Craig Box's journeys, stories and notes...

Archive for August, 2008

New York - Day 8

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Getting a little slower with updates these days it seems.

After the failure to get to the Statue of Liberty yesterday, we headed out early, were in a good position in the queue when the day started - but the ticket counter didn't open up, due to the fog.

People buying tickets at the counter account only for a small amount of the visitors, when you factor in tour groups and schools.  I'm not 100% sure we got in the right line at all times, but you don't get anywhere in life if you're not willing to take a few risks, especially in a line this long. We were on about the third ferry out (along with people who were near us in the queue, so we must have been in the right line!)

The ferry to Liberty Island gives you another great view of the Statue.

Airport security has nothing on Lady Liberty - as well as the standard metal detectors, you have to go through an explosives detector, which blows air at you from all directions before having a good old electronic sniff.  After that you end up in the gift shop where all backpacks have to be stowed, and then you can head into the monument (the pedestal on which the Statue sits).

The monument contains a museum detailing the history of the statue and its gifting from the people of France to the United States.  You can see the design iterations, some of the moulds, and scale models showing the structural armature inside the copper statue, designed by Gustave Eiffel of "Tower" fame.  Once through this, you climb the stairs to top of the monument, just under the base of the Statue proper.

Since September 11 you have only been able to go to the top of the monument, and not up the statue itself.  They don't just blame terrorist threat - it was mostly due to the fact there are only two small spiral staircases, and in the event of a fire, there's no guaranteed safe way to get down.  A shame, after hearing tales of people who used to go up to the crown.

Good views of the city, lots of tourists.  We bumped into a couple from Tauranga, who commented on my shirt in a very Kiwi fashion!

View out towards Manhattan

But as interesting as the statue is, for some people, it's all too much.

It was good we got through when we did, because as we were leaving the Fuzz turned up; apparently the Statue was closed off for a little while afterwards.

Next stop on the tour is Ellis Island, immigrant processing center.  If you have family in the US you can quite often trace your lineage to here: without, it's not that exciting, and a little hard to imagine what it was like at some times. As much as there were people there trying to swindle you, and who could turn you back home if you didn't bribe them (or if you failed a medical test), it actually seems the US was a much more inviting place to immigrants back then than it is today.

Now, on to the fun part.  It just so happened that Paul Simon was playing a month long "tribute residency" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music during the month we were in New York.  I had spent an inordinate amount of time on Craigslist trying to get tickets, and as is the way with scalpers, it seemed $100 tickets had a market value of $300.  However, tonight, not two hours before the show was due to start, I found a guy that had some tickets advertised at face value.  I called, and he said I could meet "his guy" at Times Square.  The entire process seemed more than a little illegimate, and I was almost expecting to have bought fakes and be left sitting outside the theatre.  On top of that, it was now about an hour until the show started.

The train ride out to Brooklyn took forever, and we ended up missing the first song.  Not to worry, as we were admitted after this - not only were the tickets perfectly legitimate, but they were about three rows back and two seats in from dead centre.  You couldn't ask for better.  The theatre would not have been out of place on Broadway, but unfortunately cameras were strictly off-limits (Rolling Stone have a photo gallery from one of the shows).

Paul Simon at the BAMThe month-long residency was split into three shows: a performance of his ill-received Broadway musical "The Capeman" played earlier in the month and a more generic Greatest Hits selection aptly titled "American Tunes" was due to play later.  We got to see "Under African Skies", a show dedicated to the Graceland and The Rhtyhm Of the Saints albums.  Being a "tribute" show, it was Paul Simon and Friends, including Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and David Byrne (who did a perfectly quirky "You Can Call Me Al").  Not all of the African and South American singers quite understood Simon's unique lyrical phrasing, and while I was stoked to hear songs like Can't Run But and Spirit Voices performed, it seemed a waste that Paul wasn't singing them himself.

His backup band was as had been for the last couple of tours, and it was great to see legendary session drummer Steve Gadd.

Cross another off the "see before you they die" list?

  • Crowded House (who will need to reform)
  • Guns and Roses (or Axl & Friends)
  • Paul Simon
  • Pink Floyd

It'll happen.. Nick Mason will see to it!  But until then, look at the Day 8 gallery.