Day Two: Megacity-1

Awoke at 9:something. Will shower and change clothes after moving more furniture in New York.

Not quite groking that I'm going to see New York City. I'll have empirical evidence that it isn't a mythical metropolis invented for television.

Suffer under direct sunlight for the first time. The sky is clear, yet it's still humid as hell. And the damn crickets are still at it. I can't imagine the South being worse than this (another reason I'll never visit).

My straw fedora's become stiff and less floppy. I wonder if it's the humidity or the saltiness of the humidity.

We're back on the road, and will be living off pastries until we get to our hotel room.

Amangansett police are pretty laid back. They're dressed and equipped like the cheapest of rentacops, without even the belt laden down by handcuffs, radios, mace, billy clubs, and whatever else city police use to enhance their waistline. I wonder if this is characteristic of all small New England towns, or just richburgs like this.

Found out (thanks to Google Earth) that Jerry Seinfeld lives near here.

There are ancient houses lifted up on stilts all around here, probably for preservation work.

For the amount of money here, none of the newer houses look very remarkable. I haven't seen anyone turn their gains to architectural excellence yet.

This town has an international realty agency.

Finally saw a Starbucks, sandwiched between clothing stores.

The graveyards here haven't had anyone new buried in them since the late 1970s. I saw one gravestone of a woman whose life spanned 1878-1976.

We got to talking about the oldest lived organisms and the average lifespans of animals, and David brought up a chart of average and extreme ages for animals on his iPhone. This is the only time I've felt like this sleek, light laptop is bulky.

There's a very fancy restaurant here called 'LAUNDRY'. Before David noted it was a restaurant, I thought that 19th century villas were so common here they converted one into a laundromat.

Passed Georgica Creek Antiques, which sports many brand new cherub statues out front.

They have a 'French Style Dry Cleaners' place here. I didn't even know there were different styles of dry cleaning. Did they just invent a European form of dry cleaning to fit in around here or something?

Passed a black Ford pick-up that couldn't have been from later than 1930. I'm surprised at the lack of interesting cars here - so far only one stylin' sports car and one antique car. If I was wealthy enough to live here I'd have something with a little bit of panache.

How can the wealthy be so damn boring?

There's an auto dealership here that sells golf carts. To individuals. Who wakes up and thinks 'man, what I really need is a tiny car that goes fifteen miles an hour, won't fit on the sidewalk and will get run off the street, can only carry a minimum load, and would crumble at the slightest impact'?

Another Starbucks and a Gulf gas station with eight full-size American flags flying.

Now that we're in the air conditioned car, my hat's become flexible again.

The local (huge) Elks lodge has a sign reading 'GOD BLESS AMERICA', with three underlines. Jingotastic.

It's interesting that the main shift in franchises whould be gas stations. I've seen Guld, Hess, Sunoco, Shell, and Mobil so far.

There's a lot of very old windmills here. I wonder just how far back they date - they look identical.

We passed a statue store selling, amongst other things, dinosaur statues about twelve feet high. It was in the more working class outskirts of Southampton, which I think I like more than Amangansett or East Hampton. For one thing, hole-in-the-wall bagel shops - a necessity of civilization, in my opinion.

Passed a small plane flying stunts over the forest. It did, indeed, do a barrel roll.

The map function of the iPhone is one of its handiest features.

The Sherwin-Williams Paint logo is sinister if you think about it: a bucket pouring red paint on a globe, with the words 'COVER THE EARTH'. It sounds like the badge of a paint-themed terrorist organization.

While it's bombed into extinction on the West Coast, 'Coke Zero' is still going strong over here.

We're passing a place named Lake Success. If it was named that in this century, there is no excuse for that name.

There's a township near New York called Babylon.

Passed a truck trailer owned by the B.R.E.S.T. company.

Highways are pretty much the same here as anywhere. Only difference so far is some sound barriers made of wood instead of concrete.

These freeway roads need some serious work done on them.

No one ever builds skyscrapers out where all the other buildings are three stories at most. I can understand if it's a money thing, but what about the opulent areas like the Hamptons? Is it town regulations keeping them from building it? It'd be great to have the only fifty-story building for fifty miles in any direction. It'd be the twenty million dollar version of jumping on a rock and yelling "I'm tallest! I'm tallest!"

Come to think of it, most towers are big enough to fit the townships out here in. Arcologies like that would be a good alternative to the suburban McMansion sprawl like you see on the outskirts of Clackamas county.

There's a guy on a motorcycle wearing a hard polymer vest that looks like body armor from 2025.

Seeing the first big buildings of New York now. They're gigantic in size and soul. Outskirt tenements that say "Welcome to New York, puny fuckin' human."

All of a sudden we're zipping through a neighborhood with red brick houses from 189X and a strip of Korean restaurants.

This is the worst possible day to be moving furniture. It's 95ºF with 90% humidity.

We seem to be passing through Queens, if the names on the businesses is any indication. It looks beautiful and poor.

The car infront of us has a Bush/Cheney '04 sticker. A very, very rare sight in Portland.

I see the old World's Fair area, with the flying saucers from Men in Black. They're rusted out and disused. In the fog I can see the outline of what might be the Empire State.

We pass a convenience store named Convenient Store.

Monolithic buildings loom in the fog all around us. I look at the base of a pair of gigantic smokestacks and see a graveyard that's a metropolis of its own.

Then, suddenly, Manhattan is right infront of us. This is the most city I've seen in my life. There are smokestacks as tall as office buildings in Portland. There are billboards everywhere. Old red brick churches squat in the midst of thirty store warehouses. We pass another graveyard, huge enough to fit all the graveyards in Portland proper.

We hit another toll station, things I don't think exist in the Northwest except for the one on the bridge over the Columbia.

This is a true metropolis.

My bladder is very full. I am afraid to get out of the car.

We go through another very long tunnel. I think it's longer than the one the MAX goes through.

The walls around the highway road are made of giant stone blocks and crisscrossed with old pipes whose use is forgotten. There's a sudden spill of green ivy and trees from some anonymous buildings, and I realize it's the first green I've seen here.

Numbered streets go one way, numbered avenues the other. Portland wins in navigability so far.

No one is wearing a hat.

There's a $350 penalty for honking. I wonder if it works.

Never have I seen so many cabs.

We're in an Indian district, suddenly. There's so much at the base of all these apartment buildings.

The Sixty-Ninth Regiment fortress looks like it could still hold out against a siege.

I see the first, and maybe only, sidewalk trees in the city.

According to David, the most effective way to drive around New York is to act like you're part of a school of fish and essentially ignore lanes as necessary. This is terrifying.

Bikes weave through the slow moving traffic live it's an obstacle coarse. I could never get around this place.

So far all the churches and cathedrals have clocks on their towers, giving a utilitarian aspect to decidedly non-utilitarian buildings.

Brick reds, browns, and greys are the dominant hues of the area.

I find that the clean bathrooms hypothesis for McDonald's popularity makes sense in a place like New York. There's a traffic cop there doing his paperwork, a woman covered in freckles like I've never seen eating a salad, and it's staffed entirely by attractive women.

There are food marts with actual stalls full of fruit out in the street. I thought those were in the same category as women with bagettes sticking out of their shopping bags.

I don't realize just how huge streets are until I walk across one. They're less streets and more areas where cars happen to drive through.

An ambulance with Hebrew on it passes us with sirens blazing. We also pass 'HOLYLAND KOSHER FOODS', which inexplicably has a Hindu two-thumbed hand as a logo.

Catherine's apartment is above a clothing store and sandwiched between two churches, one of which (the Polack one) has a giant bronze bust of the last Pope.

The architectural detail on these apartment buildings is fantastic.

Re-met Catherine for the first time in eight years

Moving everything upstairs was actually worse than I imagined. I am covered in the stickiest of sweat. The apartment building is dimly lit and a bit cramped, but nice. There are marble stairs and mirrors on the walls. It was probably very upscale in the 1920s. There was a congenial guy cleaning the room, who I somehow felt more at ease chatting with than others. I think the accent does it.

Portland might have a higher number of freaks per capita, but New York really has everyone, and possibly everything. I saw an actual news stand, something I thought had gone extinct in the early 1980s.

There's a guy with an ornate feathered headdress who wanders the street doing perfect bird impersonations.

Several firetrucks went tearing down 14th St. Emergency vehicle drivers in this city have a terrible time of it. Using helicopters might actually be better in the long run.

There's a guy who sits on the street selling custom-written poems. Catherine wants to punch him in the face. I agree with her sentiment.

There's lots of fruit vendors, and the fruit is both cheap and high quality.

I could actually imagine living in this city if my job was within walking distance of my home. I might have days of crippling shock and spend weeks fortifying my apartment, though.

New York is dirty, but right now I'm filthy enough I could roll around on the sidewalk and come up feeling cleaner.

Simply exploring New York (with no heed to private or restricted property) could last a lifetime. There's nooks and crannies here that no one has been in for a century.

There are three dozen WiFi networks just where I'm sitting right now. The future is upon us.

Pigeons own this city, or at least act like it. They walk with imperial authority and mafioso menace. I just saw one wait until a car's wheels were within a foot of it before it haughtily leapt aside. If the car hadn't sped off it might have slashed the tires with its beak.

We go by Union Square twice, and I only notice the second time. Like David said, having things you've only heard referenced your whole life to the point where they're on par with Avalon suddenly right infront of you is disorienting.

I feel like the ignorant rural kid just arrived in the big city. I probably sound like him, too. "Gaww-leee! Trains unnerground?"

New York is wonderful to get a sense of perspective (in the artistic sense). Block after block of building before you of roughly similar heights. It's like being in a giant hallway.

A man with huge dreadlocks pedals around a 'BicyTaxi', fitted with a large white frame so cars may actually notice before they smash into you. He pauses to chat with another dreadlocked man on a normal bicycle.

If there is a hell, it is eternally looking for a parking place in New York.

There's a sizable Korean population here. They have their own giant TV screen on the side of an office building. This portion of Broadway is even called Koreaway (seriously - there's a city-issued sign with that on it).

Cabs are the rulers of the road in New York. The drivers are gutsy, skilled, and don't own the car they drive. They always win a face-off and you can't bluff them.

Waiting outside hotel room door for Martin to return. He jumped out of the car before I did (the New York Paralysis hit me). He has my keycard and seems to have gone out for lunch, or has gone completely deaf. David still hasn't found parking. The furniture store banner was right - 'Because New Yorkers have everything, except space'.


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2 responses:

French Style Dry Cleaning

No real difference now except for possibly quality. I was hoping it meant your clothes got dry-cleaned by french maids, but no such luck.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007 at 1:53:00 PM PDT  

Excellent job describing NYC. Keep it up.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007 at 2:04:00 PM PDT  

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