May 5th, 2004.

Notes from New York.
An unfinished 'Meanwhile.'

The following article was left unfinished and unedited and should be read as such. Notes can be found below the article.

New York City welcomes me with rain as the Fung Wah bus from Boston pulls into Chinatown. I find my hotel in the East Village. Hotel 17, apparently Woody Allen and Madonna stayed here but I'm guessing that's before the world knew who Woody Allen and Madonna were. The desk clerk is careful not to use all his friendliness up on me as I check-in.

The hotel room is small and has two styles of wallpaper. Three walls have an appalling flower pattern that makes me feel like I am in a drug-induced state. The other wall is striped, but it's been put on slightly wrong giving the illusion that the wall and door are lopsided. The room is basic in a rather charmless way and two nights will be enough.

I walk up Broadway and look for somewhere to have dinner. I find a nice very contemporary looking place, but the menu in the window has no prices -you know what they say; if you have to ask the price...

At a more affordable place to eat the pretty waitress flirts just enough to ensure a good tip but not enough to cause any awkward moments. Subway trains pass below vibrating the restaurant with a low frequency that nobody pays the slightest bit of attention to.

After dinner I walk down Broadway and into The Strand bookstore. A New York times photographer snaps a few pictures of me as I browse books. She strikes up a conversation with me based upon the fact I am wearing a RedSox cap. That happens a lot when you wear a Boston RedSox cap. I buy a book and leave.

I walk all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge and walk across it. The rain is now hard and it's miserable and cold. NO ONE else is there, not a soul! The air smells of traffic below. The clouds are low seemingly resting atop of the lit skyscrapers.

It's nearly 11pm and I am cold and tired so I decide to wander back to the hotel. I don't go direct, instead, I end up taking a detour to Times Square. I Get a coffee and an apple-pie just off the square it stops raining and I take a bunch of pictures of taxi cabs and just stand there taking in the colors and atmosphere despite being tired.

I eventually return to the hotel at nearly 1am. This is the city that famously never sleeps. But I am tired and so while New York city stays up, I go to bed.

--- Day 2 ---

I get up relatively early and walk down to Union Square subway and just catch a subway going anywhere, no plan for the day. It's sunny and warm.

At 34th Street a man is dancing with a doll of a woman with an impossibly slim body and a very scary face.

I walk around taking pictures, looking up at the Chrysler Building, and just people watching in Grand Central Station. I go to the empire state building but the line for tickets is VERY long so I decide to come back later after dark. I've been up it once in the day already a few years back.

Near Hunter College just off 66th street I find a park and just chill and snooze in the sun there for a while. I lay on the grass finding faces in the clouds slowly moving across the sky above as planes look like lost kites as their vapor trails fade behind them.

Dinner at the Gramercy cafe. Spoke with a couple of pleasant ladies about great big portions.

After dinner, I take the Subway to Brooklyn Bridge. Walk across it taking pictures. Tonight is a beautiful eve and so there are many people, as opposed to last night when there were almost none.

Get to the other side and walk down to the shoreline next to a restaurant. I take pictures of the skyline as night falls. It seems strange that the twin towers aren't there. Still hard to get used to, and as a person who likes skyscrapers it's a loss - but maybe don't say that.

Walk to a park just the other side of the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn side, and take a few more pics. Catch a cab to get to the Empire State. It's 9:40. He's not going that way he says, but without charge, he drives me to a taxi line and I catch a taxi to Empire State with a guy who asks me over and over the same questions in a baltic accent, Russian maybe? "Where you from" "What you do" "You visiting?"

At the Empire State building the line is dramatically shorter. At the top it's busy. I gaze across at the downtown area just listening to the city. I do a round without taking pictures, just allowing myself to take it all in, then one taking pictures.

I stay there for a long time. In the end, I am the last person to leave at just before midnight. I make a quick purchase of a drink and a candy bar at some store on 5th then walk down to the Flatiron building and down broadway all the way to 17th and the hotel. It's been a long day. I fall into bed and quickly into a deep sleep.

--- Day 3 ---

Wake at 9:30. Gramercy Cafe (17th and 3rd) for breakfast. It's full of cop cadets. I have pancakes and bacon with maple syrup coffee and orange juice. I read the Onion, and listen to a conversation of some poeple sitting near me
"You see Jenny thinks of family in a way different to us, she doesn't consider us family."
"Yeah yeah"
"But then the thing happened suddenly.."
"But since then, nothing."

Outside a person tries to parallel park. Americans astound me with how bad they are at parking. I comment to some guy on the next table from me, he agrees and says that he'd never own a car. We have a brief conversation about that while he collects his coat and him and the younger lady he was with walk off.

Walk to Union Square. It's farmers market day, place lively and colorful. In the park, a line of children walk hand-in-hand behind their teacher. A guy asks me for some money to help the homeless and says he started the big issue in the UK.

I walk past some young 'alternative types' talking about music.
"He just picks random words out of the dictionary, that's why his lyrics make no sense."

I look up and see a single red balloon ascending over the rooftops with colorful ribbon trails. It's free at last and soaring to dizzying unexplored heights it's newfound freedom unaware perhaps that this glorious first flight will also be it's last.

My MTA card needed recharging before boarding the subway. As the subway car doors close a recording of a friendly sounding man says "Stand clear of the closing doors." A young guy reads pearl jam dvd while his friend sits with a guitar chatting to two girls one of whom keeps flicking her hair and smiling at him. She's trying hard to be noticed, but it doesn't look like he's at all interested in her. A pregnant woman applies lipstick as train jogs from side to side, her lips are now firetruck red and ready for whatever firetruck red lips are needed for.

I get out at 57th street walk to Central park which is 151 years old.

A fat lady in a black T-shirt with no bra walk past me and smiles. He ample boobs wobble freely like they're trying to escape from her T-shirt that reads "Pillow talk is extra."

There's a young woman sitting on a bench playing the violin. Not for money, just for fun as power walkers, cyclists joggers all wearing earphones pass her. A very large man is among them, his running clothes are soaked, and though he is barely going faster than most people walk he looks like he might collapse at any moment.

There are squirrels and the smell of freshly cut grass.

I sit by the lake and watch a goose come in to land. Decending from a hight and then changing direction as he approaches the landing, then lowers his legs like landing gear on a plane just before he lands on the water.

Swiss Cottege is shrowded by bloom. Transplanted directly from Switzerland to New York Central Park. That's odd isn't it I guess someone hated leaving Switzerland at some stage and now everyone can love a little of their 'back home.' A short walk through Shakespeare's garden to Belvedere Castle that isn't much of a castle in terms that I am familiar with, nor as old either. It's a picturesque little fort overlooking Turtle pond that was formerly known as Belverdere pond I think (maybe check that).

Up to the Reservoir. Two pretty girls from Europe, one blonde, one Brunette, ask me to take their picture. Their accents will win them as many admirers as their looks I'm sure. I then stroll along the runner's path at a far more sedate and relaxed pace than those around me. Even the swallows diving over the surface of the water seem like maybe they're just doing that to stay in shape.

I exit the park at Engineers gate and grab a hot dog and a Pepsi for lunch. Onions, ketchup, and mustard. I watch the world pass then walk down the Museum mile to the Guggenheim, a building that while spectacular in design is in dire need of some serious attention from the looks of it. Its white exterior is aging badly and cracking like the face of God.

Passing the Metropolitan Museum of art there are people sitting out front on the steps. Hawkers and street traders peddle their warez, pictures of New York, and other such things meant to lighten the load carried by tourists in their wallets.

I have a street artist draw a caricature of me for $5. A black girl and two of her friends (one boy and a girl) watch as the guy draws me. She's talkative and flirty so I ask her to snap a couple of pics of him drawing. She accepts and takes many, her friend keeps saying "Come on, we're going to be late."

Crossing to 5th Ave a Posh lady walking dog stops for a moment then leans forward and gently spits on the street. What the fuck lady?!

I walk a little further then jump on the subway to Soho then find my way to Canal Street and Chinatown. I wander in and out of shops selling cheap goods that look like maybe we should call them bads.

Do I now "heart" New York? I don't think so. It takes a little more than a T shirt for me to declare my love for something, but like when Harry Met Sally, New York and I didn't get off to the best of starts years ago, but we've got past that now, I can definitely we're friends.

--- Article Notes ---

Time of death : Not specified
These are my very rough diary notes from three days in New York City. It's from scribbles like these that I'll come up with a 'Meanwhile.' In the end I never expanded on these notes but while upgrading the 'Meanwhile' website in 2020 I found these notes and decided they deserved a place here.