NYC Day 5: The one where we go to the Top of the Rock and eat with Rob Sheffield

16 Jun

usnycityWe really didn’t know what we were doing in our last 1/2 day in NYC*. We’d packed up all our belongings the night before, and woke up at a reasonable enough hour to check out of the hotel, put our bags on hold at the front desk and have them order us a cab for 2:30PM. We knew we wanted to hang out with Zack’s friend Kappel, so we figured we’d try to make it over to 30 Rockefeller Center, where he worked. As I was getting ready that Monday morning, though, I checked my phone, and was delighted to see that my friend and also literary idol, Rob Sheffield, had responded to my Facebook message to hang out before we headed out. He was free for the afternoon, so we toyed with the idea of trying to fit in a quick karaoke session, but settled on some cheap but purportedly legendary pizza (Famous Original Ray’s – any Seinfeld fans out there?) after our 30 Rock adventure. 

*Other potential nominees were a tour of Brooklyn Brewery or a ferry ride. You can guess who was pulling for which. I wanted a good view of the city and to make sure we saw Kappel, so 30 rock it was.


When we got to 30 Rock, Kappel was in a meeting, so we decided to kill time by doing the most touristy thing* we’d yet done (besides the Broadway shows, of course) — we went to the Top of the Rock. We grabbed tickets, and wandered with ease up the fairly uncrowded 30 Rockefeller Center, stopping for a quick photo on some fake inside-rafters, and then up a bunch of stairs (Zack was in heaven) before getting to some elevators that took us to the top. The elevators were kind of awesome in and of themselves — once our little group was safely inside and the doors closed, a video played on the ceiling of the elevator, which was also see-through so that we could see the shaft, all lit up with little blue sparkly lights. I wish every elevator was a spectacle like this — it’d do away with awkward elevator conversations forever.

* I almost made it super touristy by suggesting we re-create the “30 Rock” title sequence in an Instagram video. Caitlin wasn’t into it, and we didn’t want to seem like the lamest tourists ever.


Once we got to the top, the view was absolutely spectacular*. As Kappel pointed out when we met with him, people always think you should go to the top of the Empire State Building, but when you do, you can’t SEE the Empire State Building! This way, we got to see it, Central Park, the Hudson River, and everything else you’d want to see, all laid out before us. We went up to the second level, but passed on going to the tippy-top because we ran out of time. It was magical, and Zack even fitted in one of our now-traditional jumping** shots.

*Best view was when my lovely fiancee was standing in front of the window.

**Pretty weak jump, but what can ya do.


We had about 5 minutes to say “hello” and “bye for now” to Kappel, but it was great for me to get to meet him in person, and he shared some quick little tidbits with us about his work. Hopefully the next time we’re in NYC, we can spend more time with him and meet his lady. We had 10 minutes to chat and our timing didn’t quite work out to see his office or get to a Fallon taping, but it was nice to have a few minutes to catch up. We only see each other every few years or so and mostly only communicate through e-mails about fantasy football and music.


Then it was off to Famous Original Ray’s for some pizza and some catching up with Rob. He was as charming as ever, letting Zack and I relive our engagement by telling it all over again to him. When we shared all of our weird little coincidences and love of various specific obscure music and Tom Hanks movies, Rob said more than once, “It’s unbelievable, how well-matched you are — it’s like this is some kind of arranged marriage!” Fated, to be sure, and hearing it from the guy whose Love is a Mix Tape earns the “most romantic of all memoirs” prize from me, it meant all that much more. He was such a great listener and it was pretty surreal to have someone whose love stories you know so well be so invested in hearing yours. I especially loved talking “Mad Men” with him and was a bit surprised he wasn’t as into “I Luh Ya Papi” as we were, but understood more once he explained that he was introduced to it on American Idol. When we told him we’d seen Bill Hader the day before, he told us a great story of interviewing him and getting called out on something he’d written years before about “Being John Malkovich.” We could have chatted all day.

It also meant a lot to hear Rob say that we’d be crazy to leave Austin. For a long time, I’ve had dreamy feelings toward New York City. When I lived there, I had the most charmed summer of my life, and I just always feel a little more confident and important when I’m there. The possibilities truly feel endless, not to mention the friendships that we already have there (as evidenced by all of the shout-outs we’ve given in the last few days of posts). But ultimately, our weird little blue dot in the middle of this vast, rolling red state is such a family-friendly place, that I can’t see us moving to NYC anytime soon, unless some kind of dream job dropped itself in our laps. For now, we are very much content to enjoy lower rents and larger chunks of open space and outdoor activities. After this trip, Zack and I have sort of made a pact that we’ll aim to move to NYC in our 50s, when our kids are out of college and we can be older, more refined city residents. Until then, we’ll enjoy visits every few years, spending some beautiful, memorable afternoons, evenings and nights with some of the best people we know. Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s Rock Love Austin, not Rock Love New York. At least for the foreseeable future.


One Response to “NYC Day 5: The one where we go to the Top of the Rock and eat with Rob Sheffield”

  1. jessthetics June 27, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    Hello! It sounds like you’ve had an amazing trip and I’m so jealous. I have been to New York, but never to the Rockefeller Center, and the view looks incredible! You look so lovely and happy in these photos 🙂 Also, I’m jealous of the pizza! xx

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