How do you keep the consumers interested in your hotel if you happen to run a broken-down fleatrap? Word puzzles and conundrums, that's how.
Outside the seedy and indestructable Hotel Carter on W. 43rd Street (opposite the Times building, doncha know?) hangs a cheap and shiny marquee adorned with two perplexing selling points. One reads: "You Always Wanted in Time Square and Less." The other: "A Short Trip From Wherever You Are."
WTF? Do they mean "Everything you always wanted in Time Square." And if so, why "less," not "more." Do they mean the Carter is a short trip from wherever I am? If they do, what do I care? Since I'm already nearby and close to the things I want to visit, why do I need to stay at the Carter? Or do they mean the Carter is a short trip from wherever I want to go?
Thinking the bad grammar and mangled meaning was on purpose and steeped in irony, I went inside and spoke to the concierge, a dignified Asian gentlemen with silver hair. But when I asked him to explain the slogans, he merely repeated them, straight-faced, as if they were the most logical maxims imaginable. Were any words missing? No. I got the feeling he thought they were dynamite slogans. Then he handed me a calling card for the Carter, emblazoned with the same bizarre appeals.
The Carter lobby is a spacious, strange place. Lots of clocks telling you the time in foreign cities. A bunch of oriental rugs rolled up in the corner. Stairs up to something called the Dixie Restaurant, which is closed, with the promise of a sushi joint to come. And in one distant corner, something you don't see in hotels anymore: a framed directory of local churches. And I mean EVERY church. Maybe after a stay at the Carter, some prayer is in order.