Archive for the 'walkabout' Category

new york i love u, but u’re bringing me down: part 10

And……. I’m back!

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new york i love u, but u’re bringing me down: part 9

And now for the final instalment; I’m showered and ready to sleep, need to wake up in 5 hours to catch my bus to JFK, so now’s a good time as any to update on the past 3 days:

Friday night:
I went to the Bowery at 8 to get tickets for the gig but was super early so went to walk around. Found Little Italy which was really prettily done up for Xmas, but stupidly forgot to take photos. Walked around Chinatown for a bit also. I realised I’d been walking around in the open for over an hour when I realised I’d lost feeling in my face cos of the cold, so then I went back to the Bowery Ballroom.

The first band, Blacklist had already started, and they were a super emo band with the requisite floppy hair and skinny ties. Somemore the song titles were like “When Worlds Collide” and “Flight“. OMFG lor.

2nd band, the Giraffes on the other hand, are responsible for my best time in New York so far. They’re like blues-metal, kinda Rob Zombie actually. Loads of hardcore shredding and swigging Jack Daniels onstage. And they were funny! Also, during their set I totally noticed 2 girls checking me out. Like for reals.

But then I went to pee and realised my fly was open. Cannot help lah. Giraffes were so good I had to rock out with my cock out.


Check out the Christ pose. So appropriately seasonal somemore.

3rd band were the Cloud Room of Hey Now Now fame. Meh. Pretty boring. The guy really sounds like the singer from Simple Minds, which are like a subpar U2.

Finally were the headliners, A Place to Bury Strangers, allegedly New York’s loudest band. Ok only lah. I’ve seen Mogwai play before lor. Clothes will flutter one leh. Not to mention the time I caught the DJ set by Justice, which had my ears ringing for week. APTBS actually sound like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, yet another Jesus and Mary Chain-esque band. But they did bring on a hot blonde for vocals on their last song. Hot.


Check out the fishnets. Hot.

Saturday:
Supposed to be a sunny day, so I decide to finally do Brooklyn Bridge.


Marvel of engineering, yes. But the wind was freaking cold.


Here I am on the Brooklyn side, looking back to Manhattan.

It was too cold out, so I only spent like an hour walking around the area near the bridge and then took the subway back. Did some last minute gift-shopping for a bit. Decided to queue up at the 5th Ave Abercrombie & Fitch to see what the fuss was. Cos there’s always a queue outside. Quite a madhouse inside, just loads of people grabbing essentially very basic collegiate shirts and things. But then got half-naked male model wearing only jeans. Maybe thats why. And I noticed all the female sales people were Wonderbra’d to the max. Like seriously up there. Good marketing strategy.

After going back to the apartment to chill for a bit, I took the subway to the Rose Center’s Hayden Planetarium to catch Sonic Visions, a light show set to music mixed by Moby. That really should have been my first clue. It was pretty bad. It started great with Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place“, but it kinda went downhill from there. Worst part was when he mixed in Spiritualized’s “Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space“, one of my all-time favourites, but ran it for only 30 seconds, with shit visuals too, I might add.

Then I hightailed it back to Brooklyn to the Music Hall of Williamsburg to catch Electroma, the new Daft Punk film. It was ok, pretty artsy, with an excellent soundtrack. There’s one really funny shot involving female nether regions that you don’t really recognise until it starts zooming in, but then suddenly, there it is!


Outside after the show. Williamsburg’s obviously more slummy than Manhattan, but quite happening at the time, which was close to 11pm.

Sunday:

Had breakfast with Andrew at this quaint French dessert place. Super sweet macarons, man.


Had a chocolate crossiant and raspberry macaron.

We walked to his office in SoHo, then I went off on my own. Decided to go to the New Museum in Bowery.


Lovely building but the exhibition was a total waste of time. Serious waste of 12USD. I was in and out in 3omins, plus paying admission, gift shop and peeing time. Stupid abstract collage sculptors. Can really smoke lor.

Decided then to make my pilgrimage to Strawberry Fields at Central Park, which is an area dedicated to the memory of John Lennon. Thought I’d walk up since it was my last day in the city, so walked freaking 70 blocks. Which in Singapore parlance means gan far.

Interesting sidenote: there was this anti-torture protest across the street from Rockefeller Plaza in front of a church, with a big NO TORTURE banner and people in Guantanomo orange overalls and black hoods ala Abu Ghraib. Overhead this out-of-towner American couple asking each other, “Who’s being tortured? What’s this about?”. Serious disconnect with your country’s politics, people.

But then again, there was one of the costumed protestors shouting out, “Who would Jesus torture?!” over and over again, which totally spoiled the effect.

So anyway, I make it to Central Park and walk another 20 blocks to Strawberry Fields, which was actually quite amazing compared to the rest of the park.


Central Park is great, but Strawberry Fields is really prettier than all the other parts I’ve seen.


Above us only sky…

Pilgrimage done, I do my ultimate last-minute gift-shopping and meet my hosts back at the apartment to go for my farewell dinner. Went to this really nice, but kinda expensive Italian place in the West Village.


That’s Beh, Andrew’s housemate.


Andrew and I. Note my beanie hair. Also, my camera kinda sucks. Autofocus kinda screwed liao. Everything’s blurry.

And now I’m back, packed and ready to go. Really glad to finally be heading home, really. Oh yeah, also I stupidly miscalculated and will actually be home on Boxing Day cos of the time difference. Sian, man. Next day go to work already.

In any case, goodbye, New York – I love you but you kept bringing me down, but I love you all the same. If I don’t update in Bangkok while on transit, as they say in New York (or actually just the Giraffes):

Merry Christmas,

Happy Holidays,

Happy Kwanzaa

and Hail Satan.

new york i love u, but u’re bringing me down: part 8

Haven’t updated for a bit cos I’m a little burnt out. Pretty damn ready to go home already. Yeah, I’m a pretty weakass traveller lah. Anyways…

Tuesday:
Can’t really remember what I did during the day, I suppose I went shopping for a bit probably. But then I met Gillian and her friend Irene at St Mark’s Place at night for dinner at this cool Japanese restaurant Kenka. First hipster joint I’d been so far. And after that we went for drinks at an even more cool place, Decibel; super tiny also Japanese bar tucked away underground. So small I was sitting with a lantern touching my head the entire time. I think the girls particularly enjoyed the very good-looking Japanese waiters. Irene also introduced me to this great Himezen Sake, which is pretty much like dessert wine. No kick at all and the perfect amount of sweetness; could’ve drunk it all night. A pussy drink, but a tasty one nonetheless.


Together again at last….


Gills and Irene filtered through my sake-filled perspective.

Later as I was going to the subway, I accidentally swiped my Metrocard for the wrong entrance, so had to wait for an 18 minute delay before I could swipe again. So I ducked into a nearby McDonald’s for a pee (only after buying a cookie) and decide to walk to the next subway station. So I’m at 1st Ave, middle of nowhere, middle of the night, cold as shit, and a little bit lost, when The Perfect Kiss by New Order comes on my iPod. And its 9 and a half minutes of feeling I’m exactly where I want to be.

Wednesday:
Shopping madness at Woodbury Common! Essentially its this entire village upstate devoted to factory outlets of designer labels. I was so sure I’d be really cool and be in and out like a flash, since I’m not usually into shopping. But I was there solidly shopping for 6 freaking hours, and would have gone on for more if I wasn’t supposed to meet Andrew for a thing later that night. I’m a bit disgusted with the amount of shopping, man. I bought like 3 pairs of shoes this trip. I’m a total girl.

Anyways, after I lug my haul back to the city, Andrew takes me out to the Lion’s Den somewhere in Bleecker for a book reading by Chip Kidd, one of his design idols. So we get to the bar and it’s like the whitest place I’ve been so far in NYC. Turns out the reading is over, and Chip’s band is performing in a bit. So we stand there watching this Nickelback wannabe band, and some dumb NYU kids bopping around, when I realise to a curious mix of horror and self-satisfaction that I’m having a beer in a bar in New York and I’m the most hipster emo guy there, with my hoody, Vans and kinda skinny jeans. I say this not to brag – though that’s a happy accident – but it was just astounding to me at the time. One of the hippest cities on Earth and I out-hipster emo everyone else in a bar. So anyway, the Nickelhacks finish and the college girls fall over themselves trying to buy a drink for long-haired growly singer douchebag. Eventually Chip Kidd comes on, and his band’s actually pretty good. A little New Pornographers, I might add.


That’s him in the tie on the drums. Quite cool guy. I shook his hand and told him I didn’t know anything about his design work but that I really liked his music. Which was a really cliche thing to say, but he liked it.

After that me and Andrew walked back to Chelsea, and he tried to get waffles at the downstairs diner. Waffle machine was broken and he was sad. I had a great bacon and cheese omelette though. Yum.

Thursday:
At this point, I’m pretty burnt out and just chilled at home for a bit. Went out to Union Square for lunch, read some comics at Barnes and Noble and walked back to St Mark’s to do some gift-shopping. Came back, chilled some more and met Andrew for dinner at Times Square.


I look disgusted but the ramen totally rocked. Cheap too!

And then we adjourned to Palace Theatre….

For LEGALLY BLONDE, the Musical!!


Damn fun to watch. I’ve a little crush on the star, Laura Bell Bundy now. She’s damn cute. Great legs too. Tip for anyone planning to watch a Broadway show; search online for discount codes first. I got mine from Broadwaybox.com and it ended up almost half-price. Broadway shows are fun! But no time to watch another one. Next time go West End instead.

And that’s it for this update. Probably going to the Bowery tonight, see how.

new york i love u, but u’re bringing me down: part 7

Just a quick one here:

Last night (Sunday):

Eventually made it out (albeit in the nut-freezing cold) and had dinner at this pretty classy pizza place in Charleston. Gorged as we were, we decided clam chowder was in order so we drove to a Legal’s at Harvard to order takeout. Went back watched The Year of the Dog on DVD (not very good) and had our food and fell unconscious.

Today (Monday):

Woke up, surfed for a bit on the crap connection and Daniel dropped us (me and Weiyi, the other guy) off at the train station and I caught my connector to the bus terminal. Caught my New York bus at 11am and made it back to New York at 4pm. Chilled out for a bit, went to wash clothes at the laundromat (which was weirdly relaxing), came back to chill some more, had some pizza and went to Gotham Comedy Club round the corner from Andrew’s place. First act was terrible but it got progressively better. Basically just non-stop comedians from 8pm to 10pm. Pretty fun for not alot of money. Can’t believe the guys I’m staying with have never been. Its literally like a minute walk from their place. Gonna crash soon. Been a long day and Gills is taking me out again tomorrow night.

Photos:


Daniel the domestic goddess. Curry porkchops were pretty damn good. Muffins, not so much.


That’s the back patio grill. No BBQ in the near future.


Displaying my disgust at the cold in front of the house.


Me and Weiyi, who’s forever 21, and the only person I know who uses Mathematica.

new york (actually boston) i love u, but u’re bringing me down: part 6

 

At Daniel’s in Boston now. We’re snowed by 8 inches of snow. Looks like we’re just gonna be surfing, reading and watching movies today. Which is ok really. Walked around in town yesterday, Boston’s a little dull. And too damn cold too.

Just some highlights from the past couple of days. Photos later cos I’m having trouble uploading with the connection here.

Friday

 

  • Went to take a 3 hour round-island cruise. Not particularly exciting but at least it was educational. Had a good 5 minutes taking photos of Lady Liberty.
  • Went to check out the New York Public Library. Seriously gorgeous. Read a Castro biography for a bit. But felt a little pretentious after awhile.
  • Caught Aimee Mann’s 2nd annual Xmas show! It was more like variety show than a gig and she had musical guests; Ben Lee, Josh Ritter and Nellie Mckay. Also got comedian Paul F. Tompkins co-hosting. She also made a short 3-part film about trying to get celebrity guests for her show. Really funny, got cameos from John Krasinski, Emily Proctor, Patton Oswalt, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell and alot more. It was super fun, especially cos the performers were having a lot of fun themselves.
  • Decided to take in the night view at Empire State so I went up at about 11pm, and promptly froze my nuts off. But the view is seriously amazing. Very touristy thing to do, yes. But well worth it. Quite breathtaking.

Saturday:

  • Time to go Boston. Wake up late obviously, and catch the 9am bus.
  • Made good time, reached in 4 hours, getting there at 1pm.
  • Daniel picked me up, along with the other travelling Singaporean, Weiyi, and we steadily ate for 7 hours at 4 different places.
  • Everything’s covered in snow and it’s cold as shit out, so there’s nothing really to do in Boston but to find somewhere warm to sit down and eat.
  • So I had smoked salmon for brunch, chocolate covered ricotta canoli for dessert, milk tea at a Taiwanese cafe, and lobster dinner at a Chinese restaurant.
  • We drove around looking for extra blankets and rented some movies at Blockbuster.
  • Went back, had some wine, and fell asleep watching Reno 911.

So far today, Daniel’s made muffins, curry pork chops and we’ve amused ourselves watching his landlord shovel snow and then Thumbsucker. Now we’re out of ideas and there’s just too much snow out.

Photo updates:


The one and only.


The New York Public Library has incredibly gorgeous reading rooms.


For all her depressing songs, Aimee Mann is damn bloody funny. Oh, and I used Gav’s Aimee MAN joke on one of my neighbours. Good one, Gav.


Made myself stand in the freezing wind on the Empire State Building observation deck and listened to Ryan Adams doing New York, New York live twice. Came to the conclusion that Ryan Adams is truly the best soundtrack to New York City. Even though he’s originally a country singer from Jacksonville. On an unrelated note, you can see that my nose is red in the picture. It was also entirely numb.


Daniel’s so proud of Boston’s North End. Zzzzzz…… Not alot of Boston pics cos it was just too damn cold and I couldn’t operate the camera very well with gloves on.

new york i love u, but u’re bringing me down: part 5

Today has been a total bum day. Was planning to do the Guggenheim, take a 3 hour ferry ride, then do the Empire State at dusk. But the weather screwed me over before even breakfast. And it didn’t even have the decency to snow properly, instead it was rain and sleet all day long. I”m like no problem, I can postpone the ferry ride, do the Guggenheim and do Empire State after 6pm, which is when it supposed to stop raining.

So I take the subway up to 86th, cross 3 blocks, up another block and find that the Guggenheim is closed on Thursdays and Xmas. Shit.

So I walk another few blocks in the sleet to the Met again, since I was planning to cover the rest of it at some point anyway. Not half bad, I rediscover the Arms and Armor section, which I totally dug from the last time and dug again this time round. Also, it was unbelievably lucky that I got to see a Damien Hirst piece that I’ve always been curious about, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. That at least was a huge treat. No photographs were allowed unfortunately. Just google it lah.

Some highlights from the Met:


Japan vs Europe. Basically Gundam vs idunnowat.


Rodin’s The Thinker. Little guy.


Very nice setup.


Yeah, I think that’s the original Van Gogh. Or maybe not. I wouldn’t know, really.


Mäda Primavesi by Gustav Klimt.


Spectrum V by Ellsworth Kelly. It was too wide for me to get it straight on.


Huge Jackson Pollock piece. Forgot to note the title.

So its still pissing cats and dogs when I’m done, so I decide to go to the nearby Whitney Museum, highly recommended by Gillian. I rather enjoyed it, especially the Lawrence Wiener stuff. He designed New Order posters!

I was done eventually at 430, with another hour and a half to kill before the end of the rain. So I make my way through the sleet to 34th and have dinner and wait for the rain to clear. I finish dinner a bit too quickly and so cross the street to a comics store and kill some time. I finally make it back out at 7pm and the rain’s stopped. I walk to where the line for the elevator up is and the sign says:

WAIT TIME: 0 min, VISIBILITY: 0 miles. DECK IS CLOSED.

So now I’m back and waiting for either of my hosts to get back so I know where to get my laundry done. Cos according to weather.com, tomorrow’s going to be sunny and I’m gonna do my tourist shit, goddamit.

new york i love u, but u’re bringing me down: part 4

Finally made it down to the American Museum of Natural History today. Been antsing to go since seeing the Squid and the Whale. Unfortunately, no more titanic struggle between leviathans exist, and its just the (admittedly impressive) Whale.

I did find a pretty big, if not very dynamically sculptured squid.

In any case, what I really loved was the Space Show at the adjacent Rose Center for Earth and Space. Bit of a plug here:

A spectacular immersive theater experience, Cosmic Collisions launches visitors on a thrilling trip through space and time—well beyond the calm face of the night sky—to explore cosmic collisions, hypersonic impacts that drive the dynamic and continuing evolution of the universe.

I was actually kinda moved watching it. Serious, you guys gotta check it out.

All in all, I spent about 6 hours at the AMNH; here’re some highlights:


At the lobby.


Caribou!


Moose havin’ at it.


Check out Rex’s little birdy arms. Awww….


Ahnighito, world’s 3rd largest meteorite mass.


They also had Saturn but I was really looking for Uranus. Hur hur.

So after the museum closed, I decided it was high time to do the tourist thing and went to take photos at Times Square and Rockefeller.


All this blatant consumption.


There it is, this year’s tree. Ok only lah.


Asked a lady to take my picture, but she cut off the top of the tree. Anyhow one.


Me at the rink. Seems like all New Yorkers do at Xmas is go ice-skating.


Looks pretty good at night.


Random shot of me and Taro the cat (our 4th housemate). He keeps jumping on me when I try to nap. He actually jumped off a 22″ CRT on a desk onto my chest when I was lying on the floor. But he’s really friendly lah. Not amenable to photographs though.


broadcast

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