Saturday, October 27, 2007

Scary Monsters

Halloween is big business in the USA. Many weeks before the actual event, the shops are full of skeletons, pumpkins, witches, cobwebs and ghosts. Apparently it's the second largest holiday in terms of dollars spent; second only to Christmas.

It's a little disquieting how seriously it's taken over here. The restaurants start putting pumpkin in everything, little kids solicit sweets from unlucky neighbours, and people really enjoy dressing up.

I went to the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village three years ago and was stunned by the scale of the event, and the amount of effort some people put into their costumes. Apart from the one lady I saw whose "costume" consisted of no costume at all. Yep, she was in the middle of the parade with nary a stitch on. That's a different kind of freak show altogether.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

England, Half English

I went to see England's very own Billy Bragg in concert in New York last night. He played a wonderful set of oldies, Woody Guthrie numbers, songs from an upcoming new album, and buskers' classics.

The banter between songs was the usual seemingly ad-hoc mix of anecdotes and political messages, and he somehow managed to resist being too anti-American.

There were lots of English voices in the audience, but also a loyal hard core of US fans, too.

On the way to the gig I was complimented on my apparel, a zippy-top with the ironic word "Marylebone" across the front. The gentleman who delivered the remark was wearing a t-shirt with "Kings Road" on the front. Geography is indeed a common bond.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"In" Crowd

Manhattan is a busy place.

It seems that no matter what time of day, or where you are, there will be a crowd of people purposefully striding from once place to another.

As some of you know, my job occasionally requires me to get up pretty early. Manhattan is busy. And sometimes I can be a bit of a night owl. Manhattan is still busy.

I'm getting a little more used to the crowds, and weaving my way through them, but it can sometimes still be a pain. Luckily our neighbourhood is one of the quieter ones, especially at weekends.

Pity this poor guy who didn't go with the flow.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Television Man

On the way home from work tonight I passed a homeless man who was propped up against a shop window. Nothing too unusual.

Then I noticed a strange blue light on the pavement which led my eye to a television.

He had somehow managed to remove the cover from the base of a streetlamp, had plugged in his TV, and was busy whiling away his evening watching a few shows.

Pretty enterprising.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Clap Hands

Now that I've taken a few internal flights in the USA I've started to spot a pattern. The passengers like to reward the pilot with a round of applause for a successful landing once they bring the old bird down safely. The level of applause seems to be inversely correlated to the bumpiness of the landing.

I find it all very strange. The pilot is payed top dollar to get that hunk of tin up and down in the right place, and in reality computers probably control most of it.

These people don't applaud the train driver on their daily commute, the newscaster, or the out-of-work actor who takes their order in the local restaurant.

I wonder why planes are different?