Kat: Look, let’s face it. I could write about all the things we did in New York like going to museums and checking out art galleries, but who cares when I tell you that I got to fly a plane over New York at night, do 2 take offs and help co-pilot a landing. As my sister said “Who put you in charge of a plane?!”
We visited Justin’s cousin Regina and her husband Rob for thanksgiving. Rob’s a pilot and despite my nerves convinced us to go up in a Cessna light aircraft. The plane was just out of Raiders of the Lost Ark; four seats and one propeller. All nerves dissipated when I got my first glimpse of the great Hudson river. We flew up the river and got some great views of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the new World Trade Centre. Looking back on the photographs, it was almost like Blade Runner flying alongside those electric skyscrapers.
Rob was kind enough to let me land the plane, although I suspect he may have been doing more than he let on… I can safely say I know how to lower the flaps to 10 degrees. But despite my 1 hour of flying experience I still never want to hear the announcement “Is there anyone with flight experience on board? The pilots have been incapacitated…” I’m happily sticking to photography.
New York is a very photogenic city, and one you can walk around for hours and not get bored. There’s Central Park, the iconic green space in the middle of the city. It’s hard to not visualize the countless films which have been shot on the park’s bridges, as well as the episodes of Law and Order (and the countless dead bodies found in Central Park). We walked through Tribeca, SoHo, Chinatown, under the Brooklyn Bridge and as far as the Staten Island Ferry. By the end of the week we were experts in navigating the Subway system (actually there was only one line we really needed to catch…).
We were lucky enough to be in New York for Thanksgiving, the great American holiday which celebrates the pilgrims and Indians coming together (after which the Indians were promptly dispossessed of their land). Getting up at 6am we thought we would be early for the 9am start of the Thanksgiving parade, but no. Seems like everyone else in New York had the same idea. We stood for two hours in a crowd ten rows from the front getting pushed and shoved for a parade that was a little bit of a let down. There was hardly any music, the speakers were broken on floats, so the Ten Tenors looked like they were singing with no sound. I liked the balloons; the nerd in me was secretly hoping for a Mr Stay-Puft or a Joker balloon, but no. At the end of it all someone threatened to pee on me. The first jerk I’d met in America.
Justin: Oh yes he was definitely a jerk in the truest sense of the word, what made it more disappointing is that his jerkface conduct was in front of his young family thereby likely to extend his jerk gene down the ages, nooooo….hopefully the chain will get broken somehow, someway.
New York. Enough said. It’s its own world really – everyone has a tough, firm and focused and direct way about them that I really dig actually, it’s not rude it’s confidence with style I reckon.
I don’t often get a chance to visit family abroad, in Australia I only have my immediate family – my lovely gorgeous parents – and that’s it. Understanding how and why it happens is revealed by New York. My parents met and married in New York, both fleeing their respective countries. Mum left Hungary during the communist rule and restrictions and Dad fled well… New Zealand! Both lived and worked in New York and developed lasting friendships, Mum’s brother Ivan also moved to the States and forged a successful career in marketing. He has a daughter and son who both live in the United States. So Kat and I had a chance to visit friends and family.
First stop Jim and Alba who live in an apartment on the Upper West Side. Becoming accustomed to clumsily barging my way into a tent didn’t prepare me for the shock of… a doorman! I had a doorman for a week who well, opened doors for me, just literally (they don’t have the personality or passion to open metaphorical gateways). Alba is a lovely Venezuelan who studied English with my Mum in the 70s, her husband Jim is a great guy, a retired money-man who loves playing with outdated computers. We ate some great dinners together and I treated them to spaghetti JB style, which went down well.
For two nights we went to New Jersey. My cousin Regina lives there with her husband Robert and three children. They were more than hospitable, Robert is really into his gadgets and knows them inside out, a successful electrical engineer who flies and teaches others to fly light aircraft as stress relief – stress relief I tell you, if that is stress relief I think he’s got the mind of a sizable planet! We celebrated thanksgiving together, my first thanksgiving, Regina smashed out a feast, I had about three platefuls of pure American banquet. Regina’s mum and Rob’s brother and his wife joined us. It was in thanksgiving that I really felt joined at the hip with Americans and the American spirit, probably haven’t felt that since the 9/11 anniversary in San Francisco.
Kat’s aforesaid story about flying over NYC has to be one of the most memorably things we’ve done. Wow just thinking back to it gives me shudders and Kat performed her duties more than competently.
Other highlights: Moma and the Met, seeing Rent off-broadway and subway busking. What you realise is that the arts is so strong and what you get in smaller cities like Sydney really tiny but you don’t get context and perspective until you lose yourself in the scale of the mega apple. And I gnawed my way into the core of this magnificent city, it greatly improved my digestion and health and will keep the doctor away for a while as I bask in the grandeur of NYC for months to come. Ciao for now. Justin and Kat