Friday, April 27, 2007

Come On, Baby, Let's Go Downtown

New York New York, big city of dreams
And everything in New York ain't always what it seems
You might get fooled if you come from out of town
But I'm down by law and I know my way around
"New York New York" by E. Fletcher / Melvin Glover / Reggie Griffin / Sylvia Robinson

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five—now that's kicking it old school! And when it comes to New york, forget Disney-fied Times Square and scrubbed subway cars. No Rudy Giuliani or Michael Bloomberg here. Let's get down and dirty and gritty, but with class and charm as well.

On Tuesday, I had the privilege of seeing a preview of a new sim that will be opening early in May called Downtown. Our landlady flopsie McArdle was one of the builders, along with sim co-owner Natalie Defiant (gage Rousselot is the other owner), our friend Pushbutton Skolnik, Abbey Underall, and Trevor Turner. As flopsie describes it, Downtown is somewhere between the East Village and Brooklyn, and I can already tell that it's going to be a really exciting destination for lovers of the urban experience.

Patrice and I met flopsie at one of the five subway stations—actually, on one of the elevated sections. We were joined a while later by our friend, neighbour, and fellow Canuck Mischief Fairymeadow. The subway does not work yet, but it will. The attention to detail is amazing, something that I noticed throughout the tour. This is a subway that still has graffiti and flickering lights, although thankfully no DNA left behind by people with dicey hygiene habits. There are poses that let you sleep in the corner, sit and read, and hang onto the rail.

Since this was a station on the el, maybe we were in the Brooklyn part. The streets are dark and dingy, and again beautiful detailed. There will be all kinds of shops opening soon. Around the corner, we found ourselves in Chinatown, complete with hanging lanterns over the street and with yet more shops, including flopsie's store, for which the displays are vintage Communist-era posters. Nothing like a touch of neo-realism!

I was relying on my tour guide, because it would be easy to get lost in or below these streets. I know I was in a tunnel at one point, not sure of the way out, although somehow I did end up safely in a subway station. I also had to rely on Patrice sending me teleports, because I'd stop to take pictures, or go back to take pictures I'd forgotten to take, and lose the others.

Not all is grit and grime in Downtown. One street is lined with brownstones, again with terrific detail. I believe these are apartments that can be rented. Didn't see inside, but I imagine the detail doesn't stop at the outside. And right near the brownstone street is a park with an obelisk, half Nelson's Column and half Cleopatra's Needle, as well as a couple of low breast-like hills that Patrice made (my wife is obsessed!). This is a more open part of the sim, the part through which a river runs (flopsie says it's polluted).

We hit yet more cool stores. The record store is full of vinyl, with an animation that lets you browse. I love the detail of the baseball bat behind the counter. No trouble in this store! Oh, and a vintage cash register. Leave your debit card at home. Next door is a book shop, from the days before every bookstore had an espresso bar in it (although I did suggest adding one). There's even more cool stuff that I forgot to take pictures of, including a movie theatre and a club. And I just love the "PARK" sign for a parkade (that's "parking garage" for non-Canadian readers) with the "R" burned out. That's the kind of detail we're talking about here.

We ended up back where we'd started, or maybe at different el station. Just before Patrice and I left, we were joined by the fourth and final resident of Beaver Beach (our newly renamed parcel—double entendre intentional), Sarah Fouquet. The conversation got all nostalgic at that point. I am the baby of the bunch, but I've known all those girls for most of my Second Life. They've known each other even longer. Mischief's first rez day is coming up very soon! I'd better remember to get pictures of that party.

I was totally blown away by Downtown. When it opens, you have to check it out. It's about as far from the pastoral tranquility of Toscana as you can imagine. It's going to be a lively and interesting place to hang out.

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