New York – New York State of Mind

Ok. So this is the plan.

We don’t have any groceries.

We need to head to the shops for some Brekky, so the girls take it upon themselves to head out and get all the groceries. I’ve been blogging about the day yesterday, and Damo has been entertaining himself with catching up on all the “Niiiiice Garrrrrrrry!” moments in the last week.

Its been a good morning.

Then, the morning just keeps going.

And going.

And going.

And the girls left at 8am, and its now 10:30. We’re a little unsure of what is going on. I know that they went to a particular grocer, which was a good few stops back toward the city, but I wasn’t expecting it to take this long. Being that we’re all foreigners except Allison, Damo starts calling her through fb to see what she is up to. She’s already bailed to meet her old roomie before she moves to Ghana.

Valid.

She left the girls nearly half hour ago though. Not ideal.

A couple more mins pass, and I decide to send Bec a text. Free wifi is everywhere. She would have to have found it by now. Sure as eggs, she replies, “On the subway coming back now. It’s a good 20 min ride both ways. And the checkouts had a huge line. We’re going to be a good 20 mins still. But we’re gonna be making big brekkys. Sorry babe”. No stress. I mean, were starting to get a bit itchy being that we are in one of the world’s great cities, and were biding our time in a 2 bedroom apartment.

That does suck, but we also understand that there is nothing that they can do about it.

Turns out that they have been stopped at this station and not even the driver knows why. They change trains, and the passengers on the new train say that they have been waiting for ages too.

“Ok. Were gonna walk. From 168th st. Is about 20 minutes. Talk soon”, I get in a message.

“Oh babe… That sucks…”

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We wait.

Damo has got this absolutely garbage tv show playing, I’m well done blogging. Its time to have a shower… Again. I wanna feel fresher than the prince of bel air, and that does not happen without a shower. Then out of nowhere, I hear voices. The girls are back, but they shouldn’t be home that soon. I shower, we argue about how many bags to take out, and then we are out to explore NYC, round 2!

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We are going to start the morning by skating at an ice rink. Bec bought a pair at an op shop in Toronto, and Allison brought hers with her from Texas. Most of the spots you have to pay to skate at. There is one that is free entry, but $20 skate hire. Settle down. There is even one rink in Central Park that will cost you a cool $5 to WATCH you kid skate. Srsly? 10/10 sad. But whatever. If people are going to be retarded enough to pay money to watch someone skate, I’d milk it too.

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We meet at the first rink in Central Park, and then BAM! Allison pops up out of nowhere. She’s finished meeting up with her old roomie and has legged it to meet us. We were only waiting for a few mins, but she’s bee running through Central Park, like we were waiting for the past half hour.

Little does she know that we could have called breakfast, lunch. Thats how late we were.

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She was late. We were late. In a round-a-bout sort of a way, we were all on time.

We decide that for what it is worth, we’re gonna skip on the ice skating for today. The rink is chockers, and its gonna be $15 ea for us to skate and hire, so nah. We decide that we should go see the Statue of Liberty and ground zero instead. The good thing is that we have the rest of Central Park and NYC between us and the iconic site, so in the name of quality time and communal fun, we all decide to walk the rest of central park.

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Little did we know that the apparent lack of toilet block placement throughout the park would prove to be an issue. Little did we know that we, collectively, hadn’t worn enough layers to combat the cool breeze either. The park was grand, but cold and our bladders weren’t grateful for the length of the walk ahead of us.

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The Boat Hoe

Some cities seem to have grown out. From what Allison tells me, this is pretty much Dallas. A lot of breadth, and little height. NYC, however has A LOT of height. So, when you are standing in the park (doesn’t matter where), you’re forever greeted with apartment buildings and offices towering above the tree line of the park, alike.

Every now and then, I will wonder who it is that is watching us from the penthouse apartments right up there? James Dinan? Where are you hiding?

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Central Park Lake

We keep twisting and turning and winding and weaving all through Central Park. We pass people and catch parts of conversations that would make a lot more sense if we heard the last 2 minutes (at least) also. We see numerous dogs nuggeting in various locations and states. But! After we found for ourselves a toilet (which this bloke took his 2 dogs in with him.. wtf?), we could hear the roar of a crowd gathered a little way away, and where there is a crowd, there is a reason.

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We make our way over, but it’s the few guys just on the skirts of the crowd that catch my attention. I dabbled with the diabolo when I was young, and loved it. These guys are absolute champions though. Flinging the diabolo all around and over themselves, occasionally calling out to their companions to watch this new ‘combo’ they just nailed.

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I sling my camera off my should, wrap it over and again around my wrist, crouch so to get a better angle, and fire away. You know he doesn’t want to screw it up now. He goes from a light hearted practice, to a performance, with no forewarning. He knows that now I am holding a camera, he is a showman. He performs exceptionally. He knows that he is going to be an attraction, so he doesn’t mind that I am taking pics of him. We exchange details, and turn for a few fleeting shots of his mate as I leave.

Heading over to the crowd, I find a young, scared and helpless little white boy standing in the middle of this rectangular space. These 4 or 5 black guys are running around getting the crowd hyped up and asking people to raise their hands, to then notify them that they have volunteered. Americans sure do entertainment really well.

Damo has been waiting the whole time.

I have only been waiting 2 mins at this point.

Already, I just want them to do the bloody trick that they have been hyping everyone up for. It’s the typical busker trick, string them along and hype them up enough that they stay long enough to feel obligated to give money at the end, even though they only wanted to go for a walk. This trick, really grinds my gears.

We wait.

And wait.

And wait.

I mean, they’re entertaining, but not as entertaining as watching someone flip over this kid. That is what I am waiting for. Whats more? The girls are in the cold, waiting for us to wait for the buskers.

Bruh…

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Bec comes over, and gives her iconic little shoulder scratch to get my attention. “We’re not far off babe”. She heads off, and thankfully, only a few mins later, the bloke finally leads an epic run up, and flips right over this helpless little white boy. He was very helpless. He was very white. Damo and I turn to leave the edge of the crowd. The busker’s promises of “a bigger and better trick” wasn’t enough for us. I mean, by this rate, it might take us a good half hour before we get to actually see the bloody thing.

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We reunite with the girls, and head to the end of the park. We are greeted with trees that intertwine with an eerie sense of winter’s lifelessness. It’s a really odd sort of stateliness about these trees, and everywhere you look, the park is littered with it.

Our eyes are turned skyward.

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Surprisingly, we didn’t run into anything on the footpath, but one thing we did notice was these punters that ride around in Central Park, charging $3/minute to take you for a ride in their pedal-powered tuk tuk. For those that didn’t graduate grade 3, thats $180/hour.

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Like, wut?

Damo and I begin to reconsider our life choices and entertain the idea of all the rubbish stories we can produce in the name of being a tour guide. My word. All the fun we can have, and all the minutes that we can earn $3 with. We’re moving to NYC now, business plan in tow.

Its getting late in the day.

We decide to skirt the edge of the park in search of a subway station. We jump on the subway to head to the Staten Island Ferry. Little did we know that this would be our first introduction to the odd characters of NYC.

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Damo and I have our cameras out. We’re not photographing anyone else on the subway. Not at all. We keep exchanging shots when someone in our 5 man posse does something a little out of the ordinary. This one guy jumps on the train. He looks like a black version of Dr. House, except that he has bung eyes and I was never sure if he was looking at me or the wall. Regardless, I’m trying to catch this bit of footage, and he isn’t even in my shot, but he assumes he is. He does this big whistle in the train, and I really am unsure whether he was whistling at me or not, mostly due to the fact that he couldn’t catch a ball if it was held in front of him.

I look up, look around, and then look to the wall, just incase the wall was doing something that he was trying to get the attention of.

The wall didn’t move.

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These Guys are all good. Came through asking people for donations, and if someone can’t offer donations, smiles are more than enough. 10/10

No one was doing anything suspicious around me, and he is kinda just looking at each of my shoulders, so I dunno what is happening. I keep doing my thing, and take the assumption that he might be seeing a different world than I am seeing.

A few mins later, and he does this big stomp thing right next to Micky and Damo. Now we’re a little more sus. He says that he doesn’t want his photo taken. They were only looking at the photos from earlier, not taking any more. It’s obvious that he’s not ok in the head, but I would kinda expect that you’d ask not to be photograph first, before antagonising people with meaningless stomps of your feet.

I mean, dont get me wrong, foot stomping is a great idea.

If you’re 3.

…and want that chocolate that your heartless mother wont buy for you.

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Another legend among the subway.

Super effective then. Not so effective now. Micky isn’t keen, and ushers Damo to another seat. I’ve since lowered the camera now that I know what the actual story is. Damo does the ‘guy’ and tells the bloke, with enough certainty in his voice, that he isn’t taking photos of him. I dunno if it got through, but they moved anyways. He’s still acting like a weirdo, and he eventually moves to another spot on the train. What I didn’t know was that he went to swing at me while I was seated.

I heard him shuffle behind me as he was passing by, but didn’t know that he had stopped his fist just before connecting. This, I found out after we were on the train ride home. To be honest, I am glad that I hadn’t seen that. Probably wouldn’t have been such a great day otherwise.

Nonetheless, moral of the story is that you don’t take photos of people who can see more than one of you at the same time.

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Not long after our space-head mate leaves the subway, this group of 4/5 blokes jump on and announce that they are going to bust out some acapella, and this they absolutely nail. I straight away crank out the video feature on my camera. Its worth every second.

We arrive at the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry passes the Statue, and you dont have to pay like $30 each to go to the island. Yeah, you’re still a while away, but think of all the other ways you can supplement your holiday, by spending $150 elsewhere. And you know what is funny? Michaela explained it well. She said that she is often underwhelmed when she sees these global icons, because the pictures often make them look bigger than they are, and the shot is usually taken at the most ideal time possible.

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Don’t get me wrong, it still amazing to see, and the fact that I have seen this icon in snow globes, on key rings and fridge magnets my whole life, makes the experience of seeing it with my own eyes so surreal. Its still a good few hundred meters away, but it is amazing to see for yourself.

We reach the other side, and as everyone is hopping off, we nestle in for the prime seating for the trip back.

We then find out that everyone has to disembark the whole ferry. Our grand idea was flawed, and now we are the last to get back on the ferry. The inconvenience of that is only determined by how many people are on the ferry right? Well, how about this… When we were lining up, there was a crowd, probably 50-60m wide, and about 30m deep, and everyone was shoulder to shoulder. Give or take a couple meters. Thats literally hundreds of people.

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We get a clear shot of Lady Liberty, but what is even better is being able to see the city light up against the rich deep hues of the night sky. That really is a sight to see. We hop out of the station and walk to Ground Zero.

The memorial is made of 2 pools, which cover the areas where the buildings once stood. Water flows down, along the walls of the pools, and runs into a hole in the middle of the pools, which is perfectly square to the rest of the monument.

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2,996 people died right where I am standing. It is pretty surreal to be able to stand at the location where these buildings collapsed. Regardless of who did it, it is a tragedy. One thing that blew the away was the level of craftsman ship that went into the memorial. It is an absolutely exquisite site and an immaculate job. We walked past one window, showcasing two of the steel supports for the buildings.

Sobering.

There is the constant chatter among people, but all the while, respect being paid to the fallen.

People’s names edged out of the metal that lines the edge of the pools. Roses are left in the people’s names in remembrance of who they once were and without a doubt, the imagination of who they might be today.

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The cool breeze reminds us that we have been under-dressed since the day begun. We head back to the subway so we can thaw out in the comfort of our apartment. The ladies make dinner, we watch a movie called Chef. Its been a quality day.

Come back tomorrow,

Billy

 

 

 

 

 

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