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 – 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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