Archive for August, 2005
Well, back in Berlin. Weird sleep patterns: a bit in the afternoon, an early night, then waking up about 3am and watching DVDs, then some more sleep. Still feel a bit phased, like it’s the evening after a really heavy night. But it’s good to be home.
Here’s some photos that I would have used to illustrate yesterday’s post had the cable to attach my camera not been in my luggage. I guess after this I’ll be back to moaning about coffee, rude people in shops and all that day-to-day stuff.
So, goodbye New York:
The sun sets over New Jersey
An illustration of what happens whenever I’m somewhere that doesn’t have pounds or euros as its currency: a shit-load of small coins weighing me down
Goodbye Broadway, goodbye Avenues Seventh, Sixth, Fifth, Madison, Park, Lexington, Third, and Second (photos taken from the back of a cab going to the airport)
And goodbye Manhattan
There underneath the window, middle left-ish of the photo: an LFC flag. You may or may not remember this, but Liverpool FC are currently the European Champions. Yay!
A bit of traffic at the airport
Next stop: Berlin. Oddly, of all the songs that could’ve been the first to come onto my iPod Shuffle when I shoved my headphones in after take off, the very first one, and I kid you not, this is 100% true, was Andrew WK’s “I Love NYC”. (You could be thinking, well the chances aren’t that slim, cos you put it on your Shuffle, you fool. You’d be right to a certain extent, but the night before I left, I re-filled the Shuffle randomly from the 72 hours worth of music on my computer, so it’s still a bit freaky coincidence-ish)
I’m sat inside JFK airport right now. I’ve just signed up for a one day pass for wireless connection with a well known internet-y/mobile phone-y company. I’m really not sure why places like airports don’t just give you free access. So many folks have laptops these days; it would just be a pleasant friendly thing to do.
I’m wearing a Bob Ross t-shirt today. I will wear this t-shirt every time I enter the USA from now on. There is nothing like Bob to get on the good side of a security person. No less than three of them have smiled and chatted with me about Bob. All along the lines of, “hey, I used to love him when I was a kid!” So this is my tip to you, dear reader: get yerself a Bob Ross t-shirt for travelling.
As I type, there’s a very loud American (with a southern accent) shouting “Tina! Get yer ass back here!” over and over. Everyone’s looking at him. I can’t see him, though, cos he’s behind a sign, so I’ll invent what he looks like: Dallas Cowboys helmet, Speedos and wellies.
It’s pretty fucking dull here. Considering this country’s the home of shopping and entertainment, there’s bugger all to do in this place. I’ve still got an hour and a half before I’ve got to get going, so looks like I’ll just type type type til the batteries on this computer run out.
Anyway, last night was my last in New York. So I went to the Empire State Building again. Watched the sun go down, helped out folks who needed their family snapshots taking (I always worry about this: do they now have a really blurry, shaky photo of themselves at the top of the Empire State? Did I ruin it for them?).
New York is a beautiful city, but it looks truly amazing from up there with the sun going down over New Jersey, and the whole of Manhattan glows apart from a huge Central Park shaped hole. And of course, there’s that unseen hole where there used to be two huge towers; a hole that makes Manhattan look a bit, well, I dunno, but, there’s just something missing.
I wonder if anyone in this building’s ever looked at Minipops? This is something I often wonder, because of my delusions of being (cue theatrical pose) a STAR just because my website is moderately popular. That guy there, left handed, white socks: has he ever chuckled as Pete & Bob dance? The sulky kid with the Jack Osbourne pout: did he ever flick through my book in a shop and put it down again only to buy something more interesting? The girl in the Minnie Mouse t-shirt: did she ever get that damn Minipops quiz in her email inbox? Who knows. Not me. I’m just a bored chap who knows it’s gonna be about 10 hours before he has another cigarette.
Smoking. This is something the majority of you won’t care about, cos you’ll be clever enough not to be a smoker. Those of you that are smokers, you may empathise. This fucking airport has no place to smoke inside, like the rest of New York City.
Nothing particularly unusual there, but once you’re in the airport, you’re literally checked in. There’s no going out. If you go out for a smoke, you gotta go through the whole security shit all over again. Yes, I will take my laptop out of my bag. Yes, my pockets are empty.
It’s not all bad, though. I heard a Beach Boys song being piped down a corridor.
When I stopped to get something to eat about half an hour ago, there was this woman who was ordering food for herself and her annoying little bastard kid. Crying crying crying. Mommy Mommy Mommy! She got her food, then went off. Only to return a few moments later, barge in front of everyone and held out an empty plastic beaker. My son dropped his Sprite, she said, with a look on her face like, Gimme another one, you! And the guy did give her another Sprite. But I wonder about this. Why do people expect to get a free drink cos they’re too bloody clumsy to not spill it? Does this sort of thing happen in any other sort of retail outlet? Sorry Mr Vodafone, this bloke stole my phone just outside the shop, can I have another please? Dear Apple, I was mugged as I left your store, please can you send me a replacement iPod… I do-ho-hon’t think so.
Oh, here’s something vaguely interesting. For me, at least. In the cab on the way here, aside from the cab driver talking on his phone for the whole journey, as we bombed through Queens, I saw a Liverpool FC flag hanging out of a window. Aaaah, that’s nice, I thought, I should write about that in my bloomin’ blog thing, cos no one else will give a shit, but you’ll feel better for writing it, you daft fool.
So right now, I’m debating whether to do the cigarette and security thing one more time before I get in an aeroplane and plummet to my death over the Atlantic Ocean. No upgrade this time, sadly, but I do have a window seat which makes me happy.
Yep, another cig, I think. Okay kids, ’til Europa. Ta-ra.
I was lucky enough to have got an appointment at the NikeiD at 255 Studio place. It’s where you can get custome made trainers. Woo. It’s a bit like what you can do on the website, but with a bit more choice and someone sitting there helping you. (That someone who was helping me was an exceeeeeeeeeedingly attractive young lady. Oh lucky lucky me.)
It’s really nice in there, too. Lovely design an’ all that, great trainer-based wallpaper, a beautiful mirror with trainers carved into the frame. Oh, it was an aesthete’s dream.
So I sat down, chose the colours, and they were all kinda green-ish, all working together nicely; then the little devil on my shoulder reminded me that I could do anything I wanted. So I put a little bit of red in there too. Hurrah.
All I do now is sit back and wait for them to ship me my lovely new trainers.
(Nike advert over.)
I dunno, I’m a little bit suspicious about the way the US Army works. First there was seeing the recruitment thing at Coney Island. There’s also one in the middle of Times Square, too; like, “Hey Mom, can we go to Virgin to buy CDs, Hershey’s to buy ‘candy,’ and then I wanna sign up to go kill some Iraqis.”
I know Michael Moore kinda covered this in his last film, but it’s just too weird seeing it in real life.
Last night I was watching a show called Mob Scene on the Discovery Channel. It was about the mafia – re-enacting various moments of John Gotti’s career, that kinda stuff – and was presented by the actor who plays Bobby Baccalieri in The Sopranos.
All fine, I’m kinda into watching stuff like that. Then the ad break and, as seems quite common here, before the commercials began there was a short “sponsored-by” message. This show, about a seemingly very violent criminal world, was “brought to you in part by the United States Army.”
How fucked up is that? The army sponsoring a show about illegal crimes? Isn’t that just a bit too much?
Or am I, as I’m sure Bill O’Reilly would contest, just a crazy, terrorist-huggin’ Communist?
What did this store used to be called before they blacked out three letters?
Sunny Electronics? Saucy Electronics? Sulky Electronics? Salty Electronics? Smoky Electronics? Saggy Electronics? Soggy Electronics? Slimy Electronics? Surly Electronics? Spicy Electronics? Softy Electronics? Savoy Electronics? Spiky Electronics? Scary Electronics? Shady Electronics? Shaky Electronics? Shiny Electronics? Silky Electronics? Saggy Electronics? Sandy Electronics? Snowy Electronics? Spacy Electronics? Sappy Electronics? Snaky Electronics?
Or was it just something simple like Sally or Sammy Electronics?
I need to know!
I had to go to the cinema before I go home. One of the delicious benefits of being here is seeing films before your European pals. So I went to see The Aristocrats with Mark and his pals this evening.
If you’ve not heard about it, check the site; but a quick synopsis is this: it’s a load of comedians talking about and telling an old joke that begins the same (A man walks into a talent agency..) and ends the same. What happens is the middle is generally utter filth, but always different depending on who’s telling the joke. Comedians featured in the film include a lot of Americans I’ve never heard of and a lot I have heard of (Jason Alexander, Drew Carey, Billy Connolly, Richard Lewis, Trey Parker & Matt Stone, Sarah Silverman, Steven Wright amongst others).
Rather than give you some crummy netboy review, I’ll just let you know which boxes I would’ve ticked on this questionnaire I was handed as I entered the cinema had I been bothered to fill it in.
How would you rate the movie?
[ ] Excellent
[x] Very Good
[ ] Good
[ ] Fair
[ ] Poor
Would you recommend the movie to a friend?
[ ] Probably
[ ] Probably Not
[ ] Definitely Not
How did the movie measure up to your expectations?
[ ] Better than expected
[x] About what I expected
[ ] Not as good as expected
Would you pay to see this movie again in a theater?
[ ] No
Which of the following words or phrases best describe the movie you just saw? (check as many as apply)
[ ] Good/interesting story
[ ] Weak story/no plot
[x] Lived up to the hype
[x] Silly, in a good way
[x] Interesting characters
[ ] Not funny enough
[ ] Nothing new/it’s been done before
[ ] Didn’t feel involved in the story
[ ] Has a good story
[ ] Confusing
[ ] Good music
[ ] Not my type of film
[ ] Too slow in spots
[ ] Too corny
[ ] Involving/draws you in
[x] Entertaining/fun to watch
[ ] Good mix of comedy and story
[x] Held my interest from start to finish
[ ] Too unrealistic
[ ] Too juvenile/silly/stupid
Please note, any spelling above that is, y’know, Yankee-style English, is used because I’m quoting the questionnaire, not because I’ve defected, homeboy.
It was a funny film. BUT it wasn’t as funny the woman in a restaurant (and I use that word fairly loosely) I saw as we ate before we went to the kino. She was maybe late fifties, beige hair piled up in a sort of wind tunnel style, that matt skin texture produced when you wear too much foundation (how do I know this?), and Bono-style shades. She spent a while picking at her teeth, and ordered a milkshake. Then she just sat there for a good ten minutes, not touching the shake, not really doing anything; she’d pressed pause on her life’s remote control. Then all of a sudden, she picked up the shake and wolfed it down in one go. Maybe you had to be there, but trust me, it was funny.
Here’s some stuff I’ve noticed in the last 12 days. Many many things have floated through my head during that time, but some keep on coming back. Ten of them:
There’s no magnet as magnetic as the chick magnet that is being a New York fireman standing on the pavement near his fire engine.
Indecision when ordering a sandwich seems to elicit the same reaction as getting it on with the sandwich maker’s wife next to the cash register. Also, I never feel more British than when I’m saying ta-mah-to and chew-na, rather than ta-may-to and too-na.
There’s always one person who won’t wait for all the alighting passengers to get off a subway train before barging on.
If you’re smoking whilst walking in any park, someone will ask you for a cigarette.
When several people gather near an elevator, someone will always press the button even it’s already illuminated. And if the elevator empties to leave two people standing on the same side, one of them must oh-so-casually saunter to the other side.
You cannot avoid Starbucks here. They are everywhere. I see four of them on my way to the office two blocks away. And, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve used them.
The W hotel’s windows can block all sound except emergency sirens and the echo-y Times Square drift of bloody panpipes.
On any given day I will see at least one person wearing an English football shirt. Usually it’s Man Utd, but I’ve seen a Liverpool, Everton, several Arsenals and two coach loads of Chelseas, who, one assumes, were off to see their pre-season friendly against AC Milan.
Poker seems to be a quite popular televised game here. Err, why?
The mini bar was invented by Satan. Only he would make sure someone never ran out of Pringles.
Today was an utterly normal office-life day. Up, shower, coffee, work, lunch, more work, home. But home, of course, is a hotel. It’s not home, it’s where I’m sleeping and watching telly. Looking at my photos of my New York adventure, I’ve not taken any of the hotel room, so I decided to rectify that. But I went a step further. I made a little film.
Here it is, in two sizes: large (Quicktime .mov, 11.0MB) and small (Quicktime .mov, 3.4MB).
Relaxing. That was the last thirty six hours or so. Lots of sleep. Lots of telly (I’m currently enjoying Law & Order that seem to be endless on one of the channels here).
Sunday afternoon I went to Madison Square Park, put in my headphones and listened to WFMU’s Communication Breakdown podcast, whipped out my notebook and doodled for a couple of hours, watching the people go by.
Oh that was nice. It was good to completely relax, and watch other people relaxing too. And it was good to do some drawing with coloured pencils rather than a mouse. Most of the time, my notebook is something I just use to plan out stuff for FFF, but rarely just drawing for drawing’s sake.
Late afternoon I met up with Josh and we took a long long long walk to meet up with Mark. From 23rd Street all the way to Brooklyn. Passing lots of impressive buildings, strange and beautiful people, and tiny moments in time that I’ll always remember.
Here’s some photos from the walk (although the first one was taken earlier in the morning in Times Square):
This chap in the white trousers below was interesting. He walked quite near us for a few blocks so I had chance to notice that he held a Pearl Jam cassette in his right hand. Whenever he passed somebody, he’d flash the tape at them, like it was a badge in a TV cop show. Was he trying to sell this tape? Or trying to preach the gospel of Eddie Vedder in a silent subliminal way?
So, we went across and under the Brooklyn Bridge to a pizza restaurant, Grimaldi’s. Never before have I queued for 40-odd minutes to get into a pizza place, but, I’m told, it’s one of, if not the, best pizza restaurants in the city. And my oh my was it delicious. Even the edges with no toppings on it was tasty.
Bellies full, we left and took a quick wander down the street to get a lovely ice cream from another been-doing-it-for-ages type shop. It’s such a shame these days that the word vanilla is often used to mean bland. The vanilla ice cream I had was one of the tastiest, most flavoursome ice creams I’ve ever had. So we stood by the water’s edge, looked over the river at the illuminated Manhattan skyline and scoffed our ice creams. It would’ve been romantic, but, y’know, Josh is a fella and, well, just not my type.
Once I got back to the hotel, flicked on the TV, and yay! another Law & Order to send me off to sleep…