So, I'm home. I would like to say it's good to be back, but that wouldn't be true - sorry! New York was typically awesome and, to compound my misery, I picked up some sort of bug on the plane home which has left me bed-ridden for the past few days. But with the worry of a rarely updated blog disappearing down the web 2.0 toilet, I've made a determined effort to drag myself onto the computer and write this, a few quick New York tales.
The lad playing his pots and pans
The video explains it much better than I can put into words, so check it out and marvel at this guy's clever use of everyday objects, spotted at Times Square subway station one afternoon, whilst I was eating Nerds (remember them? Of course you do. Bloody brilliant they were, too) and wandering aimlessly.
Dinner with WK
Gemma and I were lucky enough to have dinner with the one and only Andrew WK last Tuesday evening. Visiting a local diner we spent a fine couple of hours chatting about cheese (and how I only like to eat it "on my terms"), Mr Bean (and his surprisingly worldwide popularity), the mainstream media's obsession with forcing 'the next big thing' down your throat and a whole host of other subjects. As well as this, we attended Andrew's low-key solo piano show at the aptly named Piano's bar in downtown Manhattan. The proggy supports and cross-dressing comedian were not to my taste, and my UK body clock telling me it was 6am when Andrew finally hit the stage didn't help at all, but a superb, if a little surprising set followed. Leaving the party inspired anthems to one side, the packed out tiny venue attendees were treated to a number of songs, laying somewhere between David Bowie and Tom Waits, pieced together with a number of dark interludes. I have no idea when Andrew plans to bring this music to a wider audience, but expect the unexpected...
Seriously, how do you take one average-at-best candy product and turn it into a three-story, 25,000 square foot empire of merchandise? You name it, they've produced it. Ridiculous!
Four things really dominated the news during our trip: 1) The current election campaign, 2) The NY Giants reaching the Superbowl, 3) Heath Ledger and 4) The "artic blast."
Although my knowdledge of everything political is very limited I found myself quite intrigued by what was going on. With Hillary Clinton pushing to be the first female president and Barack Obama hoping to become the countries first black president, I can only imagine the turmoil some of the middle-state hillbillies are in right now as they try to weigh up the lesser of two evils.
My knowledge of American football, I must admit, is also fairly slim, but again this subject sparked a fair amount of interest in my sport-loving brain. Much like when any footballing tournament rolls around (assuming a certain Mr McLaren hasn't been allowed to get his grubby paws on the coaching title) and everyone in England suddenly becomes a super fan, New York was buzzing about this game. The Giants, from what I could gather, had pretty much fluked their way through to the playoffs and were now only one game away from reaching the Superbowl. I armed myself with a bottle of cheap vodka and as much Mountain Dew as I could get my hands on and settled down in front of the TV to watch the third coldest game in NFL history (true story, fact fans), and boy did I get my moneys worth! A match which I naively presumed would be over within an hour stretched itself out to THREE HOURS (with an advert break coming roughly every 2 minutes throughout), and that's before you take into consideration over-time. Still, The Giants, or "Big Blue" as they're otherwise known, battled through and won the game, much to the surprise of everyone watching, seemingly.
The whole Heath Ledger thing was a bit strange. I don't know how big the news was here but it was huge over there. It became the first subject of every news report on every channel for the following four days as everyone tried to figure out how it happened and reminded us all of some of the actor's finest moments. Oh and E! managed to get their hands on some footage which showed him talking about dying, which they then played to death. No pun intended. I can only imagine what kind of reaction will follow when the autopsy results come back, but a sad end to a promising young actor's career, nonetheless.
And finally, the "artic blast." Having been warned by many sources that New York is freezing this time of year, I felt a real tough cookie when stepping off of the plane to find it no worse than the current UK climate. And just as I was starting to think that New Yorkers are obviously much more delicate than we give them credit for, the blast set in. Sweeping over from the West was the coldest spell of weather I have ever endured. Temperatures of zero were greatly worsened by the windchill factor of -27, forcing everyone to layer up their clothes and wonder why Mother Nature hated us so.
Also in the news during our stay were two shootings and a stabbing. From the amount of coverage these received I fear they're not exactly rare.
We flew with Virgin for the first time and found the whole experience greatly enjoyable, right through from the quality of the food and service to the fact that Die Hard 4.0 and Ross Kemp On Gangs were on the TV. Coming home was a little tricky as the plane filled up with more 6th form girls than you could ever expect to find in a common room over the course of a full year. There were hundreds of them! All giggling excitedly, talking over all of the announcements and purchasing every piece of duty free merch offered to them. I had a quick count as we borded the plane and discovered that I was one of only 4 men on board. FOUR! There were more snakes on the plane in Samuel L's film.
I'm not sure if it's out in the UK yet or not, but I whole hearily recommend seeing Juno. Nominated for four oscars during our stay, I challenge any of you (male or female) to see that film and not come away with at least a small crush on the sharp-witted, if a little pregnant, lead character.