A Root Canal with a View: Trapped Inside the Chrysler Building

12/15/2009 4:00 AM |

Ever since reading the May 26, 2005 Thursday styles section of the New York Times—devoted entirely to the nickel-plated enigma that is the Chrysler Building—I vowed one day to find myself within a point of its gilded crown. Nearly five years and one very stubborn coffee stain later, I was fighting barotrauma on my way up to the (giggle) 69th floor, where the teeth cleaning of a lifetime awaited, in more ways than one.

And in some ways, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Dr. Charles Weiss—dubbed the “wizard of Emerald City” in the Times article—appeared at the top of a Google search for 4900 Lexington Avenue, the Chrysler’s street name. I called the number listed, expecting to be put on a waiting list longer than the yellow brick road, and was offered an appointment for the very next day (by a receptionist more pleasant than Glinda herself). I wasn’t entirely forthcoming about why I chose this particular office for a long overdue check-up: When the nice lady asked me how I’d found Dr. Weiss, I told her he’d come recommended on Yelp. (The practice is indeed listed on Yelp, but it has a grand total of one review, which was clearly written by someone on the inside). I suppose I was afraid that betraying my true intentions might land me on a security watch list.

Considering how often I’ve had conversations with other curious parties about getting access to the building’s highest floors, I mistakenly believed a visitor pass to the sky was the hottest ticket in town; perhaps not giving enough weight to the possibility that time spent in a dental chair is not most people’s idea of a cakewalk.

As far as I could—and still can—tell, the only way for outsiders to get further than the lobby is to book an appointment with Formoso Dental PC, where Dr. Weiss, well into his eighties, still shows up to work every morning. But any work involving sharp, potentially dangerous tools is now done by Dr. David Lee, a young Tennessee native and NYU Dental School grad who bought the practice from Dr. Weiss (pronounced “vice”) a month ago. And by the looks of things, he’d better hope the building’s owners don’t raise the rent once Dr. Weiss (who enjoys a significant, “veteran tenant” discount) retires: In my three visits there, employees outnumbered the patients by about four to one. Which is a shame, since the bedside manner of both the doctors and technicians could cure even the worst case of odontophobia. (Bataphobes, on the other hand, should stick closer to the ground).