[Continued from yesterday’s reminiscences about my first trip to New York City]
Monday 17 May 1999. We woke late, having stayed up till 4am at Rocky Sullivan’s. We returned to Café Gourmet on Fifth Avenue for breakfast just before noon, still drunk from the night before. We were heading out to New Jersey in the afternoon to rehearse some more with our new bass player, and mooched around Manhattan for a few hours beforehand. We took a look at Madison Square Garden from the outside and took the subway down to Battery Park to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. It was the closest we got to that landmark on this trip.
[In September 1999 two of us returned to the city and took a helicopter ride from nearby. It flew us close to the Statue of Liberty and continued on up through Manhattan to Central Park, then returned to base mostly flying over water. It was terrifying. Later our friends from New Jersey told us we were crazy. “Those things go down all the time, man. That’s why they fly over the river so when they crash they won’t kill anyone on the ground.” When I returned to Manhattan the following year with the woman who was to become my wife (and is still my wife) we took a simulated helicopter ride in a small movie theatre located on one of the top floors of the Twin Towers. It reminded me of seeing the movie “Earthquake” in Sensurround in the 1970s. The seats tilted, there was a little bit of shaking. My future-wife, who is prone to travel sickness, said “Well that was all right. The real helicopter ride wasn’t as bad as that, was it?” “It was a thousand times worse,” I said, “That was nothing.”]
Our three-train journey to Hackettstown New Jersey took two hours. We were collected at the station and spent the evening hanging out with our bass player, his girlfriend, a few of their friends, and lots of dogs. We ate dinner at the Jigger Tavern. Hackettstown is the home of M&Ms. We drove past the factory, looking out for oompah-loompahs. We rehearsed in the same rehearsal studio we had been to the previous Saturday and recorded three tracks, on cassette. Whatever happened to that tape? I haven’t seen it since.
Once again we got a ride back to Hoboken. Once again we cabbed it to the city. Once again we ended up at Rocky Sullivan’s. This time I stayed beyond closing time. The bar-staff left sometime between 4am and 5am. They threw us the keys, asked us to lock up and to drop the keys back in the letter-box. I rolled out at 6am, safe, happy and hungry. Dawn was breaking over Lexington Avenue. I walked to Café Gourmet for my second breakfast there in 24 hours and got to bed at 7.30am.