Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fireworks on my first 4th


I am stood on the rooftop of the W hotel in Union Square on the night of 4th July dressed in the colours of the USA.

It's 90 degrees at 9.20 p.m. and I have broken out into a full body sweat after racing back from a BBQ in Brooklyn. I have dashed through the Brownstone lined streets of Park Slope, battled a packed 2 train, followed by an ambling L. I have sprinted across the square from the subway exit to hear the crackles and rumbles of the Fireworks starting up in the distance. I have stopped in dry mouthed panic at a street vendor to buy water, scrambled for a dollar, but didn't have any cash. The man looked at me and told me not to worry about paying. This never happens. I can only guess I am that adorable shade of beetroot again.

Now I stand 25 stories up, with my Scouse Welsh mate and The Aussie. Another friend who works at the hotel has snuck us in among a small group of staff members to get an enviable vantage of the Macy's Fireworks.

Unspecified $$$ worth of Pyrotechnics are lighting up the inky sky, shooting off 6 barges on the Hudson River. Somewhere nearby NBC are broadcasting live off a cruise liner with Canadian and exercise in medocrity Justin Beiber leading the proceedings.


To my left is the back of the giant 'W' that sits atop the hotel. From here I can see the tangle of wires that light it up. Tonight the 'W' stands for a string of superlatives. Wow. Wonderment. Wicked.

To my right- there is the phallic greatness of the Manhattan skyline. The usual stalwarts like the Crysler and the Empire State standing proud, like concrete cocks.

I don't have my camera and I'm anxious about what a perfect photoblog this would have made. My brain scrambles to write the scene in my head but despite the breathtaking allure, all I'm thinking about is how Fireworks are really quite sad. A lot of beauty that poofs and piffs and goes as quickly as it arrives. Tremendous but transient.

There is an almost eerie silence atop the roof. No "Owwws" and "Ahhs", just everyone watching and thinking their own thoughts. As the gold, greens, reds and blues color the sky I wonder what those thoughts are. Maybe some are simply craving the drink they're gonna get when they get off work? Or as giant exploding firework Chrysanthmums burst into the horizon, how they want to go home and fuck their wife? Is anyone else feeling mournful? Hot and sticky and sorrowful?

My thoughts have fallen inevitably to my Dad.

I wonder if I will always feel sad to see something spectacular, because he won't. My eyes feel wet and I realise I may sob right there on the roof, in front of everyone and they will think I am crying with joy at the Fireworks and that will make me look like a massive twat.

So I bite into the inside of my lip and breathe in hard and steel myself.

A little tear has escaped and is blobbing down my cheek. If anyone could see it up close they would catch the last burst of colour from the fireworks reflected in it.

It is really hot. I breathe.

Tonight I am red, white and a little bit blue.


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NYC heatwave: The Sunnyday Roast


Summer in New York City is something of a climatical groundhog day.

You wake up in an air conditioned bedroom that feels like a giant freezer. You go outside into a sauna. Walk any distance and you are perspiring like a human hog roast. Eyeball sweat blinds you before you have reached the end of your block. You escape back inside again and you're back in the freezer. Outside Sauna...inside freezer. Sauna. Freezer. Sauna. Freezer.


NY1 is in it's element right now is as this heatwave is upgraded from 'regular' to 'record breaking' There are stories of fainting firefighters, power outages and constant tips to stay cool.

Right now I cannot walk out of my house without raising my hand to my head and saying "Owww!", while puffing like a Grandma in pain. Sometimes I even start singing Billy Idol's Hot in the City to myself like a social retard or I yell "Scorchio!" like Caroline Aherne's weathergirl on the Fast Show.


Today it was 99 degrees with no sun. Cloudy with a chance of heat rash. Disgusting. As disgusting as the sweat that is running down my back and into my arse. Butt crack sweat, what could be erotic than that? Good thing I'm married already.

From that image, I segway neatly into our bedrooms, where we have relief in the form our air conditioning units. The rest of the apartment has to make do with a freestanding fan that just circulates the hot air. The bathroom and kitchen have become go-only-when-necessary zones. It's so hot in those rooms, I am considering renting them out for Ashtanga Yoga classes. I have all but given up cooking- summer in the city is no time to turn on an oven, just the exertion of chopping means perspiration is the main seasoning in my homemade coleslaw.

Leaving the house is no better. It's for the foolhardy and employed only. As well as facing the roasting rubbish scented Eau de New York streets, you also have to pack a survival kit: Copious amounts of water, dollar bills to buy more water and a scarf in your bag to cover your arms when you go back into buildings with over zealous air cons. Take my office for example-better known to most as 'The New York Library'-it's the worst culprit. Never mind the petitions to stop closures, try making it a little less igloo and you'd save enough taxpayers money to solve the budget deficit.


The stifling heat is all to do with the humidity apparently. Am I alone in not knowing what that really means? Everyone is always banging on about it, but I don't really think anyone truly understands it. All I am certain of is that humidity is a city problem and my Mother would describe it as 'close', which is as nonsensical as the rest of what she says.

The American is a bit obsessed with humidity, mainly because it's another factor in his growing weather related arsenal against New York and in favour of his California homeland.

"Whiney whine whine New York weather whine whine whineyyyyyy." he says

"Uh huh." I say

"Blah blah blah terrible humidity."

"I know!"

"Na na noo na, not like this in California."


"La de da da lovely L.A. blah blah bad New York, la de da da DRY HEAT."


I didn't think it was possible to become more weather obsessed than when I lived in Cardiff, but since the start of Welsh Alien I have blogged about all the seasons and have now come full circle with Summer, or 'Satan's armpit' as I heard it referred to recently.

There are a few days of perfection in September and April. Precious Manhattan times when it's in the early 70's and the wind blows gently and no one needs clinical strength deodorant and everyone's in a good mood. I don't really remember them, I must have been inside blogging about the weather and missed them.

So what is the ultimate way to keep cool in the city? Aside from frolicking in a virus infected public pool like this foolish child?


I just stick my head in the freezer. Right in there. Ahhhhh. I have the perfect spot, between the ice lollies and the frozen prawns.

It is the only corner of Manhattan where true solace from the heat lies.


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