- It's in Massachusetts
- It's where David E. Kelly sets all his tv shows
- There's a Liberty Bell
- Famous tea party
- Hotbed of American history
- Famous for Chowder (Chow-dah)
- The Kennedys
- Great accent
- Beans and cream buns
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
It’s Autumn here at the moment (I will never call it ‘Fall’), and it’s like something out of a movie. It’s quite a new thing for me to actually experience a change in the seasons other than a sudden shift in the temperature from tee-shirt to jersey. But New York is something else – far from being the concrete jungle I expected, I find that New York City is all but lined with trees, which makes the change to Autumn so pretty (and the autumnal colours that follow).
I’m currently staying in the suburb of Irvington, which is about an hour out of Grand Central Station by train. I’m staying with Ashley (my ex girlfriend now very good friend), and her family until I can get myself sorted out with a job and a place to live.
So with that in mind, I’ve decided to set myself some goals for my time here in NYC:
Find the perfect pizza. This can be broken down into two categories… Thin crust: pepperoni. Deep Dish: Pepperoni. I like pepperoni.
Be a tourist. Sure, I’ve been to Central Park and Times Square, but I have yet to see the Statue of Libery, climb the Empire State Building, or try to explain to a crazy person that they don’t have bugs crawling all over them,
Get a job. I don’t mean just working at a bar or a café or diner; I mean finding something that will get me into a social network of some kind, and maybe make some new friends.
Get an apartment. I like where I’m staying. Where I’m staying is amazing. It’s where Bajilionaires live. I have my own room, I’m close to the woods, 20 minutes away from the Sleep Hollow. But it’s not NY. I guess I want to really experience life in NYC; living in a shitty apartment eating out of 3 day old Chinese takeaway boxes and slamming on the wall at 3am telling the neighbours to shut the hell up.
It’s a nice dream.
I still love this city.
Before I arrived in New York I expected it to be all concrete and grey and busy and smoggy and full of street vendors and taxi drivers and crying babies and fat Americans and homeless people and muggers and Broadway dancers. I haven’t seen any homeless people (though I have still only stayed in either the city or the suburbs), and the poor people I have seen have all been industriously emptying rubbish bins for cans and bottles to recycle (which is why I no longer recycle them myself. It’s good for the planet and helps out those less fortunate than I!).
I took a walk to Central Park yesterday and was completely surprised by how big it was. I was expecting it to be no bigger than a small public park, not unlike Frank Kitts back in Wellington. Instead it takes up a large portion of my map of the city, and is filled with trees, wild (rabid?) animals, lakes, reservoirs, fountains, buskers, kids waggins school, and pretty pretty pretty trees.
I entered the park through the South Gate, and passed a whole slew of horse drawn carriages ready to take people on a tour of the greenery for around $35 for half an hour. I thought about it, I did. But in the end I decided to explore on my own for a bit, and maybe save the horse drawn cart for another time. I imagine it would be quite a lovely thing to do at night, but I am very naïve.
Wandering the park for a while, I found the angel fountain (from the TV series “Angels of New York”), where I sat down and listened to some buskers for a while, and also did some work on my laptop. It was all very lovely, until a bunch of teenage boys (who I lovingly referred to as ‘the Jewness Brothers”) came and started showing off to a bunch of equally pubescent young ladies what fine young menches they were. It was as hilarious as it was awkward, and I was doing well not to burst into laughter until one of them chose his method of impressment as his ‘awesome ability to tie a Windsor knot’.
The girls left, laughing.
So did I.
Everywhere you look, there’s an American flag.
There are flags on buildings, flags on houses, flags on cars, flags on TV, even flags on pets. Americans are flag-crazy. But it works, in a strange kind of way. New York City seems a little nicer for it – that so many people are so proud of where they live (whether they know any different or not) adds a lot of charm and character to the place.
You would be hard pressed to find a flag flying in NZ on anything other than a government building. If you did see a flag flying, it would certainly be out of place and we’d be just as likely to regard the flag flyer as eccentric as we would patriotic.
Sure, you see flags flying at sport games back home – and mainly international ones, and this is where my flag theory comes in. Much of the main sport in NZ is really to do with international contests: rugby test matches, cricket ODIs, even the Super 14. Sure, there are domestic tournaments, but these are not very heavily attended at the best of times. NZers prefer it when we’re playing on the world stage, and we like it best when we’re playing against Australia.
Americans though, don’t focus on any international sport. For them it’s all domestic – NFL, AFL, NBA, NHL, MBL, Dancing with the Stars… the people they compete with already share the same flag as they do; so they need to find another outlet for their flag waving… thus dressing up their buildings (and pets).
Okay, so this theory is still in its infancy. But so was the child I saw wearing an American flag diaper.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
My friend and I were approached in Times Square by a woman offering a free 15 minute movie. That should have been our first clue that something was up. Our second clue should have been the Dianetics fliers she was peddling. Now I shouldn’t plead ignorance about the implications here. I knew full well that Dianetics flyers and images of erupting volcanoes can only lead to scientologists and couch-jumping, but for some reason I just didn’t seem to care.
I was in such a good mood from all the neon and such, and I really didn’t know very much about the elusive cult, and so I figured that it could be a fantastic opportunity to learn a thing or two. Besides, the lady escorting us had spent a couple of years studying Paua in Wellington, so I figured she couldn’t be all bad.
We were escorted away from Times Square through a couple of parking lots, and down a couple of darkened alleyways until we finally arrived: the anything-but-humble Church of Scientology. We were escorted into a room with a projector (we were the only two in the room), and told that we would watch a brief 15 minute video, followed by a short survey to see what we thought.
I’ve never been one to spoil the ending of a movie for anybody (no matter how poorly acted), but basically the premise suggests that all of our negative experiences, health issues, bad attitudes or negative feelings are caused by past experiences recorded by the ‘reactive mind’ during periods of trauma, intoxication, or unconsciousness. In other words – the reason I wear glasses is most likely due to some instance of unconsciousness in my childhood (e.g. anesthesia for having my tonsils removed), and some association with an event that happened during that (e.g. the doctor saying “I’m having trouble seeing”). These negative experiences are called ‘engrams’, which dominate and ruin your life, causing you to abuse your partner and yourself, as well as commit various crimes.
Once the film had finished, Rohan and I just sat there, not entirely sure what to do. But we dutifully completed the survey forms (under false names), and waited for someone to tell us what to do next. The back of the survey had a flier for a free two hour seminar, in which you could learn more about engrams, for only $100. Our hostess soon returned with a copy of L Ron Hubbard’s ‘Dianetics’ book – a gigantic tome outlining the problem with engrams, their impact on our lives and what we can do about them.
‘Read these books’
‘No, take them away and read them. Cover to cover. It’ll blow your mind’
(Rohan- flicking through the book): ‘How much research has been published on this?’
‘It’s all in the book’
‘Read the book. It’ll blow your mind’.
(Me): ‘what’s with the volcano?’
She picked up the books, our survey forms, and we took this as our cue.
As we left, we saw a woman and her family sitting beside us who had clearly also just been ambushed, only she was writing several cheques to the ‘Church’ for hundreds of dollars. I guess she bought the books.
My days in New York have been a little bi-polar of late.
Now that I’m no longer on leave from my job back home, I’m finding that the urge to eat and do washing (let alone do any sightseeing) is compelling me to work again. I’m fortunate enough to be able to work remotely for my job back in NZ, which (in theory) allows me to earn at least a little money to get by until I can sort something out that’s a little more local. So my days are spent on my laptop, and my evenings are spent either seeing the city sights, or catching up and going out with friends. Thursday night was one such night.
My friend Rohan and I arrived in Times Square around 9.30pm after negotiating the subway system to do so (the subway system here is a little more confusing than the London tube – so much so that I can’t actually describe it here as I haven’t yet figured it out!), and walked into a field of neon that reminded me of every bad 80’s buddy movie that helped form me into the man I am today. Everything was there that you’d expect: the giant coke sign, LCD screens showing hi-def previews or ads to anyone that can’t avoid their hypnotic attraction, even a military recruitment office bedecked in brilliant neon bars (appropriately red, white and blue).
Okay, I’ll admit that it was all very garish and commercial; Times Square at night just screams consumerism and capitalism and everything that everyone always says is wrong with America. But it was all so very cool. The bright lights, the flashy tv screens, the people walking around the various installations, all made it somehow magical and I couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement of it all.
Wondering around Times Square will teach you a lot about people; how cool advertising can make you want to watch the ‘latest hit comedy on ABC’, or how bright lights and pretty colours might encourage you to join the military. Then I saw it. The tourist mecca of Times Square.
A world of M&Ms.
We were standing underneath a giant electronic billboard in hi-def, showing ads for those wonderful chocolate drops that make me feel both wonderful (taste so good) and sick (too many!) at the same time. We entered the building to find three stories of M&M and related products. Wall to wall tubes of single coloured candy which you could mix and match to your heart’s content, M&M dispensers shaped like the characters from the ads, clothing, tea pots, leather jackets, pet clothing, cutlery, and even an electric guitar.
All branded by M&M, and all stupidly expensive (one pound of M&Ms cost $12.99!).
Rohan and I spent at least an hour in the store, walking around in absolute wonder how so many things could be branded and designed in one image; and yet seeing myself owning quite a number of things (especially the electric guitar).
I surprised myself by leaving without buying anything, but knowing that it wouldn’t be long before I became the proud owner of an M&M racing jacket and cherry stoner.