I'm in a New York state of mind...

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of United States  ,
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ten years ago, I sat here, on a staircase, with my family eating a cheese sandwich. now, I stare across an empty expanse - a haunting, howling wind accompnying the solo jackhammer. The staircase is gone, replaced by tributes, now more than 5 years old, flapping in the breeze. The golden afternoon sun reflects off the surrounding buildings, some of them surviving only through the support of scaffold, as the ghost of something monumental lingers unmistakably - the enormous nothingness in downtown manhattan as stunning, striking as the original, towering structures that once stood here. Wilst I watch a photo of people looking up in horror, people walk past, laughing, gossiping. But at this point - a first return; a first experience - I haven't words...

Enough has been written about the events of 9/11 from a far more considered, far more personal, far more informed position that I could ever hope to offer - and I will refrain from even attempting to say anything profound on the matter. But ground zero was shocking. Despite the countless images of 9/11 that I, we all, have witnessed - of the site itself, of the during and the aftermath, the endless, incredible stories - I still found myself quite unprepared for the reality of ground zero. A visit to ground zero is unique for every individual - a personal experience - memories, emotions, ideologies, politics all simultaneously flowin in one's mind - something that my words can probably not do justice to. But, to me, the experience was astounding, moving, eerie, stimulating, sometimes overwhelming. A cell phone rings. Brooklyn accents make plans for tonight. New York continues...

And how. With sophistication. With a resilient grace. With its famously beautiful romance. Admittedly, I have watched way too many Woody Allen movies. And admittedly, I've always loved New York. But it's romance is everywhere - oozing down the never-ending, man-made gorges of the avenues; from the light smoke rising through the midtown manholes; from the elegance of the early 20th century architecture; the skating in central park; the way the Brooklyn Bridge stretches to the lower Manhattan skyline at night; even in the tacky-splendour of Times Square - the kind of scenes that you perpetually imagine in black and white. Admittedly, I have watched way too many Woody Allen movies...

From the top of the Rockefeller Center, the views of New York are almost without peer, as you see the city expand below like a model plan - a lego city constructed on the games room floor. The freezing breeze gusts toward the Empire State Building, once again the city's summit, as a silouhette of the Statue of Liberty, beyond the farthest reaches of downtown, seemingly salutes it, or perhaps the refined and immaculate Chrysler Building. A trillion yellow cabs scurry along the grid below like ants, individually but with a common goal. The dead central park extends uptown - grey, white brown - bounded by the gorgeous, ridiculous mansionson 5th Avenue and Central Park West. Dog walkers of the rich wait by trees. And all around, a glamorous panorama, the city expands - outward, upward, downward. I look down, again amazed by this city that I've always loved, and contemplate my problem...

My problem is that New York is just way too big for this blog. So way too fucking big. It's reallyquite a stress. In fact, last night, I woke up in a cold sweat - admittedly party induced by a massive night in the east village - but mainly due to blog-related anxiety. I like to call it BRA because that's what it's called. in fact, I was reading in New Scientist that it's actually the 2nd fastest growing syndrome amongst bloggers after asthma. Anyway, I was having this dream. I was at this enormous museum - a single, behemoth of a museum which was a combination of the huge Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exceptional and classy Museum of Modern Art and the architecturally splendorous Guggenheim - and I had to try and work out what the fuck was going on with tipping. Fucking tipping. Indeed, this is a major cause of anxiety for a tourist in the USA. Mainly because the whole system is ridiculous and fucked up. Tip 15 - 20% in a restaurant? Apparently. Is that on the tax amount? And how many taxes are added? Oh. But - huh - $1 a drink? What the fuck? Ok. But don't tip at the deli? Alright. Or at the cafe? Oh - only that cafe. And so my dream proceeded, evaluating all of the scenarios until my dream became a scene from Reservoir Dogs - "Why don't you tip at McDonalds?"

Why don't you tip at McDonalds?

Last night, due to BRA, I awoke in a cold sweat shouting "Why don't you tip at McDOnalds?"...

Why the fuck is it called the Big Apple? Don't make no sense to me. Of all New York's famous nicknames - 'the city that never sleeps', 'the city so nice they named it twice', 'the City of the Devil of the Death from Hell' - the Big Apple is easily, comprehensively, the most ridiculous. And although there is undoubtedly some historic reason for it, the justification for it is beyond me. I mean, it ain't that sweet. Nor crunchy. Not really green or red either. Does it look like an apple in shape? Perhaps. Dunno really. Although I wil concede that it is big. Is it meant to suggest some religious connotation - an Adan and Eve like temptation? And I don't even really like apples - especially if I've just brushed my teeth. And does the existence of a Big Apple imply the existance of an ordinary or small apple? Comparing fruit seems ridiculous to me, at least since sitting through foolish job interviews: "so if you had to compare yourself to a fruit - what would it be?"
Apparently, corporate jobs are most suitable to grapes for their ability to function both in a team and individually. Like taxis. Thankfully, I'm more of a guava, papaya or lychee. Or as some people say - banana. And, in my opinion, New York would more appropriately be compared to a Rambutan...

A tribute

The tragedy of soldiers lost at the death of a war - in its final hours; as the curtain hangs ready to wall. A week from home, after years of valiant service, a year in the most trying to circumstances, iRiver H300 - RiverMasterRiv, 'Mighty Riva' - fell: kidnapped, missing, presumed unrecoverable. The world will never see the likes of RivMasterRiv again - its eclectic music collection unmatched; the photos of this world irretrievable; the friendship treasured. It will never again play 'Especially for You' at the end of a Mt Lawley party; never announce a day new day with a Chopin Ballade; never tune into a random Bolivian radio station for the repetitive pulse of Reggaeton; never inspire a road trip with 'Seven Nation Army'. But we will always have the memories: of the night trains of China; of Vinny Grella's Mum's Vanny Van Van Van's arrival into a World Cup city; of the countless journeys where it has sung to me - an inanimate companion on this solo journey of the Devil of the Death from Hell. To RivMasterRiv - goodbye. THe world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.

And so to the Top 5. Not many cities are such an inspiration to the arts as New York is. In film, painting, photography. And music. As I've walked around this city, reading street signs, walking downtown, uptown, lyrics materialise in your mind - New York songs so entrenched in your mind they fade in as if from RivMasterRiv. And some of them sum up so well one's time in New York. With a tribute to the late RivMasterRv, here are the Top 5 songs on RivMasterRiv, that sum up this first week in New York:

5. Broadway - George Benson
"They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway..."
They are. The buzz of Times Square. The Theatre District. The energy. The sensory overload. The sheer commercialism. The essential tourist attraction.

4. Downtown - Petula Clark
"When you're alone and life is making you lonely You can always go - downtown."
Do it. So, I was staying in the upper west side at a pretty nice hostel when I thought - what am I doing? Petula Clark it up. East Village it up.
"Maybe you know some little places to go to where they never close - downtown."
That's right...

3. New York City Cops - The Strokes
'New York City Cops, New York City Cops, New York City Cops - they ain't too smart...'
So true. So, I had to go to make a statement regarding the stolen RivMasterRiv. Cop station. Not the most intelligent interaction with a person that I've ever experienced. The following are things actually said during the taking of this statement:
a) Me - 'perhaps we shoul say when I last saw the item.'
b) Cop - "there's an 'I' in dormitory?"
c) Me - I'm from Australia, no Austria.
Cop - Oh yeah. I always get them mixed up. They're so close to each other, y'know.

Yep. I don't think there's much hope of them finding RivMasterRiv.

2. New York State of Mind - Billy Joel

"Don't care if it's Chinatown or on Riverside"

Anywhere. Put me anywhere. I love it here. But Chinatown would be cool. There's been yum cha domination this week. And I mean fucking domination. Oh how I have longed for the comforting sensation of a yum cha induced illness from dumplings expanding in your stomach. Inability to walk? Brilliant. Chicken's feet me up...

1. A Helluva Town - Leonard Bernstein

"New York, New York, a helluva town.
The Bronx is up, but the Battery's down.
The people ride in a hole in the groun'.
New York, New York, it's a helluva town!"

A truer word has never been sung since "Ay ay ya Coco taxi"...

The final week. New York continues... Living the dream.
Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • Please enter a comment.
  • Please provide your name.
  • Please avoid using symbols in your name.
  • This name is a bit long. Please shorten it, or avoid special characters.
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address


the_stamms on

The Big Apple Means...
as a New Yorker and fellow traveler, glad you enjoyed the city! Just got back from a five month sejourn and am still figuring out how to re-adjust. Just plan the next trip is all I can cup up with...

As for the Big Apple, it has a long and somewhat confusing origin. In the beginning, a 'Big Apple' was given to the winning horse at many of the local races. In the 50s, the jazz slang incorporated the phrase. Anyone going to play at one of the NYC clubs was going to play for 'the Big Apple'.

9/11 was like a movie, but you're right - people move on. Everywhere. People keep living, and some of us keep traveling because we know it's what's so elementary true about being human.

Great blog, my friend...


Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: