Tag Archives: Knicks

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?

Send us victorious

My attempts to immerse myself into American life continue apace. This week, I took The Eldest to his (and mine) first NBA game when we travelled to the ‘world famous’ Madison Square Garden to see the New York Knicks take on the Charlotte Bobcats. To say it was a clash of the titans would be a gross exaggeration. Both sides have lost twice as many games as they’ve won, and languish at the bottom of their respective sections of the leagueconference. It’s like Fulham playing Derby County, only with more armbands and less booting of the ball into row Z.

It’s kind of difficult to take the teams too seriously, given their respective names. The NBA contains Wizards, Timberwolves, SuperSonics, Raptors and Pistons. Call me old fashioned, but I like to see my sports teams with descriptors such as Town, City, United or Rovers. The Knicks’ full title is the New York Knickerbockers. Sure, maybe they trace their moniker back to Dutch settlers and their propensity to wear a specific type of pants, but that doesn’t mean I expect to be watching the Swindon Shell Suits or the Louisiana Legwarmers in years to come.

Actually the game itself was pretty enjoyable, especially given that the Knicks won by almost 25 points. But, like the ice hockey game I saw last year, it has to be said that the occasion was particularly without atmosphere – even a match between Chester and Mansfield, attended by 3000 people or less, can produce more chanting and singing than an NBA game it would seem.

Then again, that’s probably not surprising for a sporting occasion at which vendors walk around selling candy flosscotton candy.

Waiting for the start of the game, I was struck again by the determination of Americans to celebrate their national identity and patriotism. Sure, the person who was wheeled out to sing the national anthem was merely a local radio personality, but she belted it like there were 90 million people watching her at the Super Bowl, and had her fellow Americans whooping and hollering before she’d even got to “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”.

It’s a mighty contrast to the occasions on which Russell Watson or Hayley Westenra step up at Wembley or Twickenham to sing “God Save The Queen”, where the reaction varies from indifference to contempt. “The Star Spangled Banner” is a rip-roaring barnstormer of a tune in comparison – even an American Idol reject could sing it and get a standing ovation.

Fortunately, Scottish comedian Billy Connolly has got a few ideas about how the British can up their game when it comes to the national anthem. “The Archers” may not mean much to Americans right now, but you’ll all be humming it by the time of London 2012.