kestrel

kestrel
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2021-09-23 19:36:28 (UTC)

Prompt 131: The Big Apple

[Note: This entry begins the section of prompts entitled, "New York City." Hoo boy... ]

131. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of New York City? Do you think a New Yorker would appreciate the first thing that came to your mind? Why or why not?
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I still remember the last time I'd been in NYC. I'm not fond of the town, but damn that was a fun evening. Somewhere round 2009? 2008?

The band I was in at the time had its first gig in that town. I drove with the drummer in my car, our drum set stuffed in the boot of Regina: my Toyota Corolla. Traffic was a nightmare. Fortunately we made it to the club before sundown and I found a nearby spot to park. We unloaded and found out that there were several floors to the club, and we were playing in the basement bar.

After load-in, we wandered a few blocks' radius round the club, and I remember going to the riverfront and seeing the Statue of Liberty from across the water. Once we returned from our attempt at a sojourn, my band-mates and I proceeded to drink a lot. Definitely made ourselves at home in the basement joint there, which was still pretty great. The vibe didn't seem too different than our hometown, honestly. I remember everyone being friendly and hospitable.

I had been heavily into an online game in the few years prior to that show, and a bunch of the Upstate game friends I made had traveled to the city to see our show and support us. They had heard about our trip to Vegas to be clowned on the reality show, they had heard some of our music I'd shared online somehow, and all told there were at least six of those guys there that night, making up a sizeable portion of our audience (and also happened to amplify our cut of the proceeds from bar sales).

I seem to recall wearing a women's red suit jacket on stage that night. It was the kind that had dome-shaped gold buttons, and faux-gold chain accents across the chest. Sporting such a jacket without a shirt underneath just seemed like the right thing to do.

The only other audience member I remember seeing was a young woman, maybe in her mid-20s, dancing on a chair during our set. She wore a one-piece dress and spotless-clean Chucks. She disappeared after the show wrapped.

Meanwhile, our closing number were a pair of guys in foam dinosaur headpieces. We were no better, mind you. My main costume piece was a cardboard horse-head, so maybe the show organizer felt we all would get along. Well, we did, really. Again, everyone there was friendly and enthusiastic about the show.

At the merch table at the bottom of the stairs, we sold off a few albums, then packed it in for the night. My friends from Upstate bid me farewell and hit the road back home (I'm glad they had a designated driver). The drummer and I packed as much gear as we could manage, including the cardboard horse-head, into my car, and then it was off to find the hotel.

What a trip! Our band leader was in a cab directing their driver, and I had to practically blaze through the streets of NYC in my spunky Corolla. I had no idea where I was going, I had no idea how fast I was driving. All I knew was that were I to lose track of that taxi, the drummer and I would be completely fucked. He was almost as clueless as I was about the city and - if worse came to worst - what to do if we became lost. I was wide-eyed, cold-sweating and white-knuckling the entire time.

Fortunately, after an eternity of vehicular terror we found the hotel. I balked at the parking garage price tag, and so proceeded to drive in circles for another 45 minutes or whatever to find any free parking. I returned to the hotel garage in defeat, and then paid like $45 for what would end up being six hours. The drummer and I showed up at the hotel club and grabbed our room key from our other bandmates. Not interested in paying too much for tiny cocktails and tapas, we just rolled up to our room.

Nice broom closet. Oh, and the shower had a frosted glass wall that pointed out to the rest of the room. The toilet was completely visible and about three feet away from the bed, in the event the drummer wanted to watch me shit.

Trying to sleep was a challenge. The drummer and I had to share the tiny-ass bed. I woke up in the middle of the night, his head ceaselessly pressing into my back. I woke up with a skull-sized case of scoliosis, teetering on the edge of the twin mattress. "Hey man!" I hollered. "Gimme a little room, why don't ya?!?!"

I don't remember much about the day afterward. I think we hit a diner to reconvene and debrief about the show, but otherwise it was unremarkable and we simply went our separate ways in our separate vehicles.

My opinion of the town hadn't changed after that trip, and I've not been back since. To sum it up:
- This was the "cleaned up" version of New York City.
- Traffic was horrible and hazardous.
- Night life was friendly.
- The hotel was garbage and everything about it was obscenely over-priced.
- Not interested in going back at all.

That's about it when it comes to NYC. Would a local agree with me? Probably not. I "didn't give New York a chance," as the saying goes.


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