Jukeboxparables

WT2010 – USA – Day 36 – Brooklyn and Manhattan

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 20, 2010

WT2010 – USA
Day 36 Brooklyn and Manhattan
[On the iPOD] The Ramones / Interpol

A full day of walking yesterday, but It was time to venture out of the relative ‘safety’ of Manhattan (people and crime stats make it the safest place in New York) and everywhere else? Well you hear stores from different people and wonder. So It was a short walk and a hop, onto the L train and across the East River. I actually had no Idea what to expect.

Rising from the grungyness of the subway up a flight of stairs and your smack-bang in the action; Bedford Ave. A much more relaxed vibe than Manhattan, no skyscrapers in sight (except when you catch a glimpse across the river down a side-street) This part of Brooklyn really has a community/working class vibe to it and whilst you’ll find some nice stores and restaurants on the main strip you really have to go exploring; which I did completely aimlessly.

I ended up coming across *shock horror* an Indie record store (I’m like a St. Bernard rescue dog, I can sniff these things out of nowhere) Anyway for those of you reading most of these posts your probably sick of me mentioning them, but it’s tried and tested if theres one around theres usually other community minded people who will be running rad restaurants / other shops.

I walked all of a hundred metres and came across a used vintage clothing exchange called ‘Beacon’s Closet’. There was some utterly cool stuff in there (for really cheap prices) I ended up walking out with some cool t-shirts for like $6 a pop. Win. Amusingly also; I had a guy sitting down on near the door on my way out exclaim “Yo, I love your shoes, I ain’t ever seen that!”. I didn’t know what to say, so I just smiled and nodded and kept walking; to which I got “Oh, Nothing to say to me COZ IM A BLACK MAN”. At which point I burst out laughing, even though he was serious. I replied how it was a long silly story, didnt want to waste his time with it and told him to have a good one. He looked rather bemused at my accent. Aussie charm always seems to work in these situations.

I wandered around Brooklyn some more and stopped for lunch at a Thai place, which had $5 lunch menu, pretty great value. Took some more photos as well as some backstreet photos of graffiti, which is all over the place. There’s a lot of warehouses and such down by the river. It’s where a lot of these funky stores seem to be. The real reason I hiked in that direction though was to buy tickets for a gig next week (The Thermals) because you couldn’t buy them online. Unfortunately the venue was closed! and didn’t have a day-box office. The guys at the music store said another venue in Manhattan sells tickets for them though.

So it was back across the river to lower manhattan to find this venue. I get there to find an open box-office but am told they DONT sell tickets for the brooklyn bowl. So I’d almost given up, later on I’d find out you COULD actually get them online. Great big waste of time.

The MET was apparently a big Museum that everyone must visit. I arrived just after 4pm with the idea of running through it in two hours. You get to pay what you want after 4pm, so I only paid $5 but it was a big mistake none the less. The place is HUGE! Is everything in New York on such a grand scale? Yes! I merely got to the end of the Greek art section and 1hour had passed, talk about getting lost in the exhibits. Theres big marble carvings to actual armour / swords / helmets on display. Think about it, 2000years ago some guy was wearing this in battle and killing people with that sword. You can’t discount smaller pieces either. I wandered straight passed a collection of ‘trinkets’ and then backed up and thought, hold on this is the real deal.

We’ve become so accustomed in modern times to just stroll past market places, sidewalk stalls of mass produced jewellery and what not. But here were coins and mugs and jewellery of high quality made and worn by someone 2000years ago. When you look at the big picture and take in all the art from this perspective you could stand there for weeks just admiring the scope of it all. The MET is one hell of an Impressive house of house of Art but it’s also about our History.

I decided flat out, I had to skip like 80% of the Museum because of the time left so I just skipped right along to the Medieval section because It’s something I’ve genuinely never seen before. I got there as it was closing but got in some quick snap shots. The Armour is complete Art unto itself, the detail put into the pieces that make up the suit and the decoration. Add to that; it all served an actual purpose for use in battle for whoever it was commissioned for. They also had a mockup set of Knights riding on Horses, and horse battle armour also. An utterly awesome sight. Then unfortunately it was closing time. I only saw a fraction of the MET. I think I’ll be back.

I then decided to walk across Central Park for the first time. You always hear bad stories, hell I’m sure at least 20% of the death scenes in Law and Order happen there right? All I’d been told is just don’t go in at night which is probably wise. Firstly, its HUGE so you can get lost in there easily. Luckily theres maps though. You find joggers, people walking dogs, families, baseball. It’s just been given a bad rep I think. It was gorgeous in parts too! I walked through an area called Shakespeare’s Garden and onward to a tower/house which was apparently occupied during its early history. There were squirrels running about in the grass and I then came across a racoon just strolling by. I can’t comment what it’s like at night cause I’m going to heed advice given to me, but during the day it’s the perfect break from the bustling city.

I emerged out the other side with one goal in mind; Times Square. So I hopped a train and a short walk and I was there; Times Square / New York City! Thankfully they’ve put up a sort of ‘staircase’ useful for gawking foreigners like myself so you can sit down and just take it all in. I watched the place light up as darkness crept in ever so slowly. It’s exactly like Shibuya in Tokyo, bright as day due to neon signs and advertising and the hustle of people walking in all directions. You don’t know which way to look.

I took some photos and helped out with people who wanted photos of them taken. I was walking towards the other end of the square when I noticed something in a window. A cookie. Not just any cookie! THE black and white cookie (for all you Seinfeld fans) I almost tripped over myself to buy it. It’s actually pretty amazing. I’ll quote Jerry Seinfeld:

“You see, Elaine, the key to eating a black and white cookie is that you wanna get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate. And yet still somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie, all our problems would be solved. Look to the cookie Elaine, Look to the cookie.”

As if mirroring the episode (in where Jerry tips his cookie to an African-American fellow) A guy commented on my shoes but spoke with an British accent. We got to talking bars and clubs and what not, Brit people abroad are always so outgoing. He mentioned that Brits aren’t like that back home though. I guess I’ll find out eventually.

Just like that I decided to call it a night, I threw in some random hipster shots modelling my new shirt purchases though lol. Still happy about those stores in Brooklyn, I think I’ll head back there and find some more.

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WT2010 – JAPAN – Day 3 – Odaiba & Shibuya

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on March 12, 2010

WT2010 – JAPAN
Day 3 – Odaiba & Shibuya
[On the iPOD] Be Your Own Pet

SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEP IN. No, get up! What to do today! It was time to venture out of Shinjuku, my newly found comfort zone. I decided to jump straight in the deep end, try and make my way to Odaiba which is the bay area of Tokyo about 25min train ride south of Shinjuku, but not without a transfer or something. A friend said you need to catch the monorail. What monorail!? Well with a useless map and no real idea I decided to leg it. Thankfully a JR info attendant spoke broken english, said I needed to go to Osaki and use a machine outside to get my ticket.

Stared blankly at said machine for 2minutes pondering how I would translate it, oh wait the other one over there has an ENGLISH button. WIN! JR Ticket select. What are all these numbers? I stared blankly and then looked around, a sign had corresponding numbers on a map of the railway layout. I figured the they were fares linking to the stations but the stations weren’t in english. A women noticed me staring bemused so she asked in broken english ‘Where would you like to go?’ I said Osaki, she looked it up and bam I had a ticket.

My main goal in Odaiba was Toyota MEGA WEB. From what I knew; a display centre with cool car related stuff. I get off in Osaki, my map is again useless and doesnt even list the bay area as existing. The trip from Shinjuku to Tokyo Teleport Station in Odaiba is supposed to take 25minutes. Osaki was only 10minutes. I was guessing transfer time and I was right, back up to buy another ticket to extend the fair. This time I showed that ticket machine whose boss and was off to the platform in no time. 15minutes later and Im where I need to be.

I knew two things about Odaiba; They used to host a D1 (Local Drift Competition) in the carpark here and it’s home to this Toyota thing. Upon getting off the train theres a huge sign listing all these places to visit and their distance. A museum or two, A shopping centre called “palette town” and a whole lot more. The toyota showroom and design centre was ok. The highlight was you could book this ‘eco ride’ they have a track that runs directly through the building and swerves and goes up a storey or two and then outside and it’s totally automated, you don’t drive the car drives! Apparently this technology and display has been around for years… as I would later find out first hand later on.

I then made my way to the last part of the Toyota MEGA WEB the ‘history garage’. If you like Toyotas or oldschool cars or cars in general bring a change of undies. What would you do if you had 50million dollars? buy a bunch of cool cars? Yeah great. How about build your own ‘town’ (inside?) with decore matching the cars you place inside. A ferrari 256 GTS? Place it in little Italy ofcourse surrounded by roman pillars and streetcarts filled with fresh produce. Into Mustangs and Cadilacs? place them in a western 50’s American bar / mockup petrol station of course!

Like AE86’s? Place them outside Takumi’s Tofu shop! All 4 of them! Including an ex D1 drift coup. The cars sitting around? A Nissan 240z, the original batmobile, Toyota 2000gt, deloreon, porches, blah blah blah on the list goes. I walked further on to find the back section was a store filled floor to roof with service manuals and diecast models of the highest quality of all types of cars. 1000’s of them. Old school memorabilia like tin-pressed car illustraions to used numberplates from the past. This was all utterly mind blowing. It was like being 10yrs old and dreaming up a garage and being in it.

And then I walked downstairs! More diecast toys as well as; Toyota’s actual F1 car, A GT500 car, A LE MANS racer. The Celica GT4 that won the WRC a heap of times. Some of these cars were parked inside the cafe whilst the others were parked outside which I then noticed was themed like an Italian villa in Sicily. It was an outdoor courtyard with a huge fountain in the middle and a driveway that looped it. Brilliant! It’s as if some exec at Toyota decided to build his boyhood dream garage.

I’ve forgotten to mention the rest of Palette town, it continues the ‘villa’ theme indoors (with fake blue sky and all) It was kind of like the DFO in Sydney except 1000x classier and with better stores and about twice as big at least. Fountains inside etc. Some of the stores were generic but others blew my mind!

Theres a huge ferris wheel right there outside the complex also. Walking to the bay-side I noticed the Sceince Museum was a bit of a hike. I noticed what appeared to be a monorail on the map so I walked to find it. Got tickets and got on to find NO DRIVER. Standing at the front of this thing was rather discerning. It runs automatically (just like the cars in the Toyota facility) It’s interesting to note that the station has glass barriers and sliding doors on the actual platform yet the train stops dead perfect (so its doors lineup with the platform doors) every single time.

The Emerging Science building was okay, It has a cool thing on robotics and some hands on life-science stuff it was interactive with displays and speakers (only good for Japanese speakers to listen to though) The simple and nerdy highlight for me was a little simple experiment setup on display. It was apparently alcohol vapour setup on a clear tub somehow. It’s purpose was to highlight radiation. People, especially new age hippies talk about radiation like it was invented by mad scientists; especially when talking microwaved food. The reality is we’re surrounded by radiation every day, we even emit it ourselves. So this display actually CAUGHT the alpha, beta and gamma radiation and made it visible in an eerie smokey way, simple yet cool.

Was getting to 4pm now So I decided to head back with a stop at Shibuya. Theres a statue in the square of the famous station square called Hachiko sqaure. It’s also where that ‘famous’ Intersection is in Shibuya when the lights go green you get a huge displacement of people in all directions. The Hachiko statue is a dog. The story goes; In the 1920’s a professor who taught at Tokyo University kept a small Akita dog called Hachiko, the dog followed his master to the station every morning whilst he went to work. Hachiko would actually return in the afternoon to wait for the professor to come home every day without fail. In 1925 the professor died of a stroke yet little Hachiko would return to the meeting spot every afternoon for 10years until it’s own death. The story touched the locals who built the statue in the little dogs honour. It’s now a popular meeting spot in Shibuya!

I wandered around a bit with the aim of finding a record store called disc union. I instead found one called recofan which I’ve heard is amazing. On the elevator everyone got out on a floor that looked like a book store so I got out too, it was manga/anime/toy haven of course. Robot toys galore! I ALMOST went a little crazy buying some buy refrained and headed to the music store. I was in there for 2hours! They had a used Beatles vinyl section and vinyl in general was a bargain. At record fares in Australia if your after ‘rare’ Japanese pressings of The Beatles LP’s (with Apple label stickers) your looking at like $50 an LP. Here was a wall in front of me, starting from $10 a pop! Oh noes!

9800yen later and I walked out pretty happy. All japanese pressings of everything from The Beatles, The Damned, Gang of Four, Blondie, The Cure and and and and A MINT Japanese pressing of The Smiths strangeways album with stickers for fricken $14! Wow. That’d be like $70 back home I’m going to go broke in this town. They also give you brand new plastic sleeves for free! Got some Ramen on the way home and took some more snaps of the Shibuya Intersection at night. Dead tired!

Note to self; 80shots left on my 4GB photocard! (shooting in L format) geees time to buy another.

MORE PHOTOS OVER AT FLICKR

MORE PHOTOS OVER AT FLICKR

The last few weeks as denoted by pictures…

Posted in Photography, Random by jukeboxparables on February 17, 2010

I’ve been flat out planning this trip thing… So besides my precious little twitter updates heres what i’ve been up to one way or another;

Melbourne weekend trip (driving 1100km) to head out ++ pickup my first motorbike // Melbourne Museum // My new guitar setup // St Jermones laneway festival; Florence & The Machine, Bunnymen, The XX // random photo of the last night at one of my fav local pubs // listening to way too much cash//smiths on aforementioned melbourne drive // I think that about covers it // Oh cute+cool bartenders!