I wish I had taken pictures of the mens bathroom at Rockefeller Center, the one near the entrance to the “Today” show. It was closed for a few weeks for renovation and now it’s open again. Sparkly clean and new, though not radically different from how it was before.

Not much has changed at Rockefeller Center in the roughly 26 years I’ve held down the 181. The phone booths are all gone from the UBS building. They were there surprisingly late into the payphone apocalypse, possibly on account of a long term contract. I have pictures from inside one of those booths at the UBS Building.

All the payphones at Rockefeller Center are gone save for one solitary device in the passageway that I think is directly underneath Radio City Music Hall. There had been one other one outside the subway station entrance at 48th Street but it’s gone. There is at least one left inside the subway station but I don’t count that one since you’d have to pay a MetroCard fare just to get to it. It probably does not work anyway.

There used to be access to more narrow passageways and random elevators that seemingly went to nowhere. I don’t remember where they were anymore and it’s impossible to tell because they do a pretty good job of changing things without leaving any trace of what was there before.

I keep meaning to ask on Facebook or somewhere if anyone remembers a diner that was on the first floor of Rockefeller Center. It would have been called something like “Night Train” and the décor of the place was based around trains and choo-choos. I remember this place from 1990 or 1991, but it could easily be a complete fabrication of memory. I remember with certainty that there were a shit ton of phone booths on the first floor and throughout the place.

The post office box area, where the 181 is, was renovated at some point about 15 years ago. During that time everyone with boxes had to go this other room down the hall where postal workers had everyone’s mail sitting on tables. It was a fucking mess and everyone knew it but the postal workers were all smiles all the time, laughing and saying “Just some kinks in the system we gotta work out” as some of the customers were nothing short of apoplectic that their mail was getting lost or delivered to the wrong people. People were genuinely screaming at the postal workers but I don’t think any of them ever cracked or lost that Goddamn smile on their face.

I remember ticket booths downstairs, evidence of which still remains, but I don’t know if they are ever used these days.

A particularly irksome memory comes back any time I pass by a particular spot by the hallway that connected the Time & Life Building to the rest of Rockefeller Center. I don’t remember at present what occupies the space now but for a brief time signage on the unoccupied space read “SIBERIA BAR”. This was during the period when that bar had been kicked out of its strange location inside the 50th Street subway station, and its owner was looking for a new home. It ended up relocating in a speakeasy type place around the Port Authority Bus Terminal but for a few weeks at least it looked like they were going to land at Rockefeller Center. I did not really know Siberia much but somehow the topic of that bar came up in an online discussion at The Well, a BBS I briefly subscribed to around the time of the Siberia Bar migration. (“Well” stands for “Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link.)

I added something to the conversation about the signage that had briefly appeared in Rockefeller Center. Someone replied, dismissively, that if I thought Siberia Bar was moving to Rockefeller Center then I simply did not understand what Siberia Bar was. I *think* I countered this comment by saying that I was simply reporting on the fact that “SIBERIA BAR” had briefly appeared on a wall at Rockefeller Center, suggesting if not confirming that the owner of the place had at the very least considered moving in there. Then I asked this commentator to please enlighten me on what there was the *get* about the place. This entreaty was ignored, and it is perfectly fine with me if I don’t *get* the place, which I don’t think exists anymore.

I don’t know why it still irritates me all these years on but it reminds of a similar kind of pique I saw once on Usenet. Someone who was clearly knowledgeable in some field or other made a comment in which he demonstrated his expertise. To this someone replied that he was full of shit or didn’t know what he was talking about, without explaining why this was allegedly true. To this the educated and knowledgeable person responded with a lengthy retort, addressing any questions one might have about the veracity of his earlier comments and writing paragraph after paragraph after paragraph with citations and footnotes and everything else as if submitting a thesis to peer review. At the end of all that he added that if this was not enough to satisfy the name caller then at least let it be known that as an expert in his field he did not take kindly to being casually called an idiot.