Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Last post in NYC

So this will be my last entry from NYC. I have a couple of hours left in the office before I head off for the day but tomorrow I will be finishing packing in my flat and then Thursday I fly off. Back in London next week via a bit of a detour over the weekend.

So I'll have a couple more stories to finish up with next week but then this record of my two years of travels will be done.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Last of the early beer starts...

...or at least last of the early beers starts due to the 6 Nations in NYC. I'm not ruling them out completely in the future. Turning up for the France v Italy game wasn't really necessary to guarantee a seat either - in fact there were only about a dozen people in the whole bar for the start of that game.

However, the place was mobbed by the time the Calcutta Cup game started and I doubt you could get in the door when the Wales v Ireland game began. Not sure whether the whisky shots were a good idea - actually they weren't...

Friday, 20 March 2009

Jimmy's Corner

The leaving drinks are beginning to take their tole on me this week. Thankfully I have a night off tonight before the 6 Nations at 9am tomorrow morning.

Yesterday I went out mid-afternoon with a few guys from work which ran until around midnight I think. Ended up in a bar called Jimmy's Corner which is just off Time Square. Generally I wouldn't even consider going anywhere near a bar in this area but this place was a bit different.

It is owned by a guy called Jimmy Glenn who is a pretty famous boxing trainer and the whole place is filled with pictures and other memorabilia. Interesting place to look into if you are passing by.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Recession note

I was out for a few beers last night with a few of the guys. I hadn't realised it as I walked in but I was the only one who still had a job. The other three all having lost out in the last few months - they also don't hold out much hope of getting anything new in the foreseeable future and have been looking all over the world (America, Asia, Europe and Africa).

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

123 Burger Shot Beer

The Ting Tings concert on Monday was at Terminal 5 which is in the middle of nowhere in Manhattan terms (56th St and 12th Ave). However, we did come across a noteworthy bar after the show on about 51st St and 10th Ave: 123 Burger Shot Beer.

The name comes from the prices: $1 burgers, $2 shots and $3 draft beers. Now let me clarify slightly, the burgers are mini-burgers and you need to order a minimum of three and the beers are not pints (although its still a pretty good deal as they seem to be about 12oz). Also, the beer selection is pretty good: you would expect Bud, Bud Light and other such dreadful stuff (which is there) but there is also Goose Island IPA and Sam Adams.

As it was a Monday night we were never going to be there until silly o'clock but 1am was more than respectable I thought (especially after a 6 Nations weekend).

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

For the fifth time in about 9 months...

...The Ting Tings were back in NYC again. They've now graduated to playing Terminal 5 which has a capacity of about 3,000 which was sold out last night. Compare that to 500 person Bowery Ballroom they first played here last year.

I missed the opening band last night (Hottub) so I'll move straight to The Ting Tings. As usual they had made a few tweaks to the show - most notably the addition of four girls playing saxophones on a couple of songs and adding a verse of Talking Heads "Psycho Killer" to the middle of "We Started Nothing".

They could do with a few more songs though as the show is still only just over an hour - that's fine for Bowery Ballroom but at the bigger venues with higher prices not so much.

Found something a bit different while looking for mp3s today - a mashup of "Shut Up and Let Me Go" with "Give It Away" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Not sure if it works or not but check it out here.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Long Saturday of rugby

Having spent the usual morning/early afternoon in the Red Lion watching rugby (with the clocks changing here it was an 11am start rather than 10am). We then decamped up to The Australian and made our way through three Super 14 games.

It was about midnight when we finally left (13 hours after the day in the bar began). Only one more weekend of these early bar starts to go - but that starts at 9am...

Friday, 13 March 2009

Jacko impersonation

I see Michael Jackson tickets went on sale in the UK today - not going anywhere near that but I did see a Jacko impersonator last night on my way home.

Going through Union Square underground station you quite often get a few buskers etc as it is a very large and busy station. Last nigh there was a rather large crowd, about 50 people, all stopped to watch one such "act". Turns out it was a guy dressed and dancing like Jacko while the music blared out of his hifi. Why do I deem this worthy of mention? Well two reasons, its Friday and I've got nothing else interesting to tell you and the guy was only about 3ft tall.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

3am on a Wednesday

Even though the counter on the right of the screen says I have 2 weeks left last night was my leaving drinks from the NYC office. Kicking off at a bar called Whiskey Park near the office on 6th and about 59th I think a group of us left there around 1.30am and went to The Spotted Pig for food.

I have a dim recollection of seeing 3am on my watch roughly when I got home. Still I could feel a lot worse today and at least one person is a no show in the office so far.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Pela

Most of the bands I go and see are UK bands who are relatively unknown over here - well last night was a US band who is relatively unknown over here. Without the normal expat crowd this was a gig in the Mercury Lounge (the room at the back of a bar venue that holds about 150 people).

River City Extension - I arrived half way through this bands set (the crowd was probably under 30 at this point in the evening) but I'm glad I did. This is the first band I have bought the CD of at the gig for quite a while. I've been reading about them this morning and they are described as a "dockgrass" band!?!?! Anyway, I rather liked it whatever it was. Also, this band continued the growing trend I've seen of having some more obscure instruments in their band - cello and trumpet included here.

Neckbeard Telecaster - this lot seemed to be a bunch of mates on a piss-up rather than any sort of organised band (there were 12 of them on stage including at least four who had no apparent purpose). Anyway, probably up to about 50 people by now in the venue and the sound was not bad but I do remember thinking it was all a bit similar and songs seemed to blend into one.

Holly Miranda - back to a band with a random instrument added - violin's do seem to be becoming popular in the bands I'm seeing. I'd sum this group up in the same way as the one above, not bad but I do remember thinking it was all a bit similar and songs seemed to blend into one.

Pela - I've had the the album on my ipod for the last couple of weeks (I hadn't listened to their stuff for a while) and although all the tracks are good there really aren't any that are great. Live they are very good though, a full house (so about 150 I guess) got an hour long show including some new tracks which sounded really good and a cover of the clash song "Guns of Brixton".

Check out "Trouble With River Cities" by Pela here.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Connection issues

At the moment I'm trying to organise my name going back on the bills for electricity, telephone and Sky etc. There are a couple of issues here though:

1. a lot of the companies have some number beginning 08 which I can't call from this country.
2. the difficulty in trying to keep the same number from BT (which will help with Sky Broadband) is ridiculous.

I suspect this will not be solved by the time I return...

Monday, 9 March 2009

Rangers v Bruins

Early start at the hockey yesterday as the Rangers game was picked up by NBC to be shown nationally. As a result the face-off was at 12.30pm.

Another excellent game in what looks like being my final ice-hockey game before I leave the US. A scoreless first period which the Rangers just about shaded. However, the the 2nd period the teams exchanged early goals before the Rangers took control and scored another couple of goals to lead 3-1 going into the 3rd.

The Bruins (who are currently top of the Eastern Conference) woke up in the 3rd period and scored a couple of goals to get level and they looked more likely to go on and win. However, it was the Rangers who scored to win it holding out against a 6 on 4 powerplay at the end of the game.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Wedges

Haven't been in the Australian bar for quite a while but ended up meeting a couple of guys for beers there last night. Disaster occurs in that the wedges they served have been changed since out last visit - this may seem a minor annoyance but these were fantastic wedges.

Still probably won't stop me spending the day watching replays of Super 14 matches there all day tomorrow.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Steaming?

A relatively common sight in Manhattan are large tubes rising from the street and venting steam in to the air.

I've been curious what these are for a while so when I saw another set at lunchtime today I decided to try and find out. Apparently, this is a heating system which carries steam from central power stations under the streets of Manhattan to heat, cool, or supply power to high rise buildings and businesses. This has been going on since the system was fist introduced in 1882.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

I'm sure I've written this before but...

I'm really looking forward to getting away from the awful weather in this city. Just when I thought I might get a couple of nicer weeks before I leave the snow falls and the temperature drops.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Billie Jean King Cup

Never heard of it before? Not surprising as this was the first year of the competition. Also, the advertising wasn't great as I only noticed it was on last week.

Anyway, it was a mini tournament at MSG last night featuring the Williams sisters, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. Two semi-finals of one set (with no deuce and a first to seven tie break if a set finished at 6 all) followed by a three set final under normal rules.

First up was Venus Williams v Jelena Jankovic. To be honest Jankovic never really threatened in this match while always having to work hard to hold her serve. She eventually did drop serve and lost the set 6-4:

The second match between Seerena Williams and Ana Ivanovic was much closer with Ivanovic twice getting to 15-40 on the Williams serve but being unable to win any of the 6 break points. Williams had one break point and took it to win 6-3:

After a half hour break (where there was a presentation to Billie Jean King and a speech by Bill Clinton) the final got underway. A close first set where breaks were traded turned on a very long 9th game. This game probably took 15 minutes to finish on its own before Serena finally won another break and then served out the set.

After this break Serena cruised through most of the second set to open up a 5-1 lead. Although Venus did get back to 5-3 that was it with Serena winning in straight sets:

You'll notice that I moved round to a better seat later in the match, the crowd (which was pretty full to begin with) started to leave from about the middle of the first set in the final (about 10.30pm) and by the 2nd set most of the crowd were either heading home or heading to better seats.

Winner of this event got $400,000, runner up $300,000 and just for turning up $250,000. Not a bad nights work any way you look at it.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Radio City Music Hall

This a a rather famous venue in NYC which originally opened in 1932.

Over the last year and a bit I've kept an eye on what/who was appearing at this venue to try and spot something worth the visit and finally something appeared. This weekend David Byrne was appearing in two shows so I went along on Friday night.

Now, the time on the ticket for most concerts I go to is the doors opening time and this will be at least and hour (and possibly two) before the first band starts. However, I suspected that there may not be a support act and that the 8pm on the ticket may be the actual show time. I was right on both counts with David Byrne starting at about 8.15pm. Plenty of people were wrong and were still filing in about 45 mins later.

Radio City itself is pretty massive inside with an all seater capacity of about 6,000 - normally I avoid seated concerts but as I was still a bit unwell and had been to the gym a couple of hours earlier I was quite happy with a seat.

Unfortunately, I also thought that cameras would be banned inside (and there were plenty of signs saying just that). However, first announcement from David Byrne was take as many pictures as you like. That left me with my rather crappy camera phone hence the poor quality.

To the gig itself. Well the show lasted about 2 hours. I was expecting the set to mostly cover his solo work and Brian Eno collaborations (the name of thew show was "Performing the songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno"). However, there were a good number of Talking Heads songs thrown in later on which was excellent.

You'll find an mp3 of "Strange Overtones" which I think is from his most recent album with Eno linked here.