Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

The Empire Strikes Back

On my last day in NYC, before going to Toronto, I decided I just had to go to the Empire State Building. I mean, it’s a landmark, isn’t it? Built in the 1920’s, it stands today as the tallest building in the city (now that the Twin Towers are gone). it’s a symbol of New York City if there ever was one. It’s the building King Kong climbed on. It’s majesty and history all rolled into one.

Isn’t it?

Well… it is, but after 20 minutes inside, the Empire State Building becomes only one thing.

A line.

You see, when you approach the building, you see a line. A small, not too intimidating line forms on the sidewalk outside, and you’re inside in less than ten minutes.

In the entrance there’s a sign which notifies of the approximate time to reach the observatory.

Three to four hours.

At that point, I became worried, but I dismissed it as some optical illusion created by the converging of the sun’s rays and the exhaust fumes from the cars.

It must have said 30-40 minutes. Yeah, it must have.

We went up and came upon a BIG line. We stood there for about 40 minutes. Now, this is not Israel, so everybody didn’t become friends for life, but still, you hear different languages, see all kinds of people, it’s really interesting.

Until you want to pee.

That line was for the security check. Next, a line for the actual purchase of the tickets. This one went fast, only about 15 minutes. So I bought my ticket, went ahead, and came upon…

Well, you guessed it. A line. A big line. A HUGE line. The Mother of All Lines.

I was in a dilemma of sorts. On the one hand, I really had to pee. On the other hand, if I’ll go to the bathroom I won’t enter the line, which means that people that came in after me will now be in ahead of me.

Well, what can you do? I went to the bathroom and then came back. The bathrooms, by the way, are very clean. Probably because everyone pees in their pants.

This line (all lines, actually) went ahead in an orderly and amazingly well maintained fashion. either that people are very patient, or they knew what was coming. That didn’t stop some of them from sitting on the floor now and then. I just tried to imagine that sort of line in Israel and came to the conclusion that if the Empire State Building was in Israel it would’ve been torched long ago by an angry line-hating mob.

That line was for the actual entrance into the elevators and it broke down into a couple of smaller lines. We got stopped every few meters by a very polite but firm ESB employee.
I stood about two hours in that line plus the mini-lines.

And then we entered the elevators. Hurray! Hallelujah! Praise the lord!

The elevators went up and my ears started feeling the pressure. the doors opened… we were there, we were at the glorious observatory! we were-

We were in a line again.

Now, this line was the line before you actually enter the observatory. It snaked across an ugly floor which had sign that read: “sorry for our look, we’re renovating!”
Great, not only do I have to stand in line, I have to see beams and paint everywhere.

While we were on that line, each of us had his or her picture taken in front of a huge photograph of the ESB. I has no idea why. It wasn’t voluntary, they photographed everybody. I thought that in the end we’re going to get a cute little memento of our visit, some compensation for standing three hours in line.
We’ll get back to the picture later.

Then, it was finally over and we got into the observatory. The million dollar question is: Was it worth it?

Well, it’s worth it, I guess. The panorama is truly stunning. I took a lot of pictures (see below), went around and around, and eventually got the point and went back inside. All in all I was there for about 20 minutes. 3.5 hours in line for 20 minutes. Crazy, ha?

So I was out, and I thought that I’m just going to take the elevator down, get out to the street, and go home to rest my aching body.

But no. There were lines on the way out. We stood about 15 minutes in line to get out of the floor. On the way out, we came to a long stand which had everybody’s pictures in it. “That’s nice”, I thought, “now we’ll get our pictures in return for all the trouble we went through”.

And we could get our picture, we only had to pay 25 dollars.

25 dollars. that’s more than 100 NIS. For a fucking picture. I said “no, thanks”. It really annoyed me that they are taking our picture without asking us and then trying to sell it to us for a ridiculously high price.

The ESB is a money machine. On the way up, through the lines, they try to sell you all kinds of things like audio commentaries and movie simulations, and on the observatory deck there is of course a gift shop full of silly, expensive stuff. But hey, if you’re a tourist, you asked for it.

But in the end, there’s nothing like seeing the greatest city in the world from sky high. It is truly awe-inspiring

Go to part 2 for the pictures and judge for yourself if it was worth it ūüôā

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Some photos from New York City

3rd Avenue on the Upper East Side, where I lived for a month.

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34th Street

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6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas)

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More to come!

Of mice and men

Now, wh0 said you have to be lonely in New York?

I have a new roommate. He is very small, grey, and has a little tail, and he comes out of the wall¬†in the kitchen¬†to keep me company. Alas, the¬†little bugger¬†doesn’t share¬†the rent.

Last night I went to sleep and turned the lights off. I was very tired and was sure I’ll be asleep in no time. Then, I started hearing¬†strange noises that came¬†from the direction of¬† the kitchen counter. It seemed that the thing making the sound was the foil that covered the sliced¬†white bread I bought in the morning. My first thought was that I didn’t close the bread properly and that¬†the foil had somehow started¬†unwrapping all¬†by itself.

But the more I listened the more it seemed that something was physically TOUCHING the foil. So my second, obvious thought was: cockroaches.

But what kind of cockroach makes a noise like that? It seemed to be a much heavier creature than an insect.

So I turned on¬†the lights, and then I saw it. A grey flash that shot behind the microwave and disappeared. I cringed in disgust. I saw something but I wasn’t sure what. Only thing I knew was that I’m not alone. There’s a¬†live¬†animal in the apartment with me, and it’s not a pet.

At first, I thought it was a rat. I saw them outside at night, running in the park. I checked behind the counter and saw that there was probably no way that a rat could pass through what looked like a narrow margin between the counter and the wall.

So the only logical conclusion that was left was: It was a mouse.

I was sure the little critter came out because it was dark and because he noticed the bread. So I kept the light in the kitchen on (after putting all the food inside the fridge and taking the garbage out)¬†and went back to sleep, but I was very jittery. I’m not used to living with rodents in the same apartment. (Now, as a side note, one must understand that apparently, mice are a pretty common occurence¬†here in¬†NY. It doesn’t necessarily have something to do with the cleanliness of your apartment. They just live in the walls of the old buildings). So I tossed and turned and kept imagining hordes of mice climbing on the bed while I’m sleeping, and chewing my legs.

Finally, when there was no sign of the pest, I turned off the lights and tried to sleep again. It was four in the morning. I hated the bastard. Hated it. The most unsettling thing was that I had no idea what it looked like, only that it was grey.

Flash forward to the next day. It was evening. I sat at my computer. Suddenly, I heard a noise from the corner of the room.

Now, mind you, the lights were on,¬†I was up and awake. By all conceivable logic, I should’ve stayed master of my own¬†dwelling.

But then I saw him.¬†He was playing with a piece of chocolate candy I brought with me from Israel. It probably fell from the bag at some point and got stuck in some corner. Well, the little bugger found it. The candy was ball shaped and the mouse was hammering it from side to side as if trying to score a goal. I got up from the chair.¬†It noticed me and bolted to¬†its secret hideout behind the counter. This time I got a much better look at it, albeit¬†just for¬†two seconds. I couldn’t believe it. A little mouse. In the middle of the apartment. Snickering at me and brandishing its tail.

No wonder so many people here have cats. I couldn’t believe it. The fucker got out in BROAD LAMP LIGHT to score himself¬†a chocolate ball.¬†A conniving, mischevious and fearless¬†little bastard. Who knows when he’ll decide to pop out again.

There are¬†some mouse traps in the drugstore down the street, but I don’t think I’ll buy them. I’m leaving the apartment soon anyway, and besides, I don’t really feel like killing him.

After all, he’s company, and beggers can’t be choosers, can they?

I¬†just hope¬†it won’t bring any of¬†its¬†friends.¬†

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Static

Well, hello.

I don’t really know who¬†visits this blog¬†on a regular basis and who just happens to read these lines because he searched for the words “Blond Ventriloquist” on Google and found himself unexpectedly here (gotcha!), but I just wanted to apologize. Apologize for not writing as much as I’d like to.¬†These days leave me strangely lethargic. I think it’s a combination of the cold dry weather outside which makes one a little sleepy, and the distracting¬†worries which plague me. Worries of the immediate nature, like finding another apartment,¬†finding ways¬†to save money, and worries of Meaning of Life type, which I won’t get into here, with your permission.

Now, I did write a new post the other day, but decided not to publish it. It happens sometimes, although rarely. I see this blog as my venting place, my thought pad, but I also want it to be enjoyable and worthwhile¬†to read. When I deem a post unenjoyable or not¬†thought provoking or illuminating enough, I decide not to publish it. So yes, the draft section of ABAIG has a few unpublished posts in it. Maybe I’ll publish them at a later date. in the meantime, they are kept there. Some of them are too personal for my taste, and¬†some of them are just pointless rants.

So even when I don’t post anything, it doesn’t mean I haven’t written anything. That is the nature of my writing. I am¬†myself most¬†harsh critic.

For the past few days I’ve been riding a lot on the New York subway, an extremely efficient piece of transportation with endless opportunities for people watching. The subway is like the United Nations on wheels. (And those MTA employees inside their glass booths. Boy, are they short tempered! I guess they’ve seen and heard it all).

And¬†in New York it’s still quite¬†cool¬†and very dry.¬†My body’s oozing¬†static electricity. I get zapped from objects like my computer, the tap in the kitchen, the chair I’m sitting on. Static is also¬†a great way to describe my feelings in the last few days. Trying to find a cheaper, or less expensive apartment in greater New York, but not really getting anywhere. As usual for me, I play the waiting game. The big question is how long to stay in New York. That is unknown at this point, since (again) I’m waiting for things to happen on other fronts, things that I have no control or¬†influence on.

So I’m waiting.

And in the meantime, I¬†realized that the¬†relative lack of music and movies is depressing me. I don’t have with me¬†my CD’s and especially my 150 mp3′. I bought Frou Frou’s CD, but it’s just one CD. I’ve seen two whole movies since I left Israel: The Fountain (extremely boring and pretentious) and 300 (Cool visuals. Enjoyable, stylish¬†gorefest). I toyed with the idea of renting movies through Netflix, but since I’m in a very temporary residence, it seemed a bit¬†silly. I thought of buying some DVD’s but didn’t find any I really wanted, and besides, I think it’s stupid to buy a movie just because I want to see one. There are movies on TV (I saw 3/4 of A Time To Kill), but they are botched by endless commercial breaks, which makes the whole thing much more annoying than enjoyable.

I’ve been to a short stroll in Central Park, which looks suspiciously like Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv. Saw a lot of dogs and kids playing baseball, and found out I could cross it surprisingly fast from the east side to the west side of upper Manhattan. I really thought it would be much bigger. But then, I’ve only been to a small portion of it.

I wanted to end this post with some music,¬†so here’s¬†the beginning sequence¬†of Hair,¬†one of my favourite film musicals and¬†a very New Yorkish film.¬†It¬†takes place at Central Park, and it’s featuring¬†that infectious, great¬†song… Well, you know which song¬†I’m talking about.

The one about the opposite of static.

Take the Fifth

Everyone in this¬†town seem to be¬†busy, busy, busy. Going to and fro, hither and tither, like an ultimate New¬†York cliche. Everyobody’s going everywhere. But you know what?

Thay’re not really doing anything.

They go shopping, mostly. Or eating out. Or just strolling around.¬†The art form most prevelant in New York is¬†“The Art of Looking Busy”.

“Hey, sorry I didn’t¬†call you back,¬†I was very busy”. “I had a busy month”. “Life is really busy for me”. “I’m busy, busy, BUSY!”.

Jerry Seinfeld, a perfect New Yorker if there ever was one, had the perfect answer for this greatest of all excuses:

What do you mean you’re too busy? Pick up a phone!

Yesterday I joined all the¬†Busy Little Bees¬†and walked down the¬†famous¬†5th Avenue. My destination: New York’s Public Library on 42nd street.

On the way there I went onto F.A.O Schwarz, the famous toy store. To tell you the truth, it’s not as big as I thought it would be. After¬†all the hype, I expected a palace of toys and games.¬† Don’t get me wrong, it’s a big store, but¬†not huge.¬†Either way, the store is filled with pretty cool stuff. I got to witness a lightsaber fight¬†by two store¬†employees who used¬†the new Official Star Wars¬†Lightsaber Toy. It’s nice, but it’s just plastic with light. I wouldn’t shell out 130 dollars for it.

My main objective, of course, was to find the famous Piano. Remeber this scene?

Well, I did find it but I only looked, not played on it. The place was filled with toddlers running around over it, and I felt stupid joining them.

5th Avenue is amazing. the buildings are sky high and the shops are gigantic. I went into Trump Tower and listened to a brief concerto in the garden inside the complex. I went into NBC studios tower and didn’t see Conan O’brayen. I went and saw Rockafeller Center, with the beautiful and famous¬†Ice rink, and I passed Tiffany’s¬†on the way, and although It was way past breakfast, I just had to go in and take a¬†look.

Boy, did I feel inadequate with¬†my jeans and sweatshirt.¬†This is quite a glamorous place. It has four floors or so, but I was¬†only on the first. I felt that if I’ll stay there too long, they’ll find out I have 5 bucks in my pocket and throw me out. At one point I realized I’m walking with my hands behind my back, as if afraid that someone will ask if¬†I need any help.

But hey, it’s Tiffany’s. I just had to get in.¬†¬†¬†

Oh, and yeah, I bought a hot dog on the street corner. About time, wouldn’t you say? The guy with the hot dog cart was busy assembling a cell phone when I approached. I was a little disappointed. I expected him to wear a¬†funny hat and a giant moustache and say:”A hot dog for you, sir?”¬†but I bought the hot dog anyway, in a tiny bun.

From there, to the big and reneissance themed¬†Library building, which was closed, Although my sourcs told me it should be open.¬†But hey,¬†I had a good time on the way and went into many places I didn’t plan on visiting.

To conclude my journey and go home¬†I went inside Grand Central, the main¬†bus and trains depot of the city. Well, what can you say about a town where the bus depot is a tourist attraction? The archytecture¬†is breathtaking, like something¬†straight out of the 1930’s.¬†That was the first time I really wished I had a camera. Maybe I’ll go back there sometime¬†and snap some photos.

And then I went down to the subway and joined all the bees on the way uptown. It was a very tiring day, but fun.

I’m still waiting to find some people to¬†whom I can speak with words other than “how much is this?” and “thanks”.

Maybe I should just get myself more busy.

Excuses

Yesterday I saw a squirrel.

He¬†was bouncing through the greenery at Union Square, and it was absolutely delightful, since I’ve never seen a squirrel for real before. Certainly not in the middle of a big city.

It was after I somewhat got lost at the East Village/Soho area and sat down for a minute to consult the map I got at the¬†Subway station,¬†only to realize that right there, in¬†Union Square, there’s a¬†Subway to take me home.

It became a hobby of mine to get lost in the city. As big cities go, this place is relatively easy to get around in, and like I said at an earlier post, you just go wherever you feel like and find new things at each corner.

NYU was just around the corner, and watching the students roam the streets,¬†I felt again that¬†twinge of¬†sadness about the fact that I haven’t really got to experience college life, certainly¬†not in a place like this, but it soon passed. There comes a time when you just have to leave that stuff behind you. You are what you are.¬†

I went to the East Village for a rather stupid reason: To find Israelis. To make a long story short, I am seeking a temporary apartment, preferably with roommates, and I realized my best chance would be to hook up with Israelis. Someone told me that the East Village is full of them. The thing is, the minute I got out of my house I knew it was just an excuse. I didn’t want to sit at home and it gave me an excuse to visit another part of Manhattan. Do you really think that when I got there I started going into the felafel stores and ask about apartments? No, I didn’t. I just walked a lot, looked at the spectacular¬†buildings,¬†went south into¬†Soho, and saw the¬†Empire State Building from afar (I think). I thought about walking all the way towards it, but it was more distant than it seemed, so I passed on it. Anyway, it was a great little¬†hike. It’s obviously a student town, with Internet Cafes and Zerox shops… And sqirrels too.

Yes, I’m trying to find excuses to go places. I’m not much of a tourist, you see. I don’t like to tour for the sake of it, and I certainly detest guided tours. If anything,¬†I like to do it solo, be¬†my own¬†master. But I need a reason. In the first few days I went to buy a cell phone and a laptop and during my searches I toured half the neighborhood. After that was over, I went to the East Village to look for Israelis. the minute I got there I forgot about that and just made it a day. I went to a sports store and bought myself a shirt, I watched the architecture and the people. I just didn’t feel like searching for Israelis and asking them about apartments. I wanted to have fun.

I know I’m repressing the fact that I NEED to solve this apartment thing, but fuck it.

Now, today I didn’t have any excuses or reasons left anymore. If I am to go anywhere, I said to myself, I’ll just have to do it. Go somewhere just for the sake of it. I wasn’t comfortable with that, but at the end, there is a limit to the amount of excuses¬†one can have for stepping out. Sometimes you just have to be a tourist.

So I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’m not a big museums enthusiast, but the Met (as it is called) is a 10 minute walk from my apartment, and it looks so awesome from the outside, that¬†I decided I’ll chance it and hoped I wouldn’t be bored to tears.

Well, it was quite an interesting experience, and I certainly enjoyed it,¬†but I’ve written a lot already and I’m tired, or rather, my hands are tired, so I think I’ll have to take a raincheck on that.

Actually, I don’t really know if it’s such an interesting story to tell. I mean, it’s a HUGE museum, with hundreds of artifacts, sculptures and paintings, some of them are truly amazing, but the minute I got there and realized there’s a cafeteria somewhere in the building, I spent half the time looking for that elusive cafeteria, and during¬†my searches¬†saw half the museum.

At the end I found it and sat down, at last, to cheeseburger and fries. I mean, all this walking made me hungry. So if you’ll ever go the Met, and search for the cafeteria, just know it’s right below the Renaissance paintings section.

There, I saved you two hours.