Archives for the month of: September, 2012

Just a quick “what the fuck is up with that?!” directed at American toilets. Here is a photograph I took, with the pre-pee water level highlighted in red.

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Seriously yo, this is grossly unnecessary. At first, I thought this was due to the obvious waste involved in emptying and refilling such a quantity of water when in every other toilet I have used around the world it appears far less water is required. However a little reading online has revealed that actually the US has the same controls in place on new toilet installations as those in the UK, and that per flush, my toilet here should only be using as much water as a toilet in Blighty.

So why the fuck do I have to do my business straight in to so much bloody water, leading to inevitable splash on number twos and much more significantly, unavoidable blokey piss-noise on number ones?

I am a quiet person. I like to eat with my mouth closed, I am light on my feet, I don’t slam doors and I never ever urinate directly in to the water when using a toilet. The sound of a man pissing is one of the most disgusting sensory assaults one can be subjected to, and yet in this country, I am forced to be a perpetrator of this most heinous act.

Dear America, please consider using one of the many styles of toilet I have encountered throughout Europe where one can choose where to wee, and only if they want to be identified as a dick swinging, macho bastard do they have to do it where it makes as much noise as possible. The rest of us will be glad to carry on doing our most undignified acts in the most civilized way while trying not to disturb anyone unfortunate enough to be within earshot. Thanks guys.

If there is one thing New Yorkers seem to love, it is waiting in line to buy new iPhones. Last Wednesday, two days before the iPhone 5 was released, we found a line of around twenty people already camping outside the flagship Apple store on Fifth Avenue. We went back on the Friday to find hundreds more people waiting, as well as tens of news cameras and reporters making a really big deal out of an upgrade to a mobile phone. Strange.

And yet stranger still is the fact that over a week later, the queues outside even the quiet Apple stores outside of midtown, at 7 in the morning, were still at least a hundred in length.

The madness doesn’t stop there though. No. Today I joined the back of one of those queues, waited two hours and bought one. For someone else.

Idiot.

Today I discovered baseball. I’ve been wanting to go to a game ever since we decided to start our trip in New York, but this was purely out of curiosity and desire to act like a local and had very little to do with any interest or fondness for the sport. I spent a couple of weeks while at university trying to get interested in it but I couldn’t be doing with the staying up through the night to watch Channel 5 and I was always too tired to get to grips with what the fuck was going on. Therefore it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I booked two tickets to see the Mets play the Pirates. Really I was just hoping to hear the national anthem and men selling “hotdogs!”

Luckily it turns out going to the baseball is the best thing ever.

Before the game even begins you get to do some great hideously overweight/haircutted people spotting.

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Everyone there is way fat, for real.

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The game started shortly after a former American Idol finalist had murdered the Star Spangled Banner and it soon felt like I was playing X Box on a very massive telly.

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Everything just looked so bloody perfect, the grass so green, the uniforms so clean, the scoreboard so colourful. Ok, the body odour of the man next to me was weapons grade, but that couldn’t get in the way of my loving every second of this lovely experience. Look at the way complete strangers celebrated together as the Mets scored a home run.

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If you go to a football match in England, you will almost certainly hear the supporters singing about how much the other team are shit. If you’re really lucky, they might sing about how they actually want to take a shit on a team that aren’t even playing in the match you’re watching, but who happen to play their own home games in reasonably close proximity. In baseball, a little over halfway through every game in the entire league the fans of both teams join together to sing a song about going to the ball game and just bloody enjoying yourself.

Having grown up with the macho bullshit of football culture, this is just so ruddy lovely.

Check out how much Lovisa loved her day, even though she declares herself utterly indifferent to any and all sports.

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In summary:
*Baseball is the dogs bollocks
*Everyone is fat
*I bought a really nice hat
*We bloody gone done and won didn’t we?

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For much of the first week here in New York, we have done pretty much all the standard tourist things. We’ve been to the top of a skyscraper, we’ve taken pictures of the Statue of Liberty, we’ve shopped at Macy’s and we’ve been hounded by a dickhead trying to sell us tickets for comedy in Times Square. All these things are fun, but what do people from Manhattan do when they want to feel like tourists? Yesterday we found out; they go to Coney Island. Or at least they definitely used to. Now it looks a bit more like somewhere you’d go at night to get mugged. But I loved it, and on a day like yesterday, I couldn’t imagine a better place to be mugged.

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Coney Island, as well as having a beautiful beach, crazy fairground rides and lots of grizzly old Hispanics fishing for their supper, is home to Nathan’s Famous. This is the venue for the world’s biggest hot dog eating contest, held every year on Independence Day.

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Yesterday it was home to me eating an obscene amount of meat and cheese.

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I forgot to mention that yesterday we found ourselves in a room full of candy floss and unicorns and security guards and photographers when we took the lift the wrong way at Macy’s. Unfortunately we didn’t spend $155 on a gift set including her new fragrance and a VIP Barbie pass, so we didn’t actually get to meet Nicki Minaj, but I took a picture anyway because my life might yet amount to nothing more than having been in the same room as a pint size rapper.

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The Staten Island ferry is the tits. It costs $0, gives the best views of the Statue of Liberty (whose own ferry costs $17) and gives you the chance to say you really did New York because you went to Staten Island, even if you just want to go straight back to Manhattan like all the other tourists. This is what the financial district looks like from the top of the boat.

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And here is Liberty Enlightening the World (that’s the official name of the statue, not me giving a pretentious caption to my photo. He said, like a pretentious buffoon)

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Also, the new World Trade Center is looking buff.

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Nice one builders.

Having been sweetie shopping yesterday but not actually eating anything naughty due to time and tiredness constraints, today we let our hair down and went bat shit on the calories and cholesterol. Watch as Lovisa pours syrup all over her pancakes.

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It’s a fitting visual metaphor for the joy that was simultaneously spreading across my face while I cut in to my stack to discover that the initially disappointing 3 rashers of bacon sitting on top were in fact joined by several others, mixed right in to the pancake batter.

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God bless America, you sick, obese, sugary, clogged arteries, early grave of a country.

In a country where the average family looks like this:

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It is hardly a surprise that the average shop shelf looks like this:

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Yes, today we did some A grade, first class, American style candy shopping. We started off by going to the Hershey’s shop at Times Square. Hershey’s makes pretty awful chocolate that tastes a lot like a watered down Yorkie bar. However they also make Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups so a visit to their shop is not optional because obviously Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the best sweeties in the world and everyone deserves the chance to at least stand in a shop contemplating buying a bright orange Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups t-shirt even if they end up being rational human beings and not actually buying one.

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This picture of the Hershey’s shop was taken from the second floor of the 3-storey M&M shop across the road, which of course exists because in America even having a second rate Smarties impersonator is a good enough excuse to open a massive department store.

We followed this with a trip to Dylan’s Candy Bar, supposedly the biggest independent sweet shop in the world. And yet, the child in me hadn’t even had the greatest bit of his day yet.

Walking around TriBeCa in the early evening, looking for Jay Z and Beyonce, and maybe a bit of dinner, instead I got a little side tracked when this little beauty appeared on a corner in front of my very eyes.

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Hello Ghostbusters HQ! For boys and girls of the 80s/90s, this shit is like Mecca and even though I didn’t mean to find it, I’m sure it was my destiny to see this particular fire station today. Just to prove that it isn’t just any old random New York fire engine house, here is a still from the Ghostbusters television ad of Doctors Venkman, Stantz and Spengler standing outside.

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Ya dig? Alright, it’s a shit picture that doesn’t prove anything. So check this out instead you sceptical bastard.

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They got to keep the sign from Ghostbusters II to hang in the garage and remind them that even when they are dousing flames, cutting people from car wreckages and otherwise saving lives, these firemen are nothing more than the current tenants of the old Ghostbusters building.

One of the most exciting things about this round the world adventure is the chance to eat a lot of food in a lot of different countries.

I’m no expert but I would say that so far, eating in New York is just like eating anywhere else. Except much better.

Two nights ago, we went for a steak dinner. After a little online research, we decided on Keen’s for steak and oysters and hanging out with rich old New Yorkers. The menu seemed a little pricey at first glance but we were being treated so we went ahead and ordered half a dozen oysters. Seven arrived. Thank you New York! We then ordered steaks. At least half a cow arrived.

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Lovisa is only small and the water glasses were bigger than average, but nothing should take away from the enormity of the piece of meat on that plate. I have never seen, let alone eaten, anything as big in my life. When the waiter put it down I thought he was going to bring a carving knife and then carry on around the dining room letting all the other customers have a slice. And yet somehow I ate the whole thing.

I’m definitely developing a New York stomach.

Yesterday, we stumbled upon a street party in Little Italy so stopped for lunch. I had a spaghetti bolognese to start that would have been considered more than enough for a main course in England. Look at the relish with which I am eating it, knowing that I have chicken parmigiana to follow.

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Anyone worried that I might get fat can calm down though, I went running yesterday and set a new personal best for the 2.6 miles. I am going to be so trim on Miami Beach that all the muscle hunks are going to want to stop working out and look exactly like the pale English kid. Watch this space.

4 days in Manhattan have reduced my feet to bloodied stumps at the end of my legs. I therefore did the only sensible thing today and bought myself a robust pair of walking shoes. Check it:

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………………………………….

We arrived at JFK airport around lunchtime on Monday. Feeling a little bit fancy, we decided to take a taxi in to town instead of hauling our big ass suitcases on the subway. Sitting in traffic for an hour, somewhere in Queens I started to feel decidedly less fancy. Soon though, the Manhattan skyline appeared on the horizon and my heart filled with joy, my ears with the music of Gershwin and my eyes with tears. Hence I was unable to take a less shitty picture of this significant moment.

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Since then we’ve just been doing standard New York things; eating awesome breakfasts in cheesy diners:

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…pretending to be Superman on top of a really tall building:

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…getting a Starbucks with a comedy name misspelling:

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…and hanging out with a dancing rat:

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