So far, in recounting the first four days of my first trip to New York City I have relied on my memory. I haven’t even dug out my old pocket diary for 1999. As I wrote last year I have an unbroken run of pocket diaries from 1979 to 2001, available any time if I want to check the dates of holidays, meetings, gigs, exams, Film Festivals, and very occasionally how I was feeling about things. I have, however, dug out a travelogue that we made that week, a 2-hour video covering at least part of every day we were away. I have spent much of today copying old VHS videos to digital formats and have had to stop; moving back and forth between various stages of my life is doing strange things to my peace of mind. (I originally typed “piece of mind”; see what I mean?) I will draft a separate piece about the technical challenge of transferring videos shot between 1992 and 2005 to digital formats that I hope will still be usable in 25 years’ time. (Update: it’s here.)
The rest of my reminiscences about New York in May 1999 will now be influenced by that 2-hour travelogue. I haven’t watched it all the way through yet but have seen enough to confirm some of the details I have recorded elsewhere and to ensure that what follows is biographically accurate. I needed to confirm exactly what happened on Tuesday 18 May. The answer is: not very much. My memories of the day are less clear than all the other days on this trip, simply because we didn’t do much that was memorable.
Having returned, alone, to the hotel around 7.30am I got a few hours’ sleep and got up around noon. My travelling companions had breakfasted late and we met up around lunch-time. It was the rainiest day of our week away. We went to Chinatown and bought a few fake designer items (10 dollars for a pair sunglasses, a 12-dollar watch), dodged the rain and stopped for a beer, and some gazpacho for me, in a bar on Broom Street in SoHo. (Have I mentioned my previous addiction to gazpacho?) We visited the Garment District to have a few customized baseball caps made. I still have many of them, including a black cap with amber stripes on it inscribed with the word Kilkenny in amber lettering. [It’s been a lucky baseball cap when watching Kilkenny hurling, but only when worn by my wife.]
We visited a movie house, thinking we’d stay out of the rain for a couple hours that way, but there was nothing on that we wanted to see. We had dinner at Noodles on 28th Street, the most enormous plates of noodles I have ever seen and for once even I failed to clear my plate.
We returned, for the fifth night running, to Rocky Sullivan’s for some live music: Seanchai (pronounced Shanna-kee), Celtic Hip-Hop featuring one of the bar’s owners and a collection of singers and rappers. They did an excellent version of the Beach Boys’ “Do it again”. For once we didn’t stay late. We left soon after the band had finished, back to the hotel and in bed by 1am.