I must start off by explaining that the gestation of this blog post has been similar to Shane Watson’s 2013 UK Ashes tour, plenty of false starts that sparkle with promise but ultimately peter out. Finally, though, here is an update from the Land of the Free.
Back in September, we attended the Global Citizen Concert in Central Park, with Mandy and Maika. The purpose of the event was to end global poverty but if I am being honest that took a back seat as we saw Kings of Leon, John Mayer, Alicia Keys (firming as the next Mrs Connors) and Stevie Wonder. Natalie, as always, displayed her popular culture naivety when she asked “Does Stevie Wonder have any other songs besides I Just Called To Say I Love You?” Her query was answered by most charismatic stage presence I have ever seen. The only thing that could have improved on the occasion would be if this occurred:
Also in September, I changed jobs and began working at 24 Hour Fitness on 53rd and Lexington Avenue – a block away from our place, which makes the early mornings a tiny bit more bearable. The gym has an affiliation with Derek Jeter of New York Yankees fame (career salary earnings in excess of $253 million) and he occasionally visits the club, which creates mayhem amongst the members. I have been welcomed warmly by the staff and often referred to as Crocodile Dundee, Killer Croc, Skippy and my favourite Kangaroo Jack. My colleagues also tend to go in for elaborate handshakes upon passing each other include fistbumps and quasi boy-band routines. Sadly, as Ruiz says, I have white boy disease and I am generally closer to knocking myself out than I am to appropriately engaging in their brotherly camaraderie.
In October, the planets aligned and my little brother Stephen and his girlfriend Carmel made it across the pond for a ten day stint. Stephen brought with him news of Wagga Wagga and the cocksure strut of a Hawthorn supporter. He and I wagered on the 2012 AFL Grand Final with the loser having to wear the winning teams commemorative t-shirt in a series of photos at local landmarks in our respective cities. Stephen held up his end of the bargain and the photos of him at Robertson Oval and the Oasis Aquatic Centre in a Swans shirt warmed my heart. He arrived in New York with a Hawthorn t-shirt and the expectations I would reciprocate. As you can see from the photo from handover ceremony he will be waiting some time for this.
Stephen and Carmel traversed the city, taking in the sights from the Brooklyn Bridge, increasing their cultural capital with a late night viewing of the Lion King and enjoying beers on rooftop bars at sunset. If there were to be a signature image from their time in New York, it would be Stephen consuming pizza and hotdogs with gusto. Not since Papa Guiseppe has one man done so much for the humble slice. The effect of his efforts buoyed the local economy and resulted in our cistern overflowing. I’m not kidding either, let’s just say it was far from pleasant but nonetheless hilarious – well after the fact.
I celebrated my birthday in November by watching the New York Knicks get beaten like a redheaded stepchild at Madison Square Garden by the San Antonio Spurs. The dearth of a contest did not take away from the grandeur of the location and the thrill of seeing such celebrities as Larry David, Spike Lee and Nelly courtside. Speaking of redheads my good friend Goose and his wonderful wife Rebecca welcomed into the world Alfie on my birthday. I was really hoping for a no-holds barred jelly-wrestling match with Stacey Keibler, but this was the next best thing.
In November, we were lucky enough to score a ticket each to the hottest Thanksgivukkah in town, at the home of John and Rony. For the luddites out there, Thanksgivukkah is a cross between Thanksgiving and Hanukkah – quite an event in these parts. The next such conjoint event will happen in 77, 000 years from now [Ed: True story], so we were fortunate enough to be guided through the cultural maze of not one but two traditional US holidays. The 14-pound turkey (that’s approximately 7kg, for those playing at home) was deliciously juicy and all attendees made pigs themselves as expected – but the apple crisps with vanilla ice cream dessert won hands down. Natalie’s favourite was the delectable pumpkin soup.
[--Ed: For a full rundown of the gorgeous food at the event, complete with a downloadable excel spreadsheet of ingredients if you want to recreate this at home: http://eatyeats.com/2013/12/16/thanksgivukkah-recap/ ]
Christmas came and went without a fuss. The separation of church and state means that work here resumes on Boxing Day, which means that celebrations were muted in comparison to The Prawn and Cumquat Gin Bacchanal of 2012 (Richard Taggart and Maggie Connors I am looking at you). We did go and see Betrayal by Harold Pinter, starring the scorching hot newlyweds, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weiss. The latest incarnation of Bond was a commanding stage presence radiating intent and malice, while Weiss dithered between love interests before being left bereft of love and happiness. Ten thumbs up.
As we approach our two-year anniversary in New York in March [Ed: and our three year wedding anniversary!], our plans are to attempt to survive another winter (If we had a theme song, the chorus would be Ruiz squealing “I’m freezing my f*cking face off”). For my part, I cannot wait to see Lebron James in the flesh on January 10th, where I can only hope to witness him scoring 135 points versus our Brooklyn Nets, like this:
We will also be returning to Sydney in late March for two weeks for Snowdon and Rani’s wedding, Natalie’s Dad’s 60th birthday and my Dad’s 69th birthday in Wagga. Can’t wait to see you all!