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.