Bike ride to Brooklyn

Well today was the first day I dared to ride a bike. Not suprising as the hotel bikes have no brakes. Pedal backwards and you slow down but forget about emergency stops! Cycled all the way along the Hudson River to the Financial District and then over the Brooklyn Bridge. Was easier than I thought, apart from the bridge which was a bit of a nightmare what with demented cyclists and oblivious pedestrians and me with no brakes! Biking is a lot easier than walking though and New York is very flat.

Went into the Museum of the American Indian which was both interesting and strange. At security I managed to set off the alarm and virtually had to strip off to prove I wasn’t carrying a bomb. Not as bad as the rather distinguished elderly gentleman behind me who happened to be carrying a rather lethal looking knife on him (some kind of family heirloom I think). He seemed suprised when he was told he couldn’t bring it in!

The view from Brooklyn Bridge was amazing and the nice bit of Brooklyn (near the river was lovely). Downtown Brooklyn was a shock. Obviously very poor and quite different to what I’d already seen. Also had my first experience of crazy religion. About every 50 yards there were people exhorting me to repent and turn to the Lord! Given the contrast between Manhatton and Brooklyn I would have thought they’d have realised that Mammon had won the spiritual battle. Downtown Brooklyn is like East Berlin mixed with the worst parts of Coventry. Not nice but gritty. Where the American Dream turns into nightmare! Didn’t stay there long.

No gig today because I was too into biking. Back tomorrow.

First impressions

OK, this is my first post. Been here for 2 days now and I feel exhausted and exhilirated. New York is big in every way but also personal and the people are very friendly. Spent part of last night at a comedy open mic where I ended up accompanying someone reciting haikus while I played a piano where only about half the notes worked! Bizarre! Am going to the place that was the original Gaslight tonight. You know, the place where the original beats read their poetry and the best Dylan bootleg was recorded. Can’t wait. I feel really excited by the history of it all. Of course, it’s not as bohemian now. In fact, Greenwich is quite posh. Never mind, I can use my imagination.

Spent today learning how to use the subway and the buses. Still managed to wear myself out walking. Central Park is lovely and an oasis of calm in the city. Walked up Madison Avenue to the upper east side. So posh I had to wait to be sat to have a cappuccino. Won’t be going there again.

The buildings are truly amazing and very varied. Times Square has to be seen to be believed. A phantasmagoria of lights and images. A true monument to commercialism.

Will tell you tomorrow how tonight’s open mic went.

Feeling nervous!

Am sorting out the details for my trip. Feeling kind of nervous and excited. Not sure what is going to happen or even if I’m going to get there, but I’m sure I will!  Have practiced being a lone visitor in Berlin and it was weird but worthwhile. It’s not just about going somewhere far away to see what’s there but also about finding things out about myself which you can only do when you’re far from your comfort zone.

Why New York? Well, it’s the home I never knew apart from blasts of beat poetry, jazz and the folk scene. It was the sounds of the Velvet Underground in my suburban home in Leicester. It was the skyscrapers and Superman. It was the abstract expressionists and the weird goings on in the Andy Warhol factory. It was the complete fantasy. It was Positively 4th Street, where I am staying just round the corner in the Jane Hotel. It’s the Statue of Liberty and countless black and white movies from the 50s. In short, it was a dream of an alternative reality that I had always been part of but had never been to. I am going to pursue a dream. Is this wise? No, but I am driven to it like a moth to a flame.