I felt were the real winners of the race… Colin and Christie.

Along the way in my scavenger hunt to find them, I finally met up with the lovely and talented Jessie Camacho. Yes, InsidePulse’s (cheap plug baby) own Jessie Camacho. I also met Ryan (a friend of hers). We talked for awhile and I really hit it off with Ryan. I kind of outdrank him which helped matters. I have to tell you guys that Jessie is perhaps one of the hottest women I have ever met. Getting looks from people wondering what this weird guy was doing was definitely one of the highlights. Only in New York. I asked Jessie if she was going to go to the After-Party and she said she wasn’t sure where it was happening. I added that on my list of things to find in my scavenger hunt and excused myself to work on the list.

First up was meeting Colin and Christie. I stood in a line to meet them (yes, I know) and eventually got to the front. I talked to them both for a long time and discussed how I feel the editing ripped them to pieces undeservedly. I told them that they are the best Amazing Racers of all time and that is a pretty high compliment. Colin was just as personable as I thought he would be. He e-mailed me on the spot with one of those blackberry thingies. Widro and I have to get on that. Blackberry.

I also managed to talk to Brandon and Nicole, but very briefly.

I then went over to talk to ‘da crew. Tanya, Tijuana, Andrew, Dave were finally joined by Darwin Conner (from the Mole) and I paid respects to the Doctor of cool. We ended up partying some more and discussed plans for where we were going after. Everyone was on strict alert to keep it on the down-low. Tanya, Andrew, and I kind of wanted to get going since it was closing in on 1 AM and we had to get moving.

We all took cabs down to the new club and I made nice with the bouncers outside. That is the #1 rule of the experienced clubber my friends. Forget the hot chicks. They probably won’t give you the time of day anyway. Always make nice with the bouncers and waitresses. They are the ones with the clout.

We all got inside and I proceeded to bust a proverbial move. Tijuana told me yesterday that she still thinks I was too reserved (which is very different from how I usually am at these events) but this time, my goal was to make sure that I would have a good time and not rely on anyone else like I did in Lancaster. I guess that is why I was more into the one-man party.

One particular moment that sticks out in my head was when Dave came out and said that everyone had to stop dancing because of the place didn’t have its cabaret license (a reference to the previous night’s insanity).

Anyway, everyone seemed to be having a good time. Jon Vito and Jill were there. I also was shocked to see Mirna. She had to film the Early Show in like an hour and she was partying with all of us. What a rock star. It’s too bad I didn’t get a chance to really talk to her. It was a combination of my lack of guts as well as my profound admiration for Colin and Christie I guess.

Anyway, Mitchell Olsen showed up like two hours late. His cab made the wrong turn I guess.

I left soon after at about 4 AM. When I called Widro, he wasn’t answering his cell which was kind of unnerving. I mean I am pretty ‘city’ but I did not want to be spending the night outside of his building. Luckily, I had the sense to ask for Alecon’s number before I left and I gave her a call. Just another example of why she was the star of this excursion.

Anyway, the next day I was off to the airport. So ends another adventure. So ends another Amazing Race.