New York Diary: Part I.

This is the first part of the scribbly writings I kept last month in New York.
It’s pretty much:
“Here’s What I Did On My Holidays”.

New York Diary: Part I.
A Voyeur In Manhattan.

It hadn’t quite sunk in.
Here was me up at 4am today, trying to shave – getting ready to go to New York City!

Me and my Family, heading for The Big Apple to celebrate my Mum’s 50th Birthday which was in January and my 30th which arrives this November.
Pretty good!

The last minute case packing,
The staring at the paperwork,
The drive to the airport,
The check-in and still it hadn’t sunk in for me yet.

It’s 8am now and the four of us are half awake in some bar in Glasgow Airport.
My folks buy me a pint of John Smith.
8am and here we all are drinking in a bar.
Now it sinks in.

The flight to London, Heathrow went pretty well.
Only took about an hour.
I listened to Buddy Guy and stared out at the clouds the whole way.

I’m usually pretty bad on planes.
I always think of crashing and landing in the sea in pitch black and if I’m not thinking about that, It’s a fair bet that I’m imagining what it’s like to be engulfed in burning jet fuel as our plane goes into the side of a mountain like a dart.
I wish I could stop thinking about these things but what can you do.
I asked my Sister if she had only 2 choices, burning up or dropping out of the sky into the sea, which would she prefer.
She said “The sea” and I agreed.

After bumming around Heathrow airport for a few hours we’re finally on the plane bound for JFK Airport in New York.
British Airways treat cattle class like us pretty well!
Each seat has an individual TV screen but I decide to read my book for a while.
I decided weeks ago to read Piers Paul Read’s “Alive” on the plane because I knew I’d think about crashing and death and my thinking was that if I read “Alive” then whatever happened couldn’t be as bad as what happened to those people.
It worked.

After a few hours I checked out the in-flight movie choices.
Last time I visited New York, the in-flight movie was “The Day After Tomorrow”.
Probably one of the worst movies to watch on a New York bound plane!
Anyways, the choice of flicks this time around were pretty decent.
“True Grit”, “127 Hours”, “Black Swan”, “The Social Network” etc…
I heard good things about “True Grit” and I really want to see it but I decide to hold off until I can watch it on a big screen.
Besides, at the bottom of the list I clock “The Godfather: Part II”.
Planes always seem to have that film.
It’s one of my favourites and although I’ve probably seen it 199 times, I watch it for the 200th time along with a Jack Daniels & Coke.
I still can’t believe Michael would whack out his own Brother like that!

After the film I turn on the in-flight progress map and notice that we’re flying over the spot of the Atlantic where The Titanic went down.
That calls for another Jack Daniels.
I can’t sleep on planes.
Unlike my Sister…

We make it to JFK and pretty much waltz right through airport security.
This marks the 3rd time I’ve been to New York.

The taxi ride into Manhattan is great and already I never want to go home.
The driver is a fucking maniac and that’s fine by me!
He uses two things only.
The gas pedal and the horn.

We’re staying at The New Yorker Hotel on 34th and 8th.
Cases dumped, we head out into the town.

I stop for a second to light a smoke and right away some guy gets in my face barking “Two Fifty! Two Fifty!
I don’t know what he means and just as I’m about to tell him to get the fuck out of my face I notice he has about 100 boxes of Marlboro lights strapped around his waist.
Ah, New York!

We’re all completely beat and we decide to get some sleep about 11pm.
I can’t sleep when there’s so much out there so I head out again.

I wandered around Midtown Manhattan for 4 hours before I went back to the hotel.
I took pictures and looked at people and buildings and wandered up and down dark alleys in search of the kind of New York you see in Martin Scorsese films.
I checked out a couple of bars and cafes, got talking to a few people and had one of the best nights of my life.

A voyeur in Manhattan.

Keep The Meter Running.

I read a great article the other day in The Village Voice about one of my favourite films:
“Taxi Driver”.
Directed by Martin Scorsese.

i enjoyed it so much that I’m putting it up here so you can read it too.

Keep The Meter Running.
By J. Hoberman.

Some motion pictures produce the uncanny sensation of returning the spectator’s gaze. Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver—a movie in which the most celebrated line asks the audience, “Are you talkin’ to me?”—is one such film. It came, it saw, it zapped the body politic right between the eyes.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary with a newly restored print and a two-week Film Forum run, Taxi Driver was a powerfully summarizing work. It synthesized noir, neorealist, and New Wave stylistics; it assimilated Hollywood’s recent vigilante cycle, drafting then-déclassé blaxploitation in the service of a presumed tell-it-like-itis naturalism that, predicated on a frank, unrelenting representation of racism, violence, and misogyny, was even more racist, violent, and misogynist than it allowed.

The 12th top-grossing movie of 1976, Taxi Driver was not just a hit but, like Psycho or Bonnie and Clyde, an event in American popular culture—perhaps even an intervention. Inspired by one failed political assassination (the 1972 shooting of presidential hopeful George Wallace), it inadvertently motivated another (the 1981 attempt on President Ronald Reagan). The movie further established its 33-year-old director as both Hollywood’s designated artist and, after Taxi Driver was awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes, an international sensation—the decisive influence on neo– New Wave filmmakers as varied as Spike Lee, Wong Kar-wai, and Quentin Tarantino.

Scorsese didn’t direct Taxi Driver so much as orchestrate its elements. Lasting nearly 20 minutes and fueled by Bernard Herrmann’s rhapsodic score, the de facto overture is a densely edited salmagundi of effects—slow motion, fragmenting closeups, voluptuous camera moves, and trick camera placement—that may be the showiest pure filmmaking in any Hollywood movie since Touch of Evil. Certainly no American since Welles had so confidently presented himself as a star director. And yet Taxi Driver was essentially collaborative. It was the most cinephilic movie ever made in Hollywood, openly acknowledging Bresson, Hitchcock, Godard, avant-gardists Michael Snow and Kenneth Anger, and the John Ford of The Searchers. Moreover, the movie’s antihero, Travis Bickle—a homicidal combination of Dirty Harry and Norman Bates who describes himself as God’s Lonely Man—sprang from the brain of former film critic Paul Schrader and, as embodied for all eternity by the young Robert De Niro, all but instantly became a classic character in the American narrative alongside Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield.

Citizen of a sodden Sodom where the steamy streets are always wet with tears, among other bodily fluids, Bickle embarks each evening on a glistening sea of sleaze. Seen through his rain-smeared windshield, Manhattan becomes a movie—call it “Malignopolis”—in which, as noted by Amy Taubin in her terrific Taxi Driver monograph, “the entire cast of Superfly seems to have been assembled in Times Square” to feed Travis’s fantasies. The cab driver lives by night in a world of myth, populated by a host of supporting archetypes: the astonishing Jodie Foster as Iris, the 12-year-old hooker living the life in the rat’s-ass end of the ’60s, yet dreaming of a commune in Vermont; Harvey Keitel as her affably nauseating pimp; Peter Boyle’s witless cabbie sage; and Cybill Shepherd’s bratty golden girl, a suitably petit-bourgeois Daisy Buchanan to Travis’s lumpen Gatsby.

Brilliant and yet repellent, at times even hateful, Taxi Driver inspired understandable ambivalence. (At Cannes, the announcement that it had won the Palme d’Or was greeted with boos.) How could reviewers not be wary? Taxi Driver is nakedly opposed even to itself, as well as the culture that produced it. For Travis, all movies are essentially pornographic; had he met his creators, he would surely, as observed by Marshall Berman in his history of Times Square, consider them purveyors of “scum and filth.” It’s the slow deliberation with which this lunatic kicks over his TV and terminates his connection to social reality that signals his madness—and the filmmaker’s.

Like Werner Herzog’s Aguirre or Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver is auteurist psychodrama. Not for nothing did Scorsese give himself a cameo playing a character even wiggier than Travis. Who can possibly imagine the internal fortitude or psychic cost this movie required or exacted? Certainly no one connected with Taxi Driver ever again reached such heights (or plumbed such depths), although Albert Brooks became a significant filmmaker in his own right, while Scorsese and De Niro would come close with Raging Bull and The King of Comedy—two movies that equal or surpass Taxi Driver in every way except as the embodiment of the historical spirit.

Recalling his youth, Baudelaire wrote of simultaneously experiencing the horror and the ecstasy of existence. So it is with Taxi Driver. The pagan debauchery the child Scorsese saw in Quo Vadis is played out in the Manhattan of 1975 A.D. Hysterical yet sublime, the movie crystallizes one of the worst moments in New York’s history—the city as America’s pariah, a crime-ridden, fiscally profligate, graffitifestooned moral cesspool. Scorsese ups the ante by returning endlessly to his boyhood movie realm of 42nd Street, which, in the mid-’70s, was a lurid land of triple-X-rated cinema, skeevy massage parlors, cruising pimp mobiles, sidewalks crammed with hot-pants hookers, and the customers who on any given weekday evening, according to NYPD stats, were patronizing porn-shops at the rate of 8,000 per hour.

It was while Taxi Driver was in postproduction that the Daily News ran the headline “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” The movie is Scorsese’s hometown farewell (a love letter quite different from Woody Allen’s). Like Nero, he torches the joint and picks up his lyre. Taxi Driver is a vision of a world that already knows it is lost. A third of a century later, the Checker cabs are gone, as are the taxi garages at the end of 57th Street and the all-night Belmore cafeteria. Times Square has been sanitized, the pestilent combat zone at Third Avenue and 13th Street where Iris peddles her underage charms has long since been gentrified. New York is no longer the planet’s designated Hell on Earth. (Six years after Taxi Driver, Blade Runner would dramatize a new urban space.)

No nostalgia, though: In other aspects, the world of Taxi Driver is recognizably ours. Libidinal politics, celebrity worship, sexual exploitation, the fetishization of guns and violence, racial stereotyping, the fear of foreigners—not to mention the promise of apocalyptic religion— all remain. Taxi Driver lives. See it again. And try to have a nice day.

Homesick For A Place That Ain’t Even Home.

So that’s me back from New York City.
I took several big bites outta The Big Apple and it tastes sweet!

I was over there for only one week and it went past in lightning time.
This was my 3rd time over there and now it’s all over.

I’ve got the ‘came back from New York 2 days ago’ blues.
I’m bluer than Joni Mitchell’s blue face on the cover of her album “Blue“, playing the blues on a blue guitar from Picasso’s blue period with my face painted blue in front row seats watching Blue Man Group whilst punching Anthony Costa‘s face in 😦

One day you’re standing on the corner of 34th and 8th then…WHOOSH!
Next thing you know you’re standing in the middle of Duke Street with a what the hell just happened look on your face.

I’m tired as hell.
I’ve pretty much been up for a whole week and 3 hours after my plane landed back in Glasgow,
I went out on the town to see the terrifying stand up comedy of Jerry Sadowitz.

Needless to say I had the time of my life over in New York.
It feels like home more than home feels like home.
Out all day doing all kinds of interesting things and tearing the town up at night,
I know my way around NYC better than I know my way around here.

I kept a diary in New York which ended up being pretty long.
I wrote it in bars and cafes at night as I wandered around looking for the kind of New York you see in Scorsese films and the good news is that I found it!
I also took around 1500 photographs and met some great people…BUT!
I’m gonna have to tell you all about it later.
I’ll get it typed up and post it all up on here over the next week or so.

So here I am feeling homesick for a place that’s ain’t even my home.
Maybe one day it will be.

World Trade Centre Rising.

As ceremonies take place around the world to remember victims of the 9/11 attacks, around 2,000 workers are building a huge development at Ground Zero in New York.

Six skyscrapers, a museum, two massive waterfalls where the twin towers once stood, a performance centre and a rail terminal are gradually taking shape nine years after the attacks.

Work at the 17-acre site has been delayed by disputes over whether the essence of the buildings should be commercial or commemorative. Finally there has been a compromise, with a mix of both retail, office and memorial space known as One World Trade Center.

Responsibility for the site is divided between the governors of the states of New York and New Jersey, who own the land through the Port Authority and Larry A Silverstein, the leaseholder who holds the right to redevelop the office space.

Tower 1: The centrepiece, formerly known as Freedom Tower and now as One World Trade Center. Its planned height is 1,776ft (540m) echoing the date of the founding of the republic. It will be America’s tallest building, housing offices, an observation deck, restaurants and broadcast facilities. The project architect is David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Estimated completion date is 2013.

Tower 2: Also known as 200 Greenwich St. At 79 storeys high with a diamond shaped top and an 80-foot antenna, it will be the second-tallest skyscraper in NYC.

Tower 3: Also known as 175 Greenwich St, it will be the third-tallest building on the site and include shops, offices, trading floors. It’s scheduled for completion in 2014.

Tower 4: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the City of New York will take two-thirds of the office space at 150 Greenwich St. It is due for completion in 2013. Towers 3 and 4 were designed by architects Richard Rogers and Fumihiko Maki.

Tower 5: 130 Liberty Street will stand on the site currently occupied by the remains of the Deutsche Bank building, which was badly damaged by the 9/11 attacks. New York University has expressed an interest in leasing the building.

Plans for a Tower 6 were abandoned.

Tower 7: Or 7 World Trade Center, opened in May 2006 and is two-thirds leased. It includes a park and central plaza with 30ft-wide fountain. Tenants include its owner Silverstein Properties and Moody’s Corporation, WestLB, Ameriprise Financial, Dutch bank ABN AMRO, and Mansueto Ventures, publisher of Fast Company and Inc magazines.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum comprises a museum, waterfalls and a park.

The museum is being constructed underground and will boast interactive displays explaining the 9/11 and 1993 terrorist attacks, as well as the part of the huge slurry wall that held back the Hudson River during the attacks.

At the twin towers there will be two massive waterfalls over illuminated pools. Names of the 9/11 victims and those of the February 1993 World trade Centre attacks will be inscribed around the edge of the memorial called Reflecting Absence and designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker.

The 1,000-seat performance arts centre to be designed by Frank Gehry will be home to the Joyce Theater which specialises in modern dance. Film festivals will also be held there.

The transportation hub will house a state-of-the-art rail terminal featuring retractable 150ft (46m) high “wings” made of glass and steel will let natural light to pass through to platforms 60ft (18m) below street level.

From BBC News.

Mark Chapman Denied Parole Again.

Mark Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon, has been denied bail for the sixth time, nearly 30 years after shooting the former Beatle outside his New York home.

From The Telegraph:

A parole board decided not to release Chapman after interviewing him on Tuesday by teleconference at Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York.

It was Chapman’s sixth appearance before the board since becoming eligible for parole in 2000. He will be eligible again in 2012.

Chapman, 55, had been scheduled to appear last month, but the hearing was postponed by parole officials, who said at the time they were awaiting additional information.

After Tuesday’s decision, the board wrote to Chapman that it remains concerned about “the disregard you displayed for the norms of our society and the sanctity of human life when, after careful planning, you traveled to New York for the sole purpose of killing John Lennon.”

The panel said “release remains inappropriate at this time and incompatible with the welfare of the community.”

Among those who have opposed his release is Lennon’s now 77-year-old widow, Yoko Ono, who said last month that she believed Chapman is a potential threat to her family and perhaps himself.

The former maintenance man from Hawaii was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison after firing five shots outside Lennon’s Manhattan building on Dec. 8, 1980, hitting Lennon four times in front of his wife and others. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

At his last parole hearing, in 2008, Chapman told the panel he was ashamed and sorry for what he had done and had since developed a deeper understanding of the value of a human life.

He said he had been seeking notoriety and fame to counter feelings of failure.

After that interview, parole officials noted that Chapman had not been disciplined in prison since 1994 and said he had adjusted to his incarceration. But they denied release “due to concern for the public safety and welfare,” according to the written decision.

Chapman was informed of the panel’s most recent finding a few hours after the hearing. The state Division of Parole is expected to release a transcript of the interview within the next several days.

Lennon would have turned 70 this October.

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