December 2010. So I’m off to New York, again. This is somewhere I’ve been going to since 1998… back then a trip that certainly defined a new iteration and re-invention of myself. Something I do every now and then.
I’m beyond the whole tourist vibe. I’m not going there to site see. I’m going there to be with people I love, to enjoy good times with friends, and, I’m going to just DO MY THING. My Thing… split off the main group, pound pavement with tunes in my ears, enjoy cafes with my paper notebook and pen and streams of ideas.
This is what I’m looking forward to. But I’m also conscious of a niggling feeling of change. That this trip will be significant. Already, this year has seen me shifting back into a far more sociable vibe. I’ve been meeting new people and building on new relationships and networks.
This trip is also about disengaging from the intensity of the past 6 weeks, since finishing Dog Eat Dog, of marketing and PR activities.
So after an early start, leaving Bristol in the dark of the wee hours, Jo and I are blasting east towards Heathrow airport to start our journey. I see the sun rise through the freezing rain and mist and I’m painted by this beautiful heavenly light.
December 2010. It’s Monday morning. Jo and I got here last night and 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 thouands of people. Kelvin was lucky – he’s due to arrive tonight (Monday) – 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.
Monday morning is long and slow. Ramona makes coffee. I make Gordon Ramsay’s scrambled eggs. Delish. Then we’re on the van heading into the city. And it’s all familiar and lovely.
It’s also unbelievably cold!
|New York City – Times Square
|NJ – on the bus – Sharky, Oj
December 2010. Tuesday. Leaving Ramona’s pad you’re faced by the imposing stretch of the Hudson river and the sprawling metropolis of Manhattan beyond. Hold your hand out for one of the many vans that zip along Boulevard East, jump on, barrel through Lincoln tunnel and pay $3 to the driver when you jump off in the City.
Ramona had to go to a funeral in Florida. We headed in, grabbed some breakfast together, then I peeled off to go do my thing. I walked down to the Village and listened 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.
|NYC – cafe in the Village – Laura G
December 2010. Tuesday. 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 knowlege. 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 strapline for her business though. She might use it. She might not. Definately one of life’s interesting characters.
Later I reconnect with Jo and Kelvin, share some time before I bail back out for a rendezvous on Spring Street.
|NYC – The Ear Bar – Floyd
December 2010. Tuesday. Last time I saw Floyd in NYC it was hear, in the Ear bar on Spring street. I had such a great time I was really looking forward to coming back to the place again. Floyd had suggested I meet him in Brooklyn but I wrinkled my nose. Ear bar for me, please. I got there early, so settled down in the only seat/table available, with a double-whisky and coke. There was a vibe in the air. It had been there all day. I was in an ebullient mood.
Floyd is my US publicist, and a good friend with connections that stretch back into the 1980s and growing up in the North East of England. And it was fucking good to see him again.
He’s halfway through Dog Eat Dog – and I was stunned by the enthusiastic torrent of compliments and praise he had about the book, and about the world of Yellow Dawn. It reinforces the notion I have that this book could really launch me… get me noticed…
Here’s to hoping. :o)
The night turned into a drinking session, sociable and chatty we rapidly began to explore the tables around us in this crammed and tightly packed place.
|NYC – The Ear Bar – Djr, Floyd
December 2010. Tuesday. 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. 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”.
It became a fantastic night of new people, new stories and new connections; I discovered that the Ear bar has a tight-knit community within its heart of regulars.
We left the Ear bar around 3 in the morning. Found ourselves in a strange place with a strange Scottish barman and a mangy dog… and then I was walking, reeling, actually very drunk. A tube ride to Port Authority… and me unable to find any vans back to NJ or any buses leaving platform 212… so I had a very bizarre and random 2 hour crash / sleep / pace around in Port Authority until sometime after 6 A.M. when I finally got a bus back to NJ.
I spent the next day, Wednesday, in bed and did not leave Mona’s apartment. I missed the John Lennon rememberance with Mona, Jo and Kelvin. But did get to indulge in the mass of Beyti Kebab goodies they ordered on their return.
December 2010. Bobby’s criminal defence lawyer and Irini is a successful fashion designer. Seriously lovely people. Missing from the set is Alex, a screenwriter making waves in Hollywood.
December 2010. 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.
This was taken when Jo and Kelvin and I headed down to find my old faithful eating house: Chat ‘N Chew.
|NYC – Chat n’ Chew – Sharky Bones McCoy
December 2010. Went for the famous Mac & Cheese that we’ve been enjoying here since 2002. Also went for meatloaf and a veggie chilli.
December 2010. Kelvin like you’ve never seen him before.
|New York State – Tarrytown – Castle on the Hudson
December 2010. Part of our planned itinerary was for us to drive back to Tappan Zee bridge – a place I’d only glimpsed back in 2007 when we all took a drive to Bear lodge, but a location now vitally important in my world of Yellow Dawn and the novel Dog Eat Dog.
Bearing in mind, that driving over a hulking old bridge wasn’t really a great tourist attraction, the girls, and Kelvin, hunted for other places to visit during the trip there. They found this place, an early 20th-century castle with towers and turrets; Castle on the Hudson is perched on a hilltop overlooking the river and just beyond site of the Tappan Zee bridge itself. A great place to visit with a very good wine collection to sample.
|New York State – Tarrytown – Castle on the Hudson – Ramona, Oj, Sharky
|New York State – crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge
December 2010. So 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.
|New York State – crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge – Djr
December 2010. So good to be able to drive across it and blend the visual realiy with a fictional universe in my mind.
December 2010. Ramona finally got the lights on her tree finished. And then went to add one more set of lights, against the advice of Kelvin who said, “won’t you risk blowing the fuse?”
At which point the fuse blew and the whole tree plunged into darkness.
|NJ – view from Ramona’s pad
December 2010. This was taken in NJ, overlooking the Hudson river at the Manhattan skyline. Never fails to catch my breath and cause me to pause and stare. It’s been doing this for 11 years now.
December 2010. It was my final night in the city. I’d dithered about coming in earlier, opting to spend the day with Jo, Kelvin and Ramona for a day trip to Lambertville and New Hope – lovely places but not the big city vibe I was hankering after. So, getting back to NJ around 8.30pm, instead of settling down in Ramona’s pad with a view to an early night to get up at 5 A.M. for flight back home, I leapt free and grabbed a van ride into Manhattan… and stayed out til 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 possble new directions for the future. Where do I want to be in my life?
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