Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Goodnight, New York

My last night in New York. I'm exhausted, having walked roughly 60 New York blocks today. I did some more shopping (some gifts, another pair of sneakers, a few dvds, etc), met up with Self-Service (who no longer works at my company but will always be associated with Self-Service) for awesome ramen noodles in the Village. Good times were had.

Back at the hotel, I had a minor panic attack after putting all the stuff that had to be packed on the bed. But I persevered, and now it is all packed. Yay!

I shall leave you with some more pics from my excursions.

Street art in the Village.

Basketball on an open court on 6th Street.

Playing American handball, one-wall, on asphalt. Hardcore.

"Come on! We were tied at 20!"
"We're up 20-19!"
"Oh come on! Tied at 20!"
"Fine. Tied at 20. Whatever. We'll still win."
And they did.

Scrap Yard. Heaven for graffiti artists. This is
where I bought the bag from yesterday's post.

I was so happy to stumble over this wall painting,
as seen in the mind-blowing documentary Up There.

The Dude abides.

Can you hear it calling your name, Melon?

The cupcakes, in all their glory.

Cookie dough cupcake on the left.
Oreo cheesecake on the right.
*insert Homer drooling sound here*

Sadly, the store didn't exist anymore.

A typical Nolita street.

Rack 'em and stack 'em.

Me and my homie Squeaker.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bag. Bug. Drink. Fish.

I bought a bag today. Though it's the black version.

I killed a bug today. Then I changed rooms at the hotel.

I had a drink today. With a OdFellow 2009 and her romance writer friend.

And before bed, just now, I ate a bag of these:

In Sweden, they're called "Fish".

I also bought some other stuff. And I walked. I walked and walked and walked. I walked until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I walked some more.

Tomorrow, brunch with two co-workers, who happen to be here. Then shopping. Then food with an ex co-worker, who also happens to be here. Then agonize over packing. Then sleep. Then fly home. Good night, Internet, where ever you are.

Monday, August 1, 2011

On the streets of New York

I have been walking around New York for a few days now. I've done a shitload of shopping (sneakers, a few dvd boxes, cargo pants, Hellboy's Right Hand of Doom, a Kangol hat etc) but more than anything, this city is always about the people and what goes on around them.

So. Pictures. More text some other time.

Playing petanque in Bryant Park.

"My balls are closer together than yours."

Sit down in Bryant Park, borrow a book, enjoy the sun.

Old men watching a chess game.
Like something out of a movie.

Bryant Park in all its glory.

A street percussionist. He moved all his stuff around the whole
time, and created complex layers of beats and noise. Awesome.

Best fries I've ever had, and a slider. You're really supposed
to eat more than one, but this was more than enough.

In 1995, I saw Deftones open for Misery Loves Co here.
Now it's a small shopping center with hip designer stores.

I had to buy stamps, so I went looking for a
post office. I wasn't expecting The Post Office.

Foosball tables in Greeley Square.

Hanging out with my boy Bob.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Going Viral

The writing deadline crept up on me quicker than I thought, so Going Viral ended up not being done. 1400 words out of maybe 2000. We'll see. Read and give me an opinion.

Going Viral

Finn had sworn he would never be in New York in July. 104 fucking degrees, and enough humidity to make the air tighten around his head like a vice. He had a throbbing heat headache to go with his stomach ache, and he was on a nice mix of Modafinil E, Seroquel, Enki inhibitors and Advil. He hadn't slept since he got to the city.
For four days Finn just drifted around. He rode the subway for hours and hours and walked aimlessly through the Village, down streets lined with trees and tattoo parlors. Drank shit coffee in small diners and ate falafel from Turkish street vendors. The Enki virus made his stomach churn despite the inhibitors, but he needed sustenance.
He bought a prepaid phone to replace the iPhone he had slipped into the pocket of a truck driver outside Boston, and a .357 Smith & Wesson from a pawn shop in Brooklyn. Finn didn’t know jack about handguns, but the revolver appealed to him in a vaguely Dirty Harry kind of way, and he did need protection.
There was no direct evidence that LookingGlass were closing in, but he knew it was only a matter of time. They wanted the virus and would stop at nothing to get it back from him. The morons thought he simply carried it around.
Phelps, the director of LookingGlass' security division, was ex-NSA and Finn was certain he still had friends there. Echelon, KH-12 satellites and God knew what else Phelps could get access to would have found him in hours if he hadn't taken precautions.
The store was on 44th Street. ”Internet access inside” a sign over the door said in failing neon letters, ”1 hour photo” next to it. Inside was a cramped space filled with I heart NY tshirts, bags of M&M and racks of cheap cigarettes. In the back on a table sat two aging PCs held together with duct tape and prayers, surrounded by a labyrinth of cables, empty coffee cups and overflowing ashtrays. Finn never saw anyone else use them.
”Hello, boss,” the Persian proprietor always said as Finn walked in. He called everyone boss and smoked constantly.
Finn went to the store every night to check his email. He went through two different anonymizing services and a desktop machine he had set up years ago, hidden in a abandoned warehouse in downtown Boston, leeching off a wide open WiFi connection in a nearby hotel. Paranoia had been his close friends for years. The Seroquel helped.
One email a day from Connor, his supervisor at LookingGlass, and one from Patterson, the company shrink. Finn always deleted them without opening them. The first day there had been a panicked message from his ex-wife Mary, after LookingGlass goons posing as FBI agents had searched her house on a fake warrant, but since then nothing.
The fourth day Finn needed to sleep, however reluctantly, and took a room at the Y, paying in cash. He tried to go to the bathroom, but nothing came out. The virus ate whatever he put in him. He lay down on the bed, fully clothed, the revolver on the nightstand, and set his alarm for six hours. Sleep, and then it was time to leave New York. Keep moving.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bright lights, big city

It's 1 AM and I'm on my hotel bed at The Mansfield, a really nice hotel on West 44th Street. I managed a few hours of walking and shopping today.

I found the Boomtown dvd box, an excellent police show that was sadly cancelled after only one season, and a bunch of stuff at Nintendo World, for myself, Miss Red and my niece. Tomorrow I will go to the new Lego concept store, Midtown comics, an Army/Navy store and a bunch of other places. My wallet is already screaming in panic...

Times Square. The Virgin Megastore is gone!

Best. Street name. Ever!

Me and my buddy Optimus at Toys R Us.

If they'd had this in the right size my niece would have been
set up for Halloween. And if they'd had it even bigger, so would I.

I have a writing deadline tomorrow, since Meta, Peeko, Alaska, Palin and I decided to submit a story to each other, to keep the momentum from Odyssey going. I went the insane route and started a new story. Today. It's called "Going Viral", and I will post it here as well once it's done.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

One night in Gainesville . . .

. . . and the world's your oyster!

The buffet.

Cymbals and his Woman.

TK behind my good friend Mr Macallan.

No, Cymbals is not smiling at
boobies in this pic. He's just smiling.

Woman and Devil Dog.

Room Mate appeared after a while.

Posing with Devil Dog.

The Late Night Groovers

Kiss, kiss, Devil Dog

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back in VA

My plane from Montreal to DC didn't exist anymore. It wasn't cancelled. It did not exist. I made the classic mistake of not checking my flight, which is crucial if you book the tickets months and months in advance, like I did.

So anyway. I got to spend five extra hours at the airport in Montreal. Yay... I spent it writing and reading and people-watching, which was kind of cool.

TK, my friend from high school, picked me up at the airport in DC and we went to his place in Clifton, VA. I haven't been in the vicinity since the mid-90's, when I was in high school here. My plan is to spend a few days here doing basically nothing. Just hanging out, writing and going out to eat.

TK's cat Link (yeah, that Link) hanging
out on TK's media system. Nice and warm.
He will be my inspiration for the next few days.

Quote of the day, from TK, about Swedes:
"You guys sure know how to press wood together with glue better than anyone."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Last day in MTL

Last night in Montreal. Sad, because these few days have been amazing. Sure, I have stumbled over several things that have enhanced my Montreal experience, but from the feel of the city and the people here it would have been amazing anyway. So much going on all the time.

I began my day by walking over to Labyrinthe, to see if they had the Dillinger Escape Plan tee they had listed on their site. They did not. Bummer.

My plan for the day was to go up onto Mount Royal to get a nice view of the city and do something touristy. I walked towards the mountain/hill, determined to take a bus to the top. My first stop was a Converse/Dr Martens store, just sitting there, waiting for me.

About a third of one wall of Converse. There were
two walls, and though the second one wasn't
as big, it still held a hell of a lot of shoes.

I walked away with a pair of Batman Converse. Wohoo!

As I came closer to Mount Royal I walked into a nice part of the Plateau with narrow streets lined with trees, small shops and cafés.

Made for strolling down.

I decided to keep walking. Then I came to Parc Jeanne-Mance, which is at the base of Mount Royal. Thousands of people were about, playing soccer, frisbee or tennis, or just hanging out. Soon I heard the familiar sound of a djembe.

Playing capoeira. Very cool to watch.

Onward, up to the Parc Jeanne-Marie, where I found the Tam-Tams, something Meta had told me about. It was like an urban voodoo mass. So hypnotic to hear all those drums flowing back and forth between different rhythms and soundscapes.

Urban ritual in progress.

In the end I decided to walk up the mountain. Up and up I went until I was at the main observation spot. Tiring but a very nice walk.

Walking through the Plateau I saw some posters for comedy shows. Among them, The Ethnic Show, hosted by Maz Jobrani. I like Maz, so I figured what the hell, I'll see if they have tickets. Turned out they had three left for an otherwise completely sold out show. So I bought a ticket, and I went, and I laughed, and I met three nice Italian people who poured drinks into me because I got them good seats.

So now I'm on my hotel bed, a little drunk, writing this. Tomorrow, off to DC to hang out with my old high school classmate Rob. So far this trip has been mind-blowing. Here's hoping it continues that way.

Festival the way it should be done

A Canadian festival.

Two days, in the middle of a major city.
Eleven million Disturbed tshirts.
Two Meshuggah shirts, mine being one of them.
Blistering heat (I burned one side of my neck).
Security guys pretty much everywhere.
Water everywhere, barely any lines (live and learn, Metaltown).
Two large stages next to each other, with maybe three minutes between each band.
A smaller stage for smaller bands a short way away through woods that effectively blocked the roar from the larger stages.
Beer cost 5 dollars (approx 35 kronor) and could be carried around on the grounds.
Jägermeister girls with the logo shaved into the back of their heads walked around and offered Jägermeister shots for 4 dollars (approx 30 SEK):

I saw some bands:
Bearded. Groovy. Awesome. 4/5.
Best banter ever:
"This is a song about seafood."
"We've got some more songs. Then we don't have any more songs."

Intense. Heavy. 3/5.
Jamey Jasta is an awesome frontman. The Beard of Doom (a.k.a. Kirk Windstein of Crowbar and Down) had a microphone with the sound turned way down, which sucked.

Usually gods live. 3/5.
Only played five songs. It's only a matter of taste, but the two from "The Blackening" and the new tune "Locust" are boring to the point of exhaustion. These three were bracketed by "Imperium" and "Davidian", which saved the day.

Killer live band. 4/5.
Really not my thing, but gods what a frontman they have in Anders Fridén, gods what a voice he has, and gods what a razor sharp band they are live.

In all the festival was the best I've been too in terms of organisation and logistics, and I had a great time.

On the way back I ran into some people from Metal Blade and Roadrunner, and we spent time ranting about a world in which Disturbed draws bigger crowds than Machine Head and Red Fang, which we all agreed was the best band of the night.

Had some drinks with said label people, then off to bed.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Malls and madmen

Friday was Shopping and Circus Day.

I walked downtown to where all the malls are. They're all connected through the Underground City and offer pretty much any kind of shopping. I finally found a memory card for my phone (curse you Sony Ericsson, or rather, curse you Martin Larsson for using an old phone!) and went wild at a t-shirt/merch store called Labyrinthe. Best tshirt assortment I've seen in a long, long time. I walked away with one Watchmen, one A Perfect Circle, one White Zombie and one Tea Party (the band, not the political movement). Now I shall have to restrain myself from buying tees in New York. Yeah...right.

Having shopped and walked around downtown for a while, I took a breather at the hotel before Circus picked me up. Circus is Moonfish's beau, Moonfish being one of my classmates from Odyssey.

We went by their place, a glorious apartment with hardwood floors, a brick bathroom and a small courtyard with a spiral staircase covered in ivy, and then on to a really good vegetarian Asian restaurant. The best part was the banana fritters. Banana fritters are standard desserts at Chinese restaurant in Sweden, but they tend to be rather soggy sad little things. These were fried to perfection. Nom nom nom.

Then on to the circus.

The big top

We saw the circus troupe Rasposo do their show La Chant Du Dindon. It was very funny and felt like just as much theatre as circus. It was like staring into some demented family's living room.

Note how close the audience is to the action.

It was all acrobatics and aerials, without any fancy machines or effects. They utilised the scene brilliantly, modifying it to suit their needs. It was all done in a single flow and seemed improvised. Very nicely done.

Then snacks and hanging out with some circus people. Then back to the hotel for sleep.

Hello Montreal!

A bit out of synch with the blog posts, but I shall try to rectify that.
On Thursday I flew from Boston to Montreal. I slept the whole way, all 45 minutes of it. I didn't even feel the plane touch down, just slept right through it. Very nice.

At Montreal's airport I had to go through not only customs but also immigration. They had all sorts of questions, wanted to see my credit card, asked repeatedly what I was doing in Canada, etc. It wasn't rude or anything, but it actually felt like more scrutiny then I've gone through whenever I've traveled to the US, which I find interesting.

Then I took a bus into the city. On the way I noticed a poster for a metal festival. Kiss as headliner, and I was about to dismiss it when my eyes caught some more bands further down. Machine Head. In Flames. Etc. Cool.

My hotel is OK. Somewhat old and worn, and my bathroom, which isn't shared, is across the hall. Building layout planning at its best. But the place is charming and placed well between downtown Montreal and the Old Port.

Thursday I went exploring down towards Old Montreal and the Old Port. Old Montreal itself turned out to be just like most of Gamla Stan in Stockholm. One giant tourist trap. I found a nice café that had all organic food, where I got a very nice soup and a chicken curry that was really good.

Blog-posing in front of Cirque de Soleil's tent
setup for their show Totem, down at the Old Port.

I walked over to the Notre-Dame Basilica and took the brief tour.

The altar space in the Basilica.

My way back was through Chinatown, which also screamed Tourist Trap in big garish neon letters, surrounded by small plastic cats waving with one paw. There was a small street market with all kinds of knick-knacks and cheap crap on display. Much to my surprise they had a stand of bokken. I was not surprised they were all crooked, unlike the one I have that I assume was whittled out of a hundred foot oak by a small old Japanese man using nothing but his eye-lashes (thanks again for that gift, bro).

Then the heat got to me, so I had a quick meal at a Chinese place and then went to the hotel to hug the AC.