Day Fourteen - Ralph Ellison, The Late Show and MOMA

On the bookshelf was a copy of Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” with an attached post-if saying: “Talk a walk to Riverside Drive and W 150th. There is a tribute to this writer.” So take a walk I did.

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The only real plan for the day was to visit MOMA. On the way we passed The Ed Sullivan Theater where The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is taped (do they still use tape?) Slightly odd to see the real version of something that we watch nightly (not that we could get tickets for the actual show, obviously).

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Had a coffee next door with it’s related sandwiches: Colbert (Chicken), Letterman (Turkey), etc…and it’s signed photos over the wall.

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Finally onto MOMA. To be honest some of the more modern stuff is is moderately irritating, but each to their own. On the top floor it’s nice to see some Mondrian, Van Gogh, Klimt, Monet, Dali and my favourite artist, Hopper.

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Did a bit of covert people watching while in the gallery.

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Day Thirteen - Staten Island Ferry, Wall Street and Central Park

All the way down to the furthest stop of South Ferry.

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We passed by the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel which is used as the HQ in the Men in Black films.

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Popped into Wall Street Trinity church.

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The onto Wall Street to see “The Birthplace of American Democracy” Federal Hall, where the First President George Washington was sworn it. Though, many other places make the claim for the birthplace for differing reasons.

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We saw the “Fearless Girl” statue that stands defiantly looking New York Stock Exchange.

Originally she was staring down the Charging Bull, but was moved in November 2018 to her new position. A plaque with footprints was placed on the original site of Fearless Girl.

The plaque below the statue states: "Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference," with SHE referring to both the gender of the subject and the fund that commissioned the arts NASDAQ ticker symbol (SHE).

The Charging Bull was guerrilla art and was sited unofficially, but was so popular it stayed.

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On the train from Brooklyn Bridge up to see the Guggenheim.

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And a walk through Central Park to end the day.

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Ending up the John Lennon tribute mosaic at Strawberry Fields.

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Day Twelve - International Center for Photography

Got the train down to Bower to go the International Center for Photography, but first - of course - coffee. Today’s courtesy of the Lazy Llama (72 E 1st St). 10/10 Really, really good coffee.

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The walk from the coffee shop to the ICP was chock full of street art.

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We finally found the ICP. Great photos by Arbus, Parks, etc.

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Cornell Capa founded ICP in 1974 to preserve the legacy of “concerned photography”—the creation of socially and politically minded images that have the potential to educate and change the world—and the center’s mission endures today, even as the photographic medium and imagemaking practices have evolved. Through its exhibitions, school, public programs, and community outreach, ICP offers an open forum for dialogue about the role that photographs, videos, and new media play in our society. To date, it has presented more than 700 exhibitions and offered thousands of classes at every level.
— https://www.icp.org/about

Day Eleven - Chelsea Market, More Books and some Night

Down to Chelsea. A coffee at the Donut Pub. Coffee 0/10. I want to say it’s the worst coffee I’ve ever had, but then I would have to accept that it’s coffee, and it wasn’t - it was brown water.

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On the way to Chelsea Market there was a pool of light hitting the corner of a building that looked just like a giraffe.

First we had a final (?) trip to The Strand Bookstore to add to the stupidly big pile of books to bring back. The shop boasts eighteen miles of books (about 2 1/2 million books), but of course far less since I’ve been.

In Chelsea Market was Heatonist. They let you taste test a series of chilli from Mild to Not Very Mild At All. I tried the hottest one which had a name something like “Pucker Butt”. It was essentially a mash of Carolina Reaper Chilli and vinegar. My mouth went on quite a journey. It disappeared into a new pain dimension for a while and then came back to tell me of its travels.

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A bunch of eejits were shouting about Leviticus to promote their fear and/or hatred of gay people. They were covered in tattoos which Leviticus also says you can’t have. Jane wasn’t keen that I went over to point out the irony in the situation. As if usually the case on the street, the people that shout the loudest about religion are the ones who have done the smallest amount of research.

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It being (almost) St. Patrick’s Day (technically, it’s tomorrow - but Catholics don’t march on a Sunday) it seemed fitting to have a Guinness in an Irish bar. If you can’t celebrate a Saint with a lazy stereotype on SPD then when can you? Cheers.

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Back home for food then off into Times Square for some night photos.

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Day Ten - Top of the Rock

For reasons which escape me, the owners have scheduled two appointments to view where we’re staying today so Jane took one for the team and stayed back.

I met Max and Jack at Grand Central before heading over to the Rockefeller Center, where Jack and me went to the observatory. It’s pretty hard to take a back photo from that high and with that view.

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Kids were protesting loudly about climate change which is good, I guess, but it’s pretty ineffectual.

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Food out at an Italian wine bar up the road. Food was very good.

Home by 8pm. Come 830pm there was a storm with lots of lightning but no thunder or rain. [Edit, as I was typing this the thunder and rain arrived - in abundance].

Day Nine - Canal Street, Brooklyn

First stop was down to 42nd street, then the Q train to Canal Street.

A guy called Casey Neistat has his office/creative space down there and he has a staggering 11,000,000 subscribers on YouTube. Then - unsurprisingly - a coffee. The coffee gets 8/10. You can read more about their work at www.thinkcoffee.com.

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Onwards up Canal Street towards the bridge.

I had a nice chat to this cop. Having dealt with politics he said; “You should never discuss two topics. Politics and religion.” So, I asked him about religion. Obviously. He carries a picture of Jesus around.

He said there were more churches in Brooklyn than anywhere else. I’ve not fact-checked that.

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En-route to the bridge we came across a Catholic church. They do like their kitsch. They’re the Coney Island of religions.

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The length of the Brooklyn Bridge was walked. The photo below is five different exposures so could remove the traffic (if you’re interested).

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Into Brooklyn and first things first. A hotdog. A big sloppy, delicious mess of a thing.

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Once into Brooklyn we looked for the famous road that points directly to Manhattan bridge.

We ended the day at the Flatiron Building. I went to do a long exposure but didn’t have my tripod so this was my attempt by balancing it on something.

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Day Eight - Coney Island

The 1 train down to 42nd Street, then a Q down to Coney Island. About an hour and a half in total I think.

I tried to snap Manhattan Bridge from the train. A moderate level of success. Also, as you’re pulling into Coney Island you get a nice high view of the seafront.

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Pretty much the first thing you see as you leave the station is a poster about bed bugs, so if you need something to set the scene then there you have have it. There’s always something slightly sad about a seafront’s theme parks out of season.

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A walk along a pretty cold boardwalk (though I’m not sure we’ve ever been warm at Coney Island) and some coffee and eggs at Tom’s Restaurant (Est. 1936).

Scrambled Eggs, Sausages and the strange things they call hash browns (but really aren’t).

Coffee 7/10 (needed to be stronger) and fell at the first hurdle by coming with cartons of “half and half” which, as we know, are made of white paint and children’s tears.

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A bearded guy called Patrick started chatting and said he was interviewed for a film about Hand ball (not a thing I’d heard of) and the film was good and had won lots of awards. Also, he was pleased that he’d figured out how the chest exercise that was poking out of his rucksack worked. (I looked the film up when I got back, and turns out it is a thing - though no obvious mention of a Patrick. Sorry, Patrick).

More walking. So much walking.

But then… more coffee. Hoorah. The Esse Cafe this time. 6/10. Tasted a little of chemicals to me.

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Back on the train and up as far as Atlantic Avenue. Out into Brooklyn.

Popped into a thrift store and picked up a copy of David Foster Wallace’s “A supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again” for a dollar. Possibly the best book title ever.

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On top of a mailbox lay a German language edition of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. The front was inscribed with the name Sorena Sorenson. Used a bookmark was a handwritten poem by A.C.Lawson called “By dint of hammering” and on the reverse were some complex looking equations. I see that Sorena Sorenson works at the curator of geology at the Smithsonian, so since the only mention of the poem is in book called “Minnesota's Geology” by Richard W. Ojakangas that seems to make sense.

Went to an IHoP (International House of Pancakes). International, seemingly, as far as Mexico, France and Belgium. That seemed to be as International as they felt they could stretch pancakes. The coffee wasn’t good (3/10). Sorry if that came as a shock to anyone. I also had some onion rings which failed to reach the heady heights of the coffee, but if I will expect good onion rings from somewhere that predominately sells pancakes.

Heading back to the station I saw a what I presumed was a homeless guy with a fun gimmick. He held a Rubik’s Cube and his sign said “You shuffle.” I would have joined in, but he was busy shuffling for someone else.

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Day Seven - Books, books and more books

Back down to Union Square to revisit the Strand Bookstore for more book buying.

Followed by a walk up Broadway until my leg gave up the ghost and we went back home.

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Leg rested. Went to a bar for for food. Started with a Guiness. I’m not sure it wasn’t a little fizzy. Then onto a peach whiskey (tasted somewhat like Schnapps). Finally onto Johnny Walker Black Label (if it was good enough for Christopher Hitchens it’s good enough for me).

Day Six - Food in the sky

Two big trucks arrived for the Divorce shoot at the end of the road. A show with Sarah Jessica Parker, apparently.

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The plan was to go to MoMA but then we decided to go and have lunch on top of One World Tower down at the World Trade Center site. Below is the WTC Memorial.

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Had a 10/10 coffee from a chain called “Joe”. You can read about them on their website over at; https://joecoffeecompany.com

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We bought the tickets for the observatory before having a wander round.

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See below for the obligatory photo of the Empire State Building.

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After the taking of way too many photos we went to have lunch on the floor above the observatory. I had pork chops and Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner (if you were wondering).

Day Five - The Day It Rained

Woke to heavy, icy rain. I foraged for coffee in the downpour. It’s not for me to say I’m a champion (I’m a champion). I mad a sausage sandwich and set the smoke detector off (diminishing my champion status).

My right leg tendon (probably) is still quite painful. No idea what I did. Tiger balm, painkillers and a bit of a rest during the morning.

I was looking into where we could get some morning pancakes and saw an Ethiopian restaurant that is close by. I was looking through their beer list thinking that Victory Golden Monkey sounds like the best beer name ever, but then I saw that next to it was a beer called Smuttynose Old Brown Dog . I now can’t live my life without a bottle of Smuttynose.

A late start to the day because the pain in my leg. We decided to go to the Museum of Modern Art. On the way a bookstore was spied, and a bookstore should never not be looked into.

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As you walk through the city you see a lot of signs telling you not to park because of upcoming filming days. Within a five minute stretch of walking there were three. “Blue Bloods”, “Millions” and “The Undoing”.

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Had a late breakfast/early lunch at Nectar on Madison Avenue. The coffee was a n

Due to a confusing sign (okay, it wasn’t the sign - it was me) we ended up the Met instead of MoMA.

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A beer at a place called “Radio Amsterdam” but mainly because my leg was really hurting and I wanted to sit down.

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Passed a “Banksy” on the way back covered by perspex to protect it. I’m not wholly convinced it is a Banksy. What do you think?

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Day Four - Coffee Hunt

I get the feeling that New York thinks it’s good at coffee. That they’ve totally nailed it. New York you really, really haven’t. So many shops offering every variety of coffee and all of it insipid. Do you want to know the best coffee I’ve had in the last few days? Starbucks. Cheap, couple of bucks, freshly-brewed Starbucks. You probably didn’t want to read that. I sure as anything didn’t want to type it, but there we are. A plan for the day is to find some passable coffee. Also, to find some to bring back to the house. Back here there’s a jar of Nescafe instant which is undrinkable and some filter stuff which is so weak it makes water taste strong.

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With such much coffee being bad I can (almost) see why so many people have guns here. At the morning shop I picked up some Bustelo. Nope, still not good. I tried it black. Better, but not great. If it kills me I WILL find some good coffee.

I shall put the question to Facebook and see which coffee people suggest.

In the meantime I had a Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee (Yes, I know). 2/10. The staff had t-shirts on the back of which was written: “Dunkin’ Girl Scouts” which feels like it could have benefited from better phrasing.

A morning of walking round the local area of Hamilton Heights.

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The train down the Ghostbuster’s HQ (aka Ladder 8) because, you know, it ‘d be rude not to.

Grabbed a slice of 99 cents pizza. Bargain.

We then ambled over to Greenwich Village and had a coffee at a juice bar - whatever a juice bar is. The Coffee was 7/10 (I think you want to know).

Max wandered off to look at clothes and we went to the Mysterious Bookshop which sounded interesting. As much as it was a cool bookshop, it was dedicated to the mystery genre. I mean there was a clue in the name, and for all the detective novels in there I wasn’t obviously wasn’t one..


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We met back up with Max at the World Trade Centre. An impressive place. We went home, and he went to pick up Jack from the airport.

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Day Three - Books, Hospital (Don't panic).

A bit of a lay in. Went to get some beer from the shop.

Onto the train and down to 18th Street, then a walk across to Union Square to go book shopping at Strand Books (18 1/2 miles of books). I bought ten books and one Trump Hand (because one Trump Hand is enough for anyone).

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A nice vegan lunch of a “Burger over the rainbow” at the Roast Kitchen before heading over to the Bellevue Hospital because the Amazon Show “New Amsterdam” is filmed there. The hospital is actually pretty old by American Standards. The original one was founded on March 31, 1736 and has the honour of being the oldest hospital in the US.

Fun fact: In 2014 the hospital treated New York’s first Ebola patient.

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Seeing the sign below I figured it was male and female ambulances, but apparently an ambulette is: “a specially equipped van for transporting disabled or convalescent passengers in non-emergency circumstances.”

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A quick timelapse at Grand Central Station then home.


Day Two - Food, Ice Skating, Impossible Burger, New York Public Library, Central Park

Woke at 6am and couldn’t sleep. Minus six outside, but it feels like… well, the cold can do one.

Did yet another shop to fill the fridge with things.

We are staying here (the ground floor, and basement).

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Walked in the opposite direction from the house towards the Hudson River.

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We came across the Riverbank State Park so we got a coffee and watched some of the competition that was going on.

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Got the 1 train down to 42nd Street. I guess it was a sleeper train.

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The Empire State Building was constantly hiding behind other buildings.

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A nice lunch at Bareburger. I had an Impossible Burger (a magical vegan thing that tastes like meat). I asked for a white coffee and was told; “We don’t do white coffee, but I can bring you a coffee and some milk.” Well, erm, okay?

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After lunch Max went to explore and Jane and me headed up to New York Public Library.

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We ambled up towards Central Park and there was a lot of fireman activity, but no sign of anything wrong.

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Trump Tower was awash with police presence and concrete bollards. It’s nice to be popular. I thought I would enjoy my First Amendment rights (though, they may not apply to non-Americans, and may not cover flipping the finger towards buildings). Still.

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Central Park looked nice in the snow (but then again it’s looks nice in all seasons). Back on the one train back to the house.

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Day One - London to Manhattan

Once upon a time, there was a fun circus. Well, it shouted a lot about it being the absolute best circus in the whole wide World. One day, everyone at the circus got together to have a meeting about who should run the circus. Now, perhaps there were drinks involved, perhaps someone spiked the sandwiches but for reasons that historians will undoubtedly ponder for many years to come, half, well less than half, okay the ones that cared enough to take part in the vote - well, they voted to put the clown in charge. Not even the best clown. The loudest clown. No one could fathom how this possibly could have happened.

Well, we had to go and see how the clown was doing.

So, we got up at 4am for the 5am taxi and by 830 we'd taken off for Circus Land.

It was nice to have the luxury of having seats that turned into beds so the journey went pretty quickly, and before long we were in the taxi into Harlem where we were staying for the duration.

Max wanted to see Madison Square Garden so we hopped on the 1 Train about ten stops south to Penn Station. From there into Times Square.

Being Ash Wednesday there were many Manhattanites working round with ash on their foreheads. It’s strange to see expressions of supernatural belief in the 21st Century, and in such a modern city.

To be honest we were back home by 7pm because (a) we’d had been awake for about nineteen hours (feel free to correct my maths), (b) the weather app said it was -1 but would “feel like -8” and it did.

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A proper day tomorrow.