¦ dialling in from workstation ¦
Wednesday Dec 15th, 2010, @ 13:06 GMT. My head is swirling. A combination of man-flu, lingering grasp of jetlag and a sense that my world is evolving… shuddering free of long held foundations. Sunday saw me return from a week in New York. A place I’ve known through various phases of my life, through various incarnations of who-I-am, since coming here on my own in 1998. Here’s some pics and words to give you a flavour of the trip:
Sunrise through freezing fog as I'm blasting towards London Heathrow.
It was like a positive omen. A visceral reinforcement of the vibe I was already savouring: that new things are on the horizon, changes and opportunities, personal growth and hopefully a liberal splashing of success as Dog Eat Dog continues to attract extra-ordinary compliments, and everyone I meet seems to be genuinely impressed with what I’ve churned out, and how much I’ve produced, in the past few years. It’s a good feeling and I want it to continue and grow.
Me walking through the bright lights and urban canyons of Manhattan - pounding pavement with tunes in my ears
Jo and I went straight from JFK via long taxi ride into Manhattan and then a van ride through Lincoln tunnel to New Jersey and Ramona’s place.
The last time I was here was December 2007. I’d just started working at the Company after 2 and a half years of writing and living on savings. Yellow Dawn hadn’t been released, and Shadows of the Quantinex was just a bunch of complex scribbled notes (which I spent most of the trip unravelling). EDGE hadn’t been written and Dog Eat Dog was still a bunch of notes written out in the South of France in summer 2006 and summer 2007. And my mum was still alive. In fact, she was in preparation for really living her life after dad had died – booking a big trip to South America, and just going for it. We didn’t know about the cancers yet.
Being at Ramona’s apartment is a treat. This is somewhere I’ve known in my life and associated with trips to New York since 1999. It’s comfortable and comforting being there. Hot shower. Views of the Manhattan skyline (across the Hudson river) from her windows. We eat pizza, sup the blueberry vodka I brought with me, and catch up until late into the night.
Sharky Bones McCoy was supposed to be here already, along with Jules Ms Scarlet. But a freak wild-cat strike by Spanish air-traffic controllers on Friday caused Kelvin to be stranded in Spain and miss his original flight from London to NYC. He spent several tense days trying to find funds and means to book a new flight direct from Madrid. Hopefully those wankers who walked out without warning will find themselves held personally accountable for ruining the plans of some many thousands of people. Kelvin was lucky- finding a gruelling flight that will take him via Frankfurt. So many others will not have been so lucky. Jules was rear-rammed in a car crash a few weeks ago, the impact reigniting the terrible brain swelling and pains she’s suffered since taking a nasty fall from a horse several years earlier – it effectively prevents her from flying.
Sharky Bones McCoy & OJ riding the gypsy van from NJ to Manhattan
Kelvin finally makes it to New York. We meet him at Newark and he sinks into the comfortable fold. The above picture is typical of the journey we made every day from Ramona’s pad in New Jersey into the City.
Typically, we grabbed some breakfast together, then I peeled off to go do my thing. Walking 9 or 12 miles is standard for me now. First day I walked down to the Village listening to tunes, and found a cafe. I was grinning from ear to ear. Radiating good vibes and feeling very much like I was in an excellent groove. I found a window bench seat, parked up, perched up, pulled out my stack of notepads and working notes and got on with… stuff.
I was without laptop, so working on the new contents structure for Yellow Dawn and writing notes for the expanded background section I’m planning. What was refreshing, going through the rulebook, was how much it stands up to scrutiny. People have been telling me this since I first published a list of what I considered bugs and need-for-improvement, but it was good to finally have the time to just read through it myself and feel confident about Yellow Dawn as it stands.
I also started to map out a new, and hopefully very short story, which aims to expand the concept of the zombie infection (in Yellow Dawn) and …the influence of Hastur through it. It’s got a working title of “House of Heavenly Light” and I’m hoping to write it during the Christmas break.
Several bodies switch in and out of the seats next to me…a blur of human motion whilst I’ve got my brain buried in my books. 2nd cup of coffee I look up and chill out, then get talking to Laura G who’s appeared next to me. She’s running a business that is the next step on from Life Coaching. I was impressed and ran through her website in development and shared some knowledge. She admitted that her current copy was dire and needed serious work: would I want to help her out? She’d pay me. I was tempted but knowing how much work I’ve got to get through on my own turf, I declined. I did brainstorm a new strap line for her business though. She might use it. She might not. Definitely one of life’s interesting characters.
Later I reconnect with Jo and Kelvin, share some time before I bail back out for a rendezvous with my publicist at the Ear bar, on Spring Street.
Mr Hayes at the Ear Bar, Spring Street - a den of iniquity and rather cool people
Over the past few years, this chap has gone from being a mere advocate of my work, pushing my books through his channels, to become one of my biggest fans. Sitting there, in the low light, cramped, crowded and eclectic ambience of the Ear bar, I was stunned by the enthusiastic torrent of compliments and praise he had about Dog Eat Dog, and about the world of Yellow Dawn.
The night turned into a drinking session, sociable and chatty we rapidly began to explore the tables around us in this tightly packed space.
I turned to one of several people who had arrived at a table beside me – and who had already caught my eye for being damned interesting looking – and asked them to take a pic of us holding a copy of Dog Eat Dog. The girl who took this photo is now rapidly becoming an amazing friend. Snapping the shot, she handed me back the camera and asked “so which one of you is David J Rodger”.
And the conversation just flowed from there :o)
Flat Iron Building
The rest of the trip was a combination of socialising with Ramona, Jo, Kelvin and the regular crew, or me peeling off to do my own thing and meet new people. One day Jo and Kelvin and I headed down to find my old faithful eating house: Chat ‘N Chew. Went for the famous Mac & Cheese that I’ve been enjoying here since 2002. It did not disappoint.
Crossing the snaking giant of Tappan Zee Bridge
If you’ve read Dog Eat Dog, or ran a Yellow Dawn scenario near to the Living City of New York, you’ll know Tappan Zee bridge has a major role to play for survivors. Ramona obligingly drove me, with Kelvin and Jo in tow, up through the dead zone to visit it.
We’re actually on the bridge at this point. It’s a three mile expanse, in a winding s-shape. And I just love it. In Yellow Dawn, and so Dog Eat Dog, it becomes a protected place within the surrouning dead zone – a place where surivors create settlements and businesses, a thriving community that crosses the boundary between the Living City of New York and the rural support zone beyond, where precious metals and digital credits can intermingle.
Crossing Tappan Zee bridge: so good to be able to blend the visual realiy with a fictional universe in my mind
View of Manhattan from Ramona's pad in New Jersey, looking out across Hudson river
My last solo trip into the City
It was my final day. I grabbed a late night van ride into Manhattan… and stayed out til past 1.a.m.
Me and the City – we really connected this trip, and this night in particular. And it’s lodged a thought in my mind for possible new directions for the future. Where do I want to be in my life?
Times Square at night - cyberpunk city in the here and now
So now I’m back in the UK, struggling to snap back into my groove as a result of a viscous hacking cough and general spaced-out state of mind. Infection. Man-flu, New York style, and no doubt caused by the number of late nights out that saw me walking miles in sub-zero temperatures – the hazy, freezing air, jabbing my face and lungs with every breath. Worth it though.
Finally, here’s a little retrospective of my previous times in NYC.
1998. I met this girl as she got out of a taxi fresh from Chicago. We made a pledge - to success
1999. Empire State Building with a view of Twin Towers in distance
2000. Still big into my clubbing scene. Timo Mass played at Twilos. Bliss.
2002. Just your everyday American breakfast.
2007. Five years since last trip my whole world has changed.
More David J Rodger? Dante’s Fool ¦ Iron Man Project ¦ Edge ¦ Dog Eat Dog ¦ Yellow Dawn