It’s a Hell of a Town…
A ‘Before I Saw the Light’ special
I have to be honest. I truly wish that this project had started just a month or two sooner, because in March this year, I went to New York. New York is perfect for this kind of project, and there’s so much tourist-trapping tat being sold that there would have been lighters aplenty to choose from.
When I asked about writing this retrospective piece, I was told to find a lighter that represented New York. The lighter I chose has a little built-in torch which I thought reflected the bright lights of the Big Apple quite nicely. What the lighter lacks, however, is the torrent of noise at all hours; a Starbucks on every corner, drivers honking their horns every .0.3 seconds,* and… well. Everything else that makes New York the place it is.
The idea for the trip was spontaneous and, I will admit, mostly came to be because of a concert. I had meet and greet-tickets for Fall Out Boy and I would have walked to New York to have that experience. As it happens, there was a handy airline service to New York, and so I was spared the journey.
I am not good on planes. Whenever there was turbulence, I would grab my friend’s** hand and start sending up prayers to whatever deity was listening, but as we flew over New York, all lit up in the night-time, it was truly worth those seven hours of pure terror.
Our hotel was reasonable – though, we couldn’t turn off the radiator, and so were stuck on the constant edge of boiling to death, but we didn’t spend much time there anyway. The two of us made every second count.
On the first day, we were up bright and early and headed for Times Square, which is arguably the pinnacle of the New York experience. Within an hour, we were both given free hugs by a cheerful homeless man and almost dragged into the ‘Church’ of Scientology (which my friend was more than happy to let go on until I spoke up.) We went to the magnificent Disney store, ate at Olive Garden (everything there is LADEN with salt), and went into a MAC boutique where I bought a lovely new lipstick wonderfully called ‘Mehr’.
This was a source of entertainment for hours.
We queued up for cheaper theatre tickets and saw the Broadway show ‘School of Rock’, which was incredibly well-done and which I would recommend it to anyone.
The next day was concert day – I was shitting myself – but we got to Madison Square Garden far too early. After we made a quick stop into Lush and bought some American-only soaps, sold to us by a lovely man named Andre who thought Scotland and England weren’t connected, we decided to run up to the top of the Empire State Building while we were there.
My goodness, is it tall.
It was a cold day anyway, but there was snow on the top of it. I wish I could have stayed up there longer but the air was freezing my lungs, so we had to go back after maybe twenty minutes. I left my mark by writing the work “bum” in the snow, and took my leave.
If I could write a whole different article on meeting Fall Out Boy I would, but I’m going to try and keep it short. They were so lovely and gave the best hugs, especially Patrick, and they didn’t even mind when I sort of freaked out a bit in front of them. They laughed at my jokes which made my year, and they did the awkward prom pose I requested for the photo. It looks less jokey on me, though, and more just.. awkward.***
The concert itself was, obviously, amazing, and – for those of you who know Fall Out Boy – when they started playing Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes I began to sob, and when they had a Bowie tribute in Save Rock and Roll I lost it. I wish I could say I was embarrassed.
The next day was a day for being typical tourists. We took the ferry around the Statue of Liberty and made intrigued “ooh” and “aah” noises at everything the enthusiastic Jamaican tour guide said before we went across to New Jersey so my friend could buy something from Carlo’s Bake Shop (yes, Cake Boss.) The cakes were insanely good, and the huge chocolate-covered strawberries were to die for. The many drunk college students celebrating St. Patrick’s day I could take or leave, though.
On our final day we traversed Central Park to Central Park Zoo, and let me tell you, you don’t understand how huge that park is. (On the way back, we took the subway because it was easier!)
It was a very sweet little place and a good way to kill a few hours before we had to go back to the airport – and there were a lot of dogs being walked outside of the zoo, which was wonderful and always a plus.
Pure exhaustion meant the plane ride home was easier, but it was still hard to leave. New York is a wonderful city. I highly recommend everyone go there at least once. It’s worth it.
*That’s not just something the media made up, they really do that.
** That friend was the girl who plays Mary in ‘From Mansfield With Love’, in case any of you care.
***I also met and consoled a crying 13 year old whilst in the queue to meet FOB. We follow each other on Twitter now. She calls me ‘mum’.