Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Trials of Van Occupanther 

Curly's for breakfast.
Then we walked through Chinatown - pausing, as you do, to photograph slippers and men pushing stuff up hill - back to Union Square where I went through my fire escape period.

We tend to be allergic to city centre retail outlets - panic attacks, sneezing fits, sneaking suspicions that these people don't love you but are simply after your money - and Union Square is full of the blighters.
It wasn't really us, although I did purchase Fountains of Wayne's latest and The Trials of Van Occupier in Branson's. OMG - I'm like completely obsessed with the latter.
We pigged out on cheesecake at the Cheese Factory, a restaurant at the top of Macy's, because friends recommended doing so.
It was packed full with mainly young people who, having waited half an hour to be seated, probably ate only a quarter of their food before leaving again. I don't really understand the modern world.
Maybe they just like the idea of eating in a tall building, feeling metropolitan - this city belongs to me! - and looking out across at the skyscrapers. I'd imagine if you were maybe five or six, as lots of people were, being taken there must seem like the most fantastic thing in the world, a memory to cherish.

Late afternoon we did the Alcatraz tour. It's no distance at all to the island, ten minutes on the ferry or something like it. They hand you some headphones and an audio player, then you wander around at your own pace listening to the excellent walking guide.
The bit I remember most is where ex-prisoners describe the torment of New Years Eves when, with the wind in the wrong direction, they could clearly hear revellers partying, such was the proximity to the mainland.
The fact that guards raised their families on the island also sticks in the memory. Imagine a childhood spent on a tiny island, mere yards from the country's most notorious murderers and criminals.
Powerful stuff indeed, and I never knew they had a sodding Gap At Alcatraz inside the prison.

We had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe on the waterfront.
The waiting staff, who are all forced to dress up in full infantile rock bloke/chick regalia, seemed to fall into two camps: the wannabee rock stars who probably dress that way in their own time anyway; and those who just wanted to earn some money and felt completely ridiculous.
TV screens on every available surface played bad eighties pop videos that I thought I'd forgotten about. I wonder if this is what Los Angeles is like.
Still, I'd recommend the dessert.

In the evening we became all posh and went to the theatre, to see Steve Silver's Beach Blanket Babylon. I'm not really a Cabaret Man (isn't that a song by The Fall?) but Girlfriend was keen to try it so I tagged along in a spirit of optimistic open mindedness.
I'm still not a cabaret fan. The jokes were mainly music-related puns of the 'not funny in the slightest' variety - "Honey, what's luuuurve got to do with it?" Howls of laughter - but after a while its knowing preposterousness draws you in and you start to forget how bad it is and enjoy yourself despite yourself. I'm glad I saw it, if only to pick up a few quiff management tips.
You know I'm not one to spread malicious gossip, but I think there may have been one or two "gays" in the building.

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