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SNL Stakeout: Emma Stone and Coldplay

There is a general misconception that there’s nowhere to camp in New York City; the people who think this have obviously never been to Rockefeller Center on a Friday night.  Unfortunately, this is no campground and there are no marshmallows, bonfires, or sing-alongs; this is the line of SNL-hopefuls, those who have risked freezing temperatures, gawking tourists, and awkward restroom situations in order to snag a standby ticket to see Saturday Night Live.

Last Friday, in the hopes of seeing Emma Stone host SNL along with musical guest Coldplay, I lugged my sleeping bag sixty blocks downtown and took my place in line.  At 1:30 p.m. there were already 86 people before me; the fans at the very front (resting on their air mattress under a tarp) had been there since Thursday.  A veteran on her third SNL stakeout explained that on Saturday morning the NBC gods hand out numbered standby tickets to the fans, who arrive before the filming on Saturday night in case the invited friends/family members of the cast don’t show up; no tickets are sold.  Basically, SNL is the funniest, live comedy show to ever not allow viewers to watch it live.  I’d heard horror stories of people who had been in the elevator on their way up to the studio only to be informed that the house was booked and sent back down.  The rule is that if you aren’t sitting yet, you don’t have a seat.

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An Arctic Endeavor

Since moving to New York my greatest ambition has been to swim with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club (est. 1903).  I am not sure if this is only because Kramer joins the club in Seinfeld or for other reasons. This weekend, though, my ambition was realised.

Every Sunday from November to April 1:00 sharp on the Coney Island boardwalk (near the aquarium) a motley crew of New Yorkers with salt-water in their blood meet to brave the winter waters of the Atlantic.

The group revels in their own eccentricities, but they are very friendly and accommodating to lily livered first-timers like myself. They told me to try to keep my hands out of the water because these were the parts that got coldest quickly. I ended up walking around in the sea with my hands in the air, as if someone were pointing a gun at me.

Before entering the water there is a little song (soon forgotten following the shocking cold of the ocean) in time to some star-jumps and then 100 people or so rush into the water, mostly clad in shoes to avoid the shells and glass on the ground.

Having built myself up for arctic conditions I was pleasantly surprised that I could just walk into the water. Soon, though, numbness begins to take my legs and a dull ache appears in a few important parts of my anatomy. After that a light burning sensation creeps up followed by a feeling of warmth- gentle warmth, as if I were warming my body by a fire. I decided to get out earlier than many of the others who seemed to stay in for about 30 minutes, but it was my first time.

All I need to do now is notch up 11 more swims this season to win the coveted membership to the club.

After the swim get a hot dog at Nathans, or if you are feeling adventurous it is not far to Pirosmani.

Coney Island Polar Bear Club

Every Sunday 1 PM at the Coney Island Boardwalk (Near the Aquarium, it will be obvious)
Subway: West 8th St – NY Aquarium (F.Q)


-Raphael Cormack

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