Takin a chunk out of the hefty Granny Smith

Basking in the glory of our NYC karaoke debut, JD and I snoozed until 2 in the afternoon whilst AJ dealt with industry knobs all morning in a condition of furious hangover. We salvaged the day that would become choc full of wonderful touristy nuggets and moments of surreal action, hitting up the subway and venturing into the guts of town – beginning our adventure down at Grand Central Station and the surrounding downtown action.

In a flurry of yellow cabs and smooth, suited business folk, pretzel vendors and clusters of city cops, we flitted about fifth avenue and took in the magnitude of what lay in front of our hazy eyes. A city alive. On the move. Fast. Rapid. Chaos amongst order. In every conceivable direction, heads marched towards destinations with purpose and drive. Action, commotion and the nonchalant acceptance of it all. Meaty breeze flung my hair into dog’s breakfast as I trundled over the thick warmth emanating from out of steaming subway vents. We took a turn down Times Square as gargantuan billboards and advertisements overloaded our sentient systems with brutally mammoth and intense stimulation. To attempt to ‘people-watch’ around these parts is a recipe for total system overload. But it’s fun. Furiously tall skyscrapers team up in rows, as your eyes peer down avenues that seem to go on forever, boulevards to endless stretches of concrete jungle, and deep, clear sky gripping on at the very end of the line. It is breathtakingly monumental.
Monumentally breathtaking.

JD and I hauled ass to see it all. We made our presence felt outside Letterman’s Ed Sullivan theatre and Rupert G’s ‘Hello Deli, snapping the obligatory photo with a fairly tired looking Rupert, no doubt questioning the price of his quasi-fame when every prick and his dog comes in to his diner to claim a shot of his face. I ordered an ‘Alan Coulter’ sandwich (the bloodnut old-radio voice who spews schtick and the word 'Pants' at the end of each Letterman episode) whilst JD got a ‘Letterman’. We wandered further uptown to glorious Central Park as we shot the shit on life, travel and the multitudinous potential of the future, basking in the lush sun on a huge Central Park rock. It was there, looking around to the enormity of it all, in the leafy central lung of Manhattan island, that New York begun to filter my soul with a sense that all was possible here - a furious, relentlessly beating heart where anything and everything could happen if you possess the balls to have a crack.

We walked north, nearing the busy intersection of 72nd St on the Upper West side. The gothic magnificence of the eerie Dakota building on the corner shot electric chills throughout my body and spine. Lennon was shot by a lone gunman on that exact piece of concrete back on October 8, 1983. Across the road in Strawberry Fields, the heart of Lennon’s ongoing vigil, It was Love as usual for the endless stream of folk paying respect to the man whose visionary words and legacy continued to permeate humanity’s subconscious mind like cognitive glue; a dream that has still yet to manifest.

I was struggling to come to grips with how brilliant this city was. Moreover, it was becoming clear just how unique a time in history it was to be present in this wild corner of the world.

We took the subway downtown. The gaping whole where two World Trade Centre towers once used to plunge forth into the sky was headshakingly astonishing. I could only picture the scenes around me at that powerful moment back in September 2001. The panic, the shock. I could feel it all. Unassuming, innocent folk smashed into a state of fear at the menacing sight of the financial core of their city under attack. Seeing that hole was a reminder of all that went down in the last eight years. This murky, distressing, parallel reality of the ‘Era of Terrorism’; a carte blanche springboard for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Machavellian abuse of power and criminality of an administration that preferred to fuel fires and burn bridges than provide sound, humanitarian leadership. Standing at the heart of it all yielded a walk through the past, a reminder to not give in to a ‘short memory’. And the hope that a majority of Americans might do the same come November 4.

It wasn’t just the spectre of the last eight years under Bush, nor the looming vibe of a monumental election in the sights that gave me the sensation I’d come to visit the heart of the beast at the very point of its’ awakening.

Distant sun fell on Wall St.

Later in the night we’d find out that Wall St itself had fallen hard. It was the beginning rumble of an extremely uncertain period for the global financial structure and an unnerving time for the world. As my feet traipsed the concrete slabs of the heart of global finance, I was hit by the sensation of walking through the midst of a brewing storm, Suddenly, with the shockwaves of a corrupt, financial system devouring itself in the heart of a brewing Obama-McCain election, I found that I’d gained two front row seats to the advent of history being made by the minute.

On a leisurely walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, JD and I marvelled at the pink, streaked sky, the radiant sun signing off in the distance over lady liberty. We ventured back to the Marriot and begun to plan the evening’s conviviality as AJ continued to get pumped by work obligation. From various sources we’d heard that after all the students and bohemians got pushed out from Greenwich Village, the boho vibe shifted over to Williamsburg, a burgeoning neighbourhood parked across the river in nearby Brooklyn. With a reputation for fresh edginess and a swathe of hip, trendy bars and pubs we set off to check it out.

With little knowledge of the surrounding neighbourhoods we boarded a local bus, managing to get horribly lost on the edge of one of the shadiest, more dangerous neighbourhoods in Brooklyn. We got off the bus in an area one could only describe as seriously hardcore ‘Jewtown’ (particularly if your name is John Safran). Josh and I stuck out like gentile dog’s balls as we roamed streets pulsing with Hasidic Jews. Men all in black suits, 'kolpiks' and 'shtreimels' – big, oversized headgear, furry and shaped like a hairy spare tire, trundled about in every conceivable direction. For all I knew we’d taken a teleport to seventeeth century Ukraine. Or seventeenth century Ukraine had set up shop in the future in the guts of Brooklyn, NYC. It was full on. Interrupting two Hasidic blokes in full conversation for some directions, we entered a brief period of some real-life Larry David-esque comedy, as the two archetypes fought over which way was best. One said left, one said right. This was no help. But as the propensity of black n white, hatted Jewish folk dwindled, we found ourselves instead roaming the guts of a section of neighbourhood where it looked like people most likely got murdered; at very least brutally mugged or beaten to death with their own shoes. This was serious, raw ghetto. By now, slightly unnerved by the lack of human presence on the main streets, our stomach rumbled with the hungry of bastards, getting gradually more frustrated with this ridiculous and confusing journey through Jewtown and the hood, unlikely gangsters from a foreign land desperate for a slice of pizza and some beer, and not for a cap in the ass.

We finally made it over to the Williamsburg we were looking for and settled into a cosy bar for 32 oz polystyrene vats of Bud Lite. A local would later sum up my disdain for American beer, quote "American beer is just like having sex on a boat - it's fucking close to water". AJ would join us later in the night. We drank heartily and took it all in, venturing homeward sometime after four-thirty via an all night bakery run by an eccentric, Argentinian baker who was candid enough to declare his hatred toward pastries. After chewing a piece of his cheesecake, Josh requested that he reel off the line “Eello, my little friend” in an archetypal druglord wisp. Despite not exactly colloquially accurate, angry little baker man amused us greatly, complying with the tasty treats as well as hilarious oracular Scarface impersonation.

Stumbling back into largesse we three Kings crashed for the second night spectacularly, not before a quick prank call back to our old workplace where we attempted a mock booking with one of our none-the-wiser former colleagues.
New York had again proved its worth in spades.
Another fabulous night for the annals and the commencement of a brand new era.
New York had captured me.

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