Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Springasm, Brooklyn

Last Thursday four separate strangers smiled at me in the street.

The only time this happens in New York is on the first day of spring. When it's suddenly pushing 70 degrees in mid March everyone leaves their cynicism at home and hits the streets with those smiles. Mother nature sprinkling a taste of sweet spring sugar into our open and ready mouths.

It came just in time-after an endless winter where I believed I may actually be living in Russia. I was spiralling head long into a chronic and debilitating case of S.A.D. the main symptom of which was watching illegally downloaded award season movies with a fleece blanket over my head while wearing pajamas with polar bears on.

On the day when spring prematurely sprung I was in Brooklyn, so it's hard to tell if I would have got less stranger smiles if I had been in Manhattan.  I was there to meet The Teenager, who's doing a once weekly internship at an independent jewelery maker in Williamsburg. It's an area I hadn't made it to until now and when I arrive I am kicking myself for not coming sooner.  I get off the L train at Bedford Avenue and step out of the station. It's instant: I'm in love. Love, love, love.  At first sight.

"Well hello there." I say.
The streets smile back too and we're flirt with each other straight off the bat.

I know. Williamsburg. It sounds like a bit of a New York cliche. I'm years late with this one. Does that matter?  I don't think so. Don't we find people and places at the exact time we're supposed to?

I meet The Teen for lunch and we eat in the garden of Aurora. The sun comes through the trees and throws a dappled light on the courtyard. It's a bit blissful say what.

Afterwards I stroll around, get lost, people watch for a while on a stoop, get even more lost and then sit on a bench watch some locals playing basketball in the park and coo over loads of cute doggies.

I feel the sun on my cheeks, warm. This is a place I could call home. I can see myself slotting into life there and being happy. It's likely no co-incidence that the day I come here the place is bathed in it's most flattering light.

I get up to take some more pictures and have a massive Springasm.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

THE Royal Wedding '11 Celebration Party in NY!

Join us for the Biggest Party of the Century, So Far!

On Friday 29th April from 5am, head over to trendy DUMBO and watch the Royal Wedding between Kate Middleton & Prince William on a massive screen at the archway under the Manhattan Bridge!

Big Apple Brits is partnering with the DUMBO Improvement District to create an amazing day of celebrations.  DumboNYC.org are providing the screen, a fantastic sound system and will broadcast the event Live and then repeat it in the afternoon.  100's of revelers are expected.  An exciting schedule of activities are currently being finalized and will be posted here late March.   The outdoor viewing & activities are completely FREE to attend.

Join us for our Big Apple Brits party at the DUMBO Lofts which will run all day and night!  This cool space is across from the archway right next to all the action.

Take Advantage of our Early Bird Special Pricing upto 1st April Reserve Now!

All Day VIP Pass (9am - 1am) Only $50 Evening Pass (8pm - 1am)  Only $30

Tickets include AN "OPEN BAR" ALL DAY & NIGHT! serving Beers, Wine, Champagne, Kia Royales, Spirits, Pimms, Cider, Soft Drinks & much more.   Also 10 Raffle tickets are included and Canapes will be served during the evening event.

The BAB Party includes a re-run of the day's events, video clips from past royal events, Live Music, DJ's spinning tunes across the decades, Comedians, Theatre shows and much more.....

"Like" our  Facebook Fanpage - Follow us on Twitter


Watch the Royal Wedding Live New York City, NYC, USA, Brooklyn, Kate Middleton Prince William, 2011 Party Celebration Event


Posted via email from Big Apple Brits - British Expats, Anglophiles and Brit Culture Lovers New York City

Friday, March 11, 2011

THE Royal Wedding ’11 Celebration Party in NY!

Join us for the biggest party of the century so far!

On Friday 29th April from 5am, head over to trendy DUMBO and watch the Royal Wedding between Kate Middleton & Prince William on a massive screen under the Manhattan Bridge!

Along with the DUMBO Improvement District http://dumbonyc.org/ we are going to create an amazing day of celebrations. They are providing the screen, a fantastic sound system and will broadcast the event Live and then repeat it in the afternoon. 100′s of revelers are expected.

The outdoor activities are completely FREE to attend.

Join us for our Big Apple Brits party at the DUMBO Lofts which will run all day and night!

This is right next to all the action and it will be an amazing day out!

BAB Royal Wedding Event – All Day VIP Pass – Only $50

BAB Royal Wedding Event – Evening Pass – Only $30

Tickets include OPEN BAR ALL DAY & NIGHT serving Beers, Wine, Champagne, Kia Royales, Spirits, Pimms & much more. Also 10 Raffle tickets are included.

Canapes will be served in the evening event.

Activities will include live music, djs spinning music from the 20th century, comedians, theatre shows, face painting and much more…..

Check out our new Facebook Fanpage Follow us on Twitter

Check out the space here…..


Watch the Royal Wedding Live New York City, NYC, USA, Brooklyn, Kate Middleton Prince William, 2011


Posted via email from Big Apple Brits - British Expats, Anglophiles and Brit Culture Lovers New York City

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Taxi for Smith...

I'm in a cab heading for new British bff's birthday meal.

On the seat next to me is a beautifully boxed but crap present. I am going for the theory that when cash is low, creativity or humour should prevail. Being as my latest job sucked all the energy and creativity out of me- I went for the laughs and bought her a plastic cow that shits sweets. And Moos.

The cabbie is belting down 23rd street like he's in Grand Theft Auto.

"Moooooooooo." says the cow from inside the box.

The driver looks at me suspiciously in the rear view mirror.

"Moooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo." says the cow.
"It's a present!" I say.
"Excuse me?"
"A present, the moo. It's a cow."
"It's coming from the box. It's a plastic cow. It's moo-ing a lot. It wasn't supposed to start moo-ing until I took the tab out, but is it."

He narrows his eyes at me in the rear view mirror.

"It's PreMOOture ejaculation."

The joke falls flat on the floor, along with the rest of my oft misunderstood humour here. Is it any wonder I keep making friends with my own people?

I launch into a huge explanation. About lack of cash. About it being a joke. About it shitting sweets. Except I say "Poops Candy" so he at least gets that bit.

"I don't understand?" he says "Why a lady like you would buy such a present?"
"It's a joke."
"I still don't understand." he says
"I know you don't. It's o.k."

The taxi jerks violently as it dodges another, accelerating past the Flatiron building and swerving a kamikaze left onto 5th Avenue.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo." says the cow.

I couldn't agree more.


You're not in New York now...

I spend a lot of my time in New York drawing imaginary maps of the UK in the air in order to explain where Wales is. 

After ten minutes of my hand flailing the usual response is "So what part of London is that in?"

Geography is not a strong suit of the average American and is it any wonder when new stats show that despite a huge rise, only 30% of citizens hold a U.S. passport?

In their defence, there is a lot going on in their homeland. If you're a Californian you don't don't even need to leave the state to ski powdery slopes, sunbathe golden beaches or see breathtaking mountains.

And if you live in NYC it's like residing in a vacuum. It's not like the rest of America, if it wasn't for George Washington in your wallet, you might forget you're even living in the U.S. There are many reasons never to leave. Stay here for too long and you become confused when people in other cities tell you they don't have 24 hour food delivery and Drag Queen bingo.

I rarely leave New York myself. Not out of choice, more out of a lack of Benjamins in my wallet (Oh freelance!). So you can only imagine my squeely joy recently when I was invited on a press trip to the Florida Keys. I threw my Hunters in the cupboard, dragged my summer clothes from under the bed and spent much time debating whether my main hot weather look should be "Out of Africa" or "Nautical meets Chanel cruise wear".

In the depths of the January sleet I left my apartment in NYC at 6 a.m. in five layers. I flew South for less than 3 hours and shed clothes on the plane as I went. By the time we reached Miami airport I had changed into flip flops, sunnies and a floaty dress. I was still in the same country but now it was 82 degrees and men were wearing Hawaiian shirts.

You know that line "You're not in New York now."? The one that always gets churned out in Rom Coms where the Louboutined heroine is forced to move to Hicksville and is astonished to discover there's no Prada and the restaurants shut at 9p.m? Well that was what was in my head. Although it barely mattered by dinnertime when I was eating fresh seafood under a palm tree.

6 days, a lot more seafood and a minor sunburn later and I came back to NYC and one of the worst snowstorms in 300 million years. 20 inches of the stuff. So thick it made the trees look like they were growing cotton.

Florida feels like it never happened. Florida didn't. It couldn't have. Except there are 182 pictures on my digital camera that say it did.

So to remind me- and extend the very last dregs of my bragging rights- here are just a few of them...

My food travelogue piece on the Florida Keys will be published in the NY Metro newspaper.


When is it time to drop your Mother on Facebook?

This week something happens that causes a departure from my usual blog subject of being a sometimes lost, sometimes found, Welsh Alien in New York.

My mother changes her Facebook profile picture to one of her drinking a pint.

I show it to The Teenager (who I always defer to on booze related matters) and she tells me it's actually Sangria.

"But in a pint glass?" I say.
"Now you know how I feel." she says.

Hardly. My daughter refuses to be my friend on Facebook on the basis that she wants to be able to slag me off to her 565 friends. She briefly changed this rule in the summer when she went home for 6 weeks, after much begging from me. Her only communication for the entire time was to post "Your a massive Twat" on a Black and white 'arty' photo of me pissed in a L.E.S. bar. I posted back about her grammatical error and that she should remember her apostrophe 're. She dropped me soon after.

She will however, be friends with my Mother. Her 66 year old Grandmother. And she is unapologetic about her rejection of me. Whereas I personally felt it's a bit rude not to accept my Mum's FB friendship-what with the small matter of her baring me life.

Now I wonder if my own Mother is 'doing a me' and embarrassing her offspring on Facebook.  Is it time for me to cut the virtual apron strings? But before I click 'remove from friends' I ponder that my Mother's very existence on a social networking site is miraculous to the point of being an evolutionary shift. 18 months ago she couldn't even write an email. Now she can post pictures online, send attachments and nag me via several new mediums. There is likely a whole new section of her brain that has developed to process this new technology and her fingertips have grown little webbed pads to protect from RSI.

She has now taken to writing me emails that quote my Twitter/Facebook/Blog. In them, she will complain about information she is hearing second hand from any given social media platform:

Subject: Rubbish daughter

Hello Darling, I see from your Twitter that you have recently  *insert small, insignificant piece of news*  this is nice to hear at the same time as the rest of the world. You also Facebooked that there was  *insert small, insignificant piece of news*.   Your Mother would like to know these things. And I read your blog, it was funny, except you didn't tell me that  *insert small, insignificant piece of news*.  As The Teenager would say- WTF?

Love Mum xxx

This roughly translates as:

Hello Darling. You are a bad daughter and I will make sure to spend all of your only-child inheritance on a series of luxury cruises and overpriced M&S food.
Recently, when I complained on Facebook of my Blackberry breaking my Mother wrote the following "Did you throw it against the wall, like you did with that other phone?" I deleted this comment, as it was not only defamatory, but unfortunately true. I can assure though, that my phone hurling incidents were purely restricted to cheap nokias. I would never do such a thing now. Now I have a Blackberry that I take to bed at night. And I'm 35, of course.

Facebook has become a communicative shorthand for us all. This is what my Mother's generation might fail to get. If I emailed everyone individually to tell that what was going on in my oft' bad soap opera of a life I would never leave my computer, or sleep, or eat. 

I ask The Teenager's advice. I say that getting ticked off by my Mother on Facebook in front of my 200 'friends' is a bit irritating.

"It could be a lot worse", she says "At least she's not blogging or tweeting every detail of your life for everyone to see. Hmmm? MOTHER?"

And she fixes me with that cold stare she does so well.

"Oh right...yes."
"You really are such a twat Mother."
"Now get out of my room."
"Love you."
"Yeah whatever, shut the door behind you."


Lost time, found again...

In order to find yourself in New York, you gotta get lost first.

Which is good, as I have absolutely no idea where I am and it's been this way for the last two hours. My blackberry keeps telling me I am where I want to be, which is not helpful, as clearly I wouldn't be attempting to get there if I already was.

The beauty though, is that I'm having such a great time being lost I've forgotton my original endeavour of trying to find an antique jewelers in the Lower East Side. Two of the diamonds fell out of my Victorian engagement ring. It survives a century intact and after just one year on my big, clumsy hands, it's screwed.

In the time that has passed I have walked past The Cooper Union and mused how it looks a little of the Armadillo exterior of the Wales Millennium centre:

I then realise I'm not even in the LES anymore finding Fonda Lolita with it's actual VW camper van parked inside at Tacombi.

I sit down with a rib and chicken taco and ended up talking with the owner who tells me tales of setting up the same restaurant in Mexico. He'd had two successful places until bird flu killed the tourist trade. Then he started making beer and got the funding to move to the U.S. and open here. In New York everyone has a movie script-worthy back story.

I leave when it's just getting dark and the blinking neon of the 99 cents store glows large. The promise of cheap tat lures me, until I realise it's a $99 store and just sells leather jackets.

Down the block is American Apparel. The very same one that used to be deluged by hipsters on the benches outside. Today there are four hobos drinking from brown paper bags on the seats that remain and AA is hawking leotards on a rack outside for cheap. Oh the economy!

I walk around to East Houston and find an Army and Navy store being run by possibly the nicest bloke in NYC. I buy combat boots and some studded leather gloves from him and his Chinese Mum who doesn't speak any English, while he tells me he doesn't have a computer, but that customers tell him "Everyone write nice things 'bout me on internet".

I find the jewelers eventually, not by means of google maps on the Crackberry but by asking human folk the way. The woman in the store chastises me for having such a dirty ring. I avoid the obvious entendre and instead thank her and express how much of a pleasure it will be to pay hundreds of dollars to get it fixed.

I take the F train home and when waiting for it close my eyes to appreciate the Jazz trumpet player busking on the platform next to me. It's the perfect soundtrack to the day. Close my eyes, breath in the last few hours, smiling, smiling...

"WHAT THA' FUCKING FUCK MAN?" the girl sat next to me is suddenly going bonkers and flailing around. I realise it's because she was listening to her ipod and the jazz trumpeter is drowning out her music.

"'Dat's some fucking buuuuulllshit right there! Shut up man! SHUT UP! No one wanna here your fucking jaaaazz ass music."

The Trumpeter doesn't even blink. She screams, he plays Miles Davis. She screams some more, he's riffing some high notes. A guy in a suit gives him $20. The girl's still screaming. Together they sound like a hybrid alternative Jazz fusion you would hear at a downtown club.

New York makes it's own music.

Today I love the sound.


Head in the clouds...

Aside from Cardiff and New York, I have been a permanent resident of another place: Emmaworld.

In Emmaworld,  everything is sunshiny happy and unicorns frolic on rainbows made of marshmallow. There are no rules, aside from permanent positivity. Emmaworld-population: 1

In Emmaworld the move to the New York was going to be a film script. Not a sachharin rom com, but an upbeat Indie with a few minor challenges for the characters to overcome. In the end everything is cool. Turns out in the real world everything is not cool, which is good I guess, because it's must mean it's not the end.

I have recently taken forced leave of absence from Emmaworld in order to reside in the real world. In Emmaworld I have a super super spanky job and strut around in perfect buttery beige vintage boots grabbing Manhattan by the bollocks and yelling Sancerre orders at waiters after a long day conquering at large.

In Realworld I am in tracksuit bottoms on the sofa of my pricey Manhattan Storage unit-come-apartment, eating Cheerios from the box while jabbing refresh on my emails like a woman possessed. I tune into the painful sound of no phones ringing. Me and several other million Americans in the great job hunt.

Oh and I'm networking.

Oh yeah... Feel my pain. Networking. I am a Brit and more than that a down to earth Cardiff girl. I have to talk bullshit to people I don't know for work? It makes me feel a little dirty. They don't even call it bullshit here. They call it "B.S." America is so busy with the actual bullshit they don't even have time to say the word.

And then there's people not always laughing at my jokes. The reaction after I said something seemingly witty and spontaneous at a recent event went like this:

Networky person: *Silence, quizzical look*

Me: *Silence, refusing to qualify joke*

Networky person: *Silence, while working out if I'm serious or not*

Tumbleweed blows through the room.

Me: *Pause*

Networky person: *Longer pause* "Oh my god you're like... soooo funny!

Which (as my Brit friend pointed out) roughly translated means:

"Oh my god, you're like... soooo inappropriate!"

Ticket back to Emmaworld please? Or at least Cardiff...