Jukeboxparables

WT2010 – USA – Day 37/38/40 – Midtown Manhattan and Beyond

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 23, 2010

WT2010 – USA
Day 37/38/40 – Midtown Manhattan and Beyond
[On the iPOD] The Stone Roses / The Buzzcocks / Faker / The Cure / The Wombats / Bertie Blackman / Red Riders / Cut Off Your Hands

Thursday rolls around; In anticipation of big night I thought I’d take it easy during the day. First up was some house-keeping in which my case was actually getting Internet access somehow and organising things amidst plates of salad and servings Sencha tea. I found a restaurant that was happy to oblige for a good 2-3hours. Next I thought I’d get in some quick mid-day shopping (Thankfully I now own Iggy Pop’s – Raw Power on vinyl) Upon wandering back I came across Washing Park, a small park in Greenwich Village. It’s a big hangout for students and people were lazing around on the grass to the point of saturation. I got a beverage and decided to do the same for a while. A few random buskers including a guy in a gorilla mask give the park a nice background-sound tamborine-vibe. I kinda lost track of time just lazing about and people-watching in the park. It’s probably the first time I’ve just chilled out with no goal for the day in over a month.

I went to checkout a few bars in the night-time with the target being a pub/club in the Lower East. It was surprisingly quiet, the music was spot on but it was basically just a small pub and it had that relaxed vibe to it. I’d hazard a guess people were at a few sold-out venues watching bands that night? Who knows but I decided I’d throw in the towel and make up for it with an all-nighter on friday (hopefully)

Friday in New York! I made plans to continue the Seinfeld-themed spot visits from the random black and white cookie incident two days before. The ‘Soup Nazi’s” original kitchen has closed and he has since started a franchise called “The Original Soup Man” with a few locations in New York and elsewhere. I went out of my way to visit two such locations only to find that they’d closed down as well? This was all too much walking and train hopping for soup so I headed somewhere that I knew was open. ‘Tom’s Restaurant’ is the diner used for the ‘outer-shot-view’ of the diner that the cast would gather in daily in the show. The interior is obviously different though but the cafe/restaurant does tip its hat to the show and has some memorabilia inside. It’s an average day-to-day burger/style cafe restaurant. Nothing grand (and no I didn’t order the big salad)

On the way to Tom’s I did however manage to stop in the New York public library. Which just happened to currently be surrounded by scaffolding for cleaning/renovation? So much for that. I did go inside though (Free high-speed WIFI) which I thought I’d use to organise where I’d be going at night. The library basically looks like a museum inside and has endless halls and reading rooms full of art and the like. You could probably spend half a day looking at the art about. I decided I was all ‘museumed’ out and just bunkered up in one of the many grand reading rooms using the time to upload a backlog of photos. Upon random roaming around I also stumbled on an outdoor ice-rink, rad.

Dinner and a club/venue called Webster Hall in Lower-Manhattan. Just like back-home the place doesn’t really pickup till after 12am. The music was questionable for an “Indie night” with lots of 80’s mainstream hits being played I was having flashbacks at being at dodgy ‘retro’ hotels back home but thankfully there were a few different DJ’s and eventually they played as advertised. I’d ceased to care though because as it turns out it was a ‘birthday bash’ for a whole group of people that night and before I knew it I was being offered shots and drinks left right and centre. An utterly memorable night, I basically got no sleep at all, even after leaving circa 3am.

Saturday was spent nursing a sore head and swimming in a sea of blankets amongst other things.

On Sunday I was switching to a hostel because it’s cheaper and you always meet some cool people. Oh and I had to do laundry, ugh laundry day. After the menial tasks of life, I decided that since I was now in a new part of New York to go for a bit of a wander. Madison Square Garden, tourists, busy shops and people handing out flyers. I ducked for cover into a Macy’s because the name is an Icon for American shopping. It’s apparently the biggest store in America? 8 stories and two city blocks! I was just taking in the scope of the store rather than looking to buy anything, not that I’d spend $500 on a jacket anyway.

The weather was getting rather cold though, what better excuse to duck into a one of the many specialty stores peppered along 8th Ave for a browse? I wanted to leave buying a coat for the UK (since I’ll be facing winter back home in Australia) but found a really helpful attendant and the store had a huge range of rad (though pricey coats and jackets) I found one I loved and bargained it down 10% so hence had to buy it. Besides you have to spend on something whilst in NYC, my crowded suitcase is not going to like this one bit though.

Sunday night was amazing times with an amazing person. Sushi at a Japanese restaurant in the Art Gallery District, a spot of bowling, drinks and hanging out in time square only to witness an on-the-spot wedding proposal amid a cheering crowd. New York what am I going to do with you?

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WT2010 – JAPAN – Day 4 – Akihabara (Electric Town) + Shibuya at night

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on March 14, 2010

WT2010 – JAPAN
Day 4 – Akihabara (Electric Town) + Shibuya at night.
[On the iPOD] The Rakes / Beck

Things are starting to blur. I’m writing these blogs right when I get home at night after a long day and usually don’t upload them till morning. I had to sit here for 2minutes because I had a mental blank what I got for breakfast. That’s right I walked into a busy as place for food where I was squeezed inbetween 2 Japanese business men and then sat there kind of amused. A “lost in translation” moment. I realised the room was full of buisnessmen in their 50’s in suits slurping food.

Today I went to Akihabara known as Electric Town. I got off the train and walked to the main strip and couldnt even take out the camera, I just stood there for 5minutes in awe.

The main strip is multi-storey shop after shop of everything to do with electronics. From the component stores that supply the parts (like a jaycar) right up to mega stores with a level for cameras a level for computers a level for software a level for home-theatre and it doesnt stop, you’ll find them one next to the other. Breaking all this up is anime toy stores and then gaming stores (consoles new and classic) and all this continues for like 5 city blocks. Theres people selling their stores wares on the streets and girls dressed up in anime outfits to try and hang you pamphlets or something.

I eventually found a new CF card for my camera. 8GB Sandisk Extreme IV. The prices were pretty much around what you’d pay online anyway. No bargains really. I had ‘second’ lunch at a MOS burger. I plan to try their entire menu. I later went into a toy store and picked up a Rei figurine from Neon Genesis (I know, I know but I’ve never owned one) Then found a bunch of oldschool Drift Tengoku DVD’s for like $6 a piece, so I got three (you pay like $28 for them in Australia)

Then I set sail and by that I mean walk walk walk to my only real goal that day thusfar which was the Museum of Criminology (or at least according to lonelyplanet) I was ALREADY tired from shopping madness. So I decided not to stop until the museum, that plan went astray in about half a kilometer as I came across a ‘Confucious / Shinto’ shrine completely unexpectedly (It was a park on the map I had which I was planning to cut through) After wandering it it became apparent there was an Art (Sculpture) exhibition on inside, So I happily to some photos, detoured yet again.

So then walking to the Museum I came across guitar and music shop after guitar and music shop to the point of ridiculousness There were like 8, Japanese built guitars are slightly cheaper than back home, one store even offered complete custom builds from scratch radness!

The Museum was a bit of a let down, not in itself but in what lonely planet had said of it. It was merely a Universities small token Museum with an Interesting collection of historic criminal items (diaries?) I couldn’t tell there was no english captions to the pieces.

So from here I decided to head to the closes point of Interest which was the National Museum of Modern Art a good 2km away. On the way about halfway I went into a 5 storey manga / magazine store, the amount of stuff in there never gets old. Then walked past another and another. This part of Akihabara should be called book town! That if I still was in Akihabara that is. The lure of the older and yet dustier historic book stores led me further and further down the road without looking at the time. Luckily the Museum closes at 8pm on a friday.

One store also sold old maps and prints. Originals. I’m talking old cartography, I so wanted to buy one or one of the prints but they were rather fragile and started at pretty hefty prices for the cool looking ones. I then found the best photography book store I’ve ever been in, some of the stuff in there was amazing. I then bumped into another dedicated magazine store. So afer yet more detour shopping I was finally on my way, now suffering from RSI from carrying a lot of crap!

The National Museum of Modern Art had it’s standard modern japanese collection and a feature collection on Ono Chikkyo. He started off as a celebrated classically Japanese artist and then travelled abroad to Europe. The thing I love about these types of exhibitions is you basically see in front of you the growth of an Artist. You can see key areas where influence starts to creep in and then an almost inevitable turn to simplicity and minimalism to the last days of his life.

The other exhibition was of even more interest to a foreigner like myself. I came across some paintings I’d never seen before and was utterly blown away by. One of which was Maiko in Landscape by Bakusen Tsuchida. Not knowing much about Art, I’m convinced it’s influenced by the Mona Lisa. The woman’s expression totally draws you in (in a slightly different way to my comparison) but it’s just as alluring, a different style of course but I think the artists idea was along the same lines.

No photography was allowed at the Chikkyo exhibition so I assumed it was the same for the Modern art exhibition. Upon walking around for a bit with my camera by my side an attendant walked up to me and pointed to my camera; I said no, no photos (lens cap is on) and he said wait here. So I did and he came back with a ‘camera sticker’ and stuck it on my shoulder and gave me a piece of paper with rules. No long exposures, no close ups and no flash amongst others. Awesome! I’m finding it time and time again, people here really find pride in helping people out.

Look at the time! I rushed back to Shinjuku to shower and change to go out clubbing for the first time in Tokyo. Aiming for an Indie club in Shibuya, I wandered around lost for a bit but eventually found it in a backstreet off a backstreet. I was greeted by two surely looking british lads on their way out saying it was rather dead at this hour. Clubs in Tokyo open at 11:30pm! and it was close to 12! Most people seem to be working up until 12 anyway It’s nuts. But after a chat and a storey of them getting mugged in Roppongi we decided there was nowhere else to go in this outer-party of Shibuya we were in. Okay so it was only like 1km from the station but thats considered outer to my weary legs after like 8hours of walking.

Japanese clubs are Interesting I was at a place called HOME, the etiquette is everyone seems to face the dj almost in a line-dance fashion to dance. I was talking to the two brit lads somewhere and found out they were die-hard Cribs fans, one chap had a big tattoo of Ryan Jarman on his arm. After sharing some stories of playing in bands and local scenes the club actually started to pickup. Or maybe we were getting more lose. If you didn’t already know it Japanese people are crazy. Guys were up front singing along to songs, shirts off and moshing, us gaijin’s joined in of course we know how to do that too there’s no getting lost in translation when it comes to having a good time, I kept my shirt on for the record.

From what I could gather it was 3am. Unlike every club back in Sydney I hadn’t looked at the time once so I’m just guessing. The music was interesting; not exactly Indie for an Indie club; The odd Cure song but everything else was distinctly electro and Japanese. By about 6am I’d ceased to care but I’d also ceased to stand properly. I’d lost a few hours by this point throwing up, which seemed normal at the time.

I got home in a cab, me trying to explain to the cabby to pullover for a spew would have been completely amusing were it not for its utter urgency. I then don’t remember much until waking up around 12 with the worst hangover ever. My clothes in the hotel hallway and my phone in the bath. This all seemed rather normal but then nursing the worst hangover I’ve ever had I started to wonder what the hell happened last night. I’ve never lost a few hours before.

Not a big drinker but it normally takes 10 + a shot or 4 to put me down like that I’d had like 4 drinks and 2 shots. I was then brutally sick all day. I started to wonder if It could’ve been food poisoning on-top of the drinks. Because it hit me so quickly after everything was going fine. I’d ate right before I left at a questionable small place that was fairly empty but the only thing open. It kinda made sense. It hit like 4-5hours later and since I’d had a few drinks and was tipsy It was like a K.O

So all of Saturday was wasted indoors. I couldn’t keep food down until 10pm that night (had to be food poisoning right?) So no Saturday adventures to talk of, but It’s early Sunday morning and I’m planning big today to make up for it! Though I will kick off the next blog starting Saturday night.

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