USA Adventure: Bats on Poles and a town called Brewster

In October and November 2006 I was lucky enough to go to the USA for work, so I took the opportunity to travel around while I was there. My travel emails were well received back home, so I’m posting them here for all to enjoy. Original Date: 2nd November 2006

Hey all,

Last installment I was sitting in an internet cafe in East Village, his time I'm in a slightly more upmarket place - the Holiday Inn in Mt Kisko, NY. Mt Kisko is up-state New York, about an hour from New York City. I'm up here for work for three days... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

So after waking up exhausted (again), with aching feet and a f**ked knee, I decided I'd do some more wandering around Manhattan. This time it was with a bit of a limp, but I wasn't going to not go shopping! I couldn't have picked two more contrasting places though - the Lower East Side and SoHo. The Lower East Side is, well, not quite a slum but not far from it. Everything is filthy and run-down, homeless people lying in parks, and a really dirty industrial feel to the whole place. It does have some cool shops though, which is the whole reason I went there. After finding a unique little gift, and eating pizza from a place that Paulie from The Soprano's grew up near I headed over to SoHo.

Lower East Side Paulie from the Soprano’s Paul’s Boutique!

SoHo, for those who don't know, is the shopping district of Manhattan. SoHo isn't an acronym either, it's a shortening of "South of Houston St". New York loves these shortenings, for example "Tribeca" is short for "Triangle below Canal St". Anyway, if you're thinking Fifth Avenue style shiny buildings and people wearing Prada you'd be wrong. It's actually, again, kinda shitty like the other parts - except this time there's people everywhere, flagship stores and a really cool vibe. They call it the "cast iron district", and for a reason - I found a building that was made entirely out of riveted steel with windows. No effort put in to hide anything either, just steel and glass.

Cast-Iron Building DKNY Billboard SoHo street

This shopping adventure tired me out (f**king jet lag) so I went home and napped, just to get ready for the Village Halloween parade. NYC during Halloween is crazy, and there's a reason some people call it "dress like a slut day" (edit: it's actually Dress-Like-A-Whore Day in the article. My bad!)... except the girl that was dressed like Rainbow Brite thought I was some kind of freak for asking to get a photo. My intentions were completely noble, but oh well.

The interesting part of Halloween was participating in the parade itself. I got assigned a fake bat on a long stick of bamboo, with rope attached to it so you could make it flap. I had a blast, dancing down 6th Avenue with the other bats and having random "bat parties", reaching the massive bat pole over the crowd and flapping it in front of kids on shoulders. The bad part was that I didn't get to see much of the parade, including Gene Simmons on a KISS float at the head of it! I did get to check out the two KISS girls on the float though ;).

NYC Halloween Parade Me and my bat-on-a-pole KISS Girls

I rounded out the night walking around and drinking in the Meatpacking District with a work colleague. Again, the contrasts in NY amazed me. On one side of a cobbled street you have parked delivery trucks and industrial warehouses, and on the other side you have fancy nightclubs with long line ups and big bouncers holding clipboards. Great night out though, there was a lot of people about and lots of interesting sights ("dress like a slut day", remember).

Today was far less eventful, as it was spent travelling upstate and meeting up with work folks. We did manage to get lost on the way and ended in a random town called Brewster which, as far as I can tell, consisted of a service station, and Honda dealership, and a massive rusted metal bridge over a valley.

I'll close by describing the IBM site in Somers (that we finally found). Think massive buildings topped with black, glass pyramids on top of a hill with picturesque golden brown leaves and luscious green lawns. Not to mention security that required name and serial number before they'd let us get us close enough to even see the buildings. Very high tech.

IBM’s Somers site

The view from the hill…

No glass ceiling, just a glass pyramid

The next few days will be fairly quiet from me... lots of work to do and executives to schmooze. Expect an update hopefully on the weekend, or soon after.

Hope all is well back home, and no celebrities have died like last time I was on holidays (RIP Steve Irwin).

For a lot more photos from the trip, have a look at my Flickr set. I've geotagged them, so the map is pretty interesting too!

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