The Sheriff of Nottingham in USA – Part Sixteen – Off duty in New York

We’re off duty, we’re finished, we’re shattered and we’ve learned loads. Its impossible to not learn if you’ve seen 31 attractions over 12,000 miles in 8 days. If you manage to not learn here, you shouldn’t be here in the first place. I’ll write out the full conclusions from my own viewpoint and get them on here in the next few days, but first, I’ll wrap up with the last few things we did, in our briefly hectic time in New York.

Having left the Museum of Natural History, we headed off to Seaport, on the east coast of the Island and underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. This is a brash, sprawling shopping and entertainment centre that few love, but hundreds still flock to, in order to shop, eat and drink.

Looking down into Seaport - a huge mall of shops, eateries and entertainment stuff
Looking down into Seaport - a huge mall of shops, eateries and entertainment stuff

This is NOT my scene at all, but it was another to see and tick off. Perhaps to ensure we don’t rip the heart out of the city of Nottingham by overdeveloping the riverside, when this is eventually done and turn it into a vile tourist mecca with shops and a distinct lack of character.

We did stop at a restaurant that looked okay and had the Arsenal game on (replayed in full, but time delayed by five hours) in the background. Being the cultural tourist that I am, this was as much of a draw as the view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the tall ships.

The food portions, were the most ludicrous yet. Being slightly healthy and wanting to avoid accusations of salad dodging, I went for a Caesar Salad with chicken, only to be presented with a family size bowl that had two chicken breasts in it and at least a cubic metre of lettuce. It was simply enormous. I’m not sure if I got much over half way through it before giving up and even leaving some of the chicken. You can see my choice of drink, to give me a real sense of home. I waddled back to the hotel to get ready for our night out.

The salad that beat me - easily!
The salad that beat me - easily!

When we got back to the hotel it was just turning dark and two doors away at a tiny cinema called the Sunshine Cinema, was Charlize Theron, who just happened to be premiering her new film ‘The Burning Plain’ in New York. Either that, or she was just hanging around our hotel, just hoping to get a glimpse of the Sheriff of Nottingham and his men.

Charlize Theron hanging around outside our hotel
Charlize Theron hanging around outside our hotel

It was remarkably low key, with no red carpet, almost no Paparazzi (except Tim Garratt – who got this shot – Thanks Tim) and very few people hanging around. I didn’t bother staying to see her on the way out as we had a date with Little Boots at The Bowery Ballroom.

This is rated by many in the music industry as one of the best venues in the world and with a capacity of around 575, a superb sound system and a stage that allows everyone on the floor or the balcony to get a perfect view, I’m not surprised.

Victoria Christina Hesketh, or Little Boots by her stage name, was supported by two other bands, ‘The Plastiscines’ who I (with my feeble musical taste and knowledge) thought were ok and ‘Yes Giantess’ who I thought were great. I had chat with them afterwards and despite the fact they come from Boston, they were still prepared to speak to me (unlike many others of the fair city, after me upsetting them last week). They’re in UK on the NME tour soon, so if you get chance, go and see them and tell them I sent you.

Little Boots can really sing. Whether you like her music or not, listening to her live shows the power and range of her voice and how well received she was by the people of New York (and Nottingham).

Again, I have to thank Tim Garratt and his excellent photographic skills for the quality of this shot.

Little Boots, singing her heart out at the Bowery Ballroom
Little Boots, singing her heart out at the Bowery Ballroom

I also got to speak to her road manager and asked him about the tour. He described it as a mini tour, that was far more about PR than finances. Thinking about it logically, at only $15 a ticket and playing to only 500 odd people, they never had a chance of ever breaking even, but I’m sure the people adding images and videos to their Facebook and Bebo pages (and blogs like this) will help her profile no end.

Good luck to her. She is one hell of a live singer.

More later for my last day in the USA, taking in Liberty Island and a walk along Broadway.

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The Sheriff of Nottingham in USA – Part Fifteen – New York – Day two continued

Okay, now I know what jet Lag is and I am just recovering from the tiredness of the trip, with lots of catching up on sleep. Maybe four hours a day isn’t enough for me at my tender age?

So, we’ve just left the High Line, which was our last official duty and means that we have seen every site we said we would and more and now we were into ones that we thought could be useful, interesting or just personal favourites.

As we walked off the High Line, there was the most amazing car park contraption right down below us. These are prevalent in New York, but I have worked out some of the numbers and they seem to make an awful lot of sense for parking in a crowded city.

Parking in High Rise New York Style
Parking in High Rise New York Style

The site is only 30metres square and can house over 144 cars. The guideline is that you can park for as little as 30 minutes, but you need to give them around 20 minutes notice to leave, so they can have your car ready. But the parking charges are massively cheaper than anywhere else in New York. If you arrive before 8am, it only costs $14 for the day and $23 after 8am. This encourages people to beat the rush hour and save money.

The other lovely thing that the company who runs it called Edison Parkfast do, is tell the world about their long serving employees. I would imagine, in a normal parking business, a parking attendant would be a fairly transient employee, but whatever these people are doing to keep and motivate their staff is working, as they have over 40 sites around New York and have a very low staff turnover.

This is how to treat your employees
This is how to treat your employees

We then headed towards the American Museum of Natural History, which shows the sheer scale of Manhattan Island as it took absolutely ages on the metro to get there. We walked past the Dakota on the edge of Central Park. This apartment building was built in 1880 and seems to be famous for the famous people who have lived or still live in it. It’s also infamous as the place where John Lennon was shot and killed in 1980.

The Dakota, Home to lots of famous people and the place where John Lennon was killed in 1980
The Dakota, Home to lots of famous people and the place where John Lennon was killed in 1980

Just across the road is the Strawberry Fields memorial, which is remarkable for being so unremarkable. It looks to me like its just a small sign at the side of the path, but maybe I missed the rest.

The remarkably unremarkable Strawberry Fields memorial - seems to consist of a sign, err and that's it.
The remarkably unremarkable Strawberry Fields memorial - seems to consist of a sign, err and that's it.

I was far more impressed with the signage of a very enterprising tramp, who had decided to pursue a policy of honesty in advertising. His simple, clear appeal had people queuing up to have their picture taken at his side (whilst he remained firmly asleep) and almost everyone who did this left him a dollar or two. I guess he only wakes up to pocket the cash and slope off for a beer or two.

But it does have an honest, enterprising and lovable tramp
But it does have an honest, enterprising and lovable tramp

The American Museum of Natural History is huge. Really huge. And seriously impressive as a space. You can guess the scale of the exhibitions by the scale of the reception area.

Even the Reception area is impressive at the American Museum of Natural History
Even the Reception area is impressive at the American Museum of Natural History

There are again, the names of loads of benefactors above the door and throughout the introductory signage, from individuals at one end to Toyota at the other. Whatever we do in Nottingham, we have to find a way to harness the businesses of our region to need to be involved for the kudos they can draw from the association. Without wishing to bang the same cliché out again, they are only going to do this, if what we do is world class!

One of the pride of place exhibits out there is the Willamette Meteorite, which looks like a big lump of pitted metal until you start hearing some of the facts about it.

The WiIlamette Meteorite which weighs 15.5 tons
The WiIlamette Meteorite which weighs 15.5 tons

It weighs 15.5 tons and was formed over 15 billion years ago which is quite a long time, even by universe standards. This piece was bought by the benefactor 100 years ago for $20,000 (around £5,000 then), which seems like a lot until you hear that last year, a piece that weighed just 30lb sold for $1m (around £600k).

The Planetarium, was one of my favourite things of the whole trip, but as with others, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures to show you – and they probably wouldn’t do justice to the panoramic nature of the display.

It was exceptional, right down to the vibrating seats, the beautiful way that our planets history was explained in Layman’s terms by the voiceover of Whoopi Goldberg. A world class voiceover, certainly helps with a world class attraction.

And some of the lovely little cameo pieces around the place are weighing scales, set into the floor, that give you your weight on different planets.

At this point I was feeling a bit of a podge, but was quite reassured to see I had lost around 12 stone, but would need to move to the moon to realise this terrific weight loss. A move to the Sun, would be far more tricky. Partly because it is very hot there but also because my weight would increase 134 fold. I may need some new trousers in order to avoid embarrassment.

I want to live on the moon
I want to live on the moon
rather than the sun
rather than the sun

Still more to come, but I’ll add that as soon as I can and finally end with my conclusions in a few days.