We took the less crowded 10am 6-train to Bleecker Street station, down Broadway to the Levi’s store to buy a couple of laundry-saving t-shirts, then north again to explore Greenwich Village. Our first stop was coffee in the dim recesses of Caffe Reggio, and what a serendipitous find that was! Is there any dingy eatery in NY that wasn’t in a famous movie? As if to make the distinction, lunch was at a not-famous but very cheap pasticceria, with my wife eating something healthy while I noshed into a burger and hand-cut fries, nom-nom-nom. Always surprises me when Italians can’t make coffee: mine was like a cup of frothy milk somebody had waved in the direction of Colombia. It was foul. But I made up for it with my Salty Pimp! Yay, Salty Pimp!
Road-testing my new peat-bogging jacket, I discovered that waxed canvas eventually gets wet and very cold, and hangs on you like a damp funereal shroud. It also has this quasi-vampiric quality about it, making you very aware of your suffering as it leaches warmth, life and hope from your body. I love it! If I ever go on a murderous rampage, you know exactly what I’ll be wearing: ‘He was wearing his Filson jacket!’ they’ll say, running. This might make me peculiar when I return to Sydney, but if I stayed in New York I’d just be another crazy mofo on the subway talking to himself and maybe or maybe not testing the edge of his hunting knife in the pocket of that big, ugly jacket. Mmm… hunting knife…
Speaking of crazy, I am in two minds about cyclists in New York. On the one hand, as a fellow bi-pedalist, I admire their moxie. You have to be a confident mother-focaccia to even compete in the two-wheels versus four-wheels mayhem that’s out there. You also have to flout every road rule I can think of, merely to survive; because motorists don’t appear to give a shit, and traffic cops certainly don’t give a shit, so in this free-for-all what can a cyclist do except be marginally batshit crazier than everybody else? That said, one advantage New York cyclists have over just about every other human being on the planet is that they know exactly how they’re going to die. It’s just a question of when, and from what I’ve seen, they roll that dice every day.
We took the Highline back, and apart from getting a break from the endless stop-start of street corners at the intersections of Street X and Avenue Y, I didn’t like it. I especially didn’t like the way the Highline herds you towards retails spaces such as the eye-popping Coach store, but this is America I guess. The walk back in the rain took us through endless renovations of old places and spaces, the vapour trails of a million vapers and smokers, past one hole-in-the-wall then another. Ivy creeping up the wall of a public house caught my camera lens; a billboard offering $10,000 for information leading to the conviction of anyone who shoots a police officer; water towers on the roofs of pre-WWII apartment blocks. It’s almost overwhelming. You can’t take it all in, it just beats you down, especially when it hasn’t stopped drizzling since we left the hotel five hours and 20,000 steps ago.
Back now, recounting my day before it all just fizzes out of memory. Tomorrow is our last day in New York. On Friday we’ll have the morning, then a taxi at noon to JFK where we begin our preparations and spend the last of our $USD. I’m sad that it’s ending, but this has been an amazing experience; but now I’m missing the kids and the kittens. From a first-time perspective, I feel satisfied we’ve ‘done’ New York. Its time to go home.