Old New York

Trip Start May 08, 2006
Trip End Mar 07, 2007

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Flag of United States  , New York
Friday, January 19, 2007

If I could make it here, I could make it anywhere....

So much happened in New York I had to break it up into headings. I spent 7 nights there. Read what you want. Don't read what you wouldn't read if you don't want. I would like to note. My first stop was Times Square - Bubba Gump Shrimp shop. I am now the proud owner of a Forrest Gump - Bubba Gump Shrimp Co Hat! - The beard has begun....

Arriving in New York

I expected mayhem. I thought I would be grilled going through passport control. I wasn't. I thought the guy would ask about Israel or Jordan or some wierd ass country. The guy just asked me what I did back home and how long I was staying. I replied "I dont do anything anymore. Im almost a drifter, I dont even know how long I'm staying, maybe a month or 2". He just smiled at let me through. It was the Kastanza approach. Do the opposite. I think it was also so easy for me to get through because my plane was full of Russians and crazy Eastern European countries which aren't on maps trying to get into the USA before me. Walking up and saying Gday, howzit goin? works a treat.


My first image of the states was the subway. Getting on the subway for the first time after hearing all the stories is I must say scary. But soon you learn its safer than the train in Australia. There is always people on the subway. I arrive in Harlem and drop my gear off at a Hostel called Jazz on Harlem. I walk down the road and notice among all the people going about their business, all the homeless people out on the street. I also notice I am the only white person around.  Harlem is a predominately black neighbourhood. I also realised this, when I realised my hostel was next to the intersection of Martin Luther King drive and Malcom X st. Its actually really cool because of this. It has the famous orignal Apollo theatre and Whoppi Golberg performs every Friday night. Harlem despite what people think is actually pretty safe. There plain dressed police everywhere and always people hanging out on the street. Even in the minuses. Theres a big african vibe because there is lots of new africans in the area. Its real cliche too. The steps with kids hanging out in front, fire escapes on the side of buildings. The first thing I heard when I walked down the street in Harlem was a guy walking along go "Dammmm Sh*t!! My MotherF*@@ing shoe lace is untied.... Dammmm Sh*t!!"  Its a moment that will stay in my head forever.

West Harlem Chicken Shop

Being unware of my surroundings, and also the fact the temperature was -3. I went to the nearest place I could find for food. The West Harlem Chicken Shop. A shop you walk into with no chairs or anything. Just a bare floor and a counter. The counter is walled with bullet proof glass and you have to hand your money over through a complex winding of a slot through the glass. The african guys who ran it always called me Boss whenever I came in. The place I stayed didn't have a kitchen. But this Chicken shop was so cheap and I always went there for midnight dinners. It was interesting to see the clientele and the interaction between the workers (New from Africa) and the african americans who had been there for generations. The americans would swear and curse that they didnt speak good english. " MotheF*@r doesnt speak english, whats this fool doing working at the counter!" Every cliche I saw in this Chicken Shop. I saw Couples walk in and have domestics, I saw a guy walk in and start rapping, i saw a guy come in and start praising chickens and God. I loved the guys behind the counter. They thought I was the boss and they knew I always wanted a Welchs Grape Soda. Its like the best drink since sliced bread. Like Fizzy Ribena or something.

The Conan O'Brien Debacle

My first full day I spent wandering around the city. I ended up finding Radio City and Conan O Brien. This meant that the next day I would wake up at 6:30 in the morning and queue for Conan stanby tickets. I queued for 2 hours in the rain. Got my standby ticket and was told to come back at 3pm to see if I could get in. I went back and got marked off. Then was told to wait in the foyer. I waited an no one came! I saw people lining up and going into the show. I went up to the lady after they had gone in and asked about my standby ticket. She said sorry only numbers 1 - 20. I had 51. So if you want to see Conan, get there and line up early. After 5 minutes of waiting around with other people who had missed out. I walked up to another lady and asked if there was anything free at all because I really wanted to see the show. She said sorry. Upon leaving I saw some young guy who had a ticket but was being kicked out for bad behaviour. I walked out and down the street. Suddenly I got a great idea that him being kicked out would mean and empty seat. I walked back in and the lady was still standing there. I walked up and politley asked if that he being kicked out meant a free seat. She said that I should stop hanging around the area or security would have to escort me out. I was shocked!! I walked out trying to hold the tears back. I was angry at Conan for a while. But im over it now. I was going to buy some Conan souveneirs, but I was too angry too while I was in New York. And i was scared about being thought of as a stalker. So i never entered the NBC building again.

The David Letterman Debacle

On the same day as the Conan Debacle. I headed to Broadway and West 55th street to the Letterman show after queing for standby tickets. I love how in New York, the streets are all in numbers. Therefore you know exactly where things are because the streets numbers go up in order. Anway, I get to Letterman. Just as I get there the doors open for standby tickets. I thought it was fate. I was the first and only person there. Put my details down and the number of the hostel. Registered for 3 days (4 shows) because they film 2 on the monday. I had a real good feeling. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, No calls!. What annoyed me though. Was some middle aged annoying American guy in the hostel just was walking past the theatre, and they handed him a ticket. On the last day in New York i tried to ask for tickets at the door, but no luck. So much wasted effort!

The Hostel

The hostel was pretty good. Allowed me to experience Harlem. It was pretty new and there wasnt any Australians apart from one who arrived near the end. My experience there was a little bizzare. In my dorm room of 10 beds there was a mixed bunch. Couple of people were people from New York, the rest of the people that came in were tourists. Met a couple of real good people such as a Russian girl called Natasha (see below) and a Brazilian guy called Allonis (see below), and a cool New Yorker called David. There was a crazy guy in the room called Mark who would just lay there and complain about not sleeping and not eating. He looked crazy and he proved it one day when me and David were talking in the room and he stormed in and accussed us of stealing from him. He didnt say what it was, just that we stole something and then took his gear and left. I never saw him again until he appeared on the last night I was there and apoligised - sort of. He was an example of what New York can do to people. So many rough people in New York who look like they are going to flip it. You always see the real life versions of the cliches of people yelling at people on the street,  in the subway.  Everyday I had a person come up to me and ask for a quarter. For such a "great country" why is there so many homeless! Every subway trip has a person telling a story out loud of being homeless, or a blind man bumping into you asking for money. I even saw a guy routinely stand at a phone and pretend to need a quarter for a call. At first I thought he was genuine. Then I saw him do the same trick each day. hehe

There were a few bad things about the hostel. The first was the Internet. 1 dollar for 10 minutes. Cheap actually compared to the rest of New York. Usually 10 dollars and hour. I even went and joined the library on my last day to catch up on these stupid blogs. I had to fill out an application and make a reservation for later that day, plus get my bag searched 6 times, just to use it for 45 min. The other bad thing about the hostel, apart from the fact that it didnt have a kitchen, was that it had a mouse problem. Well, New York has a rodent problem i think. See Rats everywhere! In our room, at night you could always here a mouse running around the room somewhere. I was terrified!

Seinfield (probably only Harris will like this one)

The day of Seinfield was the beginning of taking it easy in New York. It was my 4th day there and I was over waking up early to see sights and queue for shows. I had booked a few weeks ago, to go and do a tour with the real Kramer. It started off in a little room inside a theatre, where Kramer puts a bus load of people in a room and talks about his life and the show. It was bizzare how many Aussies there were. Kramer said that Australia is the most Seinfeld obsessed country. Mainly because at the time we didnt really have cable. I learnt a lot of stuff. I didnt know Kramer was actaully a stand up comedian and that he actually lived across from Larry David (creator of the show). Kramer and Larry lived in an aparment complex for entertainers and the real Kramer still lives there now. I didnt know all the characters were real life people in some way. Larry David is the real George. He has complexes about people not liking him. He had a Girlfriend who is his now his friend. The real Elaine. Larry always hated Jerry Seinfeld in real life, but Jerry liked him, so they ended up making a show. I also didnt know the show was never ever filmed in New York. Even Jerrys building is in LA and has Earthquake support on the outised. All the scenes that were actaully done in New York, were stunt doubles and filmed from behind or on the side.

It was great just to meet the real Kramer. He is raking it in. Its suprising he still does the tours too. Its amazing how many stories on the show are based on little things that happened in his life and Larrys. Its also amazing how much Larry is like George Kastanza. He has been doing it for 11 years. I cant believe I got a photo with him.  I also got some awesome souveneirs and Junior Mints were handed out on the journey. Cant wait to tell yah about it Harris!

Natasha and Allonis

In the bunk bed above me was Natasha. A russian who was working in Jersey but came to New York for a holiday. We became friends and hung out in New York. Along with Allonis while he was there.  One night we went searching for a bar. We ended up in the old Hells Kitchen (now called Clinton - Kramers Neighbourhood). It was NFL playoff night and the Irish bar had so many TV screens. Samuel Adams was tried but then I switched to the always nice Hoegarden. I stole another glass! (see pics). Natasha is great. Russian attitude (she will hate me saying that!!) doesnt know how to whisper in a dorm room and for some reason wants to be told fairytales at 3am in the morning. She also cant whisper in a movie theatre! We saw Night at the Museum at this massive Cinema at Times Square. Has something like 25 screens and its one of those places like Livo, where you can sneak into as many as you want once your in. Saw that Pans Labyrinth which was odd. Natahsa was great to hang out with, and had the best day of her life when she went to Conney Island (see below). Please note if you are reading this Natasha. I am just stirring you. Please take a Chill Pill. She might come and kill me for joking about her haha.

Then there was Allonis. Really, really nice guy. I hate meeting all these nice people then you never see them again. Or at least not for a long time. Allonis was so nice, that on his last day, he bought his mother Paris Hilton perfume. He bought himself some aftershave, and for his future girl friend. He bought her perfume. It was hillarous, he doesnt have a GF yet. But he bought Perfume for a future GF. Thats like buying a wedding ring for a future wife or something. Funny guy.

The Coney Island Debacle

It was decided long ago after watching Seinfeld. That when going to New York, I have to go to Coney Island! I still remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry goes with the naked man to Coney Island, Kramer goes to the bookies and George gets robbed in the hotel.  Who could forget the song  "My baby takes the morning train!". Sunday seemed like a good day to go to Coney Island. I conviced Natasha that it was a quick 20 minute Subway trip and that it would be the best day of her life.

So there we are on the subway. Sitting and sitting. After an hour we had to transfer to a different line and then sit another hour on the train. There went from lots of people on the train to none. Coney Island isnt really an island its just the other side of Brooklyn where it meets the water. We finally got to Coney Island station. The weather was bad but it didnt matter. We get off the station and its ghost town. Across the street there is a gang or two but no one else. Whats this! None of the rides are going. Its Closed!!! We saw a sign saying that it was closed for the season. I was shattered! But it was funny in a way. To go all that way for nothing. It didnt even occur to me that it might be closed. Still, Natasha and I walked around the area, it had a cool little beach and a jetty thingy. People fishing and stuff. Coney Island area looks so 80s and depressing. Especially when the sky is grey and the old rides arent going. I was kicking myself that it was closed because i saw a game that said, life person paintball shooting range. I could have got to shoot some live targets with a paintball gun!

It sort of made the day that it was closed. Its a sort of Brett Harden luck thing. The story of my life. For Natasha. It was the best day of her life.


I ended up staying an extra night in New York. For a few reasons. One was that I didnt know whether to go to Philedelphia or Washington. I had just watched Rocky at the movies and was so pumped to go run up the Rocky stairs. I thought better about my money situation and decided that would be something to do another time in my life. Besides, i needed someone to hold the camera and film me while i ran up the stairs. Washington... was completley booked out for the next day, im sure i could have found somewhere, but I was lazy. Natahasa, Allonis, David, everyone I had met had left the hostel. So i thought I would just use the next day to catch up on things and relax. I could also get half price on the bus to washington if i left it another day. 20 buck i got it for.

I didnt relax the last day. Instead I rushed around last minute sightseeing. I took a trip to the bronx and checked out Yankee stadium. Although not game time. It had a cool gift shop. Everything was so expensive, and for once I controlled myself and bought nothing. Every single person in New York wears a yankee hat. And although the Yankees are cool, I was turned off because it just seemed to main stream.

Hanging out in New York

I spent a lot of days aimlessously wandering around New York. There is so much to see, that you spend a whole week constantly going from place to place and time flies by. Another reason why I am so behind in the diary thingy. Theres so many things I missed out on doing.

New York is exactly like the movies potray it most of the time. A lot of people are rude just like in the movies. Its an amazing place. It is like "The City" of the world. Has everything you can find. I found like the best thai food shop in the world on a side street off time square. It was sad to leave New York.  But i had some great experiences and meet some real great people. And that David guy I mentioned is apparently going to be a famous music producer guy, so remember his picture.

I couldnt live hear though. It makes you too tough, too hard i reckon. Now i can sing the Qantas song. Ive been to cities that never close down. New york to Rome and Old London town.... Insert Napolean Dyanamite... Yes!!.....
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