Rockefeller Tree (2006)
AOL was my employer the entire time I lived in New York and we occupied four different office buildings in four very different parts of town during my tenure. The first one was on Madison Avenue and had a roof terrace that was always shadowed by the Midtown skyscrapers. I commuted every day through Grand Central Station and it all felt very work-a-day New York. The second office was downtown on West 18th Street, my favorite. Cooler bars, more laid back, cheaper lunch. The third was 75 Rock, perched on the edge of Rockefeller Center overlooking the famous Plaza. The fourth was back downtown to a building in Astor Place on the edge of NYU, widely identified as “above KMart.”
But backing up to Rockefeller Center…
Every day I commuted through hoards of poster-toting tourons stalking the Today Show and droves of 5th Avenue shopaholics, but nothing – and I mean nothing – can compare to the insanity around the holidays. Thousands more visitors wander the streets in long horizontal lines that block the entire sidewalk, gaping up, over, out, around – but never straight ahead at where they’re going. One day I saw camels. Live, breathing camels on the streets of New York! They were arriving for their day’s work on the Radio City Spectacular Christmas Show.
And then there’s the tree.
On Tree Lighting Day 2006 we left work around 5PM, picked up special wrist bands so we could prove our legitimacy in the building and went to get drinks and dinner somewhere nearby. We bought champagne and probably some sort of liquor that mixes with vending machine soda and returned to one of our conference rooms, smug with our bird’s eye view of the madness below. We projected NBC’s broadcast on a large presentation screen, opened the shutters, flew up the sash and when the tree powered on with all its sparkles, we sparkled at how cool we were to have our vantage point. Unlike most of the folks down below we lived and worked here, we were legitimate, we drank the spiked kool-aid, we made up words like “tourons.” We were tucked-in New Yorkers.