"I had traveled eight thousand miles around the American continent and I was back on Times Square; and right in the middle of a rush hour, too, seeing with my innocent road-eyes the absolute madness and fantastic hoorair of New York
with its millions and millions hustling forever for a buck among themselves, the mad dream
- grabbing, taking, giving, sighing, dying, just so they could be buried in those awful cemetery cities beyond Long Island City."
- Jack Kerouac, On the Road
What is Times Square?
So maybe Jack Kerouac didn't really like Times Square. I understand. But. There is something outrageous and memorable about the first time you experience the CRAZY that is Times Square. Mixed with a lot of grit, toothy smiles and too-vivid colors is a tiny little bit of magic, and that's what I want to highlight.
What is there to say about Times Square? If you've been there once, you probably don't feel the need to return. It's not that it's a bad experience, it's one that everyone should have. Giant jumbo screens featuring American Eagle underwear models leaping around, giggling at their own adorableness, as if they're shocked by their own precious effect on the world. "Oh my goodness, I really am a doll in my panties! Tee hee hee." Ugh. Yet this is the kind of advertising that America wants, so sure, put it on the BIGGEST SCREEN IN THE COUNTRY. Purse ads are the same size as a building (they probably cost as much as a building, too.) Theaters litter every corner, advertising the latest and greatest musical, sure to change the world as we know it with its audacious storyline. Not gonna lie, I really appreciate the theater culture. It's what most endears me to this neighborhood. The theater geek within me gives certain grace allowances to the circus of this square.
Times Square is a flamboyant, semi-adult version of Disneyworld. On speed. In a club. With extra-large flashing lights. And naked cowboys prancing about, requesting money for their, well, nakedness. It's an odd kind of place. It's both fortunate and unfortunate that my acting studio is located in Times Square, so I am there almost daily. Yes, I have already become a speed-walking snob that gets annoyed with people who mosey in front of me at a snails pace, their heads up to the sky, gazing open-mouthed at the GIANT lit-up buildings. It's fine, but don't block my entrance to the subway while you do that, please. And because of it's touristy draw, most of Times Square consists of people gazing upwards at the lights, amused and amazed. The rest of us are just trying to get somewhere. Oh, and there are the few (thousand) con artists trying to make money off the first group by selling shot glasses, t shirts and fake Rolexes. Although, I really prefer the fake Louis Vuittons, if you care to know. I'm a sucker for that fou-fou French brand.
Times Square houses the incredible theater district of New York. Arguably, this is greatest theater town in the world (stop pouting, London, you get a place in my heart, too.) Just two weeks ago I had the incredible privilege to see The Winslow Boy at The Roundabout Theater with my uber-cultured Aunt Shirley. She is the first person who ever introduced me to Broadway by taking me to see Kiss Me Kate when I was 12, so she is really the one to blame for this whole dreamy excursion of being an actor. If I never make it, eh... I'll start crocheting for a living. But if I DO, that Oscar is surefire dedicated to her. She knows it. We had a good ol' time taking in the incredible story that The Winslow Boy had to offer. I love theater, because it asks you to think for yourself. And it's funny, because my Aunt Shirley has spent a lifetime teaching me to do that, too.
Oh the theater. And since they're all located in Times Square, I'll take it. Light the way.