New York City Wrap

photo: cafe pastis, chelsea, manhattan

Le Pastis, one of Manhattan's newer bistros - in Chelsea.

Tours, Tours and Some Dubious Facts

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 7. January 2002:- The first thing I noticed yesterday after arriving at Roissy from New York - besides no rabbits - once I had found my way out of Terminal 2's maze to Paris daylight - was that the temperature was the same but the skies were two different colors.

For the past two weeks, New York's sky was steely blue. Yesterday's Paris sky was boringly grey. But part of today's has been sunny, so everything is okay except for the feeling that New York's near-zero temperatures are colder than Paris' near-zero temperatures. I guess the reason might be New York's neighborly Atlantic Ocean.

For these two weeks, New York's TV-weather news guy on station WB11 promised, hinted at, nearly begged for, snow. Dastardly highs and continental 'jet-streams' flirted with the US eastern seaboard, and some evening reports had multiple-choice weather scenarios.

Unless I misjudged the whole business, it appeared as if no holiday season in New York is complete without snow. I was rather hoping for some too, but the teasing was - teasing. Thephoto: brooklyn bridge, new york skyline other 'anchored' newspeople on WB11's TV-news teased the weatherguy's no-show snow forecasts, and I expect if he is still putting them out, he is scoring worse than the Mets.

On sale now! The one and only Brooklyn Bridge. Only $1.00 while winter sales last.

It wasn't baseball season anyway, but football was presented with the Jets team being shown as losing every night. I wasn't aware that football was a daily event, even for nominal 'New York' teams who prefer being domiciled in New Jersey.

Okay, I know it is illegal to sneak Sportsnews into the weather report, so I'll get back to Paris' outlook for the coming week without mentioning our own hapless PSG's lack of fortunes.

You can expect some mostly sunny days. The other parts of these days will be partly cloudy, while a great deal of them will also be nighttime. Daily highs will be 3, 4 and 5, with lows being in the zero to minus-one range. Winds, humidity, and other details like 'jetstreams' are an unknown feature here, so don't expect them.

Short Issue Notes

This issue was not planned to be slight but this is how it has worked out. Transatlantic flight days are whatever is available, and flight times are what one gets. Then there are little glitches that eat up time, and before you know it, a 'slim' issue is the result.

It is also possible that the '2000 bug' that passed unnoticed at the time has come back to confuse the server. Drats and heck!

Due to getting ready for, and spending two weeks in New York, emails from readers are also in arrears as far as replies go. Except for the ones 'lost' on account of my own fumbles, all of your emails should get replies within the 2002 time-frame. If this seems somewhat vague, try writing again.

And thanks for writing already.

New York 'Café Life'

Flying High

For a change, instead of taking an ocean liner to New York, I flew. This is a rapid way of getting places, but features a lot fewer copious multi-course meals, a lot of no-smoking, no dining at the captain's table, and hopeless movies shown on dinky screens.

For the six or seven-hour flight over the Atlantic, airline seats make poor beds and aren't even very good chairs. I flew both ways with American Airlines because they used to have really neat DC-3's. I had French folks sitting beside me both ways so 'America' didn't begin until landing at JFK airport.

Security checks were frequent at both Roissy and JFK, but not overly tiresome. I missed seeingphoto: mulberry street, empire state building the dude with the firecracker fuses hanging out of his sneakers on the way to New York on Friday, 21. December, because he had to wait over a day.

The Empire State Building puts in appearances all over Manhattan. Seen here from Mulberry Street.

I thought it was really civic on the part of his fellow passengers to lend their belts to help tie him up like a ball of string. Flying to Miami probably means there will be doctors handy with needle-kits on board. For flights to New York, you can count on enough lawyers being along - and all of these have heavy brief-cases or some other form of clout.

Otherwise, flying, from a passenger's point of view, is pretty viewless unless there is a nearby window and it is a clear night over Long Island.

Heading into JFK two weeks ago the lights on the ground looked like necklaces of Christmas lights, going on nearly forever. Even the non-New York City part of America is pretty big. It needs to be, for all the big cars.

Language-sandwich In Queens

For my stay in New York I was hosted in Queens by a very shy person who does not want to become one of this magazine's 'characters.' From experience I can say not being one of the magazine's 'characters' can have advantages, but I don't know what they are.

Queens is one of New York City's five boroughs. It is sort of a super arrondissement, where English can be spoken if you can't get along in Spanish. Languages from the Indian subcontinent and from the Chinese part of the world can also be useful in a pinch.

Queens does not have many high buildings. Instead it has a lot of post offices, many elevated 'subway' lines, aphoto: yellow cab price sign baseball stadium - slogan: 'Home of the Mets!' - if they are winning - some tennis thing at Flushing, I think, and two airports - plus a couple of bridges that cross the East River, making getting to Manhattan easy.

Actually, the hardest place to get to from Queens by subway is Brooklyn, which is another of New York's boroughs and is the only other one that can be reached overland from Queens. The JFK airport, which handles Queens' international flights, cannot be reached by subway or elevated trains either.

However, both Queens and Brooklyn have taxis which are not yellow, and many of them are very clean but older Lincolns. If their dispatcher radios are on, passengers can learn many useful number words in Spanish as well as how to pronounce many Queens and Brooklyn place names correctly.

Queens has much of historical interest in addition to the Delhi Palace restaurant on 74th Street and the Airline Diner in Astoria or the Gum Tong Gung dim sum palace in Flushing. There is also Esteban's El Greco on 37th Avenue and Tierra Colombianas on Roosevelt Avenue, under the elevated 'subway' line.

This last street, besides being noisy all year around, is notable for its red-hot latin music during warmer periods of the year. Its counterpart in Brooklyn is Brighton Beach Avenue, where Russian is the standard language and the music is not quite the same.

Another place I can recommend is the Queens Burger Restaurant on Queens Boulevard, in the Long Island City part of Queens - which is actually far closer to Manhattan than it is to Long Island itself. This Long Island place, by the way, seems to be considered by many who live in New York as a particularly obscure form of terra incognito.

Orientated In Manhattan

If Queens seems about as big as Holland, then Manhattan - from Battery Park up to West 220th Street - is sort of a super Amsterdam, surrounded by water instead of full of it.

Due to some unconventional street and avenue behavior below 14th Street, the centre of Manhattan from top to bottom is probably not Central Park North, but East or West 92nd Street, even if the map folds at 110th Street.

As soon as a visitor steps off a subway from Queens in Manhattan - at Lexington Avenue on the East Side for example - people in 'The City' will say there are 'about 20 short street blocks to a mile.'

Then they will say, "Of course, the avenues are bigger," as if this was decreed by some important natural history function.

I have good news for all readers. 'Miles' are a bit odd, but 'kilometres' are even - as in, there are exactly 13 streets in one. Again, this 'rule' does not apply to avenues. The exception is the distance from First to Fifth Avenue, being almost exactly 12 kilometres, avenue centre to avenue centre.

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