back to the Black Table

Given its recent problems, you'd think the editors of New York Times would do everything in their power to make readers out of the 56 people who actually stay in Gotham over summer weekends.

You'd think they would want those sad, city-bound asses seated on ripped red pleather bar stools, hunched over the Weekend section of the Times in some dark, piss-and-Bud-smelling dump where the AC sounds like a jet turbine, the barkeep is crankier than Qusay Hussein without his heroin supply and the pickled eggs are the choicest item on the "menu."

But instead, the Times encourages people to run out and frolic all weekend long. The editors of the Weekend's "Spare Times" section put on their little "community newspaper" visors and suggest real stuff for those 56 people to go do. There are listings for "events," "attractions," "gardens," "recreation," and -- my favorite -- "walking tours."

They're innocuous crap, like this one: "NOSHWALKS. The food and culture of Sunset Park, Brooklyn sampled tomorrow at 11 a.m., meeting in Brooklyn in the parking lot of the Hong Kong Dynasty Supermarket, Eighth Avenue at 60th Street. Fee, $18."

Maybe New York isn't Sin City, but there's plenty of sin going on here. Try these seven deadly walking tours instead.

The tour visits excessive beliefs in one's own abilities. Combines interference with the individual's recognition of the grace of God with tastings at local ethnic restaurants. Meets tomorrow at 11 a.m. outside Howell Raines's old office at the New York Times on 43rd St. Stops at taverns frequented by O'Henry, Jayson Blair and Lance Burton: Master Magician. Fee: $12; $9 for Condè Nast interns who've slept with some HBO producer, gays and Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Combines stops at -- among others -- Alain Ducasse and Gray's Papaya with a stroll through the inordinate desire to consume more than one needs. Led by Alec Baldwin. Meets at 2 p.m. tomorrow (for Mountain Dew and Hot Pockets: Alec's treat) around that big table in the Security Council Chamber at the United Nations. Depending on whether or not Alec fucks up a photographer, may also stop by Cinnabon at the Manhattan Mall on 6th and 33rd because, like, my friend Heather?…who works at The Piercing Pagoda?…gets, like, 10% off Pecanbons and Mochalatta Chills.

Greenwich Village and West Village. Explores landmarks and historic sites connected to the desire for others' traits, status or abilities. With a special stop at Emerson's quote about art and jealousy and a mistress and stuff. Will look in windows of shops you'll never be able to afford, both in Soho and on Fifth Ave. where we will also cross the streets near hotels whose managers would laugh in your face and then spit on you if you ever tried to come through their revolving door. Meets 1 p.m. Saturday at some dickhead's $550/mo. 3-bedroom rent-controlled loft in the West Village. Prick. No fee. Sponsored by Universal Studios' "2 Fast 2 Furious" -- Cross the line one more time!

Tramp through the neighborhoods of disordered desire for sexual pleasure in search of the answer to the question: "Can a man take fire to his bosom and his garments not be burned?" Walkers will be able to audition for a guest dancing spot at Billy's Topless when we meet at 10 a.m. on 6th Ave. between 23rd and 24th. Should the desire grab you (and it should) walkers are invited to spank Alec Baldwin if we happen to run into the Gluttony group. Sponsored by the Alabama Petroleum Equipment Contractors Association. Fee: $10. Includes adult subject matter (sins of the flesh and such.) Information: 1(800) HUGE-BOOBS.

With emphasis on those to whom you might not turn the other cheek. Visits people who stop in the middle of the sidewalk to look at their watch and others who describe the feats of professional athletes as "courageous." Just to get your dander up before we begin, meet on the 79th St. subway platform at 6 on Friday evening. The Bible says, "every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment," but at the time God had yet to create "Access Hollywood's" Pat O'Brien. Fee: $10. Information and meeting times:

A constitutional through the obsessive desire for ever-more material goods and the attendant power. With readings of works by Gordon Gekko, Martha Stewart and Liberian president, Charles Taylor. Will visit the rooming house on lower Broadway at W. Houston (now a Williams-Sonoma Kids) where, in the years after World War I, filmmaker Erich von Stroheim found a battered copy of the novel he would later adapt into his 1925 masterpiece, "Greed" (starring Gibson Gowland, Zasu Pitts and, oddly, Tupac Shakur.)

This walk has been cancelled.



Tim Townsend is a writer living in Connecticut.