Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New York

"Start spreading the news, I'm leaving today
I want to be a part of it - new York, new York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it - New York, New York" - Frank Sinatra

Before we arrived in New York, Jez emailed his old Kibbutz friend Josh to tell him of our impending visit. Although very welcoming, he regarded us with suspicion. The idea of hosting two smelly backpackers possibly carrying any number of South American borne diseases was indeed cause for concern. Of course we couldn't see the consternation on Josh's face over email but he kept that look until the day we showed up at his bachelor pad in Brooklyn.
Josh had just graduated from Law school but he still had to sit the bar exam. So our arrival was a little untimely. We assured him we would be no trouble and that we would entertain ourselves.
There was just one problem...we did not have our bible on us. A Lonely Planet to tell us where to go, what to do, how to think. So we picked up the next best thing...
Just kidding, we didn't buy that book. We've seen plenty of movies so we know what there is to do in New York. Who doesn't? We've all seen those romantic comedies where lovers land up kissing on top of the Empire State Building...
You may recall the restaurant from "When Harry met Sally" in which a customer says she will have what Sally is having. It is a real restaurant and it's called Katz.  No fake orgasms were played out on the day we went. Jez had a real one when he bit into his tasty corn beef sandwich.
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It is always important to understand the root cause of a problem. So we went to research the kinds of foods that are making Americans obese. Dunkin Donuts was the obvious starting point.
This was then followed by German beer gardens. Here Jez made an important religious discovery. The holy trinity - pretzel, mustard and beer.
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me..." - The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus
That described us perfectly! We were tired and homeless and tempest-tossed. Would the Statue of Liberty take us in?
She was surprisingly hospitable. Despite the fact that we had not bought a special ticket to enter her base we were allowed in. Inside was a museum and a life-size replica of her face and foot. Also inside was a step by step instruction set on how to make your own statue of liberty should the occasion arise. Lady Liberty is made from copper sheets which are assembled on a grid framework made of iron. Although she is not really that nice copper colour anymore, over time she has turned a little green.
She was actually a gift from France to celebrate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence.  She was built in France and then disassembled into 250 parts, packed into 2114 crates and shipped across to New York. She was then reassembled on Bedloe's island (now called Liberty Island) in 1885.
And now for a test: which famous Frenchman designed her internal structure? Hint: 13 years later he would construct a very famous icon in Paris.
We also knew that we could not leave New York without sampling kosher hot dogs or seeing a baseball game. Jez went the whole 9 yards with his hot dog sampling and taking his lead from Josh, washed it down with Budweiser.
Unfortunately, the weather had its own plans. It rained. In buckets. It was unrelenting. After waiting for an hour, the game was finally cancelled. Ludicrous! Looking around it became clear that the Yanks were indeed lightweights. Enlarge the photo to your right for further evidence of lightweightness...
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The Mets decided to show us that if it were up to them, they would be on the field playing baseball. Click below to restore your faith in mankind.
After the game, we decided to go for a drink at the very posh Waldorf Astoria. You may be wondering how they let us into their bar area looking like drowned backpackers. We think it was Jez's t-shirt. The one that says "hoja de coca no es droga" - The coca leaf is not a drug. 
Shisha isn't a drug either...not an illegal one anyway. Here Jez makes a tribute to another of his Kibbutz friends, Michel, who you may remember from our time in Sao Paulo. We also made another tribute to Michel. A video which will be screened at our welcome home party. Extra points will be awarded to anyone who yells out "you got the cinnamon" before the movies starts...
And so we farewelled young Josh and wished him well for his bar exam. Next stop, home...or at least our old home.

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