Posts/October, 2007/

New York Trip

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Virtually unchallenged in standing since their founding, the three greatest cities of the United States are Tulsa, San Francisco, and New York. Every day in Portland, I’m reminded of inadequacy. No subway, no world famous bridges, little diversity, no palatable slices of Sbarro, no huge ladies of green patina, little nightlife, few museums, no chowder in bread bowls, low volumes of moody fog, no windiest streets, or phallic towers, or ocean, no Ida Dennis Willis Museum of Miniatures, or concentrations of art deco architecture, or third-largest municipal park, no “mega”, and certainly no “opolis.” Fortunately, my love of flapjacks, plaid shirts, pale skin, and cheap rents keeps me coming back to Ol’ Stumptown.

On Wednesday night I returned from five days in New York. The journey home began around noon, and involved taking an inefficient subway route, J. missing her flight, eating burgers while watching pigeons fly around inside the terminal, my flight being delayed, the return trip taking an hour longer because of head winds, watching 8 episodes of lost and getting offered crackers by a lady on my row who looked moments away from raping me, taking the long train ride from the airport while listening to the ambient soundtrack to Solaris, walking home from the station in freezing, drizzly night. With the time difference, I should have been in bed hours ago. Unlacing my shoes and releasing their steamy fungal gases, I knew that I had a great trip.

Most of the trip involved visiting people J. and I knew, walking around, taking the subway, eating. We were lucky to have mild, clear weather for all but the last day. Just wandering around town is enough of an adventure, as there is so much to see. The amount of people on the street is an amazing sight. All walks of life are going about their days without so much as giving you a second though, at least on the sidewalk. Standing still makes you feel no different from a pole (the Polish immigrants must feel this more acutely). But once leaving the bustle of the street for park or store, people are surprisingly friendly and talkative. And it was nice to see different races again. I don’t think New York can match San Francisco in geography, as it has both less water and less clean water. But this eastern city competes by eeking space out of every corner while still preserving a decent amount for parks. And while it doesn’t have the natural varied topography, it makes it own vistas through architecture and engineering.

Here are some photos, yo:

Baggage claim at JFK.

Caution: this airport is a shit hole.

View out the balcony at A.’s apartment, who we stayed with.

Jewish cemetery.

Old control switches at the docks.

Garbage day.

Farmer’s market at Union Square.

A building designed with a porthole theme.

One of an unlimited amount of beautiful, ornate old buildings. I wish they still built them this way.

Time Square at night.

Night steam stacks in the middle of the street. There were a few discussions about why steam is under the streets, other than to blow up periodically.

Summer is scaffold season. All over town, we had to walk under them.

Walkway up to the Williamsburg Bridge on a tour led by D., an old high school friend.

Manhattan seen from the bridge.

Subway train.

A. and J. discuss the snazzy new blue couch in A.’s apartment.

Sculpture.

A great, but crowded burger and icecream stand in Madison Park. Good custard and shakes with plenty of outdoor seating.

Bryant Park: green grass, tables and chairs, free wifi and immaculate public restrooms. We rested here twice between destinations.

View south from the top of Rockefeller Center. I felt a little uncomfortable being so high. It doesn’t feel like something can (or should) be build this tall. And it’s even stranger when you realize it was done without a computers. Of course, then I start thinking about the complexity of computers…

Panoramic view facing south. Click to open a larger image.

Panoramic view facing north. Click to open a larger image.

MOMA interior.

Some famous painting that’s printed on my credit card.

Some other famous painting. Note: MOMA has many famous painting in addition to these famous paintings.

Lady contemplating a not as famous painting.

View of midtown around lunchtime.

Apple store.

Subway train.

Upper Central Park that we reached unexpectedly by taking an express train that bypassed the park and went into Harlem. It was a long walk back to where we had intended to go.


The old twin towers at sunset. A great backdrop to the lake and it’s lone man on rowboat.

J. and I at the lake.

A shade made of hula hoops at a small triangular park near SOHO.

Me and my friend M. after meeting for lunch.

Grand Central Station.


Walking through town, J. ran into someone she hadn’t seen since 5th grade. This is him.

Shadow art in Brooklyn.

D. and K. I hadn’t talked to D. in person since high school. Actually, I didn’t really even know him back then. But despite this, we got along pretty well. Since he’s been in New York for years, he made an affable and informative host. He was witness to my search for a dried Indian/Asian fruit called Bael. I have looked for it in many towns and on the internet. I was not able to find it in New York, and believe me I tried. It seems like the only way to get it is through eBay, buying it direct from the same market I bought it from in Chiang Mai. This isn’t a cheap option either.

Brooklyn Bridge at night as seen from Brooklyn. Our last night in New York involved a group dinner of unrelated friends in a part of Brooklyn called Dumbo (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass), some great icecream, and a delightful walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. The pedestrian walkway of the bridge is centered above the roadways. It’s made from spaced wooden planks that allow a great view of the plummeting distance.

Another view while crossing it.

New York is a city that never sleeps.

Though do I.

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