New York doesn't sleep and since we got there, neither have we... much.
Barney here... Apologies for the radio silence over the last few days but we thought we'd go and live it all for a bit, see where it got us and actually have something to tell you. All 6 of you. Well, we crammed a lot in, hung out with some truly great people and basically had a real blast.
After a late dinner and a couple of Brooklyn Lagers in Williamsburg to keep us awake on Monday night we kicked off properly the next morning with a jog over to Manhattan via the Williamsburg Bridge. We instantly took a wrong turn, which came as no surprise, and ran around a huge US Navy industrial estate which wasn't exactly the scenery we were aiming to see. By the time we got round we were fairly done in and hadn't even made it off of Brooklyn. We cooled down with a gentle stroll over the (it turns out) bloody long Manhattan bridge to the lower east side where we lucked upon the diner we desperately craved. An indulgent round of pancakes, bacon, fruit, omelettes and endless coffee later and we lazily yellow taxied our way home for a wash. Not because we had broken a sweat in any way, but because Seb had got fairly involved with the maple syrup.
Charlotte (Seb's girlfriend) has a right lovely brother here. Paul has lived in NYC for seven years and very generously treated us to lunch that first day. A bit of a swanky French treat; steak tartar for them and swordfish for me. Thanks again Paul!
I left the lads to it for a few hours as they shot up the super fast elevators to the Top of the Rock for the best view of the city. I had just done this fairly recently so I bought a red hat instead. There is no doubt I need a trucker hat or two for the road trip ahead.
A Comedy Cellar gig that night was everything we hoped for and more, especially for Seb who has a particular love for Louis CK who performs and films there a lot. Brilliant acts such Greer Barnes and Ryan Hamilton had us laughing 'til it hurt, $1 pizza slices all over the place and a constant flow of craft beers meant that by 11pm we were very happy chaps. We stumbled across The Brown Note Jazz Cafe, (or could it have been 'Blue'?) and saw a cheap and really incredible 45 minutes from trombonist Conrad Herwig and absolute legendary pianist, Michel Camillo. This was the night to get our jet lag on track so we ploughed on after that and drank under the High Line at Brass Monkey until Seb started talking complete nonsense. Really good day.
We got our heads down in the shipping container/fartbox back in Brooklyn just before 4am.
The next morning we took our three sore heads onto the subway and went strolling around Manhattan, made our way to the legendary Katz's Deli, we had what she's having, ate a ton of pastrami, rehydrated and walked down to the 9/11 memorial, certainly an important and still very raw thing to see. The sun was beating down hard now and we opted to cool down with beers by some incredible Wolf of Wall Street style yachts on the Hudson overlooking New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty.
I can't even remember when we actually definitely decided this trip was happening. The seeds of it came exactly 9 years ago as I holidayed with Seb and my parents in California nervously awaiting my GCSE results. I got a 'U' in ICT and now look at me being an unbelievably tech-savvy whizz kid writing a blog on Seb's iPad. Whoddathoughddit!? Seb and I thought big at 18 and 16 years old respectively and decided that we had to come back one day to drive across the whole bloomin' country without parents being in charge and with us being of age to drink and to hire cars, hassle free. That would mean we needed to wait until I was 25. A long time, but worth the wait. Nonetheless, I think the definitive plunge to book flights came after Seb and I found ourselves endlessly talking about TV and films with Iain, all wishing we could visit the locations ourselves. Subsequently we seem to be relating everything we're seeing out here back to all that stuff.
Next, a visit to Grand Central Station had me thinking of Wreck it Ralph. We bought a slice of red velvet cake from Magnolia Bakery, big enough to share between the three of us. (I don't know how we won't get fat here. Maybe we'll start keeping you posted on our fluctuating weights over the next month). Seb: 1 stone heavier so far, Barney: 1 stone heavier and getting nervous and acidic, Iain: 1 foot taller. There's an archway underground in the station (I think it's called the whisper wall) where we stood and chatted away to a wall and we could hear each other 20 foot away as if we were next to each other as all the swear words and nob gags travelled over the concrete and came down the other side. Blew my tiny mind. We're proud of the ten minutes we spent doing that. The rest of the day included walks around Central Park and a few beers with a very special view of the sunset over Manhattan from the top of the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn.
Just over the road was the Brooklyn Bowl and we went in to see my old American pal TJ. TJ studied trombone with me at RCM on an exchange from Manhattan School of Music in 2008-2009 and whenever I get a chance to come to New York we always manage to have a big meet up. I've been wanting to see his band Pitchblak Brass Band for a good few years now and amazingly, they happened to be performing here during our stay. They actually exceeded my expectations even though I already had very high ones. Blimey, they were so good and so slick and all three of us just loved it. What a show. They left the next day for a 10 day tour starting out on the west coast and I know they're going to blow everyone away out there. We wish them all the best on their trip. Check them out here - www.pitchblakbrassband.com
At the gig I also lost four games of bowling to Seb and Iain and I spilt chicken all over a new white t-shirt and new white Converse so I bought an emergency Pitchblak Brass top.
Our last big night in New York and we were drunk again. Great great night.
More later :)