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New York


View Old man goes around on Old Man At's travel map.

Trying to navigate through the New York underground is more of a challenge than I imagined, because the mobile that drowned in a Kuta pool party has now finally collapsed and died. As a result I am lost in Queens at night. There are a lot of people out and about in Queens, none of them white except for me. A lot of drunks and just plain loons, shouting and being annoying. I go back and forth trying to find my way to the next station. A man, three heads taller and twice as broad as me halts me. His two friends gather round. “Where are you from man?”, he asks. “Never-never land”, I make up. He wants to know my name, so I tell him my name. “Nah, that is no good”, he tells me, “I will call you L. Sway, because you have swagger when you walk.” I don't really know what swagger means, I have been called it before and thought it was an insult, but I found out it is in fact not. I start to walk again but he calls me back. “Wait, take this”, he hands me a CD on which he scribbles something, “I am going to do a music video, I am going to be big.” I shrug and pocket the CD, remembering I don't have a CD player and wondering who does these days.

Instead of a hotel I rent an apartment in upper Manhattan. Overlooking Central Park on 74th. It is a typical red brick New York building. Fifth floor no elevator. Old wooden ornamented staircase railings. Basement entrance with brass and glass doors in the hallway. On the first floor lives a lady with a Polish name who plays classical piano with some skill every morning. As I step outside a man in a dark blue turtleneck sweater passes my building. In his left hand the leash that ends in a tiny, long haired dog, wearing a pink ribbon and probably listening to the name Fifi. In his other hand he holds an unopened bottle of red wine with fancy label by the neck. The man walks with a brisk pace that gives a hop to his step. Everything about the scene feels like an early career Woody Allen movie.

"Skyline"

"Skyline"

After paying for my apartment and buying a new mobile I am out of dollars. I have a daily withdrawal limit agreement with my bank for security purposes and so I am 'broke’. Wandering 5th avenue in the rain I look for something to do that costs no more than the 7 USD in coins I have in my pocket. Luckily the MoMa is free on Friday night. The website warns me for long lines but I can walk right in. Inside I gape at the people as much as the paintings. Weaves, false eyelashes, full face makeup, designer clothes. Four layer suits for the gents and shoes that have never seen anything but carpet. At first I think this is an American 'thing’. Similar to Eastern Europeans going to the theater. But visiting the Met later I can dismiss this. MoMa at Friday's is just the city's singles hot spot.

I love New York. I want to do like they do. Near the sports stadium I order a Lichtenstein from a street vendor. He is an Arab that doesn't understand my English and I have to call out my order three times. “You language no good”, he tells me, “you need speak better.” “Okay Mr Arab guy”, I tell him, while thinking to myself: ’Only in New York’.

"The Lady"

"The Lady"

In a contrary move I get a city pass that allows me free access to a bunch of attractions and also three day use of the HoHo bus. It stops in front of my apartment building because people like Tiger Woods and Bruce Willis own(ed) apartments here. There is actually a whole list of celebrities called out by the tour narrator but I forget about them almost immediately. The bus takes me everywhere from Queens to Brooklyn and there is even a boat included to take me to Ellis Island and the statue of Liberty. The pass gives me freedom and makes me do things I would otherwise probably have skipped, such as visiting the top of the Rockefeller building. But hey, it is for free.

My flight is in the early evening and in the morning I stroll around New York one more time aimlessly. Returning to the Met is possible as I have not yet seen everything, but the weather is too nice at 26C. Breakfast I take at a typical upper New York bagel shop, bagels with omelet and salmon and a whole bunch of other stuff. Delicious. The weather makes me decide to walk the High Line. I notice a young woman in an unusual outfit. Thick grey lycra hiking pants, thick white woolen knee socks on top of that and hiking boots. She wears a backpack and is clearly travelling just like me. Her t-shirt does not match the rest of her outfit. Its U-shaped neck drops down to almost her belly button and it can barely hold her gigantic rack. The chain with jeweled cross she wears around her neck dangling below her squeezed together breasts. It is impossible not to notice and heads are turning everywhere. I try not to stare but fail hopelessly and she seems to be laughing at all the people staring at her. She passes me by and I remain, sitting in the sun watching the people go by. With the peace of a man that has nowhere to go I sit there for about 90 minutes. After that I decide to go to Macy’s, look at the famous displays. A desire for coffee makes me search around Horatio and Jane for a bar first. I notice I am being followed and warily I turn around. It is lycra pants girls again. She must have stayed at the end of the Line as well for the one and a half hours. Perhaps all travelers are alike but just to be sure I take a left turn and when I am far enough in the street for her to have taken the left too, I turn around and walk back to where I came from as if I erred and retrace my steps. In passing her we lock eyes and her face is puzzled.

Somehow a pretty girl with big boobs in lycra pants in Greenwich Village is more scary than walking around Queens after midnight. I must be crazy.

Posted by Old Man At 10:58 Archived in USA

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