Thursday, May 25, 2006

iSucker

The lovely people who pay me to sit in their office and stare at a screen have actually expected me to, y'know, work this week, which has seriously crimped my blogging plans. So I've got a few posts backed up in the queue. I'll start with a quickie....

So after the eye thing on Friday (which does appear to have fixed everything), I went to the opening of the new Fifth Avenue Apple Store. Boy's friend MC had been there for about an hour already, and was saving me a place on line. She'd been there between 2 and 3 hours before the store was scheduled to open, and there were easily 200 people ahead of us. And many many more behind. I love how going to this sort of event (like the opening of a Star Wars movie) brands me as a big nerd, but I will still never be the biggest nerd there. Not by a long shot. That distinction goes to the man who was standing in line on a Segway. With a "MAC GEEK" license plate. Oh yeah. There was also the couple who got engaged on the line. It was sweet. Unless of course you're their future child, in which case it's incredibly embarrassing. Of course, I was wearing my post-surgery Yoko-Ono-meets-Stevie-Wonder shades, so my own non-nerd cred was seriously diminished. Would it be so tough for them to include a baseball cap with those that says "I just had surgery at Manhattan Eye and Ear and all I got was these lousy sunglasses" just so people know I don't usually walk around - indoors - like that?

For a while before the line wrapped around again, we were on the outer perimeter, and three passers-by asked me what was going on. When I replied, "The new Apple store is opening," two of them looked at me with some of the most baffled expressions I've ever seen. This, in turn, baffled me. It doesn't matter if you're into it or not; if I saw a line of people on the street and was told it was for the opening of the new DKNY or whatever, I would think, "Oh, publicity stunt. I wonder if they're giving stuff away," and go about my business. So I'm choosing to believe that their reaction had more to do with them being dumb than with us being colossal dorks. (Much as I like comments, please, no one disabuse me of that notion!)

About a half hour before the store opened, a horde of staffers in their black t-shirts emerged from the cube and danced around and tried to get the crowd going...with limited success. Steve Jobs was spotted near the entrance. I saw him shaking hands with the first few people to enter the store, but he was gone when we actually got to the front. I was glad he didn't speak. I'm loyal to the company he has built, and I admire his achievements, but separate from the Apple brand there's a cult of personality around Jobs himself that I find (like I find anyone with a giant ego, whether he deserves it or not) incredibly off-putting. Under the circumstances with my eyes, I just wanted to go in, check out the architecture, enter the drawing for a free laptop, get my free t-shirt and go home and sit in a dark room.

The store is...an Apple store. The plaza with the cube is absolutely gorgeous (especially considering what it looked like before), and it's neat to walk into that glass structure and down the glass spiral staircase (with a very Star-Treky round elevator in the center). And then...Apple store. I guess it's bigger than the Soho one, but it's all on one level instead of two (a big plus in my book) so that might just be an illusion. They do seem to have many more floor models of things to play with, but there's still a very finite number of products, so, while useful, that's not all that earth-shattering. Since I was there, I picked up some screen cleaning wipes, and I do love that many of the floor staff carry wireless checkout machines that scan your bar codes, swipe your credit card, and email your receipt to you. No lines! That's hot.

I'm glad I went. Now that Star Wars is done I need something dorky to wait on line for every May. And the free t-shirt is quite cute, actually. (I did not, clearly, win a laptop.) I passed by the next afternoon and there was still a line to get in. I thought I might enter another drawing (it was one per hour for the first 24 hours), but not so much. I wonder if they made Harry Connick and Spike Lee wait in line. I walked by again the other day and decided to look around with fully-recovered eyes and a normal-sized crowd, and it is, in fact, pretty nice. But so's the old one. Ah well, it was an Event. I'm a sucker for a well-planned publicity stunt. (In fact, I may go see the remake of The Omen simply because I think it's genius that it's opening on 6-6-06.)

Here are some pics. Not as good as the professional ones on Apple's site, but they're mine.
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Approaching from the east:
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Over an hour before the doors opened:
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Nobody mention Microsoft or the Apple Secret Service will get you!
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On the way in:
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Nerds descending a staircase:
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The actual store part:
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