These Little Town Blues…

As I gently hinted by my bumper haiku selection earlier this week, we spent last weekend in New York, sleeping on the floor of Sal’s cousin’s apartment in the Upper West Side.

You know, as you do.

Of course, we’ve both been there before, and so didn’t need to bother with all that touristy stuff, although we did find time to saunter over the Brooklyn Bridge on Friday morning and have lunch in the heart of up and coming DUMBO (that’s “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”, apparently–they do love their acronyms over there).

One thing I noticed this time was that contrary to what Homer Simpson might tell you (and I was reminded of the wonderful dream sequence in that very episode when we passed Flushing Meadows in the cab from JFK…) the New Yorkers that we encountered proved to be a remarkably friendly bunch: struggling to buy subway tickets, for example, several people went out of their way to help us (even though, in fact, our failure to operate the machines was not due to us being the dumb turistics, but rather because it would only accept a credit card if you input your ZIP code–fine if you live in the US and it’s 5 digits, but rather harder to do on a numeric keypad if you come from the UK…)

On the Friday night, Sal’s cousin had got us free tickets to an off-Broadway clown show that her company over there was connected with, called Slava’s Snow Show. It’s rather difficult to describe–one of our group went with “90 minutes of your life you’ll never get back”, but I can’t quite see them sticking that on the posters. I felt it was rather like watching an obscure European film in a language you don’t understand, and without the subtitles, but with no apparent plot (oh, and the characters don’t talk).

Well. It was, um, interesting, anyway. The first half of the show ended with what was effectively a giant cobweb being fed out over the top of the audience, and by the end it turned into something resembling a Flaming Lips gig, as they unleashed giant bouncy balls in the direction of the viewing public. If you could think of the perfect follow up to this kind of evening, then perhaps accidentally stumbling into a Vegetarian restaurant that, ahem, didn’t server alcohol, wouldn’t have been it.

We also went to the baseball, which was of course fantastic fun. I’d previously been to games at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, and the experience of going to see the Yankees was much the same–any actual sport taking place seems to be largely peripheral to proceedings: all the fans really care about is the statistics, and to the casual observer the event is mostly about drinking beer and eating dodgy hot dogs. The Yankees won, apparently, although I couldn’t tell you the score, a fat guy in front of us caught the ball, there was an actual fight in the stairway next to us (hmm, maybe the locals are only friendly to visitors…), and at the end of the game they actually play New York, New York, which is rather surreal.

Watching the Yankees

Discussing my Saturday afternoon activities with people at work the other day, someone asked me if I understood the rules. “They bring beer to your seat”, I said. “Who cares about the rules?”