I stop up short when I see the street-sign: Bethune Street. This is where Frank and April Wheeler lived when they were playing house in New York City. This is the street that became synonymous with what they'd lost after they'd moved out to suburbia and started to fall apart. It's a really good street. I can see why they'd miss it.
I'm supposed to be hurrying through the meat-packing district so that I don't miss the final tour of the day at the Chelsea brewery - Manhattan's last remaining beer distillery. Despite the Bethune Street hold-up I make it, and get told all about hops, wort, yeast and the perils of Bud Light by a smart-mouthed young guy with shaky hands. When he reveals he's been drinking all day, a bearded guy at the back pipes up: "I have a question."
"How do I get a job like yours?"
Quick as flash the Beer Ambassador smacks back "Lose a better-paid one."
We all cheer. We brave few, who've made the last tour of the day on Valentine's Day, bite our thumbs at the economic downturn, at the international hops crisis, at the devotees of Bud Light. But now the sample pitchers of beer are finished, and our tour-guide is telling us of his dreams to open his own micro-brewery, complete with a bar that doesn't look like an airport lounge. He's right about the Chelsea Brewery Lounge. TV screens blare from every surface, as if the owners were determined to distract you from the copper vats full of artisanal ale on the other side of the glass, or the view of New Jersey's sky-scrapers over the other side of the Hudson.
I guess New Yorkers would rather have New Jersey as a punchline than a backdrop. As if to prove the point, next door to the brewery a multi-storied driving range lets Manhattan's middle-managers and soccer moms take a cathartic swing at New Jersey City.