Last weekend we unwound in upstate New york (is Albany considered upstate?). The trip included stops in Albany (to see Comedienne Kathy Griffin), Waterloo (to shop) and Syracuse (because there aren't any hotels in Waterloo.)
Kathy was wonderful – so quick-witted. Her routine is clearly only partly scripted. Aside from a few segments that she could tell any time, most of her act involved gossip about the latest celebrity headlines and the dumbass things they do. Her biggest targets were Paula Abdul's blundering on American Idol (she's either hepped up on goofballs or the judges' comments are completely scripted) and Mylie Cyrus's recent photoshoot cuddling with her dad (which is just creepy).
Kathy's humour isn't so much about content – there's nothing inherently funny about The View or Oprah (except that these shows have an audience – oh wait, I'm confusing funny with sad again) – it's about her delivery. She comes out with some truly witty turns of phrase, making Hollywood bigwigs look the fools they are. And it's all done so off-the-cuff – some of these gossip stories are only days old – that it seems likely her upcoming Toronto show in August will be almost completely different from the one we saw in Albany. I'd be lying if I said we aren't tempted to go.
It was well worth the 6-hour drive to Albany. And that's saying a lot because Albany doesn't have much else to offer.
We stayed in the "entertainment district" and let me tell you, it was pretty dead by the time we arrived around 5pm. The area doubles as the business district and, like Ottawa, it simply empties out in the evening. We spent hours wandering around looking for a liquor store and a decent restaurant that was open for dinner, but to little avail. In fact, the hotel staff said they couldn't advise us of a place to go buy liquor that would be safe.
How can people live like that, scared of their own city? Last October we walked throughout Manhattan – day and night – and never once felt threatened. What's with Albany?!
Still, we took a few pics the morning before we left, checking out the state legislature building and a kind of cool, sci-fi looking area that was actually a mix of government buildings and a performing arts theatre, known as the egg – for obvious reasons.
Then we decided enough was enough and, after a quick trip to iHop (We never go to the US and don't go to iHop), we hightailed it outta there and headed towards a full day of shopping in Waterloo.
Waterloo (about 20 muinutes from Syracuse) is a bit of a hidden treasure. Everytime we mention it, people ask "You mean Watertown?" No, not Watertown. Watertown is a hole. Waterloo is a hole with an outlet mall. And amazing deals! Banana Republic at 50% off?! Hello! Sign me up.
Very happy we didn't take Margot's challenge of not buying new clothes for a year. I think we spent about $600 each. I got loads of new dress pants and nice shirts, and I got 4 new pairs of shoes (that would be my mother's genes kicking in.) Mel did similarly well and, after more than 6 hours of shopping – and a visit to Arby's (I never go to the US and don't go to Arby's) – the stores closed at 9pm.
We headed back to Syracuse for the night to prepare for the 100% accurate trip through customs the next day.