Winter in New York
1996 - 1997
this are some reasons why people travel to New York. We had more realistic, less mythical reasons to come here: my husband, Heinz-Erich Gödecke, will perform in the Knitting Factory January 7, 1997 and I want to throw flowers in the Hudson River, where Albert Ayler drowned many years before, I want to walk on Henry Miller's footprints and I am waiting to see the Museum of Modern Art for such a long time now ...
NY is very attractive for travellers in the moment: months before nearly all tickets were sold and so we had to travel on Christmas Evening. I spent the Christmas evening at many different places in my life, but never before in a plane.
The passengers in our plane gave me a first impression of the big melting pot: iranian,arab, macedonian, german travellers and some orthodox jews amidst the americans who left Europe to spend the holidays with their family.
KLM seems to be a very dangerous company for Asthmatics: first the dinner was overspiced with monosodium glutamate, and second: the toilets are perfumed with a breath-taking aerosol which gave me a heavy attack. So I was glad to leave the plane at JFK-Airport.
I was astonished about the passport control and the toll officers: everybody was very friendly and whished us a hearty Merry Christmas. The transport to Jersey City, where we are guest of our friend Charlie Steiner, was very comfortable: one call to the Tel Aviv Taxi Company to tell them our registration number, and the driver arrived. Our host Charlie had arranged everything perfectly and had sent me all necessary information by e-mail.
45 minutes drive and we arrived in Jersey City, where Charlie awaited us. He then packed us into his car and drove us around Manhattan to grasp a short impression of this mega-city. (The other reason was that he wanted to hinder us from sleeping to prevent the side-effects of the jet-lag).
I was impressed and I felt like being catapulted into a film. All the places which you know from many films and TV-productions are here, in full-color reality! |
People crowding before the churches to attend the midnight - Xmas - mass, millions of small lightbulbs illuminating the trees along Park Avenue, beautiful decorations in the shops - finally I got a Christmas-feeling, too.
|Our host Charlie left to Florida the next morning, so we are alone with his dog Sascha and while we walk Sascha around we discover the neighborhood. Jersey City is an interesting place: small houses are followed by closed factorybuildings or shops. I noticed an unporportional amount of churches and funeral shops in this area. Mostly black and hispanic people live here, and the athmosphere seems to be quite relaxed.|
|Now we planned to discover the Big Apple and the first thing to do is to walk to the subway station and to ride to the WorldTradeCenter. Downtown Manhattan surprised us: a blue sky with sunshine, all these sky-scrapers, and absolutely no cars! You could even walk on Church Street! At Battery Park we found why the city was so deserted: only tourists around, the others spent the day with their family under the christmas tree. So the Statue of Liberty greeted the modern nomads and not the immigrants from the old world or the sleepy workers on the way to their office. The way from Manhattan to Staten Island is free, sponsored by the city. You only pay for the way back.|
I understood the NY spirit: the people here are so convinced that everybody who leaves will come back. And when they come back they have to pay the toll, whether they come by boat or through the tunnels.
After this first excursion we spent the afternoon in Chinatown, strolling through the shops in Canal Street, buying wedding rings there (after 5 years of marriage) and testing the first Chinese Restaurant. (The Excellent Dumpling House in 111 Lafayette Street offers good, glutamat-free food and fast service).
Times Square is one of the most crowded touristical places in New York. We went there because our friend Jim Meneses told us about a very interesting sound installation amidst the turmoil of this metropolis, amidst the never ending sounds. This installation was planned to interfere to the sounds and to frame them. It became famous, but now it is taken away. Art in transition: nothing is set up for infinity. |
Times Square had a very bad image before, it was known for prostitution (germans may remember the story about the politican Franz-Joseph Strauß, who was robbed here by prostitutes), but now it is a 'clean' place. Theaters, souvenir shops and big advertising panels. All big musicals are on show here, it's a place for the mass culture. And that's why Coca Cola, JVC, Sony and the Virgin Mega Store fit so well.
Jim Meneses at Times Square
|Katz' Delicatessen, 205 Houston Street, is a very special place. Here small money and big hunger meet: huge pastrami sandwiches, bagels, hotdogs with kraut, and near to your table you find the bags to take the leftovers home. |
Send a Salami to your Son in the Army! is a slogan you can read here; letters from american presidents honoring the famous salami are shown in the windows. This place has historic and scurrile athmosphere.
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These pages have been uploaded 01-15-1997.
© on text and photos (except the KODAK DC40): Cornelie Müller-Gödecke. You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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