Postcard from New York I: 'Mirror City'

September 25, 2009

“Autumn in New York
The gleaming rooftops at sundown
Oh, autumn in New York
It lifts you up when you run down”
(Ella Fitzgerald)

The first lady of song is right, there is much that gleams here in late September. Light hums through the beech leaves in Brooklyn, breaks and shimmers on skyscrapers as you cross the Williamsburg bridge, leaves trickles of pearl in the darkening Manhattan sky. I grew up in London, but New York was always the mirror city, the place my mother promised me I'd love; where she'd drunk coffee with Ginsberg in the Lower East Side, appeared in a indie flick as 'Death' wearing an extravagant hairpiece and woollen suit and oh, briefly found romance; and where I first landed 2 years ago, with few preconceptions except that the cheese cake was going to be outstanding. As well as the music too, of course. So far, I can confirm both to be true.

 

My mother circa NYC era

This time I've come to stay a while longer, 3 months to be exact. I arrived at JFK airport last week, had the customary conversation about the kind of music I make with the immigration official  (they ask this every time without fail: I can't figure out whether it's sweet or sinister)  and took a taxi straight to Park Slope, Brooklyn. Half an hour wrestling with the apartment door, but it was worth the wait – I have a snug nest in a roaring city.

 

Ana @ Lumina Studios, 29th Street, Manhattan

Whilst it's not on a main road, the drivers passing by seem keen to outdo each other in the eardrum rupture stakes (now I understand the wishful but ineffective road signs: Don't Honk: $350 fine), but all in all it feels like a pleasant and thriving neighbourhood. I love it's strangely named churches: "Church of New Life', 'Baptist Church of the Silver Palm' and my personal favourite, the 'Ebenezer H Church of God Incorporated' - surely a user car salesman turned money-minded Reverend?; and how Dunkin' Donuts and late night Halal kebab joints rub shoulders with salsa saloons and Psychic parlours. My local costs a very game $2 a pop, and at such a price, I've figured I can get them to predict my 'Mega Millions' numbers and astrologically align my wardrobe on a daily basis, which takes some beating - take note, Ebenezer. 
As I go on my way here, I'll share thoughts with you about my time in Mirror City and how it differs from London town. Like a slightly lax doctor-approved (big) apple, you gets one thought every few days...so check back often. 

Hello Kitty, Time Square

 

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