Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The last leg of the trip: I heart NY!

Start Spreading the News…
I don’t think it ever occurred to me just how much of an artistic Mecca NYC is until I visited. Every time I turned around there was a street name I recognized from a movie or a bridge from a song or a building from TV!
I felt immediately like someone returning home after being away for a very long time. I could see myself moving there some day after Darian is grown. It was amazing, such a great vibe.

We stayed in Manhattan on the 15th floor of a pretty nice hotel only a few blocks from Time Square. The first night we were totally jet lagged but we still wanted to explore.
We dropped our things off at the hotel and met with Joe and Jody. (Side note, Jody Stephens gets better looking as he gets older and he was pretty good looking when he was young, he is also the nicest guy ever!)

We wandered around looking for a place to eat; we managed to get up to TS where things were bright and hopping. It was fun, but I was feeling a bit delirious at this point as we were in a completely different time zone. At one point I reached out to hold Jon’s hand and realized that the guy who was attached to the hand wasn’t Jon, that is when I said I was probably too tired to be wandering in TS.

Not a moment too soon, the guys found a cute little Italian spot that served family style and had funny portraits of celebs on the wall. The food was yummy and surprisingly inexpensive for uptown on a Friday night! It was packed so the noise level was high, but I didn’t mind. We carb loaded on Pasta and salad and grabbed a cab back to the hotel.

The hotel bed was like sleeping on a cloud after the hard mattresses of Barcelona. I was out like a light and slept as soundly as I ever have.

I woke up early the next day. Jon wanted to take some time to lie around and watch some tube, and we were both pretty exhausted from all of the walking in Spain. He tends to be that way just before a big show too, like he is getting himself mentally prepared or something.

I took advantage of his down time and went to get a manicure and pedicure. It was heaven to get a foot rub after all of the walking. I found a cute little place around the corner and spent the whole time chatting with some amazingly friendly New Yorkers.
I don’t think I have ever had that much conversation in a Seattle salon, people mostly keep to themselves. The New York ladies just wanted to talk about everything. It reminded me of those old movies with all of the ladies gossiping in the salon, I loved it!

I went back to the hotel all polished and got ready for my day of rock. We went down to meet the guys and found a stretch limo waiting for us. They took us to the concert, which had already been going most of the day from what I could tell.

The best part of the ride in the limo is when we got there. The security lady walked up to the driver’s window:
“I need to know where Big Star’s trailer is.” He asked
She says, “Yes, we’ve got all of the Big Stars back here, but what band are you with?”
Too funny.

There was a whole lot in back with a trailer for every act. It was pretty cool. Ken and Dom and baby were already there. I immediately commandeered Aden. She is the sweetest little baby ever! I had the best time with her. She has a great disposition! Meeting her in person was the highlight of my trip for sure!
At one point I held her up to face Jon and said, “Say Hi to Uncle Jon.” he said Hello and she gave him the biggest cutest toothless smile. That girl is a flirt!

We walked over to the backstage tent area and the amount of star power mingling back there would have literally made any music-philes head spin.
I just kept hearing the guys say, “That is blah blah blah from blah band!” They all seemed pretty impressed.
Since Big Star and Bo Diddley were really the only people on the bill I cared about, I was pretty un-phased and I would not have known one from the other really. They mostly dressed like the patrons of any Seattle rock club.

When Bo D came back and sat next to me is when I got my warm and fuzzies. He is not only one of the most talented men alive today; he is one of the kindest. When we were talking and he shook my hand I totally got the warm fuzzies you get when you are talking to your grandpa or something. He posed with Aden and I for a couple of shots. He would not hold the baby because he said he had a cold, but that didn’t stop him from being completely charming!

The Strokes were popping around backstage. I recognized them from seeing their faces everywhere. I thought it was funny that they were driven in a little golf cart the 20 feet from their trailer to the stage area, like they were too big to walk or something? It was hilarious seeing them breezing by all dog piled on a little cart.

The shows were great; Iggy Pop was insane, The Strokes played too long and Big Star not long enough. Nancy Sinatra is REALLY short and only had one really good song and Bo Diddley stole the show in my personal opinion.

After Big Star played, Jody and Jon and I were hanging out and Jody got a call. MTV wanted to do a quick interview. We didn’t know where the other guys were, so we wandered across the lawn to meet the crew.

Kurt Loder was there waiting. Now what was crazy for me is, had I seen him walking down the street, I would have never recognized him. It was only when he started talking that I knew who it was.

He sits down with Jon and Jody and the cameras start rolling. The first question out of his mouth proves to me he has no idea what he is talking about:
KL- So tell me, why do people love Big Star so much?
What? How many years has he been doing this? Anyhow, the guys were great; they managed to be eloquent without being too wordy. At some point this social reject that probably jumped the fence to get back stage looked over and realized there was an interview going on. He started to get this gnarly look on his face and then start yelling stupid stuff like “Have some f**king self respect!” and so on.

What an idiot.

I was getting very upset with him, but his little outburst was being ignored as much as possible. Had he not been directly behind the guys and the camera I would have gone over and yelled at him, instead I waited until the interview was over. Jon asked how it went, I said good and said “Hold on.”
I marched over and told the guy that he was rude and he had to leave. (I worded it differently I am sure, but I remained a lady about it.) He told me to F*** off, but he did leave with his crew of merry makers.

Jon said that they could not hear him, they were too focused and the type of mics they were using probably prevented him from being recorded. That is good.
Some people just should not be let out.

After the show they had a water Taxi set up for the talent. It wasn’t crowded at all and was the best way to see New York at night. We went all the way up the East River in the water taxi. The night was warm with a light sprinkle. Everyone was awestruck by the beauty of our little 20 minute voyage, you could see everything from the water!
When we were dropped off there was a taxi waiting. We stopped by the hotel and cleaned up and then we went to a cute little bar with Joe and Gavin. On accident Joe invented a new drink that Jon ordered a second one of it was so good! It was raspberry Vodka, Ginger ale and a shot of Cranberry juice. It tastes like Hawaiian Punch. It was fabulous!

The next day we had breakfast and headed over to our friends Gavin’s place. He was in charge of a huge flat right next to the Met off of Madison Ave. It was beautiful. We lounged around and played music and watched a great interview on Bravo with the incredibly talented Robin Williams and called it an early eve.

We were totally exhausted at this point. The next day we got up had breakfast in a real New York diner and caught some sights. We wandered around Greenwich Village and hit Radio City Music Hall, then we went to the AP to come back home.

I am so sad that Gavin doesn’t live in Seattle anymore because he is such a great guy, but he seems to be happy, so I will be happy for him. At least now we have reasons to visit! And visit we will, as soon as possible! I now understand the “I heart New York” shirts!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The flight to New York

Well our trip to New York started with leaving Barcelona and that one day adventure deserves a story all of it's own.
The flight from Barcelona to Amsterdam was great, everything went smoothly; the people were nice, we pretty much relaxed and enjoyed our short flight.

When we reached Amsterdam is when it all started. We only had 40 minutes to get through passport control and from one end of the AP to the other. This would have not been such a big deal if at every one of those escalator type ground thingies that you are supposed to use to help you go faster, people didn’t have their ENTIRE families spread wide across them and would not let us through.

In fact one guy got so mad that Jon pushed his way through that he practically close lined me after him and it took quite a bit of convincing in several broken languages to get him to step aside. Even though it CLEARLY reads that if you are standing you stand to one side, in all sorts of languages.

Then we get to the gate and the plane is delayed 2 hours. Wonderful, so we decide that after a week of food that we were not totally used to a McDonalds burger is sounding quite yummy all of a sudden.

We go up to order and the guy who I was ordering from was totally rude and then just sort of danced around for ten minutes and got my order all wrong. Also, they charge 35 cents per Ketchup pack there. For those of us who love the stuff, that is pretty steep!

This would have not bothered me so much if it was not for what happened next.

After we get finished eating, I decide to use the restroom before we head back to our terminal. Jon says he wants to look in the wine shop. So I head over on my own.
Some guy who looked like he was an Airport cleaning person was just finishing up cleaning the bathrooms and was on his way out with his trolly when I was heading in.
He said, “Hello Lady.” In a thick accent and turned around and followed me back into the restroom.
They had pretty private doors, and while in Spain I got pretty used to the men being in the ladies washroom for hand washing, so I didn’t think too much of it.
When I stepped out of the stall to wash my hands, he was sitting on a bench waiting. I walk over to wash my hands and he starts to spritz the Windex with his spray bottle in my direction and says, “Oooh, sexy sexy …” spray spray, “You are sexy sexy..”

I rushed out and told Jon. It sort of turned into our running joke for the rest of the trip. It totally gave me the creeps though.

Then we were placed behind the rudest family of freaks ever on the VERY long flight from Amsterdam to New York. Jon described them as “Just some people should never reproduce” and that was about it.
These people were horrible and rude and loud and literally complained about EVERYTHING to the stewardess. It makes me tense just thinking about it so I won’t go into it, let’s just say, it was unpleasant.

Jon assures me that Amsterdam is nothing like our whole bad AP experience and that I should not let it color my opinion.

On a good note- I did buy some really great Siroopkoeken there. I have decided any country that can make these MUST be a great place! I only wish they sold them here, we are absolutely addicted and only have a few left. I will have to find a place we can order them online!

Monday, August 16, 2004

A Note from NY about Spain...

I am using a computer that is not snail speed! I can hardly believe my luck. We are in New York right now, it is our last day and we return home this eve. I am going to try to talk about our trip, but since I was not able to deal with the "business center" at the hotel in Spain because they had email that was as slow as snail mail, I am way behind.
One thing I noticed about Spain is that a lot of things are really small. The small things that bothered me the most were the teeny coffees (and I don't give a rats behind what anyone says about how coffee is SO MUCH stronger in Spain, SO not true if you live in Seattle, it wasn't until New York that I got decent coffee!)
The TINY elevators, there were several times that I had to get off the elevator even when it wasn't my stop because people would try to get on. It says there was room for six, but only if you were to stand front to butt! It had a low ceiling too so it was like a coffin. People there are used to them, so they don't seem to mind. I avoided them as often as I could.
And lastly the soda. Jon and I drink a lot of Diet coke. We like our Diet coke, it is good stuff. No matter where you go in Barcelona, you can't find fountain soda to save your life! All they offer are tiny glass bottles of coca cola light, many times we ordered two for a meal and they were spendy. They one place with large sodas charged five Euros a glass!

Those were the little differences that bothered me, but those were few compared to the amazing things we did see!

We took a two hour train ride out to Figueres and went to the Dali museum. If you have never done this and you get the chance you must do this. We had time to read the history of Dali a bit and it was very interesting. The man was seriously obsessed with his wife Gala, and it would not surprise me if some day they went through that fun house of a museum and found there to be bodies entombed in the walls. (I mean outside of his of course) It was all pretty spectacular. Jon said it was probably his favorite sight seeing adventure of the trip. On our way there we were so engrossed in conversation we took the train one stop too far and had the chance to explore a small village before turning around. That was actually pretty cool too. We had a little snack and checked out a pretty cool cathedral in the time we had. In Figueres we had the best food of the trip, we went to this little pizza place and it was amazing. I know "pizza in Spain" but we were both convinced it was the best.

We went back to the Barcelona Cathedral two times we were so impressed with it. Neither of us were too impressed with the Gaudi cathedral. To me it seemed like a monument to someone insanity, it didn't really move me in a way that the cathedral in the square did. We actually ended up taking a few shots of the Gaudi one and moving on pretty quickly through it. Some people just love it, but it wasn't as striking to either of us as we had thought it might be.

We had a really nice time for the most part, it was hot and beautiful. We learned that everyone in Spain goes on holiday in August so a LOT of places are closed, NOTHING is open on Sunday or Monday, the Euro has made everything there super expensive in the last five years, so your Euro doesn't go far, and the cars drive really fast and REALLY close to one another!

That is my take on Spain for the morning. I will try to get on writing about New York next, which has been amazing! I almost wish we would have had more time in NY and less time in Spain to be honest, but the trip was great none the less. I think 6 days is the perfect amount of time to visit Barcelona.

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