No Sleep Till Brooklyn

There have been a ton of times during this trip that Blister by Jimmy Eat World keeps popping into my head, the lyrics “how long would it take me to walk across the United States all alone” seeming to fit in rather perfectly with this unplanned journey I’ve been doing. Seeing places by foot is always the best way in my opinion, and with the miles I’ve clocked up lately I feel like I pretty much have walked the United States – all alone – and evidently the answer is a month. And it just hit me, I can now cross another item off that bucket list, completing a road trip from coast to coast in the USA, albeit in a much different manner and itinerary to how I originally imagined and intended.

Tomorrow sees me hitting the one month mark exactly… well, as I write this, but when I upload it that may be a different story.  I’ve been through the Colorado Rockies, I’ve seen the streets in the west, I’ve driven down the highway, hell, I’ve seen America’s best. I have to say it has been one hell of an interesting ride. I’ve spent no less than 10 nights sleeping on a bus or the floor of bus terminals, what I guess to be at least 5 full days (120+ hours) in transit, found myself wedged between fat guys and god botherers, had a vegetable lasagne guy fall asleep on my shoulder and seen 2 full suitcases of weed that someone had tried to transport on the Greyhound.

It’s not all bad, though, with tons of great shows and plenty of bands I’ve never seen before, hiking through beautiful mountains and floating through swamps, meeting some of the most kick ass people, winding up in crazy or out of the way places I didn’t mean to go (Hello Memphis and Nashville), seeing a major league baseball match and hanging out with the Chicago crew from last year. And the best part is pretty much none of that was planned, just dumb luck and being in the right place at the right time.

If you’ve never used the ‘wing it’ method of travel then I suggest you quit your job right now and do it.

But I really am getting off track since you know most of this and I guess you’re more interested in stories of NY, or because it’s a lot easier than reading, you want to see pictures.

New York never ceases to amaze. I’ve lost count, whether this is the third or fourth time I’ve been, but I’m still seeing and doing things I haven’t done before. Continuing with the pop culture tour of America I’ve been doing, I made tracks straight for Tom’s Diner, the place that provides the outside façade for Monk’s Diner in Seinfeld. Of course, I had to sit in one of the booths and grab something to eat. I decided against the big salad, instead getting a deliciously greasy wrap and fries.

Jordan approves of the wrap

From there it was onto 72nd (?) street to John Lennon’s apartment block where he was shot and across the road to Strawberry Fields. I’ve seen it before, but Jordan hadn’t. I’ve been schooling him on the Beatles, so he was pretty stoked with it all.

Walked through Central Park some more… What can I really say, it’s a big assed park. A great little slice of tranquillity in such a busy and huge city. Jaw dropping views of the city skyline, tons of urban wildlife, I can’t get enough of watching the squirrels playing. They’re awesome little things.

Headed a few more blocks south and did more Seinfeld sightseeing, to the Soup Kitchen. Pretty disappointed, they didn’t have any crab bisque or mulligatawny. No soup for me!

One thing I keep kicking myself for every time I come to NY is I always forget to look into trying to get tickets to see Letterman… Trying to get tickets on the day is a little difficult so I didn’t even bother. I guess it was even more difficult since I didn’t really know when I would be in town anyway. There’s always next time, right?

I notice New York has a size complex… they stole the LOVE sculpture from Philly and blew up to ten times the size. And they scattered at least 2 or 3 of them through the city.

And for a bit more music geek-dom, I headed down to 53rd and 3rd for no other reason than because it’s a Ramones song. Rumour has it that apparently this is where Dee Dee Ramone used to turn tricks back in the 70’s, when it was a pretty seedy corner of the city. These days it’s just a bland corporate office area.

One long ass walk later and I wound up at the United Nations headquarters. I’m told this patch of Manhattan is technically an international territory. There’s a piece of useless trivia for you. I was surprised to see that aside from the rather large size of the building and a pretty sweet sculpture of a knight slaying a dragon (The UN supports human rights, but Dragons are on their own), the headquarters is a pretty inconspicuous and visually uninteresting piece of turf.

Times Square seemed pretty uninspiring, after the initial wow factor from all the bright lights and grandeur of the place, I quickly realised how dull the place is. It’s little more than one giant electronic billboard.

Easily the best (worst?) billboard there.

Toys R Us is probably my favourite store in the square. They have a pretty sweet mechanical T-Rex and even a ferris wheel INSIDE. It’s times like this I wish I was still a kid.

Once it hit about 9:30 there wasn’t much left to do but I didn’t want to go to the hostel so I wound up going to a comedy gig. I really need to do that more often, it was a great way to spend an hour or so. There were five comedians, two were hilarious, another was pretty funny and the other two were a little hit and miss. Good times.

There was one subway station I liked in particular, there were loads of little bronze statues all over the place, it made the wait for trains a little more fun trying to spot all these little guys and what they were getting up to

When in NY, a lot of people make the pilgrimage to ground zero, mainly to see the former site of the location for a Limp Bizkit film clip. They sure loved to break stuff, but I don’t think that’s quite what they meant when those dickheads flew planes into the towers.

Seriously though, I’ve liked that I’ve been able to see the towers as they once stood, and ground zero both a couple years on from the tragedy and now 9 years on. The place is a hive of construction activity, One World Trade Center is currently under construction, and you can make out the memorial fountain squares that will sit where the old WTC towers stood. I’m surprised it’s taking so long to get these buildings constructed, and that 9 years on there is still at least one building being de-constructed because it was so badly damaged in the events of 2001.

One World Trade Center

Close by is Wall Street, where I discovered One Nation have started to infiltrate the country. That cheeky old Pauline…

NY Stock Exchange

From there I went to see the bronze bull. It seemed loads more people wanted a picture with his testicles than in front of him. Go figure.

Down to Battery Park on the southernmost tip of Manhattan to view the sculpture recovered from WTC

Another thing I always wanted to do whilst in New York was to make the pilgrimage to the location for that Spice Girls video clip. It was every bit as awesome as I was expecting, and I totally danced and got my sing-along on, pretending to be Baby Spice while prancing across the bridge.

I couldn’t come to the city that never sleeps (it must be on some serious methamphetamines!) without taking a snap of ol’ Lady Liberty. What a babe!

So that post was a little longer than I was expecting.

I’m writing this as I fly north to my new homeland. I’ll be overnighting in Calgary before Bee, her sister and some other chick pick me up (see, total ladies man) and we all head to Edmonton for the Sonic Boom Festival. Heaps keen.

Written on September 3, 2010