Posts/September, 2006/

To Minneapolis and New York and Back

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Note: If you are looking for info and pictures on Maine Coon, or Mancoon Cats please visit this page. It’s an awesome page about Maine Coons.

This Monday I went away on business. The flight was one of the earliest of the day, requiring me to wake up and catch a taxi at 5 AM. Radio Cab (one of the few companies that service Portland) must hire with a strict friendliness requirement. Without exception, all of the drivers I’ve had have been a talkative and caring bunch. Monday’s grey haired driver seemed genuinely interested in my life, if not for flexing his degrees of separation to connect his life to mine. His narrative yarn covered life in many states, women he had met, jobs he’d had, Portland trivia, cab philosophy, humor. And thankfully, he was a mellow and attentive driver.

Minneapolis was the first stop so that we could present work to Target at their corporate headquarters. It’s a surprisingly big and beautiful city, though pancake flat. Target’s office towers over 30 stories on the edge of downtown. Though unassuming on the outside, obvious care was spent on the crafting a memorable and sleek interior. A large Dale Chihuly blown glass sculpture stands beside a series of escalators that lead to a bright and colorful reception lounge. Obviously, red, white and targets are around, but they are placed with restraint. And though most of the floors are cubicles, there is a positive vibe about the place. Where Coke’s office feels like a desperate and confused land grab, Target is boldly and clearly making a statement. That spirit is infused in the people I met too. Each were positive, smart and friendly. The food was boxed and delicious, the meeting went smoothly, the ride back to airport was taken on a clean, prompt train. Time spent in Minneapolis: 6 hours.




Our next stop was New York. As the project we are working on is very artistic and cultural in nature, we needed to take a short detour to the American mecca of it. It was only my second time in the big city, the gap between visits is almost a decade. And like before, the trip was to be short at only two days.

But this trip became interesting within the first hour. I left my backpack in the trunk of the taxi when we were dropped off at the hotel. I’d assumed that the porter grabbed it as he had done for my partner, but it must have been lost in the shadows. Before I realized what had happened, the cab was gone. I was without camera, clothes, deodorant, and phone (in no order of importance). Of nauseating annoyance was the loss of the camera. I had bought a new pocket-sized camera specifically for the trip, and I’d only had it a day. But there was still a lot to celebrate on arrival. We were booked at one of the more ridiculously stylish and opulent hotels in the city. The Grammercy Park Hotel is old to New York, but had recently been bought and renovated after the original owner committing suicide by jumping off the roof. Apparently, he had a fight with his wife and had tried to time his fall to crush her as she stormed out the front door. Ian Schrager redesigned the place from roof to lobby with the help of Michael Overington, Anda Andrei, and the artist Julian Schnable. The result is a weird, fresh mix of ornate luxury and modern twists. Red velvet, leather and wood are combined with metal, art and bizarre light fixtures. The rooms feel like a tweaked study, somehow simultaneously dark and bright. They are the kind of rooms you can imagine an erotic murder of the elite happening in. I was not necessarily uncomfortable at the place, but it was obviously designed for an echelon of society that I’d never be part of. One obvious indicator: the nightly room rate was the same as my monthly rent. Luckily, the breakfast was still free. And delicious. A single berry was an experience grander than the sum of my entire life. Everything I could hope to achieve was lost in eating it and its brothers.

I literally ran into the actress Sarah Silverman in the elevator. She had gotten off on my floor thinking it was the lobby. I told her that the building was confusing me too.




The staff at the hotel went through great effort to comfort me and track down my bag. This was made more difficult because my taxi receipt had no cab number or contact info. But in less than a day, they had not only tracked down the cab number, but the home phone number of the driver. Theory: the hotel is owned by the mob. Arrangements were made, and the driver came back from Newark on the second night to drop it off. I gave him fare plus a hefty reward. The bad omen was actually a sign that the city wanted me there after all. My faith in humanity was restored.

During the day, my coworker and I visited galleries, shops, and designers around town. Seeing art and artists in person is helpful laying the groundwork for our project. Artists in the know have momentum and connections. Drawing names out of a hat is just a tortilla, this was the whole enchilada.

I saw the biggest domestic cat yet (The picture above is for reference, same breed but not the cat I saw). The breed was Mancoon. It was orange and white, the size of a smallish dog, and affectionate. I will acquire this cat. I will name it Cromer.

As I was without a camera for a day, I didn’t get to take as many photos as I wanted. But the best qualities of New York can’t be captured in photos: it’s scale, bustle, variety of stories on the street. Even as a two day visitor, I can see how this could be endlessly captivating. And if you grew up in such a place, living elsewhere would feel like settling for a plainer life.

Statue of Liberty in the morning fog.

Ground Zero.



Chinatown.



The actual store the Beastie Boys album was named after.

The largest apartment I’ve ever seen. Like a skyscraper turned on its side, it’s and amazing volume of brick filling an entire city block and over 10 stories tall.



Set from the Gondry movie “The Science of Sleep”

The cab driver’s I had in New York were insane in their driving aggressiveness. Most trips were on the razor edge between speed and accident.

It was a great trip, though unfortunately too short to look up anyone I knew. I will go back to visit, and for longer. Maybe to live.

Onward to Seattle.

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