Ignore the signs; if you're a man, you can pee on a bus standing up. You'll bruise your knees, smack your head against a wall and your arms will flail about like a ragdoll, but it's better than emasculating yourself in private.
So Sam, Dicky Peach and I were off to New York, provided our bodies could outlast the bathroom visits. We had originally intended for more to come along, but it didn't work out for everyone. No matter, the three of us were off to see Two Door Cinema Club and Tokyo Police Club play at Webster Hall.
|Banana Pond, frozen|
Throughout the bus trip Sam was confusing the windblown snow from the bus for legitimate falling white stuff despite the glaring sun. The view when approaching Manhattan never gets old, and is only helped by the fact that as soon as you see it, you know you have to spend the next 45 minutes getting closer to the heart of American society.
Our hostel messed up the bed situation, and when the three beds together we were promised didn't fit into their available two in each room an inevitable fuckup ensued. No matter, we weren't there to do anything but count sheep.
We walked from 96th to 56th street, and all the way along we smoked the victory cigars we had purchased in Amherst. We were victorious, passively at worst. Victorious that we were walking through Manhattan in the middle of winter. Victorious that we are fortunate enough to study in this country. And victorious that the three of us, from three different countries, all managed to converge at the right place and time and become sound friends. The victory cigars were only offset by our amateur approach to lighting and consuming them, but while our advent needed improvement, our intent was all there.
The snow had destroyed Sam's shoes and Peach's circulation. We stopped by J Macs, a bar that thematically supported the troops, but was frequented by the opposite of soldier types. Sam took to stuffing his shoes with toilet paper to soak up the icy water, but such efforts were like the little Dutch by with his finger in the Dyke.
When we finally made it to the concert venue, Terminal 5, a massive line that snaked across both sides of the road greeted us. The cold seemed harsher than ever as we waited to get in, and when we finally did the place seemed relatively barren. We ascertained a decent viewing spot and cemented ourselves there for the night.
The opening band came and went off stage without rousing much of a response. Two Door were next, and were immediately infinity times greater. Their bass player was like a Kyle Lafferty/Peter Hook hybrid while their guitar player was a poor man's Johnny Marr (not an insult, Johnny is on a pedestal so high the world can only see the tips of his shoes). Even if they ditched the bass guitar for a synth in a few songs (a pet hate of mine), they still played a thoroughly excellent set.
The majority American audience got over enthusiastic to the dance music that played over the P.A. between bands. The reaction usurped the opening band, and was an odd indicator on how live music is treated over here.
Tokyo Police Club headlined the night's show, and we also equally excellent. The beanpole singer/bassman dominated the band, and drew even more attention when his birthday was announced. The band are my age, but it's hard to determine that when you listen to them, but such things should be become less shocking the older I get. The night ended when both bands came out for an encore and a joint performance of Last Nite by The Strokes, the quintessential New York City band of this generation.
That was the end of my night too. While Sam and Dicky Peach headed to Brooklyn, I opted for a retreat to the Upper West Side for tally of those aforementioned sheep.
The next day Peach offered to stay around while Sam and I walked from one part of the park to the other. It was a measured change from our last jaunt through there in November, when all the grass was still visible. The large pond had frozen over, people had traded baseball bats for skis and countless fathers were out sledging with their kids. The moment hit Sam like an epiphany. His life had led him to the moment where he was strolling through a snow covered Central Park while his friends and family were all at home living their lives in their typical day-to-day manner. It's a moment of clarity I can empathise with. The cold doesn't matter. Nor does the weight of any backpack. You're there, living.
We stopped by the Dakota, where John Lennon's final moments shook the world. Across the road a lady was channelling Home Alone 2, but feeding sparrows instead of pigeons. We walked, and walked and walked some more before we stopped around 30th st. The pavement had taken its toll, and rather than getting typically lost, we took a train to Little Italy for dinner.
Like a bunch of 15-year-olds given a bit of responsibility, we acted accordingly at dinner. Everytime the door opened the chill brushed across my arse-crack that I can not help prevent displaying in public. Sam and Peach were hoarding the table bread on their plates. Sam even turned the bacon from his carbonara into tiny bacon sandwiches to the disdain of Italy's millions of Nonnas.
The food was amazing and a lovely tribute to the late-night tourist hub. Given the night hours, we took cover from the cold by grabbing any train we could to Brooklyn and a quiet night in Williamsburg.
Well that was the intention anyway. The subway entertainment should have been a precursor for the excellent night that followed. While an elderly man belted out some excellent tunes, a well dressed middle age man relived his youth by dancing all over the station, oblivious to his growing audience. The train left just after he had done the splits, but the train's passengers kept their focus on him as the train headed under the East River.
A bar serving 32oz cups (massive, awesome, 946ml) of Bud for $4 became our temporary home. One man played Pantera and Corrosion of Conformity songs, reminding me of one of the first concerts I went to when I was 14.
A huge black guy and tiny Asian man were both dressed in impeccable white suits straight from the 70s and had left their sense of irony back then as well. I even managed to catch the tiny Asian man while he was in the middle of an ablution. The bathroom had a urinal, and a neighbouring toilet that did not have a door. Such privacy was a not a concern for him.
I injured my hand dancing with a girl from New Jersey who did not share the same enthusiasm for Bruce Springsteen that I had. Meanwhile, John St John's female body-double, Joan St Joan, was sporting one of the most fantastic displays of drunk-eye anyone had seen for a long time.
A random guy had bought me a shot while Sam had been cornered by the one girl in the bar who he didn't want to talk to. Not long after I tried to convince two girls from Melbourne that I am also from Australia, I just don't share their filthy bogan speak. I eventually won out, because it's true.
Sam and Dicky Peach continued to down the giant cups of beer, but I had already spilt one when my hat flung off and flipped it in some over-enthusiastic response to hearing Michael Jackson. The end result of drinking so many large beers mean you have to expel it, and while waiting for our ride back at Bedford station I began to hear what sounded like water being poured onto the tracks. Instead, it was Sam and Peach taking turns at covering one another while the other did their business. Thank god the third rail is on the other side of the track.
Finally, at 5:30AM, our quiet night of dinner and a drink had ended. I must have been hilariously gassy through the night, as when packing and leaving the next day the only other awake person in the room (a pretty Spanish girl) kept laughing at me whenever I pottered around the place.
Again, we walked through the park on our way to midtown. We eventually stopped in the lobby of a building for a reprieve from the cold and planted ourselves there for a few hours. Peach was sporting an excellent hangover, and the colour had left his face hours before.
Our return to Amherst was met with the coldest conditions I have ever dealt with. As soon as I stepped off the bus I felt the snot in my nose freeze. Today the condensation from breathing was forming on my moustache and turning to ice. -20, is officially too much for me.
David Bowie - Modern Love
90% of the Adventureland soundtrack would make an outstanding song. This song is phenomenal, and has since passed Life of Mars as my favourite Bowie tune, boom.