One week ago, I left Australian shores with a small case of clothes, a much-needed dose of jet lag, and two shekels to my name. A day or so and several cases of leg cramp, arm cramp, and cramp cramp (after a long series of plane flights, even your cramps will have cramps) later, I arrived in the USA, Homeland of the Puritans.
New York is vast and fast. The slowest thing in the US is the baggage carousel at JFK Airport; a black rubber thing that creeps forward by minute jerks. Occasionally it jerked to a halt and wouldn't move; an electronic buzzer began to ring; and (presumably) a little old guy responsible for loading the baggage on to the carousel banged it with a broom in a tender manner, saying, "Come on, Emma!"
Or maybe I've just watched too many episodes of The Simpsons.
Over the past week, I've been to Staten Island to see the Statue of Liberty, walked up and down and around and over and under Manhattan, been to The Strand bookstore on Broadway (outside Union Square), been to see one Broadway Musical and booked tickets for two more, went to one performance poetry gig at the Nuyorican in Lower East Manhattan, been to a reading of several short stories in a crowded pub in Brooklyn, visited the Frick Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, and taken a day trip to Boston. I've dined on two hamburgers, two bagels, several New York hot dogs, one pretzel, one Lobster Bisque, and several pancakes. And that's just to begin with!
New York is an extravagant, confusing, and delightful city; sometimes, all three of those adjectives apply at the same time. You wander by a store on 46th Avenue titled 'Hale and Hearty Pies' and wonder if they're not confusing it with another store that may or may not have been called Hertz and Hailey's Pies. You look for a place that sells bagels, and end up walking into a bag store. (El's Bags? What the 'ell?). Just this morning I was sitting on a train next to a whole classroom of boys speaking French to one another and their teacher, (who was wearing a yarmulke). It's the kind of thing that happens in New York.
I've got to confess, I haven't done as much as I wanted to - a lot of the time, I've just been walking around and around and around, trying to find places and familiarising myself with the bizarre Subway system. (Some trains are identified by numbers, some trains are identified by letters, and some interstate and intercity trains are on a whole different system). But then, I'd say that's a defining characteristic of this city: you never end up doing as much as you want to. I've had just enough time to become familiar with the place, which is more time than many people get.
This evening I'm off to see the musical Avenue Q on the recommendation of the marvellous Ms Jellyfish! It will probably be the last cultural event I have before I fly off to San Francisco on the morning afterwards. Once I get settled into the hostel at San Francisco and find an internet terminal, I'll be back, because I've got a tonne of pictures to inflict on everyone. Until then, cheer ho, and all that, folks!
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
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