Tag Archives: Giants

200 things you simply have to know about New York (part one)

So after almost 300 days out of water, I’ve reached my 200th post. To mark the occasion, I’ve come up with 200 things that you should know about New York. Some of them apply to the rest of America, but all of them sum up why the city is completely unique. And whatever you may think sometimes, I think you all know I love the place deep down.

Obviously 200 bullet points would be one damn long post, so I’ve split it into four sections. OK, you’re right, I haven’t quite managed to finish the list yet. I’ll get there, don’t worry. And feel free to add your own New York idiosyncrasy in the comments. I might even use it (and credit you!) in the final 200…

Here goes:

1. Whatever your nationality, there’s a little community of your fellow countrymen somewhere in this city. Guaranteed.
2. People actually do seem to say ‘whassup’.
3. The streets aren’t paved with gold, they’re paved with the spit of a million construction workers.
4. State taxes are higher than any other place I’ve ever lived. After all, Eliot Spitzer’s high class hookers won’t pay for themselves.
5. It’s a little known fact that every molecule of dirt on the planet originated at some point from the New York subway system.
6. That person shouting randomly in the street is definitely shouting at you.
7. In the 1960s TV show The Invaders, you could always spot the alien by their rigid little finger. In New York, you spot the outsider because they’re smiling.
8. There is one Chinese take out joint per head of population in the city.
9. The longest and most depressing queueline in the world is at Whole Foods in Union Square.
10. Strike that, I’ve just been to Trader Joe’s.
11. The $2 subway fare is probably the best value public transport system in the Western world.
12. Thousands of New Yorkers still complain bitterly about the cost, as if that $2 cost is the one thing that’s preventing them from hiring a yacht in the harbour at Monte Carlo next summer.
13. How many New Yorkers does it take to change a lightbulb? One, to hold it in place while the world revolves around him.
14. Nobody does anything by halves in this city. Whether they’re campaigning on behalf of Tibet, or taking up rollerblading, New Yorkers put their heart and soul into everything they do. Apart from anger management, obviously.
15. The sound of popping animal skin that occurs when you bite into a hot dog on a New York street may be one of the satisfying noises known to man.
16. There is no louder sound on earth than an emergency services vehicle going past you with its siren blaring. They make them that loud so that no-one confuses them with an ice cream van.
17. It is a statistically proven fact that it is impossible to catch sight of the Statue of Liberty without internally exclaiming “f**k me, that’s the Statue of Liberty!”
18. Some New Yorkers really do think that the British say ‘potarto’.
19. On the London Underground you sometimes see tiny little mice scuttling around the tracks. In New York, the subway has stonking great rats who look like they’d eat your grandmother if they were given half the chance.
20. Most people seem to leave offices by about 3pm during the summer, to get an early start on the weekend. Of course, if they just gave everybody proper holidays in the first place…
21. Impatience is the number one religion in New York. Most New Yorkers reading this are already annoyed that I’m not on point 183 by now.
22. Such is sheer array of good food available in New York that it is more than possible to put on in excess of ten pounds in weight after just eight months in the city. So I hear, at least…
23. Co-ops are an opportunity for people who were bullied at school to feel like they have some power at last.
24. Brits in New York are the ones wearing t-shirts and shorts in February.
25. When it rains in New York, it really pours down. Which is embarrassing if you’re wearing a t-shirt and shorts. In February.
26. If you want a glimpse of what hell is surely like, walk down 5th Avenue on a Saturday afternoon.
27. For all the praise heaped upon New York cheesecake, (whisper it in hushed tones) it’s really not all that.
28. I *heart* NY is surely the greatest city logo of all time. More impressive than “Slough: It’s Not As Bad As You Think” at least.
29. Accidentally sneeze as you walk past a doctors in the city, and it’ll almost certainly cost you $20.
30. Customer service is something that New York schoolkids read about in fairytales.
31. A white walk sign is no indication that it’s safe to walk. It’s just to inform you that you will probably have a watertight legal case when the car that’s turning right hits you.
32. Coffee doesn’t actually taste better in New York. But everybody else is wired, so it’s best to grab yourself a cup and go with the flow.
33. There’s probably greater inertia in this city than most cities in the world. Anybody announcing that they’re leaving gets treated like there’s been a death in the family.
34. The everything bagel should be named alongside the Colossus of Rhodes as one of the seven wonders of the world.
35. Writing a blog entry about the woefulness of New York sport will inevitably lead to a last minute New York triumph in one of the biggest sports matches of the year.
36. The Knicks are still rubbish.
37. It is quicker to do forward rolls all the way to China than take a subway train any more than ten stops on a Sunday.
38. The Union Square Greenmarket is the only place in the world that I’ve ever seen edible ferns for sale. But then, I’ve led a sheltered life.
39. Despite the legendary nickname of the city, the apples here are no bigger than they are anywhere else in the US as far as I can tell.
40. If there’s currently a billboard in this town without Sex & The City on it, I’m yet to see it.
41. Given how many actors and actresses there must be in this city, it seems slightly unjust that the only one I’ve seen so far is Becky from Roseanne.
42. There must be a good reason why people wear New Era baseball caps with the gold sales sticker still on the peak. But for the life of me I can’t think what it is.
43. Breakfast in the city is eggs. If you don’t like eggs, you are legally required to make your way to the city borders if you want to eat before 11am.
44. International news coverage means reporting on events in Pennsylvania.
45. There is more privacy in Guantanamo Bay than in toilet cubicles anywhere in New York.
46. There are no stray cats or dogs anywhere in the city. This may or may not be linked to the number of Chinese takeout joints.
47. The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway should really be called ‘That Road That Links Brooklyn and Queens’.
48. There are 103 different reasons for schoolkids to have random days off, each more spurious than the last. Today is apparently Brooklyn Day. Next week it’s Fraggle Rock Friday.
49. Nobody in this city gives a toss what anybody else thinks. Which would explain why people are capable of having fully-fledged screaming arguments at the tops of their voices infront of hundreds of commuters on the streets.
50. Being uncovered as a closet pizza hater has been enough to end at least three political campaigns in the last twenty-five years.

Only 150 more to go, you’ll be relieved to know.

Thanks for reading for the last ten months or so – your interest and comments are appreciated more than you know. I hope you’re still here for post number 400.

Just don’t expect me to do 400 things you simply have to know about New York, OK?

Champions

So the New York Giants are the Super Bowl champions…pretty incredible game, and not just because of the number of burgers I managed to stuff down my neck.

Watching the TV broadcast, a few things sprang to mind:

1. How can one sports game last four hours? That’s not a sport, that’s some kind of endurance hell.

2. Speaking after the game, one New York Giants player claimed that he was just happy to win the world championship. Erm, anybody want to let me know how many other countries were allowed to compete in the NFL this season?

3. Even though I started watching the game wanting the New England Patriots to complete an unbeaten season, I couldn’t help but be caught up in the excitement of the New York Giants coming back to win the game in the final minute. Maybe I’m actually a lucky omen for New York sports teams, given how awful they’ve been over the last few years?

4. Apparently Mayor Bloomberg has agreed that there will be a ticker tape parade in New York this week, to celebrate the Giants victory. Given that the Giants (and the Jets) play in New Jersey, it’s like Manchester United winning the FA Cup, and then having an open-top bus parade in Birmingham.

5. The winning catch was made by Plaxico Burress, who had last week confounded pundits by predicting a 23-17 victory for the Giants. I so wish I could have been a fly-on-the-wall when Mr & Mrs Burress were thinking about a name for their soon-to-be born son.

Mr Burress: I’m thinking that maybe we should call him Philip after my dad.
Mrs Burress: I prefer Thomas, after my great grandfather who was such an inspiration to me when I was young.
Mr B: I just don’t like the name Thomas? What about Mike?
Mrs B: Mike? I hate that name. What about Billy?
Mr B: Over my dead body
Mrs B: OK, we’re getting nowhere here. Look, this is going to seem a little bit out of leftfield, but what about Plaxico?
Mr B: Perfect!

The car horns are blasting out left, right and centre in Brooklyn right now. With any luck, there might even be smiling faces on the subway tomorrow morning.

This is New York though, so I wouldn’t count on it.

Any given Sunday

It’s the Super Bowl this Sunday, arguably the biggest sporting day of the American year. Around 92 million people tune in to watch the event, which this year will be played between the New England Patriots and, incredibly, the New York Giants.

New York had a terrible start to the season, but somehow seemed to keep their head while all around them were losing theirs in order to make it to the big show. Sadly for them, they’re up against the New England Patriots, who have won all eighteen of their games this season (“eighteen-and-oh” in US parlance). They’ve won the Super Bowl three times in the last six seasons, and in quarterback Tom Brady they’ve got the David Beckham of the NFL. In sporting fame terms that is, rather than him being a text-maniac adulterer married to a woman who’s about as ‘Posh’ as haemorrhoid cream.

On the other hand, the last time that the New York Giants won the Super Bowl, I hadn’t even had my first kiss. Indeed, their quarterback Eli Manning probably barely knew what a kiss was, given that he was only ten at the time. It’s like Manchester United coming up against Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup Final, except maybe slightly more one-sided. And if that kiss-of-death doesn’t allow the Giants to win, I don’t know what will.

My point is not that I don’t understand the rules of (American) football, because I do. But what I have no idea about is the Super Bowl grid that I was somehow persuaded to write my name inside today, in return for parting company with a fresh ten dollar bill.

When I was a kid, we always used to have a Grand National sweepstake. For those who don’t know, the Grand National is the UK’s biggest horse race – like a Kentucky Derby except with stonking great fences all the way around the course. Essentially, we’d all put 10p into the kitty, and in return we’d pull out the name of a horse out of a bag – and the person who ended up with the race winner would take everything.

Super Bowl boxes appear to be a super-fuelled version of this, invented by somebody with a mild mental disorder and a refusal to do anything the easy way. I can’t really begin to explain it fully – all I can say is that there are 100 boxes, each worth $10, and the numbers 1 to 10 are placed randomly along both sides of the grid. My box appears to be in the Giants 1, Patriots 3 box. That doesn’t need to be the final score in order for me to win, but it does mean that I need the last digit of the score to have those figures. In other words, if the Patriots win 43-11, I’m a winner.

Anybody still reading? Me neither.

Suffice to say that while I will almost certainly be watching my first Super Bowl as an American resident, I won’t be paying too close attention to the mathematics of the score.

That doesn’t mean numbers won’t be important on Sunday though. Far from it. I’ll be attempting to set a new record for number of organic burgers eaten in one four hour period.

Ladies and gentlemen, you’re about to see something very special.