New York City is Decadent and Depraved 20th July

I think I’ve discovered a possibly fatal flaw in my project; it requires me to talk to people. In fact that might also be a defect of pathfinders as well as a whole, but not to the same extent. I just don’t think my interest in people is sufficient to outlast the duress of a whole conversation with them, but clearly eavesdropping isn’t going to be enough. I will have to think very hard about this.
Whinging aside, this is the song for today: I’m not sure what profound conclusions I can draw from one, but its a bloody good song, and they come from New York, and its obviously on theme, so its in.
This afternoon I got the A train from the Airport all the way up to 103rd West, where I’m staying. For the first half hour of the journey I was standing opposite this young couple, who were engaging in obscene behaviour. I realise that this might strike everyone in the same way, but they were both pressed up against the side of the carriage and he kept on reaching over and fumbling around in her shoulder bag. In public! On the subway! And not just taking something out quickly (which would have been bad enough) but prolonged groping in its velvety depths trying to find what he was looking for, and she was giving him this disgusting coy smile whilst he was doing it. I’m not really a fan of public displays of affection as it is, but this was definitely beyond the pale.
One of the lessons Bob claimed to have had beaten into him was the importance of never looking inside a lady’s handbag, even if she explicitly asked you to retrieve something from it. I thought this was ridiculous at the time, but after watching these two I am so on board. This doesn’t mean I think, with Germaine Greer, that a woman’s bag is her external womb , but there is definitely something exceedingly private and personal about putting your hands in someone else’s junk. This also applies to pockets. I think I would have been much less upset if they’d been having sex on the seat or something.
To avoid looking at them I spent a lot of time reading all the advertisements in the Subway carriage. This was fine because they hilarious. The best by far was an advert for Manhattan-212-Storage, with the line “You are not little Edie and this is not Grey Gardens”. I’m evidently not their target market- I think Little Edie from Grey Gardens is wonderful. There was also someone advertising some kind of Disaster Insurance with a massive grin on his face. Actually most of the adverts were grinning hideously- including one for cancer counselling. Must be an American thing.
103th West is about three streets away from Harlem so, feeling pretty tired, I wandered up there in the evening. Its such a great place; even though it was 11 in the evening there were still heaps of tiny kids running around and loads of noise. I’ve also seen 3 burst water hydrants so far. On 114th there’s a row of blocks of flats with big concrete steps out the front of each, and when I walked down it each front stoop (damn right) was crammed with loads of teenagers smoking grass and listening to hip hop of varying degrees of quality. In England these are the kids who are so cool I would avoid attempting to talk to them at all costs, but I’m already an oddity here, so stopped to chat with some of them for a while, before going to bed.
In the reception of the hostel there is a leaflet box with “Would you like to know GOD personally” on the side, but when you reach your hand in to pull a leaflet out they are all for “New York’s biggest electrical goods warehouse.” Read into that what you will.
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