New New York

Trip Start Mar 25, 2013
Trip End May 09, 2013

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Flag of United States  , New York
Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yo. I'm sitting at my departure gate at JFK airport, about to fly to London. This is the end of my 2 weeks in New York, and my 6 weeks in America. Steve flew back to Australia earlier this afternoon. We said our tearful goodbyes today. Not really, but I was sad to see him go. I won’t see him again for at least another 8 months. And it was the final severing of ties with family until I return to Oz next year. Even though Steve and I annoyed each other at times, and had different ideas about travelling, I’m really glad I had him by my side throughout these past 6 weeks in America. I think one day we’ll look back and I’ll say "remember that time we travelled around America for 6 weeks?" and he’ll say, “Yes. Yes I do.”

So yeah I’ve been in NY for the past 2 weeks. Sorry for the lack of updates, but accessing computers and internets has again been difficult. Good news is I have a netbook now! Finally. Luckily a friend of a friend – Ronnie – happened to be selling his old netbook, and I got it off him 4 cheap. Although meeting with this guy to get the laptop didn’t go quite so smoothly. We met up at a McDonalds in Queens. We were there for a while, and the manager told us we had to order something or get out. Straight away Ronnie was aggressive and confrontational, saying we had the right to be there under penal code 256 etc. And he started filming them on his iphone and yelling “go ahead! Kick me out. I have a youtube channel with over 4,000 subscribers. Go ahead!” I was just sitting there awkwardly looking at the ground. I eventually convinced him that we should leave. One of the Maccas employees insulted him and called him a scared little shit as we left. Muy embarrassing. But hey, at least I got my laptop.

NY was awesome. Looking at Manhattan from the other side of the East River, or from the observation deck of the Empire State building, you can just sense how thriving and busy it is. Helicopters continually buzz about over the skyline, ferries pass back and forth, cars and taxis honk and hustle their way through the streets. You look at the countless skyscrapers, and imagine all the people working and all the cash and capitalism flowing. The bars are always full, the subway packed and tourists mill about Times Square. One of the things I enjoy about big cities is just walking the streets, gazing up at the impressive buildings and down at the passing people. NY is the perfect city for that. And it’s not just skyscrapers and high rise apartments. There are quieter areas, narrow side-streets with nice old brownstone apartments, and chic neigbourhoods and villagers with  little bars, coffee shops, parks and museums.

One of the highlights (or two of the highlights I guess), was getting to be in the studio audience for tapings of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. Jon and Stephen (especially Stephen) are two of my heroes, and are a big part of the reason I got into US Politics. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the studios unfortunately, so I’ll just have to set the scene with my amazing descriptive powers. Jon and Stephen were really friendly and interactive with the audience, coming out before the show to chat and answer questions. Colbert even chose me to ask a question. I asked him “which superheroes would you choose as room mates?” He was a bit taken aback by the question, but came up with some funny answers. Both him and Jon were really quick on their feet and witty with their responses to the fans’ questions. And they were really warm and appreciative of their fan base, which, as an unabashed fanboy, was heartening to see. Stephen especially. His sister, a politician, had just lost a tight race for a Congress seat in South Carolina. Stephen said after the show that when he came out, he was in a really bad mood, but that we lifted his spirits and that he loved each and every one of us, especially Michael Raphael who has come here all the way from Australia. And the actually taping of show was interesting to witness. For the most part it was really smooth and professional. Although there were a couple of hiccups with Stephen’s taping. Once he fluffed his lines; but he recovered really quickly and resumed. And another time we cheered for too long after the return from an ad break, and he had to tell us to stop being so boisterous. So yeah it was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my trip.

Another one of my favourite things about NY was Central Park. It’s such a big, beautiful place, and it’s amazing to think that there’s this huge chunk of nature and greenery in the middle of THE metropolis. I read that the property value of the land alone is estimated at 500 billion dollars. I went to the park a few times, mainly on weekend when there were heaps of people out enjoying the sunshine. The huge reservoir/lake in the centre of the park is beautiful, and looking at the sudden wall of buildings that rises at the edge of it is an awesome sight. And there’s a medieval style castle on top of an outcrop, with nice views from the top.  The park has a huge variety of landscapes and activities, like tennis & basketball courts, softball fields, lawns, playgrounds, other shit. And sah many squirrels! Prospect Park in Brooklyn was also sweet. It’s not as maintained and pretty as Central Park, but it has less of that man-made feel.

Brooklyn itself is really cool. We actually stayed there for a few days with our friend Josh. He has a sweet little apartment in Bushwick, so we crashed on the couch there. We walked through Bedford-Stuy aka tha ghetto. So it was nice to live through that. Williamsburg is alright, although we only got time to check out a couple of bars. So we didn’t get the full on hipster experience. I was pretty stunned by Greenwich village. Never seen such a high concentration of beautiful people in my life. All wearing trendy clothes, being gay, going to hip bars, with their $20 haircuts.

The museums in NY were aight. The Guggenheim was a bit of a let down. But that was mainly cos they were mainly showing the work of these Japanese avant-garde artists. For me abstract/post-modern/whatever art can be a bit hit and miss; this one definitely missed. But the architecture of the Guggenheim itself was interesting. Moma was ok too. Avoided most of the too modern stuff and just focused on the Impressionist and Futurist pieces. The Met was easily the best, and freest, of all the NY museums. The ancient Egypt, and ancient Greek & Roman sections were awesome. You read in textbooks about the achievements of these civilizations, but this was the first time I had experienced it up close. The advances in art these societies made thousands of years ago is really impressive - from the fine detail of pottery, jewelry and sculptures, to the monumental statues and crypts. You feel really privileged to be able to see it all in person, all these thousands of years later.

Other things I liked about NY: the Brooklyn Bridge. The walk over it is amazing. Such sweet views of Manhattan. And the bridge itself is this hundred-and-thirty year-old steel and stone beast. Steve and I also went to a really cool gig. We saw Flying Lotus play at Terminal 5. The venue itself was cool; had like multiple levels of balconies. Reminded me of the video clip from Thunderstruck by AC/DC, with all the prisoners in the cell. The gig itself was amazing; it’s safe to say that FlyLo rocked the house, brought the funk, and blerked the plerp. And the visuals were spectacular. FlyLo was in between two transparent screens with psychedelic visuals (think Windows Media Player visualiser). You could just make out his outline, so it was really trippy. The 9/11 memorial was also good. Didn’t really expect much of it; but it was really touching. The two memorial pools, with water cascading into a bottomless void, are really beautiful.

The food in NY was great. Had my first ever bagels there :O they were delish. Hot bagel, crunchy onion on the outside, soft inside schmeared with olive cream cheese. Mmmm think I’m gonna convert to Jewdaisms. The pizza was big, cheap and greasy. 99c slices are a godsend. The hotdogs from the street vendors were disappointing. I was expecting nasty hotdogs, the size of tree trunks and with questionable ingredients. Instead they were these pathetic little wieners that didn’t taste like anything. A better meal from the street carts was all the halal food. If you’re looking for a good falafel sandwich, hit up my man Sam on the corner of Lexington and Bullshit Avenue. I also had my most expensive meal for my whole trip in NY. It was a sandwich. My most expensive meal for the whole trip was a sandwich. It was a reuben from Katz Deli. It was piled high with delicious pastrami, sauerkraut, cheese and pickles, on rye bread. It was delicious, but not worth $18. Aaand on that note, this blog entry comes to an end. And this whole blog for the American trip actually! I’ll create a separate blog for Europe to make it easier. Adios

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Lia on

Nice one Michael. BTW, you ate olives???

mikeraph on

No not olives. never. It was olive cream cheese or something.. I know travelling is all about trying new things... But fuck olives

Lia on

Haha. A definite no then!!

Lia on

Wonderful, wonderful photos Michael. Well done.

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