Danny does a busy day in New York
READERS of Travel + Leisure magazine recently voted New York the rudest city in America. Yet the only bad-mannered behaviour I encountered during my five days in The Big Apple was by an animal.
I was walking down East 71st Street on my way to an art gallery when I spotted a man being attacked by his own (small) dog. It seems the pooch hadn’t taken too kindly to her owner’s attempt to clean up after her.
The image of that man-versus-bitch battle will stay with me much longer than the stunning Vermeers and Rembrandts I saw in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mind you, I won’t forget Lucas Cranach’s painting ‘The Martyrdom of St Barbara’ in a hurry. After all, it’s not every day you see a woman getting beheaded by her own father.
My last day in the city began with a ferry trip to Liberty Island (home of the stunning Statue of Liberty) and Ellis Island, where the old immigration station has been turned into a museum. “I came to America because I heard the streets were paved with gold,” runs a quote on the wall from an Italian. “When I got here, I found out three things: first, the streets weren’t paved with gold; second, they weren’t paved at all; and third, I was expected to pave them!”
After walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and visiting Times Square, I ran into a fire hydrant (or some such immovable object) while looking up at the Empire State Building, was almost run over crossing Madison Avenue, and overheard a woman say “I was talking to God about it”. This is a place where even homeless people make a sales pitch of sorts. In the subway, a Vietnam veteran told a rambling tale involving “a fat man and his pants down”, before musing that “freedom is not free”.
My day finished with a gig in Greenwich Village performed by J Aims & The Fever. The lead singer, James Mullally, still has the accent of his native Athlone, though his song titles – ‘PS: I Kill You’ and ‘Sex With Strangers’ – are more risqué than the kind of thing one hears on Midlands 103 or Shannonside FM. When the show was over, I met the band, including a guy who works with blind people and was Al Pacino’s technical advisor on ‘Scent of a Woman’. You couldn’t make it up.
Songs from the gig were still in my head 24 hours later as I checked into my accommodation in Boston. Here’s a word of advice: don’t sing the words ‘I’m loving sex with strangers’ in the bathroom of a hostel unless you’ve checked that there’s nobody else around. You have been warned.