On the approach to Laguardia
3:00 pm EST, January 21, 2000: The Northwest 757 prepares to land at Laguardia in Queens. Gina and I flew separately to save money--I had flight dollars on Northwest from getting bumped last summer, and she flew on TWA with air miles.
Because of a strong wind, Laguardia only had one runway open. My flight out of Detroit was an hour late, and Gina's non-stop from St. Louis was cancelled. It's a miracle we ever met up, considering that our flight times were all over the board and she was in a different terminal than me. But it all worked out, and soon we were in the comfortable surroundings of my in-laws' Brooklyn Heights apartment.
Looking like New Yorkers in Brooklyn Heights
I think the first rule for looking fashionable (in New York, anyway) is wearing black. As long as I keep my camera in my pocket, I might be able to pass as a local.
It was terribly cold while we were in New York. With the wind, the temperature was below 0 F (about -20C for all my Canadian friends). I wore long johns all week.
This is my brother in law, Fransis, standing outside his college in Brooklyn Heights. Actually, it's not his college. He's not even a saint. But he's one of my three brother-in-laws (the other two are Jonathan and Michael, Gina's brothers, who live in Nelson, BC).
Fransis is an HVAC specialist that concentrates on designing the schematics and engineering plans for control systems in large buildings. I don't understand him when he talks about it, but maybe he doesn't understand me when I talk about web development. He's lived in Brooklyn for just over a year with Alison, Gina's sister.
My wife, her sister, and her sister's husband
From left to right, this is Gina, her sister's husband Fransis, and her sister Alison. Alison is 5 years older than Gina. Sometimes I get them confused, because they're about the same size, they have the same hair color, and they dress similarly. And their voices are almost identical. It's unnerving at times.
Fransis, on the other hand, I don't get confused. Especially with that hat on. It looks like a dead animal. But apparently it's pretty warm. Later that morning he bought a normal toque.
New York Subways
Like gopher holes covering the prairies, deep, dark and dank stairwells across the city lead down to New York's enormous underground subway network. Apparently, it's actually a profitable public transit system. Here's a noisy train pulling into the station.
The subway shakes a lot
I don't know if this photo is artistic, or if it's just blurry. I like to think it's artistic.
This is inside a New York subway at speed. It smells, it shakes, it jerks... but it gets you there really fast.
People in New York Subways are Really Nice
"I'm from Canada, and this is my first time in a New York subway," I boldly announced. "I'd like to take your picture, so if all of you could look over here and give me a big New York Smile, that'd be great." Snap!
According to those to whom I've relayed this story, I should feel lucky to be alive and unmaimed after such an episode. If you look at the picture, though, most of the people were pretty nice. At the worst, they just pretended that I didn't exist. And at the best, I actually got a New Yorker to smile at me.
This is Times Square. It feels like the center of the universe. You feel like you're in-the-know in Times Square. If anything's happening, anywhere in the world, you should know about it here first. Because NBC's on the big Jumbotron, ABC and CBS's studios are on street level, and NASDAQ ticker symbols are streaking by on lighted boards a block long.
More Times Square
Times Square had a poster for The Green Mile where Tom Hank's face was about 40 stories tall. It was so big, I couldn't take a picture of it. Can you imagine having 400 feet of your face plastered on the side of a skyscraper?
Here's a typical New York street. The buildings don't get any smaller than this, and they go for miles in every direction, thousands of them, all six or eight or ten stories tall. And lots of taxi cabs.
Coffee at Starbucks
We stopped for a Cafe Mocha at the world's most popular coffee bar. I'd been thinking of investing in Starbucks. It defines its industry, has no direct competition, sells addictive substances, employs excellent designers and marketers... but the New York Starbucks I visited were fairly dirty, and the service was poor. I had to say "ceramic" five times before the coffee boy knew what I was talking about. (I suppose I should have said "Put it in a mug", but it didn't occur to me. Besides, it wasn't the handle I wanted, it was the material--anything but styrofoam.)
Chinatown was one of the funnest parts of our day downtown. What a strange little place--all these Chinese people hurrying around, speaking unintelligibly to my western ears. Restaurants with no English anywhere on their menus. Fish, squid, and ducks hanging in the windows.
One of my favorite things about New York is the diversity of people. Hebrews, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Italian, Romanian, Haitian, etc... every nationality you could possibly think of. And New York is probably more similar to their homelands than most other American cities. You don't need a car, there's a baker, grocer and cafe on every block, and anything goes. You don't need to be a white anglo-saxon protestant to pass unnoticed in New York.
Getting directions in Chinatown
Here I am checking out the map and deciding which Chinatown attraction to visit next.
Shopping in Chinatown
Here's a typical Chinatown store. Rolexes for $10 each, North Face jackets for $40 (except the logo was misspelled "The North Faith"). Clothing, electronics, cigarettes, food... Gina bought an Oriental-style short-sleeved blouse, and I bought some postcards.
Chinese Restaurant Supply
This was the most interesting place we stopped in Chinatown. This jam-packed restaurant supply store had every conceivable kitchen device: soup pots big enough for me to climb into, industrial-strength blenders that could turn 2x4s into sawdust, knives large enough for any Samurai, meat tenderizers...
A Menacing Man with a Meat Tenderizer
Here I am, out of control, in the Utensils section of the restaurant supply store.
A "Welcome to New York" sign
Here's a good example of New York charm and New York penmanship. Better carry your ID here.
New York: Cold and Ominous
This is a picture I took close to the waterfront in Brooklyn. I thought it'd be neat if I could work the barbed wire in to the frame somehow. Maybe this picture has a deeper meaning... for someone. Not for me.
Dog Parks Car
I came out of a coffee bar and a dog was behind the wheel of this luxury car. He had apparently double-parked so his owner could jump out and get him some biscuits at the corner store. He left the door open for some air. Woof.
Outside the Bagel Shop
I'm told that New York is famous for its bagels. I'm not really a bagel connoisseur, but this place did make some that tasted pretty good.
Manhattan at Night
This is the Manhattan skyline from the roof of Fransis and Alison's apartment. And this is the last picture in my slideshow of New York. We had a good time. I don't think Gina and I are interested in living there, but we'd probably visit again in the future. Our next vacation, though, will definitely be something non-urban.