Monday, April 30, 2007

I am the saint of destructive urges

Soundtrack: Marquee Moon by Television where was I?

Nothing much has happened. I've seen some pals (notably Ms Robinson, The Herrietts, Ms Hignett, Mr Partner and Spangletree) recently, which has been fun, but aside from that, my life revolves around the flat, the allotment and work.

On the latter note, I have my second formal redundo meeting coming up at the end of this week. This means I'll know exactly what I'm worth (monetarily, that is - I already know what they think of me personally). This event combines with our big end-of-an-era party - now that's serendipity. Mrs Green is down for a visit, and there will be lots of old faces there, some of them welcome, some not.

I may even get drunk, which is unusual for me, as you know.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Some people work very very hard, but still they never get it right

Soundtrack: Wire, The Shangri-Las, The Velvet Underground

We spent the weekend in Devon with my family.

My mother isn't well. I already knew that, but I saw it with my own eyes and was shocked. She has slowed down considerably since I last saw her at Christmas. The medication she's on for high blood pressure doesn't appear to be doing the trick yet, in fact, the side-effects sound worse than her original symptoms. Despite this, she was relatively chipper (apart from a couple of maudlin comments).

There isn't really much else in the way of news. I have just over two months to go at work. I have no real inclination to do a decent job now. The dial is currently pointing to 'bog standard', with no sign of moving.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Three New York coincidences

Three things occurred to me after I published the last post.

1. The title of the last post should have been explained, but I forgot. This is the opening line of the the song 'The things that dreams are made of', the first track on one of the best albums ever recorded. Full lyrics here, including gratuitous New York reference. I discovered on the plane that Dare is listed under the 'classic albums' audio collection on one of the channels (it lives alongside some bizarre choices, but happily with some Iggy, Bowie and Waits), so I spent the last hour of the flight in synth heaven.

2. I found myself eating the aforementioned cheesecake while 'Holiday' by Madonna was playing on the radio. Now that's a New York record. And, of course, we were on our holidays. Synchronicity!

3. Most spookily of all, our friends the band Todd were in New York playing a show when we were. The Cs were confused to see us on the wrong continent. It was a great evening and they tore the place up, as usual. God (or someone) gave rock 'n' roll to them.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Take time to see the wonders of the world

Soundtrack: Disco Infiltrator by LCD Soundsystem

I'm back from New York City and am still reeling from how great the place is. We crammed an awful lot in.

Having pulled some strings, we were given an upgrade on our flight. This was uneventful (movies watched: The History Boys, Stranger than Fiction). Following a white-knuckle transfer by shuttle bus from JFK to Manhattan, we arrived at the hotel. Before collapsing, we forced ourselves to go out and eat, and took in the interior of Grand Central Station.

Decided to walk from where we were staying, in Midtown East, to the south of the island. Looking back, it was a bit daft to do this on the first day. You live and learn...we hoofed about, not knowing where on earth we were going, for several hours. We found ourselves at Ground Zero, which was poignant. While we were in town, the remains of several victims were uncovered during excavations of the site. Every fire station you encounter has a memorial in its doorway to those who didn't come back that day. We ended up in Century 21, which was a charmless hellhole: like TK Maxx over five floors but less organised, and what a chore it was too.

Went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, having foolishly mistaken it for the Museum of Modern Art. This was good in itself, but we wondered where all the modern art was (imagine how stupid we felt when we realised the goof). Wandered through Central Park. Wandered through the Meatpacking District, marvelling at the cheapness of jeans, trainers etc.. Went to see Blades of Glory, which was funny, if nothing else for Will Ferrell singing 'Lady Humps'.

We hit the flea markets around town (top buy: a vintage t-shirt that says 'They could never replace me with a machine, until it learns to drink'. Ironic). Did lots more walking. In the afternoon we took ourselves off to the hip neighbourhood in Brooklyn, Williamsburg. Sat in a cafe listening to some astonishing South East Asian psychedelia (Cambodia Rocks, I overheard a cool gal near me saying) and watching the edgy haircuts go by. It was a bit like being an extra in a Rapture video. Went back into Manhattan and had some flash food and a pint of Dogtooth IPA at the Bread Bar at Tabla.
A late start, and most of our fun was had at Macy's, where they were beginning their flower show month with a 'Petacular', at which New Yorkers were invited to dress their pets up to win prizes. This had us both giddy with excitement.
Later we went up to Columbus and had a fabulous Mexican meal at Cafe Frida.

Took ourselves to the Guggenheim, only to discover the pictures were being re-hung on the ramps and the outside was totally obscured by scaffolding. After less than an hour, off we went to MoMA, which was brilliant. I can't fault the place, the architecture and layout of the place was stunning. I saw loads of iconic pieces of art, some of which moved me to tears (I hadn't bargained on how astonishing the Van Goghs and Matisses would be).

Had a gigantic piece of cheesecake on 42nd Street at a deli that had a signed pictures of Babs Streisand and Bob De Niro on the wall. Nice!

Lots of shopping in Nolita, Soho, Noho and Greenwich. Prince Street was particularly fabulous. Credit card in meltdown.

Too foggy to go up the Empire State Building, so we went to see the Statue of Liberty in torrential rain. Ellis Island was very interesting, but was marred slightly by several thousand schoolchildren running about (note - don't go to the US during spring break). From there n to the Skyscraper Museum (which is very much a paean to the World Trade Centre), and more shopping in the afternoon. Went back into town in the evening to eat another great Mexican meal (at the Chipotle Mexican Grill) and went up the Empire State Building - zero visibility, so pretty much pointless. Back to the hotel to catch an episode of Lost, which made barely any sense. [I fear that the series may be cancelled before another season is made.]

A heroic effort to do everything we hadn't managed in four hours. So off to the Bauhaus-designed Whitney Museum, lots of I *Heart* NY t-shirts and two paris of trainers for $89 at Foot Locker. Cool. Another iffy transfer back to JFK, a long wait, then we flew home, this time with no upgrade. Boo.
Things I wasn't prepared for: how extremely polite and courteous New Yorkers are, how people will strike up conversations with strangers on the subway, how nobody shoves you on the subway (unlike on the tube here), what great service you get in shops and restaurants, how safe it is, how it is genuinely the city that never sleeps. And most of all, how much they adore animals (dogs in particular).
I loved it. I need to take about a stone in weight off, but I needed to do that before I went anyway, so no change. We're back to beautiful Easter sunshine. I have some crotchety back pain from the flight, but I don't have anything much to do, so it isn't a problem. Our washing machine decided to break they day we returned, and I'm not even stressed about that.
The busiest city in the world has had a very calming effect on me.