Top 5 Places in New York as Seen in the Moving Pictures

New York is a hell of a city, but why waste your time seeing all the historical and academic tourist spots when you could see things in person you used to only be able to see on the silver* screen? The only reason you wouldn’t be interested in seeing these locations is if you’re a Nazi zombie. And do you want people to think of you as an undead fascist, huh? If the answer is no, keep reading for a guide on places to go to feel like you’re in the pictures when you’re in the big city.

5 – The Statue of Liberty

Until recent years, the Statue of Liberty had fallen into a state of disrepair and Liberty Island had become a den of scum and villainy. After the filming of King Kong, the statue was left damaged, and quickly became a staging area for various criminal enterprises. All this changed in 2001, when Ben Stiller realized his dream of crafting a film chronicling the seedy underbelly of the fashion industry, in his dark and haunting picture Zoolander.

This internationally renowned film showcases Lady Liberty in the opening credit sequence, and the film’s success has led the way in efforts to rally people to gather around this national monument and revitalize it as a symbol of freedom in the land of really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking people.

Roscoe and Lady Liberty

Roscoe and Lady Liberty

Seeing this in person gives anyone the opportunity to feel like they have the potential of being on the cover of Rolling Stone or People. It is an awe-inspiring sight coming in close proximity to Lady Liberty, but those diehard Zoolandereans out there may want to spring the extra couple thousand dollars to do an aerial flyover to get the full effect; the angle, while breathtaking, just isn’t the same from the ferry.

4 – University of Columbia

If you want to take a walk in the footsteps of Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray, be sure to check out the Manhattan campus of University of Columbia. Unfortunately, the campus has discontinued the Department of Parapsychology. Officials from the university would not speak directly with Baseball for Dinner, but rather pointed us to their Office of Legal Affairs.

Rather than talking with some shyster lawyer, BfD contributor Roscoe decided it would be more beneficial to his readers to research it himself and managed to sneak into the Administrator’s Gala under the guise of being part of the entertainment. With the clandestine exchange of a couple greenbacks, Roscoe convinced the German New Wave Band “Trio” to temporarily change their name to “Quartet.” This gained him access to the upper echelons of Columbia’s administration, which turns out to be run by Colombian druglords.

In between sets, Roscoe managed to be in the right place to overhear a snippet of a phone conversation, where the partygoer stated, “Don’t worry, Columbia U is in the process of completely destroying the credibility of Ghostbusters. In five years, no one in the states will know what paranormal activity refers to. Tell El Jefe that the wheels are in motion.”

Unfortunately, Roscoe was unable to garner additional information, although he diligently tried. Consequently, no photographs were allowed to be taken for BfD. Depicted below is the BfD team at Grant’s Tomb, which is also a center for paranormal activity, chiefly haunted by Ulysses S. Grant himself and his wife Julia.

Part of the Baseball for Dinner Family Outside of Grant's Tomb

Part of the Baseball for Dinner Family Outside of Grant's Tomb

3 – Tom’s Restaurant

Some nit-picky people out there will say that Seinfeld was a television series, and thusly does not belong on a list of moving pictures. To these people I say a polite fuck off. The criteria for this Top 5 is not that it appeared in theaters, but rather that it is an iconic image as seen in moving pictures, which includes both big-screen films and television. And Seinfeld has definitely had an impact on our world.

Without it, would we have such terms as a “close-talker” or “man-hands”? My guess is probably. But we might not have the wisecracks that surround them in our culture. And that’s what really matters.

Joey Z rendered speechless by being in the presence of the Seinfeld diner

Joey Z rendered speechless by being in the presence of the Seinfeld diner

As you can see, Tom’s Diner managed to touch BfD contributor Joey Z deeply. The inside has been done up as a makeshift shrine to the TV show, and the outside vista is a must see for anyone with even a little bit of Jerry, George, Elaine and/or Kramer inside their soul. Be prepared to feel your stomach get a little bit of butterflies in it as you approach.

2 – The Residence on the Corner of 144th and Convent Avenue

The BfD Team plots a possible breaking and entering to view the interior

The BfD Team plots a possible breaking and entering to view the interior

According to legend, “Royal Tenenbaum bought the house on Archer Avenue in the winter of his 35th year.” Since then, the Manhattan Road Commision and City Planning Committee has renamed Archer Avenue “Convent Avenue.” The reasons for the change, as stated by the Chairman of the Committee in his 2003 September radio address, comes from the building located kitty-corner from the Tenenbaum house, which is now known as the Greater Tabernacle Baptist Church.

This small, unassuming brick church used to house real nuns. No forgeries here, only the real, certified deal. Apparently, the church community felt that their nuns were not getting the advertising they deserved, and so put in a petition to legally change the street name to help broadcast to people passing by that indeed, there were real nuns in residence within the walls.

Upon learning that this created a discretion within the film, the watchdog organization Films Are Reality Too set forth a campaign to force director Wes Anderson to overdub the line to correct the error. Fortunately, Anderson and his legal team stood their ground and managed to win a victory for people everywhere that feel there is more to life than this cold, heartless entity we callously refer to as reality. Isn’t there room for fantasy and dreams?

1 – Coney Island

Speaking of dreams, what better place to end our tour of New York’s finest locations as seen in movies and television than in the fantastic land full of magic and wonder known as Coney Island? Stepping onto the boardwalk, one innately senses the remnants of childhood shenanigans and a pleasant carnival atmosphere. The wind whistles through the empty rides, lulling all those in proximity to it into a soothing calm.

The BfD Team chilling out on the pier

The BfD Team chilling out on the pier

This is fitting, given that it is a major setting for A Requiem for a Dream by Darren Aronofsky. You feel like you enter Aronofsky’s dreamscape, which rivals the whimsy of Willy Wonka. If you want to experience a sense of light-hearted wonder, and give your inner child / heroin addict a chance to pretend to dance along the beach, then this is a can’t miss.

* Silver screen is used with artistic license to refer to both to movie screens and older style television sets.
Photographs courtesy Erin Elizabeth.