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25 September 2008

Under the Bridge

Yesterday, I went under Brooklyn Bridge, in a boat, and today I went under the third bridge from the bottom of the east side of Manhattan, in a subway. I've been meaning to go to Williamsburg, Brooklyn (or Billyburg/Billburg/Willyburg, as it seems variably to be monikered) for a good couple of years now but the trouble with going to New York so often is that I don't really feel a pressure to do new things because there's always next time (pauvre moi, I know). However, one of my goals of this trip is to check some things off my to-do list, while also ensure that I'm not doing them just for the sake of it.


Billyburg is fun, anyway, Bedford Avenue, its main drag, reminiscent of the main drag in Berkeley in many ways with its plethora of independent, studenty cafes and shops stocking urban hipster clothing. I browsed some of the cool boutiques (very naughty and bought a nautical necklace in one) and bookshops before choosing a lunch venue. Being a linguist, how could I go anywhere but Verb Cafe? The crowd was way too cool for me, especially as I left my hipster uniform at home (my jeans were, at least, skinny if not black and I did drink black coffee with my bagel). I also decided it was wise to hide my somewhat mainstream book (a satirical account of the life of the headmistress of a snooty Upper East Side private school and a couple of the students) behind my Moleskine.



Back to the West Village for a bit of shopping, before I walked up 9th Avenue, through Chelsea, to Rockefeller Plaza. I've been up to the Top of the Rock before but I wanted to do so at sunset and, having found out the sunset time on Google, I managed to time my visit perfectly so that I got plenty of photos of the Empire State Building and the sunset over Jersey. The Top of the Rock is really much better than the ESB, especially at night time as there is no protective glass interfering with one's photos, but my one complaint is that my favourite building--the beautiful Chrysler--is mostly hidden by the inconveniently placed Met Life building so the only photos I got were very blurry. Still, it was amazing to see such a gorgeous pinky-orange sunset, followed by the magical, twinkling fairy lights of Manhattan by night, even if I did end up staying so long that my fingers were freezing cold and mostly numb by the time I eventually yielded my spot on the wall at the top.

Even in Monsieur Exquisite's absence, his spirit was there as there were two French guys next to me, both with big cameras discussing various technical aspects of photography and dissing other people's technique. I'm no Ansel Adams myself but I do at least know that using a flash to take a photo of the ESB from the Top of the Rock at night is a futile task. Similarly, people who take photos for the sake of it... Yesterday, while Subway Dude and I stood outside Joe chatting to SD's friend, a Dutch photographer who gets a lifetime's free coffee at Joe as he took the photos for their website, about ten people came to take photos of the street sign at the junction (Joe being on the corner of Waverly Place and Gay Street--hee hee). We just laughed at everyone who took a photo of the sign (they would always depart quickly and sheepishly). Sometimes, Dutch Guy, who looks quite camp and who was wearing a pink polo shirt (he is very hetero or, at least, married...) would casually stand underneath the street sign, which I'm sure will amuse the tourists when they look back at their photos.

I dined at Whole Foods, on my way home, where I got a huge bowl of custom salad ingredients for $6 (indeed, apart from Jules last night, I've been very good at keeping my food budget under $20 per day--including coffee). On the way home, I stopped at one of the 97 or so Duane Reades that line Broadway between 60th and 95th Streets to do a product check for Papa. Some WASPy frat boy was there with his girlfriend and was throwing a serious tantrum because there was no Evian. "But Justin, they have Fiji water," sez his young-looking, blonde girlfriend. "But I want EVIAN," yells Justin. "How retarded is it to not stock Evian? What kind of a drug store is this?" As they left, via the escalator, standing behind her, he then wrapped his legs around her waist and pretended to hump her in a loud and embarrassing (for her, anyway) fashion. Lovely.

Meanwhile, I've been quite impressed with my new iPod Shuffle. I didn't want a new iPod but I broke the holder/belt clip of my current iPod Nano which, at 14 months old, has now been replaced by two models and finding a new clip was impossible. My Shuf is royal blue and thus matches many of my outfits and will cut down on the kit I need to take when running. Only problem is that without a watch, I will have to memorise the lengths of the podcasts I'm listening to in order to know how far I've run, although at least tomorrow, with another Central Park circuit, I know how long it took me yesterday and although my legs are a little achy from the amount of walking I've been doing, I suspect my time will be similar.


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