First days in NYC

Re the flight – yeah, it was hellish, bumpy and scary on the way to LA and very long. But the flight to NYC was only five hours, and we got to see some pretty amazing stuff out the window – deserts, snow covered mountains (in the desert), hundreds of miles of farms in squares (Idaho, I think) and then a flight right over the top of NYC. Took me ages to get into town but once I was there it was okay. Man, it is so big!! The whole place just keeps going 24 hrs a day. I am in a dorm with three others which is fine. I slept okay too, which was a surpise!!

When i got up this morning I went to a diner round the corner and had bacon and eggs and these strange potato thuings (maybe this is grits?), and some godawful coffee. The place was called The Galaxy and the wise arse waiter kept saying “Welcome to the Galaxy”. Kind of funny. Then I went on a marathon walk down Broadway which took about two hours. It is so full on. Maybe it’s the jetlag but the city is so surreal, people everywhere. I just looked at people and shops – there’s drug stores on every corner, millions of Levi shops and police everywhere. The closer I got to downtown the weirder it got. It wasn’t till I realised I was near ground zero that I could put a finger on it – there’s this intensity everywhere. Hard to explain, but you feel like you’re somewhere very important … which I guess it is. Near Wall Street there were cops everywhere, on those CHiPs bikes, scooters, little kind of mini-mobiles, everything. There was a protest of child care workers (mostly African Americans) but I couldn’t work out what was going on.

Then I caught a Staten Island ferry, went past the Statue of Liberty and so on. Kind of nice to just sit down for an hour. When I got back I had my first hot dog in America. It tasted pretty good, though the ketchup is closer to jam. Eugh. Then I walked down Murray St in the hope of catching a glimpse of Sonic Youth, but no luck. It is about a block from the World Tirade Centre. Needless to say, there were thousands of people hanging around the fence there. I didn’t really want to go there, but I’m glad I did. It’s got this really sad vibe, despite the obvious tourist drawcard. It’s quite eerie too.

Then I took a walk through Greenwich (the village), went to a hard core record shop and so on. It’s pretty hip around there. Kind of where NYU is, so there’s lots of rich kids going to “school”. Went through Washington Square park, was offered drugs (hey! still got it!) and then walked back home. I’m going to a poetry reading tonight in an old church. Which should be good, if my legs don’t fall off!!

What else? Oh, the delis are very cool, I thought of you in one of them where you could get palaal paneer!! And halva, three hundred different kinds of bagels, sweets I haven’t heard of. They’re really cool. Saw a bunch of people doing breakdancing for a movie shoot! How NYC. The streets are filled with people all the time, I feel really safe, which is surprising. Have yet to try the subway though.

I go to Buffalo tomorrow morning, which should be interesting. Today has been very intense, it’s kind of overload. The smells, the sounds of the subways, I even saw some smoking manholes, so there you go. It’s almost impossible to strike up a conversation with anyone, because everyone’s got far more important things to do. There are so many dogs!! Can you imagine where they all live? There’s almost no parks, but so many people with dogs!!

The latest craze seems to be cell phones (sorry, NY speak) that double as walkie talkies. I saw all these people acting like they were secret agents. Kind of cool. Tried to call home today but there was no answer. I hope my mum and dad haven’t freakled out!!

I saw a poster for our book launch which made me feel very excited – Sean and the gang arrive on Sunday when I get back from Buffalo I think, so I look forward to going to some bars.

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