Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into spring
These are a few kinda faggoty things.
When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I am feeling sad
I call up the vet and then have the dog killed
and then I don't feel so bad!
The first time I was in NY I hated the place. Sure, I was kind of in awe at the bright-lights, big-city thing, but when you come down to it, New York is smelly, it's way overcrowded, the people are often ridiculously arrogant and air-headed, and as far as all that 'wonderful mixed-bag of cultures living together in peace and harmony' stuff is concerned I'd have to say it's a crock of shit if ever I heard one and as you walk around you tend only to see people sticking with their own. The place has got problems, don't get me wrong, but you know, like Woody Allen might say New York grows on you like a foot-fungus after a while..
Newark Airport, New Jersey. That was my arrival point in the USA - where I was supposed to have spent the rest of my
summer working at a place called Six Flags in New Jersey. That was before they
told me they hadn't enough jobs and I'd have to find some other means of employment even though
they'd recruited me all the way from the UK to tell me that, naturally. Months later I realised this
whole "Yeah let's just get more resources than we need and figure out what to do with it later" ethic was
just one of many erratic parts of American, or at least East Coast thinking that I couldn't quite get a hold on.
I wasn't the only one in the shit, and whilst some of the others who Six Flags had screwed managed to find other jobs, some poor sods couldn't quite handle the shell shock of being left in the crap like that, and rather sadly decided to return home to their countries. Needless to say America - for that was what Six Flags represented to those few - made a few of enemies that day.
I was saved, and after few desperate phone calls, I managed to get in touch with a buddy in San Jose, California, who said he'd help me out if I could get down there, so without further ado I booked a ticket.
Luis, my roommate was a Spanish guy. I'd introduced myself at an orientation seminar before departing for Six Flags, and he'd told me he was studying in Brighton, and that he was planning to work at Six Flags too. He was a gay guy, I found that out because when the walls came tumbling down and we found out we were being scammed, we'd decided to live in a one-room apartment together which was tiny as having been provided by Six Flags themselves, and I'd jokingly said when collecting the keys to him "Well as long as you're not a fag eh?" and immediately noticed something in his eyes when I said that.
However, we got on like a house on fire and one night he said to me:
"Kris, I feel I should tell you something, because, you know, I don't know if you were being serious when you said it or whatever but..." I interrupted him:
"You're gay right Luis?"
It was fairly obvious to me - much to his relief - and ever since the day he told me I think that coupled with the fact that we were in such initial shit not knowing what to do now that we were in the States caused us to get a lot closer than some life-long friends. I got this habit of singing in the mornings, which annoys some people but Luis said it cheered him up on those bleak days when we were unable to predict whether Six Flags was going to send guys to kick us out or not. I really felt shitty having to leave Luis to go to California, but I knew that at least if I sorted out a place and some money maybe I could've sent it up to him and invited him to come down. It wasn't to be in the end, but not for the want of trying. But anyway, at least we got to spend a few days drinking in the Big Apple together. And Jesus, is that a Big Apple!! 12 million people en bloc in what to me was something familiar to London on a larger scale. French patisseries, Swiss jewellers, Korean fast-food, Irish Catholic churches, Italian Coffee Shops, you name it and all yours for £250 return. But don't expect the special treatment for being a foreigner like that one you get in Japan, and you'll really know you've landed when you bump into what seems like a sweet old lady and you get a verbal salute of "Will ya get the f*ck out of my way already??". Those New Yorkers turn being rude, sarcastic shits into an art form and they're proud of it, but what can I say? It adds to the flavour, and it's a great feeling knowing you're roaming the same streets as Lieutenant Sipowicz, Carlito Brigante and King Kong. Not everybody is a cocksucker in New York though, and I did meet some very good people, polite and kind people with morals, ambition, and charisma you could hang your coat on. Let me remind you that New York is one city that has a population that is 40% foreign born, and those people coming from other countries in particular are usually very friendly, hard-working and rounded people and every one of them is likely to be armed with some tale about how they crawled through bushes for twenty miles to cross the Mexican border, nearly getting shot by farmers in the process, or stole away on some cargo ship all the way from China, just to get to NY, just to claim their piece of the American dream. Yep, they're not the ones who are the assholes..it's their kids. I don't know what it is about big cities in America, but they breed a certain kind of people, filled with such superficiality and condescension as must surely piss off the rest of the nation. Sure, they're frustrated because they have to constantly repeat themselves to every Wang and Escobar that just jumped off the banana boat, but if you can't take the heat..
I was only in NY for a few days the first time round, but I managed to see a few of the essentials, Manhattan, Broadway, etc, but you know me, if chicks don't go there it's not the top of my list, so I spent most of my time wondering around Central Park, although at first I thought I must have entered a Village People Reunion concert after seeing so many buff guys with their tops off walking around in there. In my defence for not being ripped myself I think I'll claim that all those guys are gay, and my penis length is exactly the same as theirs..when I fold it in half...
I got to see the Statue of Liberty too, on the ferry to Staten Island. Well, I would've seen it I not been standing at the front of the ferry and been distracted by two Japanese girls standing behind me. They were both hot and when one of them said (in Jap) that she was wondering if a lot of foreigners were also on the boat I couldn't help but introduce myself and start chatting a little. Before we knew it, the ferry had already gone past the Statue, but what the hell, if I want to see the Statue I'll watch Ghostbusters again. When the ferry docked I wanted to see what they were doing later, but it was a little awkward to chat them up - they'd just met me after all, and I didn't feel comfortable asking them out. I felt like it might be a bit soon, and that it would create an awkward atmosphere me being a foreigner as well and all that. Are you kidding me? Of course I asked them out, but they turned me down. Had to try though, eh? I got that "You're cute and everything, but come on, we just met you.." look from them. Probably if I'd been with a buddy I would've got some sugar, but there you go.
If there is one thing which I really loved about New York,
it's those hilarious crazies that seem to perpetually occupy the New York subway. Christ knows what rock they crawl under from, but damn they can be entertaining sometimes. Whereas English lunatics generally tend to sit on a bench chatting to themselves and dribbling, the Americans want to let everyone else in on the act. Funniest guy I saw was some old dude who I came across whilst waiting for one of the downtown trains to arrive. He was pacing up and down the platform like a mad man, screaming to himself.
"You f**ckin rock un roll generation!!, with your f**ckin' shit music and your fancy clothes!! ohhh you thiiink yooouurr sssoooo daaammn sseeexxyyy!! You're not (jump)hot, you're not (jump) happening..", pretending to strum his air-guitar and hum rock-and-roll tunes and the like. It was hilarious. He walked - no danced - past some 20 something lady, and was like - straight to her face I swear -:
"You b*tch you don't even look good in those raggedy-ass $2 clothes!!".. I was positively pissing myself with laughter inside, it was like something from a comedy show. The guy seemed to have a line for everyone. To some black chick with huge bangles for earrings. "You hip-hop lookin' hoe..ya ain't even no Saturday hoe, nor even a Friday, yor a Tuesday". - taking it in turns to insult their clothes or hair-styles, to some long-haired Yuppie guy - "Look at this Johnny-Depp wannabee muthf**ker!! You got the hair but you ain't got the looks!" - I still laugh even to this day when I think of that guy doing his little Johnny Be Good air guitar and pretending to head-butt the wall.. If that guy hasn't fallen under a train by now, crazy or not, he should be doing stand-up. Luckily my train arrived before he got to my badly dyed blonde hair.
As far as nightlife is concerned NY is up there with most big cities. That means it'll cost you your rich aunts inheritance to enter some of the larger clubs, but if you know where to go you can still have a good time on a blue-collar salary. To be honest the twenty dollar entrance fee scared me off from going to the larger establishments, so I ended up checking out a few places that were bar-cum-nightclubs, that had smaller dancing areas, and only cost a few bucks to enter. I had wanted to check out some Japanese/Asian style clubs, but I didn't know exactly where I could find any. Some dude I met from the forum told me to give him a call when I got to New York and he'd give me a tour, but he bailed, and besides, I hear those sort of places don't really welcome you unless you're going there with some Asian buddies or you got a Chinese girlfriend.
I checked out a few 'Irish' bars in New York but they're mostly full of posters of Irish cottages, serve pear cider and beers I've never heard of, and neither have the Irish. Sure you can buy a pint of Guinness, but the places are constantly re-furnished, don't have a dart board, serve American whisky and the bartenders don't laugh when you insult them. I wouldn't even dare walking into a 'British Pub' in the States in case they'd freak since a 'real' English guy was in there. Actually I tell a lie, I did walk into a British pub in California, and it was exactly like a British pub..but come on, how am I supposed to bitch about Americans screwing everything up when they do something perfectly like that? shit..I'm British isn't it my right to whinge or something?.
Times Square at midnight on a weekend has to be seen to be believed, it's that
busy. Dozens of families, tourists, and young people just on their way to somewhere else make it more packed than a can of tinned beans. Another novelty is that it's also even better than Camden Market for picking up black-market goods that some dodgy guys with sweaty palms'll swear to you are "Off the back of a truck buddy!!". You have to laugh when you see some guy run up in the street and dump a bin-bag full of sunglasses they're trying to flog, desperately looking around as though they were being chased by a copper, and telling everyone they bought the glasses at discount from abroad. But who am I to complain? I picked up some nice Ray bans for 10 bucks!
One of the biggest pleasures I had was just walking up and down the main drag of Times Square 3 or 4 times, eating nuts from the stall and people watching. It's just gotta be done, because man can you spot some fine-looking chicks going through there.
You could get broke pretty quickly eating out in New York, but like London it has the benefit that if you know the city well, you know where you can get bloody cheap food, but naturally, if you follow the tourist trail, you're likely to burn a hole in your wallet just getting a burger. It's just a matter of stalking the back streets to find the cheaper places, like any capital. I had a hunt around some of the subway stops for cheap food and I went into this Italian place near Columbia University (which is some famous Uni but sure does have a shitty-looking halls of residence) and found you could buy a pizza large enough to feed a horse there for as little as $2.50. Resourcefulness my friends!!
After being in California for two months, I came back to New York to visit Luis, who'd found himself a waiter job and was working killer hours. New York really grew on me that time, and I got to spend a few weeks there courtesy of Luis' host-family allowing me to crash on their couch. Funny thing is, Luis told me the place was in Queens, and you know, you watch enough movies about New York you hear that that is a seriously dodgy area, but actually I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered it really was quite a cute little corner of New York. I did hear my first gun-shot there, and don't get me wrong, there wasn't a white guy in sight apart from me and Luis, but everybody seemed friendly and happy. In fact, NY isn't all that dangerous at first impression despite what the movies make the place out to be, I'm sure you got to watch your ass if you walk into the wrong neighbourhood, but nobodies gonna shoot you in broad daylight. The host family were nice, an expat from Honduras, who was smart and easy going. I even made a friend of the son of the family I was living with, a little black dude who used to do break-dancing and make me roll when he teased me, saying "The way you talk is so cool Kris, it's like a robot, how do you talk like that!!How do you do it?", before I slammed his head DDT style into the blow-up bed we'd pulled out for our WWF Challenge bouts. !!TOP OF THE ROPES!!!OOOHH-YEAAAAHHH!!
Yeah, NY is a real charismatic place, but would I live there? I could dig it. I dunno how I'd feel after 6 months in the place, but , yeah..I could dig it. It can't quite match up to those dreamy palm-tree lined beaches and 36C days in California (read on to hear about that BTW), but like me, New York has irrefutable charms that you've just got to love :-).