Friday 21 July 2023

Friday Photo(s) #49

Dad would've loved to have visited New York. He had a life long fascination with the city and would no doubt have spent hours walking its alleys, streets and neighbourhoods, but by the time my cousin relocated to the Big Apple in the 1980s and invited him over, it was already too late. The mobility issues that dogged his later life were beginning to take hold and he knew in his heart that he wouldn't have been physically capable of doing the things he really wanted to do, which would have frustrated him enormously. So he never made it there, but enjoyed hearing about my exploits whenever I returned from a stay with my cousin and I got into the habit of buying him a book about some aspect of New York each time. I got him one on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge and another about the growth of the subway system, but his favourite was the one I picked up about the history of the Staten Island Ferry. If Dad could have been magically transported to New York and allowed to do just one thing, I think it would have been to have taken that iconic orange ferry, gazing back across the harbour as Manhattan disappeared into the distance. He simply couldn't believe that I'd never done it. This year, on a bright, chilly March morning, I put that right.

The Upsetters - Ferry Boat

Friday 14 July 2023

Friday Photo #48

In early 1996, a few weeks before I was due to visit her in New York, my cousin managed to reserve me a ticket for a recording of  Conan O'Brien's Late Night TV show on Thursday April 4th. I believe she had filled a blanket application for all four of Conan's shows that week to ensure I got into at least one of them. If I'd had a ticket for Tuesday 2nd I would've seen O'Brien chatting with William Shatner and on Friday 5th Nathan Lane and Martin Amis were on the sofa. On my night the guests were Mary Tyler Moore and Ahmet & Dweezil Zappa. As luck would have it Conan's April 4th show also included a musical turn, Son Volt. Now I'd been lucky enough to have seen Uncle Tupelo in concert three years earlier in London and also caught a handful of Wilco's early UK shows, but Son Volt's performance of Drown that night remains the one and only song I've ever seen the band play.

These days TV talk show reservations are applied for online, which is exactly what I did prior to my return to New York a couple of months ago. The tickets are still free, but it's also still a complete lottery, so I filled blanket applications for both The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Late Night with Seth Meyers, hoping I wouldn't get tickets for both shows on the same day. As it transpired I struck lucky with a Colbert recording on the Tuesday and Meyers the following day. There were no musical guests on either show this time around, though Jim Himes, a bee-keeping Democratic House Intelligence Committee member, gave me a glint of optimism for the future of American politics and author Margaret Atwood was a charming and funny interviewee. (I've linked both interviews if you're interested). Meanwhile, back in 1996.....

Greatest Hits