Despite our late finish the previous day, Dave and I were up bright and early again on the Sunday morning. By 10am Dave was out and heading across to Steve’s to partake a pancake and bagel breakfast, while I decided to take the opportunity to hit the shops again. After a breakfast at Lindy’s I walked over to Fifth Avenue, taking the opportunity to stop off at an Internet café and sign into Messenger, as well as check my email – who says I’m an addict!? This done, after boring various friends with accounts of the holiday so far, I found a shop named Colony Collectibles. This shop was filled with every kind of memorabilia, from the Beatles to Star Trek, and yet the most exciting thing I could find to buy was a book of blues piano music. This turned out to be a sterling choice from the practical point of view, and held some real insights into improvisational piano playing. I held off buying a Mamma Mia CD album for my parents, as I was sure (correctly as it turned out) that they would already have everything to do with that musical. This done it was time to hit the Virgin Megastore again, where I spent a good hour wandering the book department, unable to resist reading a few chapters of Michael Moore’s “Stupid White Men” and a themed display with some amazing pictures from an astronomy book. I left the store with the MasterCard smoking marginally less than on Friday, and made my way further up to yet more music stores, including a branch of HMV in which I splashed out on more DVDs and music. After a time I found myself in Bloomingdales, which as it turned out was the department store I had in mind when we had been to Macy’s. It may be a smaller store, but I preferred it, and also took the opportunity to grab a selection of the Brown Bags ™ made famous by Friends ™, which I had promised to the same Sarah who warned me not to stare up at the buildings. In this store I also bought a coat, since the leather jacket I had brought with me was growing impossible to wear in the heat.
I left Bloomingdales happy that I had found the store I had remembered, as I had been very disappointed with Macy’s. I realised at this point that I was very close to Grand Central Station, and I took the opportunity to photograph another of New York’s famous landmarks. The entire day rapidly became a fairly lazy mixture of shopping for bits and pieces and visiting minor attractions like this, and by the time I made it back to the hotel in the late afternoon I was feeling thoroughly contented with the world. Soon after I arrived back a phone call from Dave came through, with him informing me that he would meet me in the hotel bar as he had some “good news”. There was only one small problem with this – our hotel didn’t have a bar, only various function rooms, shops and umpteen reception and sightseeing information desks. So, bemused, I telephoned the Williams, whereupon he admitted to me he was in the wrong hotel. It was at this point that I suspected he might have been sniffing the barmaid’s apron, and sure enough when I eventually found him in Niles he admitted to having drunk several stouts and lunching with the other Dave, while Anna and Marilyn went shopping. Realising I had some catching up to do, we sat and drank one or two quiet ales while Dave informed me that he had met a gentleman the sound engineer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were playing Madison Square Garden on the Tuesday evening. This would have been interesting enough, but Dave seemed to hit it off with the guy to the point that he had promised to try and get us free tickets for the performance. We were a little sceptical as to whether the guy would come through, but left him a message and number with the hotel staff anyway in case he turned out to be as good as his word.
In the meantime we decided to take the opportunity to see the top of the Empire State Building during the daytime, this time with a full set of camera batteries and spares. Once again through some serious security we quickly made our way to the top, and on this occasion managed to acquire another Acoustiguide-style audio tour. This one was narrated by a Noo Yawk native, an ex-cab driver who described at great length the major points of interest visible in all directions. As the sun was setting over the city, it proved to be a great opportunity for photographs, and I took hundreds. My insane scheme for almost infinite photographs deserves a mention here. As I revealed earlier, I had brought with me my laptop, and additionally the USB adaptor for my digital camera. With a 60gig hard disk and CD-RW drive, I had potential storage for countless numbers of images, as even if the hard drive became full I could just keep buying blank CDs to which I could burn pictures. In the event I took around six hundred snaps over the entire holiday, which after paring out all blurred/downright awful shots came to around 300 good images. Digital technology is the way forward, folks, but then you knew that anyway.
The potential for Chili Peppers tickets was still 2 days away, so we decided that we would try and make it to a comedy club that Sunday evening, as this had been another activity on our “list of things to do” from the outset. While Dave watched Enterprise on UPN, I leafed through the Rough Guide and found a recommendation for Carolyns, a comedy venue on Times Square. A quick phone call told us the club was showcasing an American comedian by the name of Darryl Hughley that evening; apparently well-known in America with his own show on Comedy Central. Dave and I had never heard of him, but decided stand-up in New York couldn’t fail to be at least passable, and headed down there via a quickly-hailed cab. Once inside we bought tickets and propped up the bar, meeting yet more friendly New Yorkers, one of whom had a picture of a dog on his jacket, and baseball cap with his name printed on it: Captain Scott Shields. He informed us that a comedian had ridiculed this picture until he pointed out that it had been a rescue dog and was now dead of cancer. He informed us he’d never seen the wind so completely taken out of a comedian’s sails. Once inside, Dave and I ordered yet more steak and ale and took our seats to enjoy the warm-up acts, who were pretty entertaining – even if we did get a little lost with some of the local current affairs observational material. At the time, we had no clue who Jayson Blair was. The main event was very funny, and also lasted for a good hour and a half. Between ripping on his minder and coming up with more witty observational stuff there were many hilariously entertaining jokes – he proclaimed he’d never allow a child of his to learn the flute because “listen to the sound a flute makes. A flute is the soundtrack to an ass-whupping”.
Thus fed, watered and amused, we made it back to the hotel in the early hours, taking some snaps of Times Square and 42nd Street by night. For once, we decided against Niles. Instead we retired to the hotel room and decided to catch a little bit of American TV before sleeping. Whilst we were watching, Dave in his bed and me at the desk offloading yet more photographs onto the laptop, a cartoon came on neither of had ever seen before but which we’ve seen plenty of since; the Aqua Teen Hunger Force. A completely demented show whose closest cousin is South Park, this cartoon defies explanation, but the episode we saw – Mayhem of the Mooninites – turned out to be generally lauded as one of the best so far. Dave began chortling when one of the characters proclaimed “Your roommate is a nerd. On the moon nerds have their pants pulled down and they are spanked with moon rocks”. When the last line of the show turned out to be “Prepare for a moon spanking” Dave was slayed to the point where he couldn’t stop laughing off and on for the remainder of the night.