High hopes and the river of slime

We had high hopes for Thursday, literally. The Empire State Building was one of our targets and careful research had been undertaken regarding the best times to visit to avoid excessive queuing; the most cost effective ways to reach the highest parts; the things that you could and couldn’t take (like, you’re only allowed firearms if you’re a paid up member of the NYPD or the Secret Service – no mention of the FBI or NCIS or any other TV brand of agency I can think of…). Alas, we woke to a cloudy, rainy, precipitous morning in which our normal view of the Empire State had disappeared, so we guessed that if we couldn’t see in, there’s a high probability that it couldn’t see out. New plan required.

New plan involved a quick trip back to MoMa to exchange an ill-fitting iPhone cover, a 4-5 thing. That achieved, the Rockefeller Centre’s siren call to tourists lured us off 5th Avenue into it’s golden cave, then down into it’s shopping concourse where we could tantalisingly glimpse the ice rink through the mall-to-window restaurants and wonder what we were looking for. We circumnavigated the poorly signed concourse seeking an exit and on the way confirmed our suspicions regarding the City’s high things on a rainy day, by asking the host at the door to the Top of the Rock observation deck about vision – 50% only today. Not so the price however. We followed our noses and managed to exit the way we had entered and found our way around the corner to the Rockefeller Plaza, a much more enticing space with fine views of the skating rink and many photo opportunities. Photo opportunities taken, we headed back underground to the subway and onto our hastily charted secondary objective at 34th street, Macy’s. I kept asking Pip and number big son where Macy’s was, constantly forgetting the address – then I remembered Edmund Gwenn and his Miracle and the sailing was plain.

Macy’s is the world’s largest department store and it has a lot of things. It would have taken me half a day to get round all the watch counters in the blokes’ watches department, and then there there was the hand-tie bow ties department; the shoe department; the clothes department; the every-other-thing-under-the-sun department, but… no electronics department. Pfft! Call yourself the largest department store in the world and you can’t buy small electronics… Leaving Macy’s in utter disgust, well perhaps not ‘utter’, more ‘mild’ disgust, we stumbled out the door into a display of futuristic, robot-style police and vehicles – the magic was blown for me having stood next to one of the robots relieving himself in the Macy’s mens room. It was a rather extensive promo for an upcoming TV show.


Since spying a piece in the Village Voice a few months ago, at home, and also being fascinated by the whole Halloween thing, which we have spurned as American cultural imperialism in our own country, but have embraced as entirely fun here in its appropriate setting, we had the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade in our ‘activity’ sights. We read about the parade’s route and the best places to view it and the best time to get there and how we might find the right subway, but we were entirely unprepared for the enormity of the event. All day we had seen witches, batmen, ghouls and be-horned office workers prowling the streets, so we already knew New Yorkers went the whole pumpkin, but really, after waiting an hour and a half with thousands of people queued along 6th Avenue, near Bleeker St and many more thousands cramming the sidewalks for 6 blocks either way, the spectacle of a parade that took about three hours to pass was impressive to say the least. There were also thousands of NYPD officers who had barricaded the entire route and crafted intricate barricade mazes to the entries to the subway. The police cruised up and down the street on foot, on scooters, on horses, in trucks, in those big, black MPVs, and in those tiny little three wheel electric cars, and entirely seriously. Finally, the parade began with huge skeletones on sticks and hundreds, which turned into thousands of extraordinarily costumed New Yorkers.

20131101-225713.jpg The be-costumed ordinary folk were interspersed with floats and marching bands – ghouls and zombies flowing in a river up 6th Avenue and fortunately for the City, there were enough Ghostbusters amongst them to keep it all in order.

20131101-231149.jpg There were about 150 synchronised Zombies dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, who were followed every so often by smaller groups doing the same. There were about 2000 Heisenberg’s Breaking Bad through the parade and thousands of costumes referencing every pop culture niche you can think of. I was a little disturbed though, that I kept seeing people dressed like Lionel Messi in Barcelona FC strips with soccer balls glued to their hands – I must have missed something there – please let me know if you what they were on about!

At three hours we pulled the pin and headed home. We managed to find our way through the subway entrance maze and down the stairs to even more police urging the crowd on with rolling arms and cries of, “Move it! Move it! Move it!” and even though I like to Move it Move it, my aching legs and lack of food, other than some curly fries with scallions, parsley and red onion, and parmesan and aioli some two hours earlier, made the moving it moving it a little challenging. Rode the subway home with a horse and and a tiger and many oozing. bleeding people. Happy Halloween!


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