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Mets, Memories and Mighty Fast Parking - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog
captainsblog
Mets, Memories and Mighty Fast Parking
Opening Day is Opening Done.  The Mets won, and that's about all I have to say about the game itself.  The journey is always as big as the destination, if not bigger, and this Bucket List trip was no exception.

It was door-to-door in a bit under 48 hours.  I left town straight from a (useless, as it turned out) Thursday morning court appearance, and made it to my sister's by day's end.  We visited, together and with her best friend- my first time at Sharon's without her dear Dalmatian in residence. (No new dog, but her granddaughter was also visiting and she's storing nine ferrets in the house.  There's also apparently a major colony of chipmunks on the lawn outside Surrogates Court there. )  We Netflixed The Big Short, which is pretty amazingly done considering the director's major pedigree before this was the Anchorman movies; I'd read the book, which is much drier, but he and the regular fourth-wallbreakers livened it up and made it funny, in a bad road accident you have to slow down for kind of way.

Gametime Friday was 1 p.m., and I was due to meet Sharon the Second at their famed family tailgate next to Citi Field sometime around 11-11:30 that morning.  It was cold but clear as I got on 17, was over the Hudson in good time, and made it to the stadium pretty close to 11.  Unfortunately, it was Yankee Stadium; it's on the way if you come down the Thruway to the Triboro, and it's also pretty much where traffic came to a near-complete stop for over an hour.

Yes, there was an unusually large crowd heading to Queens- but rush hour was long over, and I saw no accidents of note. In case there were any, of course, we got this:



(They're the Buffalo-based ambulance chasers who've expanded into the Bronx. God help us, every one.)

Oh, did I mention that some DOT genius decided to close lanes on the Triboro for construction that wasn't even happening? That's all I can think to explain the delay. What's usually a 20-minute drive between the stadia pushed to well past an hour.  I was at least on my native Long Island soil by noon, when I got the text that the tailgaters were heading inside.  But I could see the park from the Grand Central, and I assumed all would be well.

We snaked round the perimeter, and by 12:15 I was three cars from the parking lot entrance.  I'd let people cut in, saying to nobody in particular, don't fight, plenty of room, we'll all get in.  Except we didn't- after letting a parade of pedestrians past, the two cars ahead and I were pointed away from the entrance and toward what would be later explained as "remote parking."

They weren't kidding.

By the time I was parked (for full lot price, of course), I was halfway to the Nassau County border.  And not even in a lot but directed to the side of a road.  In the middle of the 1939/1964 Worlds Fair grounds, and way closer to this than I was to the ballpark:



Yup, the alien launching pad from MiB. As K once remarked to J, Why do you think they put it in Queens?

I couldn't even see the ballpark from here.  Signs mentioned shuttle buses. I found one. It drove us all of about 1,000 feet past the US Open tennis stadium before depositing us at the LIRR station that once served the Fair.  Through it, across a boardwalk to the elevated 7 train station, past any number of vendors hawking cheap counterfeit t-shirts left over from last year's Series (I bought one for five bucks, determined to deprive the Mets owners of a dime for anything I could avoid), over Roosevelt Avenue, and finally into the Rotunda somewhere in the first inning.  I'd missed the Opening Day ceremonies, the raising of the NL pennant, the anthem and the first pitch.

In the end, though? It was 'saright:)

----

Sharon and her husband, their son, his girlfriend and another friend were already in.  Sharon spends much of the game getting some of the best game photography you'll ever see- so rather than compete with her, I just watched her work:



I did get this one Sense of Place shot, though:



Probably the best MLB game seat I've ever had, and I spent close to half the game out of it- between missing the open, spending a good two-plus innings waiting for Shake Shack (worth it, plus there are TVs everywhere), and another twoish up on the Promenade getting my friend Greg to sign my copy of his book about the 2015 Met season-



I got back down mid-eighth, just in time for the Piano Man recital.  I don't recall this from before last year, but it's definitely caught on as a moment of shared joy.  For once, the blind squirrel got a decent picture, this time of Camera Woman and her beloved:



To their left is Andy, a regular among the Mets blogger crowd.  I sat behind him for at least five innings; I didn't realize who he was until we said our METS WIN goodbyes. (He didn't figure out who I was until I tagged him in that picture.)

Everyone left happy, if somewhat chilled, and after at least getting to smell the remnants of their tailgate at their car as we said farewell (and picking up an official Mets World Series cap from Sharon that I paid the Wilpons nothing for;), I took the long walk back to find my car.

Just follow the crowd, Ray. MTA station, LIRR station, most are going down kinda thatta-way.  Wait. This looks vaguely familiar- and I do mean vaguely.

----

This is my 50th year of Mets fandom- Eleanor's birthday in 1967 was my first trip inside Shea's hallowed halls.  But two years before that, I was walking around on these grounds, where the Worlds Fair had landed for the second time in the 20th century.

It was unsanctioned- North America had hosted one in Seattle and would be welcoming the world to Montreal in 1967, but corporatists, and governors, and especially New York's Master Builder Robert Moses, didn't care. They built it, and people came. But not enough: the Fair was a financial disaster, mainly because most European countries didn't come, and thus my memories of international cooperation are mostly of Vatican artifacts and Belgian waffles.   Still, GM gave out buttons which said "I have seen the future" (which somehow neglected to mention Chevy Novas and exploding Pontiacs), and Disney earwormed us with Small World for the first time.  I enjoyed it immensely, but by even the early 70s it was a decrepit appendix to Shea next door.  Only a few talismen remained, most famously, this one:



Those pools once hosted fountains- long gone (and probably would've been iced up that day anyway), but they're immortalized on the grounds in front.  Three icons are on the path to the launching pad:



I was there for that.  No recollection of it whatsoever. Then this one, left over from the prior '39 Fair:



And perhaps the strangest thing Andy Warhol ever did:



Moses was regarded as the builder of the Fair, of Shea Stadium and of most of New York's infrastructure to this day. I waited for someone to pass by and walk over his mug, because that's what he always did to New Yorkers who were in HIS way.

Then I saw shuttle buses. I also saw a line for them longer than the one at Shake Shack. I figured I'd just walk and follow where they went, and that led me back to my car and, eight hours later, home.

That ride was mostly slow and uneventful, through NJ and PA this time- but it had to have a surreal moment in the final hour.  Just before the turn to Batavia in mid-nowhere, cop lights came on behind me.  I was surprised, since in this place, at least, I wasn't going that fast. Unfortunately, he'd been planted in an edge-of-Geneseo speed trap I was too tired to check out for lower speed signs.  Since I wasn't drunk (one beer, nine hours before) and had been driving so long, he made it a parking ticket- for parking at 64 mph in a 45 zone.  So no points and a lower fine, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Yesterday was a recovery day, and last night the Mets lost Opening Night II to these same Phillies.  I watched the last few minutes of it, but without the electricity and memories of the previous day.  Thank you all who were a part of it:)
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Comments
warriorsavant From: warriorsavant Date: April 11th, 2016 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I grew up not far from the Fairgrounds. I did go to the Fair, and enjoyed it, as best I remember. The grounds, especially the Unisphere, are still something I like to show visitors, if I ever do get them out to Queens.

Most Worlds Fairs lose money. Like the Olympics, they are hosted for prestige, not profit.
captainsblog From: captainsblog Date: April 11th, 2016 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I found the mosaics fascinating enough to look up more stuff about them. There are others still on the grounds from both fairs- including one of Elsie the Cow- but the strangest thing relates to that Warhol icon. This piece talks about one thing you won't see there- Warhol's biggest-ever public installation, which only lasted hours before Nelson Rockefeller ordered it destroyed.
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