Sunday, 13 October 2013

I Love You, New York

In 1999 I visited the Big Apple, with an open mind, for the first time. I left, as many have, a fool in love. And the affair continues to run deep and passionate.

Some of the worst movies and television series have been set in New York and I have watched them all. Just to soak up the city. Having small children and low resources has made it quite difficult to get over there in recent years. So I'll take any hit I can get. Even season 6 of Gossip Girl. Yes, I know.

The best thing about visiting New York City is, even as a tourist, the city offers more than sights, restaurants, museums and bars. Despite the apparent gentrification of Manhattan, there's still a flicker of the fabric that made the city great in the first place, the rich mixture of cultures from all over the globe. Making a long weekend break in the city that never sleeps, my perfect type of holiday.

I had always wanted to go for my 40th, which is looming next month, but as this isn't logistically possible, I'm gonna indulge myself on the blog and recount my top New York moments and proving you don't need to spend wads of cash to be amused.

World Trade Centre
I didn't go up. Having a fear of heights, I decided to leave that excursion to the 'next trip'. Huh! Me and my travel companion lay down on the sidewalk outside to take a picture of each other with the towers in the background. A sort of 6th form photography experiment which paid off. I kept pictures pinned to my cork board and when the first plane went in on 9/11, they were all I could think of. My travel buddy had had the same thought.

Happy Noo Year!
A group of us decided to take a trip to N.Y.C. to celebrate turning 30. We flew out Boxing Day and stayed for a week, seeing in the New Year. It was going to be just like 200 Cigarettes of course, all we needed was to find a hip party in Alphabet City or NoHo. We ended up in a bar in the Lower East Side with a jukebox jammed with the latest raft of N.Y.C. cool tunes, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and largely ignored band The Roger Sisters. As we tumbled out the bar in the early hours, we heard a male voice call out, 'Happy Noo Year!' in the most New York accent we'd heard the whole trip. Maybe he'd been employed by the tourist board to make visitors feel warm and fluffy inside.

Staten Island Ferry and Fallopian Tubes
Acting on someone else's travel tip, we took the Staten Island ferry for a lower budget chance to view the island and Statue of Liberty from a boat. The latter was still closed post-9/11, so this was our next best option in our view. If you want to observe a little New York life, sit on that ferry a few times. My friends were followed by a man while boarding, professing, 'Ladies you are fine. You are so fine, I wanna suck the fallopian tubes outta you.' He walked off, posing no further threat but that is possibly the most creepy and disgusting thing I have known anyone to say in my life. While waiting for the return journey, a fight broke out in the queue between two blokes. Safe to say, I never rushed back to do that journey.

Give John Lennon A Chance
Unsuspectingly, we 'happened' to be around Strawberry Fields on the anniversary of the John Lennon's death in 2007. We had taken my Nana to New York for a long weekend girls trip and totally splurged on activities. But this was the best and cheapest thing I have ever enjoyed in N.Y.C. We noticed groups of people singing along to a few playing Beatles and Lennon hits on acoustic guitars and were naturally drawn in. Almost everyone who stopped by to watch eventually could not resist belting out a few verses to some of the most famous songs ever written.

Johnny Depp memorably explains the use of this Italian-American phrase in Donnie Brascoe and T-Shirts with the slogan were widely sold in tourist areas all over city. One of our travel group proudly purchased the t-shirt from a souvenir store in Little Italy and wore it underneath a jumper on a very bitter walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We dived into a cafe when we reached the other side, desperate for a hot drink and lunch, the diner looked like something directly from a Martin Scorsese movie. Formica tables, a couple of old Italian looking men nursing coffee and not many other customers. Our so-called friend, roasting in this well-heated establishment, was forced to take off his jumper and reveal his black t-shirt on it written in white block capitals 'Forgeddaboutit' to the whole place. We were mortified. Typically the Brooklynites did not flinch.

L.A. Law at CBGB's
Knowing that the legendary club would be shut down in a matter of weeks, I dragged my travel buddy to the club to experience a piece of music history (also knowing it wasn't at all her scene). It was a harmless evening of hard rock or punk metal, however you wanna term the 'no name' bands on the bill. Sitting at the bar in the half-empty venue, I notice a couple walk in who looked a little out of place, the way they were dressed and the fact they were significantly older than most of the gig-going crowd watching the band. However, as they were greeted by a wide group of people, I realised it was the actors Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry. Random, I know, but I made them without a smartphone and Google, having been an avid watcher of L.A. Law in the 80's. I was just drunk enough to walk up, tell them I loved them, tell Jill she looked fabulous (which she did) and ask for their autograph, much to the disgust of their young companion. It turned our their son was playing in one of the no name bands.

Queuing and Not Queuing for the Empire StateWe spent a disproportionate amount of time queuing to go up the Empire State Building in 2003. It the first touristy activity on our agenda, top of everyone's list, A number 1. We amused ourselves while waiting singing renditions of New York themed songs. And no matter how many times we tried to sing the words to Arthur's Theme, we annoyed everyone around us by only managing, 'dum de-de dum, de-de-de dum....dum...New York City'. Four years later, we had an 'in' with the staff, by-passed the queues straight up to the top observation deck. Thus sparing any more tourists from our signing this time round - maybe they knew.

How to Not Stalk Celebs
I'm sure there's many illusive spots roped off with velvet where you can spot oodles of celebs in N.Y.C., if that's your thing. But it seems there's a good time of year to go and spot stars in plain public view too, in our group's case, the Christmas holidays. Annie Lennox browsing goodies in Duty Free at Heathrow (OK not in New York), Blythe Danner was on our flight, Mary-Louise Parker preggers with her ex, Billy Crudup's, baby, Steve Bing shopping in Soho and our going home star spot at J.F.K.....Minty from Eastenders, who at that stage was a peripheral character, so a good spot at that.

Best of the Rest
Gourmet food tour of Chelsea, Dirty Martini at the rooftop bar in the Gansevoort, Duke Ellington tribute band at Birdland, mimosas and brunch at Balthazar, Lulu stomping on the 'Big' piano in F.A.O. Schwarz, lunch at Tom's Restaurant pretending to be Elaine Benes, the Christmas Spectacular at the Rockerfella Centre, buggy rides in Central Park and The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet. I will not be staying away too long.

Lady Liberty getting felt up in 2003
Another, less creepy, cuddle in 2007


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for your comments. Come & chat with me on Twitter & Facebook. Everybody is welcome in CM world.

Theme created by PIXELZINE