Thursday, May 29, 2008

NY see

Hey, long time no me! I'm back! Did you miss us? No? Fine, see you later, then. No, you've pissed me off now. Oh, okay. Just stop being so argumentative, it's a really unattractive trait.

So yeah, New York. The key question is, can I be bothered to relate all that happened to me in the Big Apple over the five days I was there? I can't even be bothered to answer that question to be honest.

We begin our pictorial adventure in the taxi from JFK, Thursday morning. I am feeling particularly smug as I didn't need to check in any luggage, and am making do with a small rucksack.

NYC: arrival

On the first day, Urvashi and I happened to be wandering through Central Park and we thought we'd pop into the zoo. Usually birds are rubbish - not these ones, though.

Central Park zoo: pink bird

Ooh, and then we went to the FAO Schwartz toy store and looked at the toys. Easy, tiger.

Tiger in FAO Schwartz store

Yes, Smurfs still exist. Harry Potter gets slightly more floor space, however.

Smurfs in FAO Schwartz store

If New York has two things in abundance, it's flags and tall buildings. My camera probably came home with vertigo. Sorry, camera. After a day of much wandering, me and Vash headed out on the train to Stamford, Connecticut, where our friend Dan is living, temporarily. (On being asked how he spends his time: "Well, my favourite activity is walking down Park Avenue listening to 'Smack My Bitch Up' on my iPod.") He kindly decided not to bill us for our stay, and even lent me a towel. I don't have a picture of the towel.

Flags and buildings

On the Friday, Vash met up with her 19-year-old douchebag of a cousin, Tej (okay, she was actually lovely, but for the next three days seemed unable to cease from yelling abuse at me, Dan and Birdy, her catchphrase being, "You guys are fucken retards." We probably deserved it). Anyway, while Vash was at her work meeting, I went up the Rockefeller Tower and did the Rockefeller Skank, a dance I invented back in the early '90s.

From the Rockefeller, pt3

Then to the Met. No, my phone hadn't been stolen, you crazy Londoner – it's an art museum. A very famous one in fact. Shame on you for not knowing that.

The Met

Jeff Koons has created three enormous sculptures to go on the roof of the museum - here's one of them - for an exhibition called, yes, 'Koons on the Roof'. An ace title for a short story, in my opinion, but hey, whadda I know?

Koons sculpture 1

Here's another Koons. Annoying about all the people in this picture. I tried to Photoshop them out, but beauty is truth, truth beauty and all that. (After this, Birdy arrived and the five of us went to Hooters. I kid you not. An evening of mayhem ensued. It could've been worse, though; we all ended up crashing in a small room at the Hilton.)

Koons sculpture 2

Groo, what a hangover on Saturday, though. Luckily someone had a great idea - let's get on a tourbus. So we did, and I took a picture of these very New Yorky stairs. Vash and Tej, who'd rapidly transformed into Asian versions of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie (The Asian Simple Life, basically) bombarded the tourbus operator with a string of inane questions - "Where's the nearest Pinkberry's?" etc. There was a nice moment when he asked the bus if anyone on board were fans of Sex and the City. Paris and Nicole's hands shot up. "I had a feeling..." he said, wearily.

NY stairways

Then, sober up kids, to Ground Zero.

Ground Zero

There are gangs of crazy conspiracy theorist types hanging round the rubble. Don't let them talk to you! Here's one (the other side of the placard said something along the lines of, "Laser beams destroyed the WTC").

Crazy woman at Ground Zero

Next, we got the Staten Island Ferry to, er, Staten Island, checking out the Statue of Liberty on the way. Then we turned round and came back.

Staten Island Ferry

See, I wasn't lying about the tall buildings. Lots of baffling public sculptures, too.

Art and architecture

Next up, some shopping in SoHo. I saw this sign twice and both times, my head sort of went, "There's a picture of New York, there's a picture of New York, there's a big fat crazy picture of New York..." (Why? Because of this, 2m 30s in.)

DKNY sign

Ah, what else? All sorts, man. Eating at Gray's Papaya, watching dudes shooting hoops, diner jukeboxes, Bleeker Street Records, sweltering, a Little Italy market-fairground ("do you take credit cards?" asked The Asian Simple Life), back and forth between Grand Central and Stamford, sailors on leave for Memorial Weekend, yellow cab after yellow cab, orange juice and weary feet...

And on the final day, Dan and I visited the aptly-named and amply-filled Museum of Modern Art (Moma), concluding a tiring but excellent break. And what can I add here, frankly, apart from "Oof"?

Oof, Moma

Then we flew home and I broke my toe. But that's a story for another day.

Oh, and that was just the half of it. Click here for the full batch of photos.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ricking the vote

Hear about this? The world's gone mad!

Rickrolling bill passed in US senate

by Sheila Primula

US senators voted in favour of a bill outlawing the increasingly popular internet practice of "Rickrolling" yesterday.

Rickrolling, an internet meme that has become widespread in recent months, involves using disguised hyperlinks to direct unsuspecting internet users to YouTube videos of Rick Astley singing his 1987 hit 'Never Gonna Give You Up'.

But now Congress has outlawed the practice, those found directing others to Rick Astley videos must explain the exact nature of disseminated links to the intended recipient – or face a five-year prison sentence.

It is thought the law came about partly as the result of a cross-party report claiming productivity in Capitol Hill had decreased by nearly 50% in February because congressmen were falling for the prank so often. The investigation also revealed that a number of the senders were senators themselves.

"It was getting ridiculous," said Senator Richard Hamlin. "It reached the stage when even links to important briefing documents turned out to be Rickrolls. Even when you suspected a fake, you had to entertain the possibility that you were receiving something genuine. And most of the time, that wasn't the case. In the end I had to employ a second secretary whose sole job was to filter out the Rickrolls."

Some slammed the new legislation as a violation of their constitutional rights. "Freedom of speech is at stake here," said Doris Legg, president of the Society for Rickrolling Rights, a lobby group set up to combat the anti-Rickrolling drive. "Jokingly sending links to Rick Astley videos to people is perfectly harmless. The next thing you know, they'll be burning books and invading Poland."

Senator Hamlin rejected Legg's argument. "This new law is an important step forward in internet safety," he said. "We need to protect the American people from themselves – and Rick Astley."

Story continues…

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Playlist #2: May 2008

Firstly, apologies for the hiatus. It's partly, though not entirely, explained by the fact that I bought an Xbox 360 the other day and have reached the stage where I've started having waking dreams about Halo 3 and twitching anxiously unless I can frag some demons, as the vernacular goes.

But anyway, here's the news: starting in a few days, I'll be embarking on a week of all-American activities. On Thursday, I'm going to New York for a long weekend. Who knows what will happen? On my return, I'm off to see the England football team get annihilated by play USA at Wembley. And then two days later, I'll be down the front (well, maybe in the middle) as Bruce Springsteen comes to London and shows the capital how you really do grizzled.

As eagle-eared listeners will notice, in honour of my imminent trip, this month's playlist has a slight NY tinge.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Pointless but oddly fascinating fact of the day

The theme tune to classic '80s children TV show Button Moon was written by Doctor Who actor Peter Davidson and his wife Sandra Dickinson.