A set of ten facts* from the photographer’s very first encounter with America.
Fact one (pre-fact): Just south of Greenland’s Cape Farewell, at a height of 39,000 feet, an elderly gentleman watches the same inflight entertainment video of a skateboarding bulldog again and again. (This might be the best thing he ever saw.)
Fact two: Taxi driver Armando changes lanes on average 34 times a minute on his way from JFK to the Lower East Side. The Indian businessman in the Lincoln Town Car who didn’t drive like an arse but otherwise followed the same route arrived ahead of us.
Fact three: WIthin two hours of arriving the US I had eaten a jelly donut in my underwear.
Fact four: The worst rower in the world is a large black woman in a rental boat on The Lake in Central Park. Her teenage daughter is not embarrassed at all, but lovingly supportive. (Hooray for the world.)
Fact five: The best picture I never took was the portrait of the two ten year old Jewish twin girls on Lee Avenue: identical flowery old fashioned dresses, identical oversized bows in their hair and identical joyless eyes (yes, we’re all thinking about the Grady Twins).
Fact six: You are very friendly – in a loud and very direct way. I’m a Northern European – as in proudly depressed and introvert. We need to work on our relationship.
Fact seven: I’ve finally seen the Chelsea Hotel. (A favourite anecdote: Janis Joplin meets a young and unknown poet in the elevator of this hotel, and tells him “I’m looking for a man called Kris Kristofferson.” The unknown poet – that is Leonard Cohen – tells her “You’re in luck little lady. I’m Kris Kristofferson.”)
Fact eight: One New Yorker in a carnival-sized top hat keeps shouting “I’ve got hair under this, I’ve got hair under this!” while banging his fists on a hairdresser’s locked door. Another New Yorker offers some helpful tips on how to stop aging caused by sin. A third New Yorker promises $750,000,000 to the person or persons who will expose the FBI for putting a “poison tracking device” in his body.
Fact nine: Looking for a place to piss and have a few more beers, I stumbled upon the stomping grounds of late photojournalist Tim Hetherington. The place called Half King is co-owned by Sebastian Junger, the author and filmmaker who collaborated with Hetherington on the Afghanistan verite documentary “Restrepo,” according to the LA Times.
Fact ten: I’m slowly growing accustomed to your boisterous manners. I think we will get along nicely, America.
* By facts I mean “facts”.
BTW: In the blog piece The Tourist and The Tulip I explain some of my motivation for blogging on this trip.