Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Letter from New York City # 2

Well its the end of our last full day in New York and its been quite an amazing day. After having a wee rest in the morning we decided to head over to hipster central, Williamsburg.
We had reports of good bars and good places to eat. This turned out to be true. The actual tube journey across the river on the M line was pretty epic on its own, massive views over the NY skyline & the east river. After some wandering around we found our first sight, a latino jazz band playing outside a tiny bar! We stopped for ten minutes to have a listen and watch the hipsters shaking their hips before leaving to find more excitement.

A few wrong turns and a water stop later and we found our way to the main street. Most of the shops were shut but we did find a nice wee bar called Iona. After a round of drinks we headed out the back to the beer garden, complete with ping pong table. Its amazing how tired you get playing ping pong in 28 degrees heat. During a break I enjoyed listening to some Twilight Sad while thinking about the rest of our trip. When we went back inside the football was on, we discovered the most of NY doesnt give a fuck about the footy, therefore by default it becomes an underground things and therefore hip by default. The folk in the bar were loving it, every time Spain got with in 50 meters of the goal they got audiably excited!

Unfortunately Liam had to leave to get a train up state to see his auntie, leaving me on my own in hipster ville. Thats when the fun really began. After leaving the bar I went to explore some more and was amazed to see around 20 kids on skateboards cruising down the street. Suddenly it dawned on me, 21st June, International Go Skate day! The streets were filled with people and every few blocks I could hear live bands playing in the streets! The first group were like a soul / funk / hip hop / god speed style violins band, pretty mixed up and pretty damm good! the second group seemed to fit all the NY hipster stereotypes, hot female singer, cool keyboards & guitars, sultry vocals ala slowdive and some good tunes. They were Small Devices and this was only their second gig, at 2pm out side a clothing store in the baking heat on a Monday afternoon! I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

After wandering around some more and getting some food I made my way back to the tune station. Along the way I found a cool statue that was being skated by some kids, Avril 14th by Aphex Twin played as I watched the kids skate away having the time of their lives. Everything is so photogenic here, I was completely amazed how much I snapped in one day. Good thing I brought the AE-1 since Liam's SD Card decided to pack in during out trip to Toys 'R' Us yesterday. You cant beat 35mm negatives! Unless you have a large format plate camera like the guys standing at the top of the road, too hip man!

After a contemplative ride back up to Lexington (I managed to get off at the wrong tube again, ten blocks from where I should have been / length of Union Street) I decided to take part in Go Skate day. I grabbed Kit's longboard and fired out the door heading straight for Central Park. There are cycle paths and roads which go all around the park and they seemed pretty smooth. It took a little bit of getting used to as the board is completely flat and its very different from skating a normal short board. The first ten minutes were fine until I seemed to be taking a corner straight into a hill leading to a gnarly S bend. I tried to get a foot off to slow down but instantly got speed wobble and realised I was commited to this ride regardless of the out come!

Luckily I managed to avoid the only pot holes in the whole of Central Park, right in my path as I'm doing about 30mph! I haven't felt that way in a long time, those flashing images to wheels stopping dead, bones crucnching on hard concrete, the ripping of flesh on gravel. Thankfully I came out the other end and felt fucking amazing, over come by joy and pain from tensing my legs so much! After cruising for a little bit I had the greatest feeling of being glad to be alive. I think it comes from losing friends and feeling the fragility of human life and maintaining a very deep respect for it. I wanted to dedicate the lap of Central Park to those friends who are sorely missed.

I met a nice young dude from South Africa called Moukie, he very kindly took a snap of me with the longboard and my Kaplank Kapow seagull tee, figured since I'm here I might as well try and get some snaps for Patty and the boys. A mellow skate around the park followed by watching the sunset over the New York skyline made for a perfect evening, complete with iPod mix of M83, Broken Social Scene, Efterklang, K of C and a few others. Skating as fast as I could to Teen Angst arms aloft was pretty special! I think the view of the NYC skyline over the lake in Central Park is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I even shed a tear thinking about Moose and wishing he could have been there to see it too.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to New York and jump on the Megabus to Toronto, I didn't have any expectations of New York but next time I come back I will and I'm pretty sure they will all be blown out of the water by this amazing city!