The new traffic-free Times Square now looks like someone's back patio during a particularly dull family reunion.
I strolled through last night, the first time I had been in the area since Bloomberg's plan to make large swaths of Times Square pedestrian friendly took effect. I expected to see people milling about Broadway, enjoying the novel freedom of car-free city streets. Instead, I was stopped dead by the unsightly picture of hundreds of slothful tourists sitting around in plaid, plastic lawn chairs. You know, the kind you'll find in any backyard in the Midwest during the warm months of the year. And the loungers didn't look like they were going anywhere. They were there to stay.
I am not against the new Times Square. And I don't mind those stylish cafe chairs and tables you find in Bryant Park (in green) and Duffy Square (in red). But lawn chairs? Whose idea was this? They're ugly in any context. But they're horrifyingly incongruous at the supposedly cosmopolitan Crossroads of the World. Everyone sits there in haphazard rows facing the Jumbotron, like they were home in Toledo watching their wide-screen TV. They turn the City That Never Sleeps into The City That Ever Sits.
This just seems like another example of how Bloomberg basically misunderstands the basic nature of New York. He thinks we're some kind of suburb or bland resort. He has horrible taste.
But it gets worse. In the area, which is apparently called "The Times Square Lounge" (ugh!), there are other chair prototypes for those willing to give them a try. Let's take a look.
There are these ridiculous plastic orange accordions, which look like they belong in a Chuck E. Cheese.
This item is called a Chaise-Lawn. Ha ha. It is very popular with our stouter tourists and induces slumber. The man pictured above climbed into it, and kept loudly groaning "Ahhhhhhh" and "Ohhhhhhh" with weary pleasure. I doubt he left it until early this morning.
I remember an old episode of "The Odd Couple" where Felix bought some new, tres moderne, utterly ludicrous furniture. A chair shaped like a large hand was one of the items. 30 years later, here it is again, as stupid as ever.
Are we to understand that, if these "chairs" prove popular with tourists, more will be carted in? Oh, God, no. Please take them all away. The lawn chairs, too. Keep Times Square open to pedestrians. But keep them moving! No loitering, please.