Well, as most of you might have noticed in some way (either through me telling you or through my latest output), I've recently been to NYC again (I still spent most of my time in Manhattan, hence the title). My second time in the Big Apple was, dare I say more focused?! This time I already knew a lot of the stuff I encountered through having been there before. And I was not completely on my own, ~RelttasTezcatlipoca was with me and bravely soldiered through my insane walking sprees (People who know me can attest that I am willing to push myself to the limit if I am certain that it's worth it). There's something about vacations that really has a purifying effect on people, you gather some new experiences that put everything you do and most of all, who you are into perspective. And boy, did I gather many experiences this time around! "Make the most of each day" was my mantra throughout the week and it seems like it really paid off!
I don't even know where to start. Let's just say my stay in NYC was a strange (in a good way) mixture of stunning eye-candy, interesting by-chance encounters, amazing food, self-inflicted fatigue and the very familiar feeling of being at home. My arrival was a bit more stressful than last time. On the day of my flight I developed some signs of a throat infection, so I had a doctor visit me a mere hour before I started my journey towards the Viennese airport. Fortunately, I was able to get my meds right away, so I could treat myself while in New York. The flight was alright until my head started to hurt terribly, for some time I was even afraid I would drift into a fever. Things evened out a bit after the landing though. JFK's terminal 7 was odd to be honest but that's for both the better and the worse. There weren't as many people as in terminal 4, which was my destination a year ago. The customs officer didn't appear to be very motivated. He only asked me one question: "How long do you intend to stay in New York?", that's it! Not that I minded though, it's always great when things work without any delay. Still a bit dizzy from my haunting headache, I (and Relttas of course too) gathered my stuff and made for the exit. No luck hailing a cab right away this time, we had to wait in line (That would be one of the bad aspects of Terminal 7). The cab-ride towards and through Manhattan was pretty much the same it was last time, with only three exceptions: The Empire State Building was illuminated in Pink this time, The World Trade Center was already topped out to its final roof-height and I could share my impressions with a good friend of mine. When we arrived at The Jane, a pleasant breeze of unfiltered nostalgia swept over me. The brickstone building on the very western corner of Greenwich Village, the glimpse of the Westside Highway on the horizon, the tiny stairway up to the entrance, the hotel staff dressed in vintage crimson concierge clothes...all of it was still so familiar to me.
After checking in, I showed Relttas around and told him about how things work and the whole schabang. After that I went into my room and fell into my elevated, ship-cabin-style bed and assembled a pile of meds on the ledge. Looking back, the housekeeping-staff must have thought I was some kind of junkie. I took some of my pills and after letting it sink in whilst watching the news on TV, I went to Relttas's room to convince him to follow me to the local deli and have a little walk around the block. I don't regret it, fresh air and some good iced tea is just what I needed at the time. It was also nice to see how quiet the Village is on a Wednesday evening after 10 pm.
The rest of the week was composed of one awesomely crazy experience after another. Thankfully, my health-status had improved drastically by the time we confidently hit the streets of Manhattan at broad daylight the very next morning. The first day was the old familiar song: The High Line and a good chunk of the Financial District, minus Wall Street this time though! Walking back all the way through Battery Park and then the Hudson Greenway was a new and very refreshing experience. There was some guy who wanted to know if there's some liquor store around, we told him there are quite some in the Village but he'd have to walk quite some blocks up north. I went out to the waterfront in the evening, sunsets over Hudson River are still second to none!
The next day we found ourselves heading towards midtown, checking out 5th Avenue, Bryant Park, Koreatown and Times Square. This surely was an intense day. We were away from the hotel for 12 straight hours, of which we spent about 9 1/2 hours on our feet. We reserved two hourse for the U.S.-premiere of Iron Man 3. 'Regal Premium Experience' no less, we enjoyed the shit out of it!
On day 3 we headed to the Lower East Side, Chinatown and quickly skimmed through Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge. Another day of excessive walking. It was also an amazing day in terms of lighting. I don't wanna give away too much but I probably produced some of my best street shots on that day, atop the Manhattan Bridge (through which we exited Brooklyn) and possibly in the Lower East Side.
Day 4 once again belonged to Midtown and a tiny bit to the Upper West and East Side. We took the fast lane by taking the Hudson Greenway (no traffic). After strolling through Midtown's western section for some time, we decided to have a little break at the Time Warner Center. It's an amazing complex and I dare to mention that the interior architecture in its vastness eclipses the cold, modernist exterior. Another thing that is great about the Time Warner Center is one prominent restaurant located inside of it: The Porter House! If you're looking for great tasting steaks in New York, you gotta check out this place - just my recommendation! Not only is the food incredibly tasty, the whole atmosphere of the restaurant is stellar too, the view on the surrounding buildings and Central Park is amazing. After our lunch we headed towards Central Park and it was there when I came up with the idea for my current series "Faces Of New York". I just saw this crowd of interesting people, chilling in the park. And at this point I realized what was I going to do for the days to come: Approach interesting strangers and capture them in a moment of authenticity whilst getting to know a few things about them! It was great talking to all of these people and to see how they responded to it. Needless to say, I met some unique personalities on my way. I guess it's true: If you want to put an emphasis on the diversity and the uncanny charme of a city, you gotta show the people that inhabit it. After Central Park, we checked out the observation deck of 30 Rock and the Grand Central Terminal.
We took things a bit slower the days to come. We had already seen everything we had planned to see, so there was no need to rush through everything anymore. And I guess that was a good thing because as much as we needed the rush to get things done, we also needed the calm moments to focus on what matters and to take some time to see things unfold. It was in the calmer moments that I got to interact with many incredible people. One of the staff members of The Jane approached me one day when I walked through the main entrance because of my Shaun Of The Dead t-shirt. It turned out he is a Jazz musician who's into good horror movies and generally a great guy. At this point, I really want to give a shoutout to this guy: His name is Rob and he really is a great fella, very easygoing, he always takes care of everything and has a great taste in popculture. Plus: He is the vocalist of a great New York-based Jazz-Funk-Fusion duo. You can check out their tunes here: RAcemusic
On my last night in the city, Rob messaged me to come down to the lobby and check out the Ballroom (a very hip club located in the hotel). I was already a bit tired after the Peter Murphy concert (Yes, I got to see the godfather of Goth ^^) but I decided to give it a shot. Once again, I do not regret it. Rob immediately greeted me, gave me a free-drink-voucher and introduced me to some of the people at the bar. Among them were a gorgeous lady and lifestyle-artist from Pennsylvania, the DJ and some hipster-like guy from Indiana who is also a DJ. Rob didn't hesitate to introduce me as photographer from Austria and what ensued were general interest and appreciation from everyone involved. The night resulted in two more drinks (I paid none of them myself) and some very insightful and sometimes profound conversations. The gorgeous lifestyle artist told me that I have 'a certain electricity' in my voice, which was very much to my liking since it's such an eloquent and flattering expression. Then I found myself in a conversation about growing up in a rather drab and boring suburbia, the lyrical decline of contemporary pop music and the death of the album as an art form. It's weird, really but for a short time I felt a tiny glimpse of my old vigor and my ideological self lighting up again.
In fact, I had way more interactions with people this time and that's a very satisfying verdict. There were so many great encounters, whether it may be the nice local Goths at the concert, the artists and sunbathers in Central Park, the cheerful but highly concentred chessplayers in Bryant Park or the West Village woman that surprisingly responded to my terrible "Hey, I'm Walking Here" impression of Michael Douglas in Midnight Cowboy. Now, that I'm back all of this made me think why I decided to make the craft of photography my hobby. I suppose it was because deep inside I AM a social being that wants to share stories with others. And I want to tell them in my own, very distinct way. Hence the emphasis on certain colour schemes or themes. My way of telling stories is through tiny fragments of unique moments, captured for everyone to behold. I have found my true assignment again and it's good to be back!