Lets start this off with a nice little picspam of scenes I saw on the 24 hour flight over, shall we?
And now before we get to America lets remind ourselves of Australia with this disturbing slash hilarious ad I saw while waiting for a connecting flight in Sydney: "don't be a tosser unless you're gonna toss your rubbish into a bin". Classy.
We arrived at New York during the night. All of the buildings were boarded up (so much for the city that never sleeps) and it looked like that episode of ANTM in season 3 when they have to walk home after an exercise challenge. Despite the fact that it was crawling with people it kind of felt like the town had been abandoned. Oh, and there are real-life gangstas! Somewhat intimidating black hip-hop-listening-to people roaming the streets at night. I figured that was just a cliche, but it really exists.
On the radio they reinforced the idea that NY is the greatest city on the planet and one of the stations we listened to encouraged cheating on your partner, both of which I can assure you would never be on the radio here :P
We're living in Brooklyn which basically just looks like Sesame St:
I was very surprised at how many black people there are. I feel a bit racist saying this, but it really shocked me. I thought Adelaide was multicultural, but it's nothing compared to New York (or the area I was staying at least) because throughout the entire trip I would've said that only about 40% of the people I saw were white.
My first impression of the apartment is that it's the kind of place I'd like to live. Not permanently but I really like the whole close-quarters apartment concept. Instead of me describing it, check it out:
I liked the awesome view from our back window
And the tiled floors and atypically steep stairs leading into the apartment
the fact that the light switches weren't all the same (there were others, but I didn't take pictures of them for some reason :/)
and the striped pattern on the bottom of my wardrobe draws. The one problem was that the floor of the apartment was pretty much on a 45 degree angle - very unsettling.
It was in a really good location. There were retaurants just a few doors down and a museum a block away and a subway station right next to that and a really cool diner (Toms Diner) a few blocks along. The first thing we did when we got to our apartment (about 11:00pm) was visit the local deli and stock up on basic supplies. It was really hobbled together and it kind of reminded me of the description of the shop at the beginning of the eighth Series of Unfortunate Events book (the one with the hospital), did anybody read that? To prove my point of how random it was, it was about three square meters large had chips, noodles, groceries etc, a deli section AND earphones!? Weird.
Just walking to the deli across the road I saw a lot of potential photos but I was afraid to take them because of aforementioned gangstas. The interesting thing was that I don't really get that in Australia, a building's a building and it's not very impressive. However in NY the buildings were genuinely impressive. As someone who doesn't give two hoots about architecture I think that statement shows a lot.
So to end with day #1, lets look at some fun New York buildings:
DAILY POLL TIME!
do you think it was racist of me to mention that there were a lot of black people?
I woke up the delightful sounds of honking horns, ambulance sirens, crying babies, shouting people, screenching buses, and many more urban occurances. Fun! Actually, as crazy as it sounds it really was fun, every hour of the day there were miscellanious exterior sounds which gave the feeling that you were never alone and that there was always something going on.
To continue thread, we went for a walk down the street and discovered that there really is always something going on. There were people walking their dogs, playing chess at the park, somebody asked us for directions (which happened several times throughout the trip. It always seems to happen when we travel, but never when we're at home :P) and there was a huge crew -at least 15 trucks/caravans (even a limosine!) worth- filming a movie or video clip. I didn't want to be too intrusive but here are the few pictures I got:
Crossing a road feels a lot more casual than back home because you don't have to press a button and there's no walking noise. I feels like the walking option is going to be there no matter what and you can take it if you want to, but you don't have to, I mean, whatever :P
I was weirdly warm but according to the internet it wasn't even 24 C
We caught the subway into Manhattan (aka. the main bit) and during the trip two separate homeless people (one who was apparently stabbed in the eye :S) asked for money. Subways are very cool because you're never more than a few blocks away from a station and they're so frequent one comes almost instantly when you get to the station. Also there are only a few routes so there aren't too many convoluted numbers to memorise. They made the town feel a lot smaller and more manageable than it actually is. Subway pictures time!
And then when we get into town, what's the first thing I see?
So it's a real place afterall, not just an ominous Project Runway figurehead!
While walking to 30 Rockerfeller Plaza, our first holiday destination I saw a gigantic picture of Karlie Kloss in a window and got very excited. It's little things like that you just can't see back where I live :D
We did a very generic NBC tour and I found out that there are approximately 30 writers at SNL and that cast only gets 2-3 days to rehearse a weeks episode. The actors get no say in what they perform, which I thought was surprising because surely they'd come up with a silly character and then a scene would be written around that, right? Also, the monologue stage is about 3 square meters wide, as is the musical guest stage and they have a third one that was maybe 3x4m and they're all right next to each other with enough seats for about 30 people facing them. I can't emphasise how small it was, given what I'd seen on the show I almost couldn't believe that it was the same stage, but they really use every stage to its fullest and do some incredible things with lighting and camera angles.
After the tour we went and checked out the shop on the way out and let me tell you, it was an eye-opening experience. They had clips of episodes constantly running and countless shirts with quotes on them and little bobblehead Office characters. And it wasn't just for current shows, they had Seinfeld and other older shows, too. Anyway, the reason I'm mentioning this is because it made me realise what a big deal making an episode of tv is because once it's aired it goes down in history to be watched and quoted by millions and millions of people for years to come.
We had a lunch was delicious at Sbarros, which seemed like an italian fast food restaurant. The fruit salad was ridiculously amazing, and actually every fruit salad I got while in NY was amazing. I don't know what they're doing to the fruit there but I really wish it'd come over here.
There are a lot more signs outside of businesses but other than that the city is pretty similar to Adelaide, but you can walk for ages and stay in the city, whereas in Adelaide if you walked for an hour you'd cross through it. And there's a lot more people. It's kind of as if someone had used the content-aware scaling tool from PS CS4 and squished a gigantic city down by about 50% and left us with New York. For those of you who don't know the tool works is by getting rid of the least significant parts of a picture so that when you resize down ultimately you end up with a very similar picture content-wise because no important elements of the picture get smaller, but it's on a smaller canvas.
Living in NYC is kind of like living in the overheard in NYC blog. The things that people post there really aren't out of the ordinary to hear randomly as you pass people on the street. I heard countless weird conversation snippets, but for some reason I didn't write them down... :/
I didn't think it'd be that different but there really is an American "way" and look. A lot of the guys looked like Dan from BB10 (the one who won) and the girls look like Angela from Project Runway season 3 (the one whose mum was assaulted by the guy with the neck). Also everybody seems to have flawless skin, it's very eerie, almost plastic-like. I doubt it's makeup because the guys had it too :/
As a whole people seem very friendly and willing to talk to strangers, which was surprising to me because I assumed they'd be like that whole "hey, I'm walkin' here!" cliche and arrogant, which, looking back is a bit silly of me because I've seen Americans on tv and they're not like that.
We went to the top of the Empire State Building and took some generic photos and took some generic souvenirs. Check it out:
That night I was walking to dinner late from our house all alone and a random black guy called me sexy as we walked past each other and I'll tell you what it really creeped me out like I never thought anything could. I've since tried to convince myself he wasn't talking to me or that he was joking or something, but I have a very distinct memory of knowing at the time that that's what he said and that nobody else was around. Later on I found out that stuff like that happens all the time, but I still can't shake that feeling of being unbelievably disturbed yet unexpectedly flattered.
LOOK, SOMETHING INTERACTIVE!
did you understand what I was talking about when I mentioned the Photoshop tool
Breakfast was amazing waffles at a very fun classic diner. The room was decked with lights and flowers and we had to tip. On all of the days that we went there, there was always a policeman having breakfast :P And the tables were squished together to closely it was almost impossible to get our of your seat. One day we tried to go to the toilet there, but the second one person left the next person went in, it was so busy :P The waitors gave us little things like biscuts and orange slices and made us feel like royalty (except not really). Here are some pictures!
We then walked around in Brooklyn for ages (to get some very specific shoes for my brother). It was really intersting, we realised that about 90% of the scenes we were seeing could never be seen back home. There were a lot of gigantic apartments, in a somewhat suburban area and just-- let me show you pictures because I don't even know how to describe it (the best I can come up with is 'Sesame street undergoing renovations with friendly black scary-looking gangsters lining the streets' but that's both unintentionally racist and not very specific):
We got to the mall, I tried on shoes and casually mentioned to the person attending us that we were on a holiday from Australia and he couldn't believe me. Funny, people told me the Americans went nuts for Australian accents... :/ And even funnier, that wasn't the only time that happened, almost every time we told somebody they were shocked.
Even funnier yet, the public toilets in New York are completely automatic (yes, an awkward segway, but how else do you propose I bring up the toilet topic?). There are no buttons to push when you've finished, there are no handles on the sinks, and there are these very threatening hand driers that you put your hands into and then slowly pull them out past a wall of blasting air that pushes your skin in in an amusing way.
We went to SoHo. I liked Topman's casual suits and g-star raw's general tough fashionable aesthetic. It seemed like there there were a lot of tourists in SoHo (at least 50%), almost everybody we passed was talking a different language.
That night walking to dinner I realised that New York is a lot like The Sims 3. Unlike the previous games leaving your house to go to a community lot is as commonplace as breathing and there are always people just... there, when you're out and they're always doing something. Also weirdly people dress like Sims and all of the plants and tiling and bins look like things you could get in it. I'm thinking either The Sims was modelled after New York or New York was modelled after the Sims and I haven't quite decided yet which is more likely. The one final resolution I came away with after this revelation was that despite my intraverted personality I wanted to experience this big community feeling and be surrounded by people all the time.
More on the "American Way" mentioned before, as a whole they're very lively. It's a whole lot of fun to be around, but I do feel a bit lame by comparison. We were walking to dinner and somebody was riding behind us on a bike, we let them past and they thanked us enthusiastically. It was about as much enthusiasm as if we'd just handed them a cupcake, minus the suspicion and surprise. Then later on at the restaurant there was a fun, crazy waitress with the peppiest voice I've ever heard. I've never even described anybody as peppy before!
We came up with a little joke regarding food in New York, that if your order a serving of food and it's not too much then it's not enough. I ordered a medium pizza and it was about the size of a family one back home. And let me assure you, that wasn't the only time we were burdened by a mass of unexpected food.
Surprise informations! Dogs are allowed in shops. Somebody brought their puppy into the restaurant as if it weren't a health and safety hazard and then a few days later we went to a gaming shop and saw two more dueling it out for top dog. Just amongst the PS3 and NDS games as if it were nothing.
Back a present day (dinner) we had dinner with a bunch of Adeladians that we didn't know (we coincidentally lived next to each other a while back and they happened to be having a New York holiday at the exact same time as us) and some Americans that we didn't know (the whole premise of the dinner was so convoluted I have no idea what was going on :P) and they answered a few of my questions about what kinds of people live in each burrow and how the city works. They said that the city as a whole has improved significantly (in regards to mugging, safe times to leave the house, general niceness and quality of everything) in the past 20 years and even in the past five years it's made considerable strides.
new york vs. the sims
At this point in the trip (according to my little notebook that a jotted down my brief notes in) I was conflicted as to whether or not I should move to NY after my course is finished. One one hand I'm building a life for myself in Adelaide (friends, family, work) but given my interests (tv, fashion) I feel like I'm being held back by keeping myself so distant from it all. Maybe I could go to the School of Visual Arts? I saw a poster for it on the subway and it had photography and it would be a good way to meet people when I first get there.
We went to SoHo again and I decided that maybe I'm a shirt person because all of the t-shirts I find are lame.
All of the shops are kind of like TARDISs. They seem so small on the outside, but they go on forever once you're inside, it's like lots of straws lined up along the road that you can walk inside :P
That night I watched ANTM and Glee live. I couldn't find the right channels and I missed the first few minutes of both shows! It's so depressing missing that first bit. It's even more depressing to not have the sound pumped directly into my ears via headphones. And then it's even more depressing to not be able to have to wade through all of the ads. NEVER AGAIN! Well, maybe a few more times...
how much are you loving Glee?
We had breakfast with the coincidetal Australian from the dinner the other night. I had a bagel for instead of my usual waffles at the diner and it was fantastic! I miss being able to buy bagels, but they seemed to have been outlawed around here :(
We went on a boat tour around Manhattan and that was interesting. There were a LOT of annoying kids and the tour guide did a really good job of sounding like he didn't spend every day saying the exact same words to the exact same faceless croud. Here are some pictures:
We went to the MoMa and that was really cool. It would probably be unlawful for me to share them but I snagged a bunch of photos to use as textures :P Now while the paintings were a lot of fun, a word of caution, the food there was not. I felt sick for hours afterward (and all day actually, but that's another story).
We went to Times Square. It was bright, crazy... everything you've seen in the movies. My lens was broken at the time so I couldn't really capture the bigness of everything but here, take a look at the blaring lights yourself:
That night I watched SNL:TU, P&R and The Office.
why aren't you watching Parks and Recreation yet?
Went back to SoHo again. Revisited g-star and after an hour of unsuccessfully trying on clothes realised that there is no fantasy shop even in NY. Sure you've got a better chance of finding something good in NY because they've got shop coming out of the wazzoo but ultimately a clothes shop is a clothes shop. I think think I'm just going to have to buy clothes that are cheap and too big and get them tailored to fit me because otherwise nothing fits. Went to Banana Republic and learned that sometimes shopping online is the best option because they've got XS online but not in the shops. Went to H+M and got some incredibly cheap awesome shirts
Then we went to an art history museum and wasn't that impressive. I think that a lot of the fanart, photography, etc I see every day looks better to be honest. Also they wouldn't allow me to take pictures :(
From there we tried to go to Central Park but the area we'd reached was pretty much just a gigantic lake so unless we wanted to walk for about half an hour to get to a drier area we'd have to just go home for the day
I watched Dollhouse and Project Runway live and then as I went to sleep I could hear drumming from my window.
At this point I thought that as a whole New York wasn't that different to back home - we were still living in a western civilisation after all - but there's an interesting juxtaposition of the world I'm used to and a cliched American world with the honking and the subways and the ganstas
this day was so uneventful, do you think that there's even a need for a poll?
That morning we went to a local museum (VERY local. Just a few blocks blocks away if you recall me mentioning it on day #1). I went to take a picture of some of the textures on the vases and a security guard came up to me and said that photography wasn't allowed... however, she didn't see nothin' and is just going to walk away for a little bit ;)
I thought it was really cool because that kind of personified the American niceness I've mentioned. I really think I need to live here because the niceness of the people could melt my frozen heart.
We went a small park next door to the museum (where some local kids were stomping the yard and a crazy squirrel furiously tried to hide its lunch from me) and I took some pictures!
Next up: an art festival under the brooklyn bridge. Here were some of the exhibitions I saw
- putting rubbish onto an artist to form a human statue (seemed pretty futile. We walked past several times and nothing seemed to have evolved in the slightest and it was always ugly, however I appreciate the concept)
- random hanging doll babies: I wasn't sure whether they were an exhibit first and that was my favourite thing about it - that it kept me guessing
- office monster: I'll let you decide what you want that to mean, but spoiler alert, this is what part of its face looked like
- not an exhibition but there was a really nice family in the elevator and I want to remember them.
- also not an exhibition but it was wandering around one floor of a building looking for a specific room that made me realise how ridiculously huge the buildings in New York really are. Sure from they outside they just look like a bunch of windows and walls and bricks and frills but they are GIGANTIC on the inside (that darn tardis effect at work again).
- somebody was encouraging people to drawing circles around rocks and then keeping the rocks afterwards to symbolise everybody's connection for having drawn one circle and keeping the rock with them forever. I felt bad for not doing this, the people orchestrating it seemed cool and I just couldn't be bothered with another "participate in this thing and become a part of a bigger machine" whatever
- people dressed in wool. I can't say I was completely convinced there was an deeper meaning to this, I think they just wanted to do iron-man poses all day and not be recognized
- attaching messages to balloons and then letting them fly free
- somebody was actually doing painting and I didn't realise they were selling them until I'd photographed them all XD
Now that we'd finished with art, we walked along Brooklyn bridge.
After days of saying it's going to rain, it's finally does and it's glorious.
At the restaurant for dinner a waitress tells us (in length) about the illegalities of Canal St (with the realistic knockoff purses in many small rooms), the homeless of NY (who got free one-way trips anywhere they want), how racism is a huge issue here and the various sections of brooklyn sections (the bad parts and the family areas etc.). If you can't tell, she was on of those people who when you have a conversation with them, you end up saying 1/1000th as much as they do.
I watched The Soup and SNL live. It was fascinating watching SNL now that I know what I do about the stage because it still doesn't seem like it's physically possible :P Also having come home and listened to the same jokes on my computer it's really interesting that the same jokes can land completely differently just because I'm listening to them in my headphones rather than on the tv.
Another interesting thing is how all of the different areas of New York we went to today (some not even mentioned because we just went to them when transferring subways, etc) give off a totally different vibe, but they were all surprisingly welcoming.
do you think that the art exhibitions were... ?
Went to yet another museum/art gallery. I decided I like modern art and while I don't really care much for historical stuff as a whole but I really like renaissance art. When we were on the way out a man found a woman's toddler who'd gone walkabout and she was unbelievably grateful. This was just another one of those New York niceness moments I want to remember :P
My brother bought a hot dog from one of the hundreds of hot dog stands that they have lining the streets and it steamed just like sims food. It was weirdly surreal.
After that, a quick trip to the real part of Central Park! Let me tell you, it is so beyond anything we'd have in Adelaide, there are millions of trees, freakishly large amounts of joggers and-- you know what? Why don't I just show you some of my personal highlights...
On the way home we passed another museum and it made me realise that there really IS always something going on. If I lived there I can't image being at a loss of things to do because I could just walk around the block or catch the subway and be amused. Speaking of the subway, we saw a Korean family on the way to a wedding on the subway. It was so funny seeing the bride in her gigantic fluffy white dress in such a grungey, mucky scene.
On the way to dinner somebody was watching from us apartment window. Again with the recurring theme of never being alone...
It was a Thai restaurant this night. Something odd about straws in America (or just New York? I don't know) is that the straws all have a tiny slip-on paper cover over the part you put your mouth on. I don't suspect it really does all that much, it just looks like it's there to make people feel safer about putting their mouth on something that they don't know the history of.
Watched Family Guy and American Dad life. It was possibly the only good episode of Family guy I've seen in a long time. 8x01, people, check it out. American Dad continues to be rubbish despite its first few seasons being so strong.
do you like the idea of never being alone?
Had "The Regular" for breakfast at Tom's Diner. I'm so thrilled we'd been there enough to have a regular :D
We went to another park near the museum: Prospect Park. I'd heard that it's better than Central Park, but I didn't really think so.
On the way back from the park we stopped outside of a library and got some lunch. A horrible saxaphonist was either trying to torture us or practicing in the early stages of their learning and they were doing it right out in the open. Like, just outside of the library right next to the road.
Weird, no? Yes. But the weirdest thing was that it didn't even feel that out of place, because everybody's just out and about doing their own thing. I think it's because everybody's houses are so small, nobody wants to stay cooped up inside so the streets are almost like a shared home.
Oh no, it's time to leave! On the way to the airport experienced out very first real live American road rage. I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty extreme and surprisingly unexpected considering you couldn't go five minutes without hearing honking around where we were living. Since we'd be catching subways and walking we hadn't really been on the roads at all but they really show a much more cliched version of America.
On the plane I lived a lifelong dream of mine on the plane back and followed a sunset. It went for about three hours and it was awesome :D
The air hostess wasn't happy with the way I said 'water' and made me ask for 'whartur', you know, saying it the "proper" way ;)
In Adelaide on the taxi ride home I realised that New York really was all that different. There's always just stuff going on in America (like random saxaphoning or movies), and Adelaide seems like a ghost town by comparison. I need that stuff just always going on in my life, so I'm definitely going to move.
And looking back there is possibly nothing particularly extraordinary about NYers personalities, I've met people like that here. The difference is if one in a thousand people I pass by gives me a compliment here, that'll be one person a month or so, but in New York with such close quarters a thousand people is a day or two.
To finish off, here are some photos from the flight home:
And now, the final photo from my holiday (taking up the very last frame available on my memory card) - Australian soil:
tl;dr - it's like living in a sims game