One reason people become more confident as they grow older may be that unlike in high school, they no longer have to attempt so many things they are not good at on a regular basis. Not coincidentally, this thought arose as I participated in the ninth annual Midnight Madness
, an all-night city scavenger hunt which is run by Columbia grads based on the 1980 Michael J. Fox movie of the same name
, just for the nerdy fun of it. (Yeah, you did hear something about it on NPR.)
Now for me, the actual scavenging part was cake. But we also had to solve puzzles cooked up by Columbia/ MIT geniuses in Game Control, which were another story. Try this one below out: there were other circles you can't see in this photo, but it doesn't really matter (in my case, anyway). The answer was "Caesura." I still don't get it.
So my response was often something akin to, "I love lamp." I believe our team, Midnight Blue, was one of the larger of more than a dozen teams, so usually I got nowhere near the puzzles anyway and stuck to gathering items and photos that earned us "Street Cred" dollars, with which we could buy hints from Game Control.
I had started with the sexy title of spy, which mostly entailed my waiting with my bike for two hours outside game start, where the teams all gathered Warriors-style at at 10 p.m. at the Grassy Knoll park by the West Side Highway.
I was assigned to follow Team Black, who had done well last year. When two Team Blackers left on bike, I gave chase, and tailed 'em for about 10 exhilirating blocks up 10th avenue, yelling drunks out of my path, mind taking in multiple streams of input (traffic signals, oncoming traffic in all directions, Team Black's duo biking ahead across the street) before the duo vanished.
Yep: I lost two guys who were wearing flourescent orange vests with reflective tape, who didn't know they were being followed, in a low-speed bike chase. I forgot; I should never do anything where being fast is important. Dejected, I attempted return to the Grassy Knoll, making the major tactical error of attempting passage on 28th Street in clubland, where it was boiling over with skanks aplenty and my every move involved unwanted contact with everyone's inflatable tits on parade (male and female, thank you Long Island and my homeland of the Jerse). Back at the park, the rest of Team Black was gone. Curses!
I rejoined Team Midnight Blue at a 23rd St. bar, our HQ for the next few hours, and went on Street Cred expeditions. One was getting a photo of a team member naked. Co-captain Dave went above and beyond, hanging bareassed from a street sign, then having his pants temporarily stolen by a passerby.
An easy cred-dollars-earner: human pyramid.
And I guess this creepo by F.I.T. had a clue for everyone, but I'm glad I didn't have to deal with him/her/it.
This Midnight Blue "tag" might get some golden showers, but a pic of it earned us some golden cred dollars...
Teammate Reilly and I departed for what was a very successful Street Cred run--one item on our long wish list was "pic of team member in one of those retarded pedicabs" and lo, waiting right on the corner of 23rd and 10th, was our sweet retarded chariot with flirtatiously cooperative foreign attendant!
The cred hunt went fortuitously on from there, New York felt full of potential, and both of us felt renewed love for our city.
This one may be why my back is now more f'd up than usual.
And this item from the scavenger list, a sign with misspellings, is something I can't help but see everywhere...this one seems a little racist to me...
Our photos and scavenged findings were then turned in to gangsta Game Control for Street Cred.
But it also turned out that, thanks to Kinko's, paper Street Cred money is a lot easier to counterfeit than U.S. currency, and that was the end of scavenging for the cred.
Close to four when the bar was closing, we relocated to a teammate's modern office, where we had a conference room with dry erase board, a coffee machine, computers, air conditioning, bathrooms, everything we needed. There I was finally instrumental in solving a puzzle involving palindromes.
Later, in the first light of day, groups of these pennies from hell were glued all over the game zone and led somewhere, but none of the teams could figure out where. It became a source of torment for what may have been hours, and I heard later that they'd been tampered with by some rogue team.
After the penny debacle, we returned to the Grassy Knoll, this time in sunblock, to pore over a few new clues. One could've been designed just for me: it was all porn takeoffs on regular movie titles
, i.e. Pulp Friction and Moulin Splooge. I write filthy puns like that for a living--I destroyed
that one! Maybe I was getting the hang of this game after all.
But by noon, I hadn't had a meal in about 17 hours and hadn't slept in over 24, and my last Red Bull happened around eight hours ago, so the fun and my contributions were over.
Myself and a few others who weren't doing well waited blearily propped against some wall somewhere in the West Village like a line of junkies on the nod. I was well beyond caring about clues, hints or winning, just wondering if this would ever be over. How in the world were the others carrying on and still running from one false lead to the next? At about 2 p.m., mumbling a goodbye to whatever teammates were nearby, I cut a zombie-shuffle up the street and grabbed a cab, effectively leaving my bike to the bike-thieving wolves, figuring I probably would never see old Damselfly the electric-green vintage Schwinn again...oh well, we had a good run, longer than probably most NYC bikers do with their bikes, especially with my level of cheapo halfway-cut-through lock.
From the cab, everyone I saw seemed to be a MM player, everything I noticed might be a clue or something to turn in for Street Cred. Everything was wrong in that I've-stayed-up-too-long way when the sun is coming up, only the sun was well into its full midday blare. I didn't want to see anything else except foodandthenbed. And finally I did.
FROM - GameControl
TOPIC - - MESSAGE #165
14:02 Team Plaid
14:24 Team Red
14:28 Team Cerulean
14:31 Team Ochre
15:11 Team Black
15:18 Team Spicy Mustard
15:21 (tie?) Team Baby Blue / Team Jade
15:25 Team Midnight Blue
15:44 Team Bling
15:50 Team Pink
15:53 Team Goldenron
~1600 Team Maize
16:08 Team Marmelade
16:11 Team Clear
16:24 Team Butterup
16:50 Rest of GC arrives at finish line
And: Damselfly wasn't stolen! Yay.
Labels: nyc tomfoolery