Travel: New York – December 2007

New York and in pursuit of Dog Eat Dog

New York - travel photo - overlooking Weehawken New Jersey rooftops

New York – overlooking Weehawken New Jersey rooftops

The journey began with a Big Cheese & Ham sandwich from Cafe Amore in Bristol. It was tradition, especially since the legendary Joe Cubas cafe had closed down. Gordaz was in there; I grabbed a sandwich to take with me to the airport (as I usually do when I’m making a big trip).

An easy ride to Heathrow. Onto a Virgin Atlantic, whisky & coke, several glasses of wine, nice food and a choice of about 30 films… I see a familiar jaw and browline… there’s Ron Pearlman! Mr Hellboy, Mr Chronos.

It was a Big Trip for a lot of reasons; primary amongst them is the fact this feels like me reconnecting with some mainline vein of life again, after the 2 years out on the periphery of reality and deep within my own world (I left my career in 2005 to living on savings and write, write, write. Come October 2007 I started contracting to pull in the money again).

On the flight I’m reflecting on the person I used to be back when I first did this journey – late 1998… one year into my stint at the Agency; I guess the only things that have really changed is the punky blonde hair replaced by a thinning mop of mousey colour, and I no longer crave the night-thrill of clubbing. But as always I was looking forward to just pounding pavement for hour after hour, drinking coffee, camping out in cafes spending hours on my writing.

Landing in JFK we were met by Sean (my first time meeting him), who was a complete star and drove us all the way back to New Jersey to R____s place. Walking into her place was like stepping into a little slice of heaven: the lighting, heat, scent, it is so cosy, inviting, welcoming, you just want to curl up on the sofa and share good times with good people. The sofa was our bed, a monster of ultimate comfort when folded out, large enough for Sarah, Oj and I to sleep without claustrophobia. I drank an ice-cold bottle of beer and got to watch ” A Miracle on 34th Street” for the first time.

The first morning I woke up to the smell of fresh coffee simmering in the pot; I drank a couple of mugs black, and ate some more of R_____’s amaaaazing pumpkin pie.

The photo above is the view from R___’s apartment that first morning… a richly familiar view to me, although I had never been to New York this late in the year… had never seen New York with snow… the bulk of the view is lost in the icy fog. Manhattan (across the river) is concealed in the distance.

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New York - travel photo - Angel Heart anyone

New Jersey – Angel Heart anyone?

When I first came to New York (my first time in America) back in 1998, I was full of emotive daydreams… Angel Heart, The Hunger, and all things Lovecraftian, especially the Cthulhu campaign Masks of Nyarlathotep. This is one of those moments that brings all those feelings back; I can’t explain it… but it’s more than just bricks, mortar and cast iron.

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New York - travel photo - Weehawken snow and Manhattan background

Weehawken snow and Manhattan background

New York - travel photo - central park police buggies love graffiti

Central Park police buggies love graffiti

New York - travel photo - Alice in Wonderland statue

New York – travel photo – Alice in Wonderland statue

New York - travel photo - Central Park hans christian andersen statue

Central Park hans christian andersen statue

New York - travel photo - Manhattan Fire Lane

Manhattan Fire Lane

New York - travel photo - Friend and David J Rodger reflected in mirror

Friend and David J Rodger reflected in mirror

It’s coming to the end of my first day in the city and it’s been amazing, as it always is. Not just the city and the vibe, but spending time with such good people; friends that you only get to see every year or so because of the vast distances involved; friends that stretch across an epoch of time, memory and shared experiences.

New York - travel photo - Manhattan Yellow Cab

Manhattan Yellow Cab

New York - travel photo - Manhattan Yellow Cab and subway steam

Manhattan Yellow Cab and subway steam

New York - travel photo - Manhattan skyline from New Jersey heavy cloud

Heavy cloud above Manhattan

This is the view from outside R_____s apartment; it renders me awestruck each and every time I see it, no matter how many times I come here.

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New York - travel photo - New York Times building

The New York Times building

Monday…I caught the gypsy van with Oj and S___ from outside R____’s apartment in New Jersey, blasted through the Lincoln Tunnel and nudged our way through to Port Authority. They were going shopping. I had other things I wanted to do. We arranged to meet at 5Pm at R___’s work place.

Last time I went to NYC (back in 2002) it was more of a convenient hub whilst Oj, Sharky, R____, David and I travelled to far corners of America, and I can recall thinking back then that I was a bit bored with the city. Now, five years on, I’ve rediscovered the joy of simply being there. I must have walked over a hundred miles in the days I spent in Manhattan. No headphones. No distractions. Just me and my thoughts and the freezing winter biting at my face (loved it). I strolled past my old haunt of Zidos cafe (now called Push) on 23rd and 3rd… and found a new haunt, down in Soho, on the corner of West Broadway and Houston. I didn’t get very much writing done, but I was able to get a lot of deep thinking done for Shadows of the Quantinex, the major campaign I’m writing for Yellow Dawn.

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New York - travel photo - helicopter over Manhattan

Helicopter over Manhattan

One of the numerous choppers flying back and forth to the Statue of Liberty and other sights to see.

I pushed West, treading new streets and avenues. I wanted to know what the “edge of Manhattan” actually looked like. The stereotype of New York is all skyscrapers and a visage of modernity… but I knew there was a much older and gritty New York beneath the surface.  I found my way to the industrial piers that used to bring so much wealth into the city.

New York - travel photo - Manhattan docks

Manhattan docks

New York - travel photo - discarded relics of the past at Manhattan docks

Discarded relics of the past at Manhattan docks

Love this. Fragments of forgotten times.  There’s something almost Judge Dredd or “Gotham City” about the carved relief.

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New York - travel photo - Floyd Hayes at the Ear Inn December 2007

Floyd Hayes at the Ear Inn – December 2007

I grabbed a bite to eat with the girls then headed back downtown to meet up with my ex-pat Geordie mate Floyd. A top night with him in the Ear Bar, on Spring, out on the Westside. Little did I know that this place would come to hold such important memories for me over the coming years. But that’s another story.

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New York - travel photo - Skyscraper overlooking Bryant Park

Skyscraper overlooking Bryant Park

Tuesday… another van ride back into the city. Another day of striding around on my own whilst the girls shopped.  I found myself in Bryant Park. Once again, a location that was later to have deep and meaningful memories for me in the years to follow.

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New York - travel photo - giant Christmas baubles

Giant Christmas baubles

Late night walking through central Manhattan delivers a certain buzz to the senses.  All those bright lights and late-night people; you feel connected to something much bigger than you that in turn makes you feel much bigger than your regular self.

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New York - travel photo - Manhattan Yellow Cab flies across junction

Manhattan Yellow Cab flies across junction

New York - travel photo - Chat n' Chew 10 E 16th St Frnt A, New York, NY 10003 five star mac and cheese

Chat n’ Chew 10 E 16th St Frnt A, New York, NY 10003

Skip back five years. One of the few memories I have of New York from the 2002 trip, which was mainly a place of recovering from jet leg from the non-stop rebounds from various corners of America and Canada…was a cold grey day when we went to a small eating place and I had the most incredible Macaroni Cheese. The meal left a lingering impression in my brain. In fact, when this current trip was being planned one of the first things I thought of was, “fantastic, I’ll be able to have that macaroni cheese again”.

So this is the place. Chat ‘n Chew. Nothing fancy but really special and a host of great american home-cooking style food to chow down on, perfect for a freezing and windy day in the city. I had the macaroni cheese, and I didn’t need to eat again until the following lunchtime.

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New York - travel photo -5th Avenue

5th Avenue

New York - travel photo - overlooking New Jersey rooftops with tip of Manhattan in distance

Overlooking New Jersey rooftops with tip of Manhattan in distance

Thursday… the first morning we woke up the view was concealed by a wall of snowy fog. Today was a glorious clear day. I went up onto the roof of R___’s apartment and took this shot, overlooking the edges of Weehawken, the Hudson river, with Manhattan in the distance.

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New York - travel photo - Ghostbusters HQ Westside, North Moore Street

Ghostbusters HQ Westside, North Moore Street

I grabbed the gypsy van and rode into the city solo. Another day of striding around the city, with a couple of hours interlude in my cafe.
Recognise this place? Ironically only a stones throw from Spring, where I’d been a couple of times previously… down on Westside, North Moore Street.  It’s the Ghostbusters Headquarters.

It was really great to be there. I know it’s only a fictional representation of a place used in a film made over 20 years ago, but it holds a special place in my heart and my brain. I sent a text message to my sister right after I took this photo…it would have been around 5Pm for her, telling her where I was standing.

What I found really interesting is the fact there’s a great cafe on the opposite side of this building… right over the laser containment grid.

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New York - travel photo - Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

New York - travel photo - view from Brooklyn Bridge

View from Brooklyn Bridge

New York - travel photo

The charming J___ M____

We met up with old friends, J___ M____, Linda and Tracy, and went to a fantastic little eating house on the Lower East side. Really great food and a wonderful atmosphere in a place that looked to be tucked down the arse-end of a deserted alleyway. Initial appearances can be deceptive.

I’d not seen any of these people since 2000 – when I was over with Nice Guy Tony and Sharky Bones McCoy – a lot of things had changed in my life since then. Great to see people who remained consistently lovely.

After the meal, we all trudged through the bitter cold, and edgy streets of Lower East side…through an area where some out-of-towners had been recently shot …to a place that only serves chocolate and wine, and presents a weird dichotomy between the people sitting inside, paying $15 for a glass of wine and a couple of divine chocolate, and the people walking past outside.

Called the Cocoa Bar, all the walls of the place are chocolate brown, the lights are low with moody candlepots creating a Rembrandt glow across faces and furniture. Really good vibe. If not extremely decadent.

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New York - travel photo - Manhattan Skyline at night viewed from New Jersey Weehawken

Manhattan Skyline at night viewed from New Jersey Weehawken

Once again. This is the view from the road outside R____’s apartment, same as before but without the snowy clouds drifting around the towers. It is such a jaw-dropping awe-inspiring and emotive view…to stand there and just see it stretching off for miles in both directions…

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New York - travel photo - George Washington Bridge - Yellow Dawn entrance to infection free zone

George Washington Bridge – “Yellow Dawn” entrance to infection free zone

Friday… after a lazy morning and a packed breakfast at the River View Diner (delish corned beef with fried onion, potatoes and poached eggs), we climbed into David’s jeep and headed upstate. The motive of the journey was twofold: (1) get away from the city and enjoy some open air, (2) allow me to explore some of the locations mapped out in Yellow Dawn RPG and the novel I’d started to plan back in the South of France earlier this year. Called Dog Eat Dog .

This picture is of the Western end of the George Washington Bridge. In Yellow Dawn this marks the inner edge of the Dead Zone, and the start of the “infection free zone”, guarded by troops in flame-thrower towers, leading into the western gate of the Living City of New York.

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New York - travel photo - Tappan Zee Bridge - Yellow Dawn entrance to infection free zone

Tappan Zee Bridge – “Yellow Dawn” infection free zone

Another bridge. Another Infection Free Zone. This time one that stretches 3 miles across the river above New York City and has become a settlement in it’s own right.

In Yellow Dawn, the route leading from the George Washington Bridge would continue to push west, following the I-80 towards Alphano. However, I wanted to see a very special place, further north…that marks a key point within the Northern Corridor of the New York Dead Zone.
Tappan Zee Bridge. It snakes like a subtle ‘S’ shape across the Hudson river. In Yellow Dawn, the whole bridge represents a secure settlement, protected from infection, and retro-fitted with houses, bars, shops in a sort of crazy future/medieval carnival town vibe.

This photograph is taking from the Pallisades Interstate Parkway, overlooking the central hump and western end of the Tappan Zee bridge.

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New York - travel photo - post-apocalyptic structure -Piermont north of the Living City of New York

Post-apocalyptic structure in Piermon – north of the Living City of New York

The small settlement of Piermont sits on the western shore of the Hudson river, just down from the Tappan Zee bridge. It suffers from the Infected every now and then and a chronic lack of through-traffic, but some people have been able to make basic repairs to the structures there and reoccupy buildings after the first wave killed off most folk.

Other structures in Piermont have been repaired to a better quality, although the place still looks abandoned on the best of days. The main traffic comes from the river, with people mooring larger vessels here, and using the road link to get to the sanctuary of Tappan Zee.

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New York - travel photo - view of Tappan Zee Bridge crossing the Hudson from post-apocalyptic Piermont

Tappan Zee Bridge crossing the Hudson from post-apocalyptic Piermont

This is one of the mooring sections at Piermont. You can see the central hump of the Tappan Zee Bridge, and the steep incline as the bridge drops to almost hug the river; don’t forget this is 3 miles across.

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New York - travel photo - on a US highway to Bear Mountain

On a US highway to Bear Mountain

Leaving Piermont, heading north along the river edge road, the weather changed abruptly… the wind picked up and freezing blanket of fog and snow drifted in.

In Yellow Dawn, coming off the western end of the Tappan Zee bridge, you’re faced with another 15 miles of Dead Zone before you pop out into the support zone around the fortress settlement of Suffern.

This picture is taken within the support zone of New York.  We’re heading towards the realworld location of Bear Mountain.

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New York - travel photo - woman truding through snow upstate New York  looking into building with warm inviting windows

Trudging through snow looking at the warm cosy sanctuary

Back to the real world. Bear Mountain was closed (again).  It’s been closed since 2000.  Last time I was there was when I was with NGT and Sharky.  R_____ and I found this wonderful sanctuary in the woods, with warm lit windows glowing within the growing gloom of the afternoon. The snow was starting to really come down heavy now.

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New York - travel photo - eerie light on snow dusted mountain forest

Eerie light on snow dusted mountain forest

I love this photo. One of my favourites.  After a few moments we realised that the area had fallen under the alien, mysterious and monstrous influence of the Fungi from Yuggoth… they were up on the mountain, mining for the rare mineral that see’s them traveling the length and breadth of the universe.

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New York - travel photo - tyre tracks in the snow - remote mountain road

Tyre tracks in the snow – remote mountain road

It wasn’t safe for us to return by the main road we’d come in by…just in case agents of the Fungi tried to stop us. We took an unused road through the mountains, trying to find our way back south towards Tappan Zee bridge. There was some spectacularly spooky and wonderful eerie moments on the return journey. The roads at this point were utterly deserted.

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New York - travel photo - traffic cop in Manhattan

Traffic cop in Manhattan

Saturday. Back in the city.  The rural sojourn over.  It was our final day. We were catching flights from JFK that night. We all grabbed another delish breakfast in the River View diner (better coffee this time!) and then I cut loose and jumped on a gypsy van, through the Lincoln Tunnel to outside Port Authority. I walked, drank coffee, wrote, and walked and walked. And walked!

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New York - travel photo - Elmo in Manhattan -Sesame Street character

Elmo in Manhattan

Another fresh arrival to the Big Apple. Like any day in New York, spend long enough on the streets and you’ll see some wacky things.  (Skip forward a few years to 2012 and these people dressed up in suits are everywhere!)

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New York - travel photo - semi naked man running down steps of New York Public Library

Semi-naked man running down steps of New York Public Library

Case in point.

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New York - travel photo - police car with flashing lights on steamy streets of Manhattan

Police car with flashing lights on steamy streets of Manhattan

New York - travel photo - 1000 santas in Manhattan

New York – travel photo – 1000 santas in Manhattan

There was literally hundreds of them.

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Back home in Bristol - roaring fire before Christmas

Back home in Bristol – roaring fire before Christmas

Sunday… and abruptly we’re back home in Bristol. The journey was almost 12 hours door to door, from R___’s place to our place, a journey time  not dissimilar to my old treks between Bristol and Newcastle by National Express Coaches in the early 1990’s. And yet we had travelled between two worlds. The week before we went to New York, Oj and I had a cast-iron wood burning stove installed in the lounge; the old 1950’s fireplace ripped out. We had not been able to light a full fire for the first few days… to allow the thing to settle in and seal itself. So, walking in after being dropped off by the taxi, I got busy making a roaring fire.

Christmas was fast approaching and I was in the first weeks of a new career. I was close to finishing the first release of Yellow Dawn (2nd edition).  Things were good. Very good.

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David J Rodger – DATA

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