At Brooklyn Bridge Park

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If you walk from Brooklyn over the Brooklyn Bridge to lower Manhattan, you will find the Brooklyn Bridge Park at the end of your journey. With its worn and comfortable benches, its shady vistas, and its beautiful fountain, it’s a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee on a cool and bright autumn morning. Fortunately, there’s a Starbucks nearby, ready to fill that need. (Isn’t there always?)

At An American Idol Audition Site

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Well, the questions about the “confessional” signs in my Brooklyn hotel lobby have been answered — apparently.

I noticed lots of techie types and Bluetooth-wearers and clipboard-carriers and beefy guys wearing “security” shirts in the lobby yesterday morning, and when I walked outside there was a barricade and people waiting in line behind it. I asked a security guy what was going on, and he grunted “American Idol tryouts.”

“Wow,” I thought, “is American Idol still on?” Apparently so.

Walking past all these excited wannabes in the morning, you couldn’t help but notice how they all tried to have a distinctive look — but nevertheless pretty much looked the same. In this crowd, skinny jeans on skinny legs, bulky shoes, and extreme pompadours and coiffures were the norm. My business suit would have stood out like a lighthouse on a foggy morning.

When I returned to the hotel last night a few stragglers remained. Maybe they had made the first cut and were making arrangements, or maybe they were just the last to sing their songs on a long day. The “confessional” no doubt had been well used.

Lady Liberty

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Ghostbusters II was a pretty lame movie, but it’s hard to argue with the film’s choice of the Statue of Liberty as the symbol angry New Yorkers could rally around. It’s such a wonderful, and apt, symbol of America that even a silhouette view is enough to make you feel good about our country and its meaning for the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free..

The Bloodied NFL Shield

The season hasn’t exactly gotten off to a roaring start for the National Football League. With the release of the infamous Ray Rice elevator video, questions about whether the NFL properly investigated the Rice incident and treated other domestic violence incidents with the seriousness, concern and respect they deserve, and more recently the disclosures about Adrian Peterson’s treatment of his son, the NFL has been battered by bad news.

And now the unthinkable has happened: advertisers like McDonald’s, Anheuser-Busch, and Visa, that previously lined up and paid through the nose to associate themselves with the NFL’s familiar red, white, and blue shield logo, are expressing concern about the League. Nothing is more certain to get the attention of the marketing-driven, multimillionaire NFL owners than the possible loss of ad revenue.

It’s got to be a shock to the NFL, which for years has enjoyed bulletproof status as the most popular sport in America, with a Commissioner ranked as the most powerful figure in sports. Maybe the NFL had a bit of hubris about its position in American society, or maybe it figured that the advertisers, fans, and Super Bowl viewers who love to watch huge men crashing into each other with bone-jarring violence on Sunday afternoon wouldn’t be too troubled by if some of those huge men occasionally engaged in a little domestic violence on the side.

This time, the NFL figured wrong. For every fan who wears a Ray Rice jersey as a sign of support for a guy who cold-cocked his now-wife in a casino, there are countless others, male and female, who are starting to wonder: who are these guys, really? And, more troubling, what has the NFL done to shield them from the consequences of their actions?

Odd Hotel Signage

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You’re staying in a strange hotel, and as you pass the registration desk you notice a cheap sign that says “Confessional.”

What the? “Confessional”? In a hotel? Perhaps the lodging establishment is hosting a super-heated trade conference where spouses routinely stray, and therefore the hotel offers a soul-cleansing confessional as a necessary service?

Or, more likely, is the strange hotel the site of tryouts for some new, idiotic reality show , and “confessional” refers to the one-on-one camera time where a participant bares his soul about his goals and speaks earnestly about how he views Celeste as his principal competition?

Either way, it’s unsettling for the boring business traveler. And, I must confess, it makes me look with some skepticism on the other people in the elevator. Business travelers who need a “confessional” are not to be trifled with.

On The LaGuardia Approach Vector

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I don’t care how many time you’ve flown into LaGuardia, even the most jaded traveler has got to enjoy the approach that takes you right past downtown Manhattan and over the Brooklyn Bridge. Even on an overcast day, it’s one of the greatest sights in the world. Of course, it helps if you are on the skyline side of the plane.