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Live Off Groupon is Over

Long story short, our Groupawn lived off Groupons for an entire year! Check out Groupon's amazing local deals and see if you can do the same! ... Or just browse and buy at your leisure.

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May 26th

Day 17

Nobody Ever Offered To Light Me On Fire In Chicago…

My trip to New York had gotten off to a slow start…but that was about to change. Nothing in this town is slow. This was day 15 and it was quickly slipping away as I blogged and tackled some travel logistics. I left the coffee shop and went to meet up with Live Off Groupon applicant, Hagan Blount, A.K.A. The “Wandering Foodie” ( Hagan and I met on Twitter back when we first applied to Live Off Groupons and he was gracious enough to join me for the evening.

We took the Subway to “The Nexus of the Universe” (1st & 1st) to have dinner at a little tapas place, but it was closed for the evening due to repairs. Luckily I had a Groupon for another restaurant approx. three blocks away so we went there instead. The Elephant is a cute little Thai place in East Village ( We sat down and ordered some drinks…Hagan asked the bartender about a relatively obscure elderflower liquor that I happen to be a huge fan of, called St. Germain. Unsatisfied with her recommended cocktail recipe he took one of their signature cocktails and replaced the cranberry juice with Germain. I asked her to make a concoction my best friend/former roommie & I labeled, The St. Rickey (Germain, Lime Juice, Soda). Next we ordered a whole bunch of food and proceeded to feast and talk about food for quite awhile (I was thoroughly entertained). The highlight of the meal for both of us (surprisingly) was the french fries (who’da thunk?)…which Hagan had the brilliant idea of dipping in mayo that he mixed with Sriracha (chili sauce…well played, Sir). I also quite liked my Tilapia steamed in banana leaves w/ sauteed veggies and a very delicate red curry sauce. We finished off the meal with another round of cocktails (my lychee martini was a great dessert) and Hagan took care of the portion of the bill that exceeded my Groupon as well as tax & tip.

I didn’t have any further plans so he invited me to join him and a few Twitter friends at a bar in Soho for a Lost discussion group…I haven’t even finished the second season, but I went along anyway. The Lost discussion didn’t last long, once the topic of Groupon arose. I don’t think they even had time to spoil the series ending for me (I’m sure I’ll get to it someday). After exchanging info with my new friends, Hagan let me borrow his unlimited Metrocard (he was leaving for DC the next day anyway) and asked me to just get it back to him later. He expressed an interest in my Groupon for NYC Dental Associates, and while I’m due for a cleaning, I have plenty of other dental care Groupons in my arsenal (what I really need is a checkup for my eyes…hint hint). I hope to meet up with Hagan again when I make it back to New York.

We parted ways, but first, Hagan pointed me in the direction of my friend’s hotel. My former neighbor, Al, is here on a lengthy business trip and offered to let me crash with him rather than that can of sardines from the night before. Unfortunately the hotel was booked solid and his current room was too small to accomodate a cot. Instead we had a bunch of extra pillows and blankets sent up and I slept on the floor, again (#realizingimgettingtoooldforthis). Before bed, Al ordered us some drinks at the hotel bar and we chatted and caught up. Considering the amount of travel he does for his job, I doubt this will be the last time I crash in one of his hotel rooms.

I woke up in desperate need of a massage but instead worked on some over due blog posts and got us moved to another room (#lookingforwardtoabed). Around 3:15pm my Aunt Billie met me at the hotel so we could head to lunch. It had been over 10 years since the last time I’d seen her! We took the subway to Harlem for lunch at Cafe Lucienne. Apparently this little french restaurant is located in close proximity to Bill Clinton’s office and as it turns out he’s dined in this very place. Our server, a gentleman with a charming french accent from Burkina Faso, recommended the Kobe Burger and the Chicken Sandwich. We decided to share both and each ordered a glass of wine to round out the meal.

After a lovely meal we took a bus to Central Park (my first time). It really is spectacular. This is the first thing that I’ve experienced in New York that I wish we had back in Chicago. I was blown away. My pictures can’t possibly do it justice but they are better than anything I can say. (Left) I love the reflection. (Right) This is my Aunt’s favorite spot in the park, there is a waterfall opposite the archway. (Bottom Left) First attempt at panoramic mode (click to see)!  Our stroll through the park was coming to an end when I saw this gentleman in a kilt, playing the bagpipes just a few hundred feet away. I was drawn like a moth to a flame! Other than the occasional parade (way back during childhood) I’ve never seen/heard the bagpipes from so close. It turns out Duncan is not Scottish at all but a native New Yorker. He used to play for the UN and in a number of bands. We stayed and listened/chatted with this character for about an hour before heading downtown to Madison Square to meet up with another Twitter follower, Max (@ishallnottweet), for dinner.

In addition to meeting up for food, this kind gentleman also brought me two polo-ish shirts (as I’d been asking for something to wear on the TODAY Show)! He also brought his Golden Retriever along for a doggie dessert and his fiance met us shortly after. Max and I hit it off immediately and I look forward to meeting up with him again, later in the week. Before we parted, I gave him a Groupon for a photography workshop at New York City Photo Safari, that will hopefully aid him in his career; and he offered me a place to stay should I ever need it down the line.

It was now time to head back for the night but on the way I noticed a spectacle in Union Square. I saw fire and could hear drums coming from across the square. After further investigation, I found out it was a team of street performers, (later introduced as Mike Alaska & Ms. Phoenix) and they had drawn a decent size crowd. Unfortunately we had missed most of the show, but Ms. Phoenix assured us that after a short break they would give it another go. At some point during this break they changed their minds but as a consolation offered to light my tongue on fire! Pardon the lighting and pyrotechnic distraction in the background, but if you look carefully you’ll see Phoenix light my tongue with one torch and then proceed to light her unlit torch with my tongue (it happened pretty fast so we did a second take but my camera was tragically low on battery and didn’t survive…oh well…it was totally rad!). Now that I know all the secrets of fire eating, I’m taking reservations for my own pyro-parties. After all the shenanigans, we exchanged cards (yeah, Becky made me Official Groupawn business cards!) and I walked back to Al’s hotel.

On the agenda: I hope I can get my laundry done soon and I really need to consolidate my 3 small bags into 1 large backpack (that actually fits me). If you want to help or just meet up for a some sort of adventure, I’m looking for dinner companions for this evening 5/26.

- The Groupawn


19 Responses to “Nobody Ever Offered To Light Me On Fire In Chicago…”

  1. Dude you really are having an adventure in NYC. I hope the fun continues as you travel this great country. and just wanted to let you know i sold another pair of those pink headphones yesterday and i had to tell the young lady about the first pair i gave away. hahaha

  2. Hey Josh,
    Bryan from the Target in Chicago here. I can’t wait to see you on The Today Show. I hope it’s tons of fun! Amy and I are loving following your crazy stories. Have fun today.
    - Bryan

  3. Keith Davis says:

    Hey Im in Staten Island, If you need a place to stay we have room. You can do your wash , shower whatever. I am around all weekend. Good Luck!!!, PS the ferry is free and I can pick you up from there lol

  4. Ellen Churcher says:

    I Saw You On The Today Show With Hoda and Kathy-Lee

  5. You should come to Phoenix!

  6. Alex Ha says:


    Keep rocking out!

  7. Suni (sunny) says:

    Josh: How are you getting down to Boston from NYC?

  8. Christy Johnson says:

    If you travel to Birmingham, AL please give me a heads up. If I am in town, I would love to help you out somehow. I have really enjoyed reading about your adventures.

  9. Nichole [Seattle] says:

    If you find yourself in Seattle I will totally hook you up… and actually *buy* some groupons off of you so you may actually have some cash.

  10. I was trying to figure out the finances on this deal. Looks appealing, but at the end of the year, Josh will pay taxes on $100,000 in income. He’ll also pay taxes (federal and state, depending on where he files) on the tens of thousands of dollars of income he receives from the unlimited Groupons he’s getting for free. So what’s he going to really get paid? My guess is about $30,000, if that much.

    Gotta give GroupOn credit though. They made Josh’s deal look like something spectacular, but reap an untold amount of equivalent advertising via social media. I just hope they were honest with Josh about the relatively small amount of money he’ll end up with.

  11. Nichole - Thanks for the offer! We can trade but I can’t sell you any Groupons…no cash allowed!

    JP - That’s an interesting thought…except that many Groupons don’t have a dollar value on them and they aren’t redeemable for cash, so I don’t believe they are taxable. Also, a great many of these Groupons end up in the hands of those I meet along the way, thus it would be nearly impossible to impose a taxable value. If anyone is a tax expert and wants to chime in, that would be great.

  12. Michael E says:

    you will not be taxed on the Groupons. That would be like getting taxed from the coupons you receive in the mail…,. it doesn’t happen nor make sense. You will be taxed on the $100,000. However if you get a good accountant, as you should, you will be amazed at how much money he/she can save you.

  13. For a free eye exam, stop by downtown Portland on a Thursday afternoon and I should be able to hook you up- I’m an optometry student at Pacific University and I have a few coupons for free eye exams:)

  14. This is very cool. You are having such an awesome adventure!!! So glad this article was posted at Digg. Looking forward to following.

  15. jilanne karn says:

    I don’t know when you will be in the portland / seattle area but we can probably help you with transportation between the 2 places I would also be willing to help you in any way you may need trade groupons for what ever you may need! So let me know how and when I can help

  16. James M says:

    Love the Seinfeld shout-out with “Nexus of the Universe”!

  17. This photo is amazing Josh. It looks like you’re having a blast. Rock on.

  18. Steve L says:

    What an amazing adventure! Good luck to you! When you are in Denver, should you need something, let a brother know. One quick question that may have already been addressed (sorry), how do you deal with tips at restaurants? Groupon tips perhaps?

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