Twisters in Nebraska, a parachuting Easter Bunny in Texas, and 87°C on Fifth Avenue as we dodged the crowd-crush watching the Easter Parade between 49th and 57th. My morning news via CBS felt surreal, all about the failed North Korean missile launch, with the US smugly failing to deny responsibility for it. El Niño to blame for the heat, cunning cyber-sabotage to credit for the dud Scud. My head spinning at the liminal slip between US commercial tv advertisements: do I really need antihistamines while eating a grilled breakfast burrito at the Phantom of the Opera? Who the fu*k knows, but, mmm… burritos…!
Funny how the everyday stuff is so familiar, yet so different. Nobody really watches commercial television in Australia anymore, yet your cable channels here are alive and well, pitching six versions of the truth to the audience at a ratio to advertising that seems half-and-half. I’m perplexed by your constant pharmaceutical ads, which all go something like, “Hey there, impotent loser! One dose of Ultra-Stiff will put the lead back in your pencil, guaranteed! Buy Ultra-Stiff today! (Disclaimer: side effects include dandruff, dermatitis, incontinence, confusion, elevated respiration, irregular heartbeat, back pain, hair loss, blindness, loss of libido, the palsy, sensitivity to patchouli oil, and/or death. Do not use if you are pregnant, have recently commenced psychotherapy, are illegally using steroids, or have an allergy to hemorrhoid cream.) Buy now!”
Anyway, good morning New York! Didn’t matter that I slept poorly, a good healthy breakfast set me up for a massive walking day in all-too familiar (for us Aussies, anyway) heat. Our first order was Bryant Park, then some urgent supplies from Wholefoods on 6th Ave, back to the room to lose some layers, then out to Grand Central where we purchased a NYC map (because some idiot left our Red Maps at home). This small act assuaged my wife’s concerns we’d get lost, yet it turns out her compass was spot-on and saved us a few missteps. Then the consumerist wonders of 5th Avenue. Did I just become an Abercrombie & Fitch try-hard? Oops! But riddle me this — who is buying all this stuff? Where do these children get all of this money? And why does everyone TALK SO LOUDLY?
Back into the chattering throng, we luncheoned at Jams on 6th Ave, admired flamboyantly gay men in Easter hats, then dumped our purchases in the room before grabbing a flat-white from Bluestone Lane and people-watching in Bryant Park. A rain flurry chased us into Time Square, which was meh. We explored our way back home, in the process deciding NY seems a great place to live if you have money, are able-bodied, and don’t give a shit. Why is every person begging on the street black, and why is every service position filled by a young Hispanic woman. And you guys love to tout — vendors on every street corner — but is it racist to think that the smoke from the halal guys smells like someone’s pet? But hey, it’s only wundalla-wundalla-wundalla!
Fatigue hit pretty hard after that, and we were tucked up early. I felt that we ought to be out savouring the nightlife of the city that never sleeps, but we didn’t have it in us. Maybe another night. But also, maybe not! I figure that if we pack our daylight hours densely enough, our nights belong to us alone, and we choose to hit the hay when slightly more interesting people are squashed together in their tiny flats pre-loading on supermarket riesling before hitting the latest must-be-seen-at club so they can post selfies of the $200 they spent on Jägermeister shots. I’d rather spend the money on something I can keep, but that’s just me. Plus, I get grumpy when I’m tired, even in New York at the end of Day 1.