30 November, 2007

New York New York

so I walked all the way up Fifth Avenue from the office to the park. I had no idea so many of the things that you see in the movies are on Fifth Avenue, like the Public Library (Ghostbusters) and that iceskating rink and the Sherry Netherland building and FAO Schwarz (Big). I detoured slightly to see what the huge gothic building covered in scaffolding was, set back from the road, with a fountain all covered in lights in front of it, was - it was the Plaza! Ooh, I just love the Plaza!

The whole place had a strangely old-fashioned feel to it. Like if you went into the restaurants (not the swish restaurants, just the bog-standard ones), they had that kind of old-fashioned fifties decor that you see in fifties movies. Contrary to what the lady cabdriver says to Frank Sinatra in On the Town, apparently New York doesn't change all the time. It got to the 1950s and stopped there, at the apogee, if that's the word I'm looking for, of the American empire. Now it's beginning the long slow decline so familiar to anyone who lived in the British empire in the 20th century.

I was puzzled to find that the New York Times is a very thin newspaper with mystifying frontpage stories - the one on Tuesday was about how Muslim girlguides in the US found they got less stick if they wore their girlguide sash over their traditional garb. This is a front page story? A bit of a slow news day, was it, lads? In the middle of the biggest credit crisis since - they were saying in the office - the Great Depression? It is also written in a strange simple lingo, as if the reporters felt the need to explain the bleeding obvious to their readership. In many respects, although the stories were a little more current, it didn't seem to differ very much from the slim English-language newspapers for expats that I have come across in places like Taipei and Karachi. Very odd. I was beginning to wonder if this was some kind of special slimmed-down version of the NY Times that they publish just for distribution in hotels.

Had dinner with the Greek and Canadian in a red-checked tablecloth joint and swapped tales of olde Hong Kong. I had a Philly cheesesteak - mainly to find out what it was. I still don't know, except that it involved soft meat, soft bread and soft cheese.

Also went to Buffalo. It was very wide open. There was ice in the puddles. The path across the plaza in front of the office had railings along it to stop people being blown off it. Had lunch in another red-checked tablecloth joint. Had nacho chili cheese and fries. It involved soft nachos, soft chips, soft meat and soft cheese. Americans do not seem to like their food to fight back at all.

Watched The Counterfeiters on the plane - there was absolutely bloody nothing else on. It wasn't bad, not too harrowing, and the heroic Communist refusenik printer was played by the very lovely August Diehl.

Very glad to be home.


Blogger L-K said...

"Americans do not seem to like their food to fight back at all." Hilarious!

As to the foreign papers and NYT, I've noticed a lot of the articles come from NYT/IHT a few weeks later. Too much trouble to do their own reporting and features, I guess. Hardly anything of interest in the American news media. Left/right, the stories are all the same.

12:22 pm  
Blogger 962 said...

USA Americans like food that resembles nothing, hence, they have to advertise extensively so you know what you are supposed to be eating. Kraft cheese slices yuk yuk yuk.

Buffalo, nice to hear having wiped out its namesake, people are also struggerling to survive.

Having said all of that, glad to be in the UK indicates just how bad the US is!!!!

12:59 am  

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