Sunday, March 20, 2011

New York City, October 2010, Part V

In an effort to try and confuse myself even more than life in general normally does, I will now shift gears completely and go back to telling the story of my most recent trip back to the town of my origin, New York City. It's now been 5 months since this journey, but it's still quite vivid and fresh in my mind, thanks to A) it being an absolutely terrific time, B) my previous entries about the trip here on my travelblog, and C) the literally hundreds of pictures I took while there that I refer to when I write these entries. Shall we continue?

When last we left our not-yet-weary travelers, it was Thursday afternoon, October 7, 2010. Having spent most of the morning and early afternoon getting to and exploring The American Museum Of Natural History, we were now slowly meandering south thru Central Park. After we (and the "we" in question would be my Long Island-dwelling Mom and myself), had spent some time enjoying the wonderful views that can be had in and around Bow Bridge, we continued on around the perimeter of The Lake. It was such an absolutely beautiful autumn day that plenty of people were taking the opportunity to rent boats and row out around The Lake, lazily enjoying the warm sun and the cool breeze. Following the path along, it turned west, and we eventually made our way out of Central Park back over by The Dakota, John Lennon's last place of residence. His 70th birthday was the following day, so there were already people in and around the area of the building and the Strawberry Fields area of Central Park celebrating the occasion, singing songs, buying and selling artifacts, exchanging stories, and just generally having a good time.

We made our way down Central Park West to Columbus Circle, the southwest corner of Central Park. We lingered there for a few minutes to take pictures, because it was a beautiful weekday afternoon in one of the busiest areas in one of the busiest cities in the world. Definitely a great time and place for people watching and picture taking. I have this little quirk where whenever I take photograph in New York City, I try to get at least one yellow cab in the picture. It really isn't that difficult to do, but I have found myself occasionally having to wait a couple of seconds for one to enter the shot. Not a problem at this locale at this time of day.

As we started to make our way south down Broadway, I saw something that I'd never seen before...which in NYC, is something that can occur on a daily basis. That's one of the things to love about New York. It's always full of surprises, and something new is a regular occurrence. In this particular instance, it was a woman carrying a small step-ladder. No big deal, you say. To which I would agree. Except that the reason for her carrying the 3-step ladder was simply to afford her different perspectives for taking pictures. This was not ascertained as the reason for her carrying the ladder until she stopped midway across 58th Street, set up her perch, climbed to the top, and proceeded to snap a few pictures of the area. I instantly thought that was a terrific idea. She wasn't an overly tall woman, but by no means was she short either. So it wasn't for height reasons that she was doing this, it was simply to get pictures at what must be a very unique angle. She's dead center in the picture at the beginning of this paragraph, just left of the pedestrian signal. I think it's such a great idea that the next time I go back to New York I'm seriously considering buying a similar ladder and wandering the streets of NYC with it, seeing what kind of interesting shots I can get standing atop it. Even things that I've taken pictures of before will probably look brand new; you'd be surprised at what a big difference a subtle shift in camera angles can make. I'm a big fan of kneeling down and placing the camera on the ground to take shots (an idea I cribbed from artist Dave McKean...again, see the picture accompanying this paragraph). While a difference of maybe only 5 to 6 feet, it makes for a completely different picture from the worm's eye view.

As it was approaching late afternoon in New York, the sun was coming in at more of an extreme angle. What with many of the buildings lining Broadway being encased in glass, the reflected light that rebounds around makes for some interesting effects. I particularly like the way the light has a "shimmering water" look on the brown building on the right in this photo, and I like the way The Dream Hotel has an extra set of "light windows" between its own actual windows in this shot.

Continuing south down Broadway (the only major thoroughfare in Manhattan which actually runs true north-south; all the main avenues run at a northeast to southwest angle, consistent with the way the island actually is), we then made our way past The Ed Sullivan Theater, home of The Late Show With David Letterman for nearly 20 years now. I attended at least 3 tapings there, including one in 1993 a month into his CBS show run...when I missed seeing Bill Hicks live by one day.

Making our way further down Broadway, we eventually stumbled across Times Square. Even in the late afternoon, it's a hub of activity. Currently, if you stand in front of the New York Marriott Marquis (between 45th and 46th Streets), you can look up across the way and see a giant video board showing live pictures of the area of Times Square you are standing in. If you look closely, you can see both my Mom and I taking pictures of ourselves on the board. We're the ones just to the left of the giant woman's top 2 knuckles.

Now that we'd gotten our self-portraits, we then finished making our way back to Penn Station, underneath Madison Square Garden, to take our Long Island RailRoad train back out towards my parent's house. And meeting us at the train station near my folks' house would be a friend that I've known for around 20 years, who would be driving me and Mom the mile back to the house. Upon arriving at the house, I did a quick change, and then hopped back in my buddy's car so we could go hang out for the evening. This man was/is the host of Video Game Night, a weekly occurrence back when I was in my early 20's and the main group of idiots all lived in Queens, one of New York City's 5 boroughs. At one point he had practically every video game system known to man under one roof, and we would gather together at least once a week to play games, watch stupid TV, eat, laugh, joke, have fun, and just enjoy being a group of friends. Obviously, since I moved from New York to Las Vegas (11 years ago this month as of this writing), I don't get to see him very much anymore. So, upon leaving my folks' house, my friend and I started the drive out towards his neighborhood, and talked. And talked. And talked. And then went to a nice little Italian restaurant by his house. And talked. And talked. And talked. And then we made the drive back to my parent's house, and as we did so, we talked. And talked. And talked.

It isn't very often that him and I get a chance to hang out, just the 2 of us, and actually talk. There's always at least one other friend around, usually a whole group, and they've all got families, wives, kids, etc. So it's really nice on the rare occasions when I get to just be with one of my old friends for an extended period of time and actually find out what's really going on in their lives, delve into how they're feeling about things, discuss some of the other mutual friends we have, and just chat about life in general.

All of which finally got me to bed at around 2 in the morning, after starting at about 6AM, with another early wake-up fast approaching, as I had another big day in the city ahead of me...

Blog Post Soundtrack; Pearl Jam (live), The Doors (live), The White Stripes (live), The Misfits (live), The Who, Monty Python (live), Tool, Corrosion Of Conformity, The Black Keys, Blondie, Slayer, Grandmaster Flash (live), Les Claypool Frog Brigade (live, covering a King Crimson song), Howlin' Wolf (live), Bob Dylan, Mozart, The Specials, The Ramones, Björk (live), The Minutemen, Lily Allen, Henry Rollins, Refused, The Strokes, Rage Against The Machine, Nirvana (live), Anthony Jeselnik, System Of A Down, Public Enemy, Alice Cooper, S.O.D. (live), and the New York Rangers going in and defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins


  1. Ken, I told you that I finally read your blog! Been to Seattle but never to San Jose or New York City so reading about your travel was neat. Your unique (and I stress on unique) perspective sure makes a good read :-) Loretta

  2. Ken,

    It was great for me as well to have some one on one time talking with you.
    All the miles in the world cant take away the friendship that we share.

    -The Video Game Host

  3. I finally got a chance to talk with Nick this past weekend as I was driving to Anaheim (another trip to write-up eventually). Not something that gets done often enough. :)