Cash in wallet: $80
City blocks walked: Approx 150
Equivalent Mileage: 7-8
Money spent on rehydration: $30
New York is big. Much bigger than London. Being crammed into a tiny island, I kinda figured it'd be of a roughly comparable size, at least in terms of the tourist spots, but no, it's big. And of course I can't be arsed with metro trains, and buses and such. I walk everywwhere. As such, in the last 2 days I've walked about 150 city blocks. That's madness for anyone who knows america. No-one walks 10 blocks, let alone 150. This is why everyone in America has a car. To give you an idea, that's about 8 miles, and sure, 4 miles a day isn't that much, but add into that the heat, oh my god the heat, and the humidity; hydration is not possible here, its more a case of wetting your mouth with liquid and waiting the 10 seconds for it to evaporate. Isotones and Electrolytes do not begin to cover it. On the plus side, it means I'm drinking lots of good stuff, coconut water, fruit juices etc. Downside, it costs me a lot.
The neighbourhoods are a lot less distinct here, thoug I'll grant you I havent got to chinatown or little italy yet. But, certainly as a foreigner, it's hard to tell the difference walking between the different areas of the island, its not like the difference between camden, bond street, covent garden, and shoreditch, which is pretty damned obvious. and the area its spread out over is roughly comparable. Sure, as you go up by the side of central park, it gets more obvious that the people living in the Upper East Side on 5th Avenue clearly have money, but still...
Americans do know how to do their breakfasts, and no-one more so that New Yorkers, that's one of the few things I did have time to properly notice on my fleeting visit years ago. The hostel does breakfast. It does cereal and pancakes and waffles and fruit and toast and juice and.... There are 20 loaves of bread out at breakfast. Not to mention the wonderful deli's all over the city that offer one hell of a breakfast for $5-10. Breakfast is something I really love about America, and I really love it about New York. They go all out on them. Shockingly, despite being here for 3 days now, I have yet to eat any bacon. This will be rectified next week.
I went to the WTC site; it's interesting. You can't really see that much of it anymore, as its surrounded by construction fences and there's a big detour that sends you quite wide of the site, but its still obvious; a giant wound in the skyline of an area otherwise filled with towering skyscrapers. Only in Central Park do you get a similar amount of wide open sky above you. Nearly 10 years later, traffic marshalls still tightly control the flow of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic around the site; detours are still in place, and preset siren signals give warning of any demolitions work taking place. And it currently shows no signs of being finished anytime soon. That's a lot of devastation, and a lot of effort to keep business ongoing as usual around it. Interestingly, the buildings around the site, have all been seamlessly renewed, their marble, granite and glass fronts gleaming like any other skyscraper in the city.
I went to see Red last night. I'd seen it in London, at the Donmar warehouse. I've blogged about it before, it's about the life/work of Mark Rothko. I saw it in a 250 thrust theatre, and it transferred over to Broadway in a 800 pros arch setting. I went as a techie geek, to see difference in staging. The sense of a 'studio' is much greater, by virtue of having 3 walls to play with; the actors can move around a bit more; but the intensity of the play was reduced. Maybe this was just because I was all the way up in the gallery for the cheap seat, but in the Donmar production, you were so close you felt you were part of the studio, you were there as the arguments over life and art happened, and the ferocity of the play's signature scene, the priming of a canvas, was so raw and powerful it swept over you like a tidal wave, dragging anything attempting to resist it along its path by the sheer brute force of the emotion portrayed. And that disappeared in this. Don't get me wrong, it was still a great scene, and an outstanding play, it's won 6 tony's: best play, supporting actor, director, sound, lighting, and set design. One of the audience as I was leaving said "the best play i've seen in new york in years". But it was definitely lacking compared to what I saw in London. And yet still worth every cent.
The girls here are amazing. Lots of them are wearing this brilliant fashion, hats and long flowy dresses and shoes not designed for walking in. This must be the only place in the world where the fashion women are wearing actually looks like what was on the catwalk 9 months ago. It's stunning, both as a gay and a straight man. It's hard to understand why everyone else isn't turning their head and watching them walk past, but then they must be so used to it. Sex and the City has clearly left its mark here, and for the better.
Speaking of sex and the city, I went to the NY Public Library the other day. I saw, and stood, exactly where Carrie Bradshaw was dressed with a bird in her head in Vivienne Westwood couture. This wasn't hard to do, having watched it on the plane on the way over, so I remembered pretty good. Unfortunately the front of the library is all covered in scaffolding; it appears to be public works restoration year, it was the same all over Amsterdam when I went there. The inside of the library however is spectacular. I don't think the UK has anything that comes close, or certainly London doesn't. SUre there's the British Library, but thats all specialist pay-for-entry exhibitions, or you have to apply for reader access and then can only take a pad and a pencil in and nothing else and its fairly restrictive as an actual 'library'. Here, I walked in, as a foreigner, and a tourist, and I could go into the reading rooms, and call up any book to read; I could use the computers for internet; I could get wireless access for my laptop. All without a readers card, having just walked in off the street from anywhere in the world, and I could do it all in an absolutely beautiful setting. We need more libraries like this. Open access, inspiring, the sort of place that actively encourages you to learn just by being there.
I'm travelling alone, which has both its up and its downsides. I can do anything I want, I can go anywhere I please, I can um and aah and change my mind and get there however I want when I want. But I don't have someone to share things with, I don't have someone to enjoy the experiences with, I don't have someone to take pictures where I wouldnt. I'm quite a hard person to travel with, because I'm so damned relaxed about it. I'm here for 6 weeks and until yesterday I had no idea what I was doing beyond tomorrow. Other people like to at least know they have somewhere to stay before going to a city, they like to know how long they have, they like to not have $20 a week to live off, they like to not spend money they don't have, they like to rest, and take coffee breaks, not walk around in the pouring rain and the sweltering heat for hours on end like I do. And someone who wasn't like me on a trip like this would drive me insane. It's too much stress to allay their worries and concerns all the time, to deal with their stress over where we're going to sleep the next night. I like travelling alone, and all the freedoms that entails, but sometimes it would be nice if there was someone equally as crazy as me to come with me.
New Orleans and Boston plans have largely been axed, due to a lack of money, which at least means I'm not visiting EVERYWHERE chris wants to go without him. Heading up north tomorrow; hopefully at House Of Blues in Boston tomorrow night if I'm lucky. Then the cape for 4th July. Down to DC to stay with my friend Sean, then I think I'm gonna head over to west coast for a few weeks in California, my home away from home. As for today, I gotta cram all my tourism into today as I thought I'd have tomorrow as well but no longer due to needing to head up North. This probably means I can't go to the anamanaguchi gig tonight :( But instead I shall go to the museums today. I haven't been to the statue of liberty as yet; I shall do that on my return trip in august.
Love and kisses, sorry for the long rather disjointed selection of things to write about, but at least it's keeping you up to date with that's going on with me