Sean Beckwith: Sleepless in the Big Apple |

Sean Beckwith: Sleepless in the Big Apple

If New York is the city that never sleeps, then its inhabitants are insomniacs by default, right? Travel circumstances dictated I arrived in New York on zero bed sleep and as much plane sleep as little Teddy with the marathon lungs would allow. The only thing worse than sitting next to a crying baby has to be being the parent of a tiny person assaulting everyone’s aural experience.

Oddly enough, it felt like preparation though. Welcome to the city, now get ready to challenge your ability to stay awake even though every fiber of your body is telling you to find the nearest flat spot and do your best Rip Van Winkle impression.

I spent as much time standing in line for a comedy show as I did sleeping. I spent more time sleeping on a stoop waiting for the comedy show to get out than I did sleeping in a bed. I spent more time sleeping in a cab than a bed.

I was like a zombie whose sustenance was booze and hot dogs rather than brains. Upper West Side, Tribeca, Brooklyn, whatever; just get me to a place with cold beverages. If you look over here, this is where they filmed “Taxi Driver.” And if I look over there, that sign says beer.

My friend Chris asked me what tourist stuff I would like to do. Tourist stuff? None. How about we take public transportation from bar to bar and I’ll ask you what that building is. Is it that the Empire State Building? Nope? How about that one? No? OK, cool. Cab ride/tour over.

Central Park was just the place we walked through en route to the next cerveza. I’m not Rick Steves. This isn’t a Zagat guide. I had two things on my list to do in New York — a slice and a bagel — and I only got one of them done and even then it was slightly compromised. H&H apparently thinks cream cheese is the greatest condiment ever and should overwhelm everything, including the bagel and smoked salmon. We did have pizza, which was delicious, but it wasn’t your typical New York slice.

I would rather have the local’s experience than a tourist’s best day. My version of hell is an endless guided tour of great tour guides. Here’s Billy Powell; he dedicated his life to showing people the ins and outs of a duct tape factory. And here I am in an alternate life trying to make a noose out of duct tape in order to get out of this god-forsaken tour.

My attention span on vacation is like a small child at Legoland. I want to ride the roller coaster, but only if I don’t get too distracted during the walk over.

There are more culinary options on any block in New York than there are in Aspen’s entirety. Trekking across boroughs for a specific item seems unnecessary because there are 56 different varieties of whatever you’re looking for between you and your destination.

In Aspen there aren’t 56 varieties of anything. Hell, there’s not even a fast-food restaurant in Aspen. If you want Wendy’s, it’ll take 20 minutes in a car. If you want Chinese food at 2 a.m. in New York, it’ll take 20 minutes from a delivery guy. If you want food at 2 a.m. in Aspen, your fridge better be full.

We picked up beer, bagels and bloody mary mix in half the time it would’ve taken me to drive to Snowmass.

As convenient as the city is, the one thing you can’t get quickly is nature. Central Park is huge and very cool, but I’ve never seen a dead rat at Paepke. It’s a park surrounded by a city, unlike Aspen, which is a city surrounded by a park.

My friends, who were gracious enough to let me stay on their couch, told me it takes them a little bit of a jaunt to get out of the city. I can’t fathom that. I open my blinds to more foliage than I saw in all of New York.

I’ll take mountainscapes over skyscrapers every time. Sleep though. I’ll take that anywhere I can find it at this point.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at

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