Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Meat Manager...

I saw this on the wall above the butchers counter in a supermarket near the hotel... I think it's brilliantly strange, and strangely brilliant. I wonder if they call the shelf stackers 'Stock Replenishing Managers' too... Leroy doesn't seem to really know what's going on, but Jim seems rather pleased with his grand title.

Miami Vice...

As Kelly and I stopped at a petrol station we noticed a bit of activity and some flashing lights...

There were 3 undercover police cars blocking a white boy-racerish type car in at the petrol station. We got out to take a closer look, they had him with his hands behind his head against the side of the car and were taking lots of things out of his car... unfortunately I don't have my proper camera with me so I couldn't zoom in or anything... but you can sort of make out some of the action from this bad photo.

I think it's funny that Kelly waited until I arrived here before telling me that this area is known for its drugs problems - apparently there are a lot of Meth dealers about. I'm glad I don't have much time to go out exploring, I think I'm better off in my darkened warehouse shooting nuts!


Here's some proof that I'm acutally in Miami.
(I'm having to prove to myself that I'm here because I've spent 10 hours today, in a darkened warehouse taking photographs of nuts)


My passport has been found.

As I got off the plane last night, I had a voice message on my phone telling me that they'd managed to locate the taxi I was in on Friday night (due to tracking my card transaction) and were able to give me the medallion number of the cab and the phone number for the depot. I phoned them this morning and they had it sitting safely in their Lost & Found box in Queen's!
It should be winging its way to the office as we speak.


Back in Miami... Just!

Hello! I'm back in Miami...
After a many conversations with Delta Airlines, I found out that I'm able to fly domestically using my UK Drivers License as ID, so I'm back in Fort Lauderdale just outside Miami. I wish I could say that my journey here was smooth and stress free... but that would be lying.

It was bad enough that my cab driver that was taking me from work to JFK airport yesterday afternoon was a terrible xenophobic and HATED English people (he asked me if I was purely English, I said 'Well I'm half Scottish' and he said 'Oh, well that explains why you're so nice then, you're not a pure English person!'), but as we were about half way there he decided to tell me that we weren't going to make it on time!

I had deliberately left a couple of extra hours to get there, because I was expecting some problems with security - not because I was expecting there to be solid traffic on the roads. Luckily the driver knew a shortcut, and managed to get me to JFK in pretty good time.

My next challenge was the security at JFK airport... I had phoned Delta to ensure that I could definitely travel using my Driving License as ID, but when I got the desk where they check your passports there was a bit of an uncomfortable silence... and then a bit of communication of the walkie talkies... and then a superior arrived at the scene... it turns out that in my rush to book a new ticket I'd booked my plane ticket under 'Ollie' and all my ID says 'Oliver' and apparently that's no good. They told me I needed to go and get a new ticket printed at the help desk...

... So I went to help desk but there was a HUGE queue and the people in the queue were moaning that they'd been waiting over half an hour. I asked the German family at the front of the queue, very politely if I could cut infront of them - but they weren't having any of it. Luckily I managed to talk the Russian girl behind them into letting me go infront of her, but she was in a rush for her flight back home.

When I finally managed to get to a help desk, I was greeted (greeted is the wrong word) by a rather grumpy, shouty Chinese woman. I explained my situation and asked her if she'd print me a new ticket... 'I'm not printing you a new ticket. Where's 'Ollie' come from anyway? Why did you book it in that name if it's not your name. I'm not printing you a new ticket - I get my supervisor!'... I tried explaining that the signature on my ID says Ollie and that my business card says Ollie, but my full name is Oliver... but she still had to go off and get her supervisor.

She went off for a few minutes and then came back... 'OK - I change ticket, but it's gonna be $200!'... At this point I was getting pretty fed up and just wanted to get on the plane, so I was close to losing my cool and said 'You're going to charge me $200 to change 3 letters of my name?! That's ridiculous, how can you charge for that?!'... I felt like saying 'All you need to is press delete 3 times and then press I-V-E-R... I'll do it! Then you can pay me $200!'... but I didn't. After my short outburst she said 'Well, I won't charge you, but next time it'll cost $200'. Needless to say - there will be NO next time.

Anyway, I managed to get through Security, I managed to get a quick smackeral and I managed to get on the flight which I later found out had been overbooked so a seat wasn't even guaranteed! Then, just before we were due to take off the pilot announces that the longest runway at JFK had been closed (maybe because of all the heavy heavy rain?!) and we were going to be taking off an hour later than sheduled! That hour turned into 90 minutes (I managed to have a snooze), but we finally took off. I think it's the first time I've been on a plane where the passengers applauded as the plane took off! (Bloody Yanks!)

When I arrived at Fort Lauderdale Airport, I got in a cab and asked to go to my hotel, the driver didn't have a clue where he was going, and what's supposed to be a 15 minute journey turned into a 40 minute wild goose-chase - using my iPhone Map, calling the hotel, going round in circles, missing turnings, doing U-turns... it was painful. Then it came to paying, I took out my company credit card and he said 'Oh, the machine's not working, you can't pay with a card'... So I went into the hotel to ask if they had an ATM machine... nope. So it was back in the cab to drive to the nearest cash machine. Luckily there was one a little way down the road...

Now, most America ATM machines ask you to 'dip' you card - so you put it in and take it out straight away... this one was different, you left it in the machine as you were taking money out. So I put the card in the machine, took out some money and then got back in the cab - as we were driving off I was thinking to myself 'Why is the cash machine still bleeping at me?' - I'd taken my reciept, so I couldn't work it out.

We went back to the hotel and I checked in, but as the lady at recepetion asked to see my ID and my method of payment I realised what the bleeping was about... I'd left the bloody card in the machine!

A very nice man at the hotel who drove the shuttle bus said he'd drive me back to the cash machine to get my card - but when we got there it had gone! I can only assume that the machine had taken the card and chewed it up or something... anyway, I got back to the hotel and cancelled the card and tried to think how much worse the night could get...

I think I've had just about enough of these unfortunate incidents and I've had my fair share of bad luck for now...

But anyway - I'm in Miami!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


It seems I won't be going to Miami as soon as I'd planned because I may have missed placed my passport... in the back of a cab!

I was putting my toothbrush in my bag, making sure I had everything - double checking I had all my computer bits and pieces and my work, I went to go and check my passport was still in my bag - but it wasn't. It wasn't in any of the pockets of the bag, none of the pockets of my jacket, not under the sofa, or the rug, or under the bed, or in Abi's bag, not in the fridge, or in the cupboard, not in the rubbish... no where.

I can only assume it fell out of my bag in the back of the taxi on Friday night... so annoyingly I only realised this 20 minutes before I was supposed to be going to the airport, so tonight I'm staying put in Brooklyn (and secretly incredibly pleased to have had a whole weekend with Abi!).

I've logged a 'Lost Item' report with 311 - if you dial 311 you can get all sorts of information on NYC things, if you dial 411 you can get information on Bus and Subway times and other things, which must be where the phrase 'what's the 411?' comes from.

Hopefully I'll hear something soon - in the meantime, I'm going to be making lots of phone calls to Lost & Found departments tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted.

First Blossom of the Year!

Yesterday morning (well, midday) we went for some very yummy brunch at a place called Lokal which is just next door to 5 Leaves restaurant in Williamsburg. I had a rather tasty steak, egg and chips and Abi has a fancy steak sandwich that neither of us could pronounce. It was beautifully sunny, and the cafe had brightly coloured stained glass so it looked really pretty in the sunlight.

After our brunch we went and sat in McCarren Park with a couple of Dunkin Donuts and watched some baseball being played - although it was sunny is was rather nippy and everyone seemed to be wrapped up as if it was winter again.

We saw the first blossom of the year in McCarren Park on some of the little baby trees - it looked beautiful - hopefully by next Saturday there'll be some blossom in Central Park and we can go and mooch about the park if the weather's nice enough.

I can't wait for Spring to be properly here and for all the trees to have leaves and for the flowers to be out - it's been lovely and sunny recently but it doesn't feel quite right without leaves on the trees. Hopefully there'll be lots more Spring photographs to come...

26 Hours in Miami...

Due to a sudden change of plans I ended up flying to Miami on Thursday afternoon to help out on the photo shoot on Friday. It was all a little bit surreal really and a bit rushed and unfortunately I didn't really get to see much of Miami at all, apart from the motorway, the hotel and the studio/warehouse where the shoot was taking place.

I got to see a couple of palm trees by the side of the road, but no sand or sea for me. It was lovely and sunny (and pretty muggy) when I arrived and the smell of the air instantly took me back to our holidays in Orlando - it was lovely getting images of Disney World and Universal Studios and the Space Center and Grenada... it made me feel quite homesick though.

It's a bit rubbish that Abi had only just arrived and I had to go again, but it made coming back on Friday night even better knowing that Abi would be in the flat.

I'm off to Miami again this evening for the week (and then possibly the following week), so I doubt there'll be too much to blog about from the shoot, but I'm going to try and see some of Fort Lauderdale in the evenings at least.

But for now, here's a picture of what was probably the prettiest view I had from my first visit to Miami...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Event Horizon...

When we were sitting in Madison Square Park, we were looking up at all the different buildings when we spotted quite a few of Mr. Gormley's Event Horizon men. The installation has officially opened now, so all his chaps are in place - from sitting in the park we counted about 8, there's even one on top of the Flat Iron Building! Then as we strolled down 5th Avenue we saw even more men standing on top of the buildings.

Right opposite the Flat Iron Building, on the pavement island, stands one of the metal men fixed to the ground. He's a little bit shorter than me, and doesn't look too cheery... I also spared everyone's blushes and didn't show his bits and pieces, but they're out there for all to see.

We're going to look up the exhibition and try and find all the figures, it looks absolutely fantastic standing in the middle of the park looking up and seeing these figures looming over the city.

Celebratory Burger... (and Hotdog)...

To celebrate the triumphant arrival of Miss Turner, we went into Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon for a walk around and a spot of (late) lunch. The weather was absolutely beautiful - amazing blue skies, glorious sunshine and just the right temperature, not too hot - not too cold... Perfect.

We went and sat in Madison Square Park (just by the Flat Iron Building), enjoying the sun and tucking into some treats from the Shake Shack. We both had a delicious burger and shared a very tasty hot dog. So far, Shake Shack are probably joint, or second best place for burgers that we've found (second only to BLT Burger) - I think some further research is needed though...

I'm a Blue Toothbrush...

My toothbrush has got a friend now!

Monday, March 22, 2010

T minus 20 hours...

The boxes have been packed, taped up and collected and right now Abi's at the Manchester Airport Hotel ready for her early morning flight tomorrow... we can't believe it's actually really finally happening, but it is - it's happening!

We're going to live in New York together!

It's a Small World...

This lunchtime, Tom and I were having a spot of lunch at Heartland Brewery on Union Square when in walked two people I recognised... it was Fabio and Paddy, two of the design lecturers from Leeds Uni!

They have been here for the past few days with a group from University and were flying back tonight. It was such a coincidence. It was great to see them, although they weren't my lecturers they were Abi's and I'd seen them when I went in with Ben to set the Elmwood brief - so it was great to talk to them for a little bit... they were excited to hear that Abi's coming out, not as excited as me though!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mr. Sandman...

Here he is again...

I think this is the biggest, most impressive one yet - he was in Union Square again yesterday evening. It's absolutely fantastic - and it's hard to believe it's just coloured sand!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Look To The Skies...

A few days ago I read a few tweets by Pentagram talking about a new installation on the roof of their studios - it was a sculpture by Mr. Antony Gormely as part of his 'Event Horizon' work. I'd been meaning to go and have a look at it for a while, so as I walked up 5th Avenue I looked up to the skies and saw the chap standing there.

It's a clever idea, putting these figures up on the roofs of Manhattan - I've read that he had 30-odd figures around New York, but most of the photos I've seen are ones that were on the ground, so maybe Pentagram have bought this particular one.

It's funny to think that some of his work has been in the gardens at Chatsworth and now some of his work is just up the road from where I work in New York - it helps make home seem a little closer in a way.

As I walked past the building, I noticed that very small, in the background - just over the Pentagram Man's shoulder was another figure. He must have been over on 6th Avenue or something - standing even higher up on the skyline. There's something slightly spooky about the sculptures - I suppose it's a little bit like the ones that were on the beach near Liverpool, there's the risk of people mistaking them for real people and thinking that they need to call the police... On the other hand, they feel almost like guardians watching over everyone, there's something quite peaceful and calming about them.

When I was walking back towards Union Square, I noticed another figure standing on the top of the building, just a little bit down from the Flatiron Building. I'm going to do a bit of investigating and see just how many figures are dotted around Manhattan and see if I can find anymore before 'Event Horizon' is finished.


I think the Old Man's balloons must be making their way back from Paradise Falls - these ones found their way in to the trees by Gramercy Park!

Out & About...

Today has been super soggy, but at least it wasn't non-stop torrential rain, so I went out for a wander about town this afternoon. I got off the subway at 1st Avenue and walked up to Macy's and back again. It's always great walking about and going up streets that I've not been to before - I think I've only been up 1st Avenue a couple of times since I've been here... and there's not really anything to see on 1st Avenue, but if you stray off like I did you might find Gramercy Park.

I've not taken any photos because it was so wet, but I'm definitely going to be going back there - Gramercy Park's a little square park surrounded by some very grand looking buildings, some hotels, some club houses and some apartments. Some of them were very gothic looking, some looked quite European, some we modern some were really old. It'll be lovely to go back there and explore when the sun's shining.

Walking up 5th Avenue's always nice, heading straight towards the Empire State Building - which today, was hiding from everyone in the rain clouds...

Just off 5th Avenue, a little bit after Madison Square Park (and next door to the Museum of Sex) is the Gershwin Hotel. It's such a fantastic building - I think it's one of my favourites in New York. I remember seeing it when I first came to New York with Uni, it'd be great to stay there. I think it's split, there are some hostel type shared rooms, and then there are some fancy hotel rooms and some apartments... one day... maybe.

It looks like it belongs in Paris or Barcelona or something - it's bloody brilliant.

Happy Mother's Day...

Happy Mother's Day Our Mam!

I hope you've had a lovely, relaxing day - I wish I could be there with you this weekend.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rainy Day...

It's poooooooouring with rain today, and it was pouring with rain yesterday... I have a horrible feeling it's going to be raining for the next few days. So I have a feeling there won't be many posts for this weekend... I'm just going to stay in and watch films.

However, I thought I'd put a link to this FANTASTIC weather website, it's a really clever idea - the pictures are lovely... click here.

(P.S. It might be 'light rain' in Manhattan, but in Brooklyn it's bloody pouring!)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Little Taste of Home...

A few weeks ago I mentioned a shop called Myers of Keswick - Will had pointed it out to me when we were going to the White Horse Tavern, but the shop was closed. I went back there today to have a look at what goodies were on sale.

Inside it looks like an old fashioned British shop, black and white tiled floors, wooden built-in floor to ceiling shelves, an old glass counter with the meats in... it was great. They started off just selling proper British sausages but now they sell all sorts of things - Marmite, Ribena, Lemsip, Radox, Aeros, PG Tips, Sharwoods Sauces, Heinz Beans, Colemans Mustard... and loads more.

As well as sausages they also make homemade pork pies, cornish pastys and scotch eggs! So I thought I'd get myself a little scotch egg for the journey. It was rather tasty, but I have to say - I think I prefer the ones from home... 2 for £1 at the super market - they're the good ones.

I also got some Penguin biscuits and something else to remind me of home...

It's the little things that help the most.

Then I went round the corner from Myers to Tea & Sympathy - another Ex-Pat's shop selling very similar bits and pieces. Much to my delight I noticed they're selling Wispa Easter Eggs and Malteasers! So Easter's sorted now.

Next to Tea & Sympathy (as I think I've blogged about before) is the fish and chips shop A Salt & Battery, so I popped in there for some chips... but unfortunately they weren't a patch on the Bakewell chips, I was very disappointed. Still, it's made me look forward to some chunky chips with some fish from the Bakewell chip shop when I'm next back.

It's good to know there's somewhere to go for Cream Eggs and Terry's Chocolate Oranges - incase of emergencies.

Little Notice...

... at least they said please.

Sullivan Street...

After spending all day yesterday watching rubbish on my laptop, I thought I'd make the most of the incredible weather today and go for a wonder around 'town'. So I went for a mooch around Prince Street and Broadway, around E. Houston and Bleeker Street and around Greenwich Village. It was beautifully sunny and lovely and warm, it felt like Spring has well and truly got it's foot in the door and it's coming in.

After a bit of strolling I went off Bleeker Street and found myself on Sullivan Street...

The houses were beautifully kept and all painted in different colours, but in very tasteful colours and in the sunshine they looked so bright and cheery...

It felt a little bit like wondering around parts of London...

I love how there are certain streets dotted around Manhattan that just completely transport you to somewhere entirely different, like around the University there's an alley that looks like it's straight out of France and around the East Village there are some incredible homes with incredibly decorative wrought-iron grates.

Everything just feels so individual and unique. It's great.

Jersey Street...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Midweek Music...

Tuesday night was a very musical affair for me in Brooklyn.

I went to go and see Rogue Wave play at the Music Hall of Williamburg (just a few blocks away from Bedford Avenue, not too far away from the Surf Bar that Abi and I went to in the summer). I'd bought the tickets ages ago, and I'd actually bought two expect Abi to be here by now (wishful thinking), so unfortunately I went on my jolly lonesome... it was still a great gig though.

As I stepped of the L train at Bedford Avenue, a band called The Freelance Whales were performing on the station platform (performing/busking I suppose). I'd seen the Freelance Whales playing on a street corner on Bedford Avenue during my first or second weekend in New York - so it was funny seeing them again nearly 10 months later. I arrived just in time to hear them do the last 30 seconds of their last song, but it was fun seeing so people squeezing around each other on the platform.

After that I made my way to the Music Hall, stopping off at the Endless Summer Burrito Van on the way. Getting Burritos from that van was something else I did a lot in the summer, so I'm getting excited about having lighter evenings and a bit more time to do some of these nice things again, and it'll be even more fantastic to do them with Abi!

The Music Hall of Williamsburg's a really nice little venue, it probably holds 1500, or maybe less - but there were probably only 300-500 people there for the gig, and when the first support act came on, there were probably only 50 people in the room.

The first support act was a guy called JBM - it was just him and his guitar and it was beautiful. He only played for about 25 minutes, but the songs he sung were really great, he occasionally played a harmonica or sat down at the drums with his guitar for a couple of songs. It reminded me a bit of Ray LaMontagne, it was really great.

Then a band called Avi Buffalo played, they were a bit more lively. They're a band from Long Beach California, they had a very surfy California sound (I thought they were trying to sound like The Shins). A few more people started to congregate to watch them, but the room still felt pretty empty.

Then, finally... at 11pm (I was ready for bed at about 9.30pm) Rogue Wave came on!
Rogue Wave are on Jack Johnson's record label, but sound completely different to anything like Jack Johnson and Co. They've got a far heavier and fuller sound, and more energetic too. I've wanted to see them for a while, so it was great seeing them in such a small venue.

Their new album came out on that same night, so they were playing lots of news that no-one had really heard before, but they went down well and everyone was bouncing around enjoying themselves. The band were obviously having a lot of fun too which always makes a big difference.

I couldn't quite believe how late they were starting though, I can only guess that the live music laws are different here, as they were only just starting their set when most bands in the UK would be finishing - and they didn't finish playing until about 12.30am... waaaay past my bedtime!

For the very last song of the encore they played the title track from their new album Permalight - they said it was a bit of a dancy number so they invited everyone up on stage to dance with them...

Being towards the back of the room, I decided I'd just watch - but it was great fun to watch, I think if they had anymore people on the stage it would be overflowing... the only thing is that with the stage full of people, there were only about 30 of us left in the audience!

Spooky Sight...

Monday, March 1, 2010


Today couldn't be more different to Friday. It's gloriously sunny and really mild outside. All the snow's thawing, dripping off the roofs and the tops of the vans, there's no sign of a cloud in the sky and there's a definite sense of Spring in the air.

Infact, it's so lovely today that Tom (the artworker who's over from Leeds for the next 5 weeks) and I sat and had a pint and a pulled pork sandwich outside at Heartland Brewery in Union Square. It was great being able to enjoy the sun and do some people watching... it just made it that much harder to come back to work and finish the day.

I can't wait for Spring to be here properly.