Travels in 2009: New York

November 24, 2009 at 1:56 am (Uncategorized)

Who was it said, if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life? It’s certainly true of New York. Whenever I visit New York, I always feel as if I’ve only scratched the surface of the city.

I recently made my annual pilgrimage to the city.

The day started with a stroll along the waterfront on Staten Island, where I usually stay when I got ot the city. Note to self : try the Sri Lankan restaurant near where my friends live.

Then it’s the Staten Island ferry into Manhattan. It’s not really New york unless you ride the ferry. A 25 minute trip from the terminal on Staten Island to Battery Park in Manhattan. Past the Statue of liberty and a great view as your approach the city.

From there it was up Wall Street, pausing at Bowling Green, the smallest park in New York. They say you can spot the tourists in New York: they’re the ones looking up. OK, but it’s worth looking up sometimes just to see the magnificent architecture. As you travel up broadway, just before city hall, there’s the incredible Woolworth’s building. Amazing gothic architecture.

Just above city hall, I head east into China town. I’m not sure about it, but it’s like China town everywhere. Crowds of people and food and goods spilling out onto the streets. I take a quick look onto Doyers Street. It’s a crooked L shaped street, so designed to prevent ghosts following people (apparently ghosts like to walk in straight lines).

I head north up Bowery, past the former CBGBs to Joey Ramone place on East 2nd Street, a quick stop at St. Mark’s Bookstore.   

From there back toward the centre. I went to Forbidden Planet and the Strand. Forbidden Planet is a nice comic book shop near Union Square, but to my mind it’s really no better than some of the ones in Toronto. The Strand however, is the biggest used book store in the world. Always something good there -I got a Doc Savage reprint and a Nick Hornby hardcover.

Lunch in a nice Indian restaurant and then more exploration.

I went down to Evolution. It’s  a store which specializes in animal products. I had planned to pick up a few things from the kids, but I realized the kids might be a little creeped out – too many bones and creepy-crawlies!   I also kept wondering where they obtained all of this stuff. Still, I bought a few bones and some cool rocks.

Then, I needed to meet up with my friends, so naturally I got lost. New York has the habit of changing names of its streets (I guess every city does this, but you notice it more when you’re looking for a street that doesn’t exist!)  I began to walk north. Past Waverly place, but I didn’t see any wizards

In the evening I felt like a real somebody. I went to two separate art gallery openings. The first was a group of Belgian artists, but the second was the one that really impressed me. Andrew Moore has taken a series of pictures of Detroit in decay. Detroit was the motor city. It was the place African-Americans fled to escape the brutal racism of the south. It was a city that paid ‘decent’ wages, and had a high degree of working class militancy. Anyone who hasn’t read Detroit I Do Mind Dying should head directly to their local leftie bookseller or public library right now.

But no more. Detroit looks today as if it was hit by an atomic bomb. It’s a scene fresh out of the Road Warrior or some other dystopian fantasy. The question viewing Moore’s photographs of post-apocalyptic Detroit is “why?” It’s not a an accident; it was deliberate. Watch for a book volume of Moore’s work.  

And after that, a taxi ride back to the ferry.

And that’s where things started to go wrong. As I was getting off the bus, I tripped and fell giving me a nasty sprain (it still aches three weeks later), and reducing the rest of the trip ot a hobble. My New York adventures always seem to meet with some catastrophe. A flight was cancelled in 2002. The blackout in 2003. More delays in 2004. A nasty flu virus in 2007. It seems as if the only time when I go without incident is when the family come with me (note to self about this).

But it’s still a great city, and as they used to say in the middle ages, the city air makes you free.

PS. I made a New york CD for the friends I stayed with. The liked it apart form the last track, which they loathed!

Here’s the track listing:

  1. LCD Soundsystem – New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down
  2. The Last Poets – New York, New York
  3. Lou Reed – Dirty Blvd.
  4. The New york Dolls – Subway Train
  5. The Kills – What New York used to be
  6. The Raveonettes – New York was Great
  7. The Demics – New York City
  8. The Sex Pistols – New York
  9. Wire – New York City
  10. The Ramones – Rockaway Beach
  11. Cub – New York City
  12. Ryan Adams – New York, New York
  13. The Florida Razors – New York Screaming
  14. The Ad-Libs – The Boy from New York City
  15. Bob Dylan – Talking New York
  16. The Clash –Broadway
  17. Leonard Cohen – Chelsea Hotel no. 2
  18. Frank Sinatra – Theme from New York New York  
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2 Comments

  1. Richard S. said,

    Hmm, I’m wondering if your friends live somewhere near where I used to live…

  2. Goodbye 2009 « Notes from Underground said,

    […] my annual trip to New York in November, but I’ve already blogged that one (read about it here). I’ll just say that New York always feels like an old friend, but one who still has so many […]

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