Motherfukka” said a man at the subway as his card wouldn’t swipe . His wife seemed to agree.
Despite being unaccustomed to such heat we are much too chilled for such profanity; free of the mental and physical burden of luggage and be-shorted like nature intended we travel south on the subway. There is a mad man on the train: old and crooked of spine he has a wild and fearsome beard which matches his eyes and he is announcing something about dinosaurs and handing out flyers. Oh what cruel misfortune as he will surely rush towards me like a kindred soul. Don’t look at him. “Dinosaurs ruled the earth, where are they now? They are extinct. God is showing us how the mighty can fall. The rich and the mighty have corrupted the earth with their greed, they are the kingdom of Babylon and they will fall. Their greed and their theft has brought us to this recession and it is inevitable that a second recession will come and bring them down” then he goes onto how only poor people go to prison while the real criminals, the rich and powerful, escape man’s justice but they shall not escape God’s. I like him and wished I had taken a flyer, but reading over my neighbour’s shoulder I saw he was representing the Christian Revolutionary Brotherhood or the Brothers Christian Revolution or the People’s Front of Judea. He was polite and articulate, everything is better in New York, even the God botherers.
It is pavement scorching hot as we try not to fall into the trap of looking like bloody tourists when encountering Manhattan; gawping up at skyscrapers, taking photos of each other gurning at Ground Zero and squealing “this looks like the subway from “The Warriors”, “Crocodile Dundee”, or “Blade”” just because it really really does. Why we care what anybody thinks is beyond us, this is New York, Hitler could ride a flamingo down up Madison Avenue singing like Speedy Gonzales and the locals wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
The Fat Black Pussycat is in Greenwich Village and is tomb dark even on this fearsomely sunny day. Locals prop up the bar with magnificent accents and enormous balls. Without these voices and these balls the bars would fall over and New York would die. Probably. “You do whatcha gotta do”, “Hey Paulie is that your car they’re towing away?” etc
Saturday Night Fever is on the TV, thankfully with the mute on, unhelpfully somebody puts the Bee Gees “More Than a Woman” on the jukebox. John Travolta struts up to his mirror in his knickers, combing his preposterous hair. He later flexes his gigantic collar and walks his peacock walk like he needs a kick up the knackers. In the 1970’s a lot of people thought this was the coolest film ever made. A lot of people needed a kick up the knackers in the 1970s. As does anybody looking back on the decade fondly, a ghastly business where the only joy in life was whipping off your nylon y-fronts in the dark to see how many sparks you could cause. I know, enough with the testicle based humour, already.
If you get to New York when Newcastle United are playing and you want company then Legends is on 33rd Street, directly behind the Empire State Building. This makes it just about the easiest bar to find in the world. It is also next door to a fabulous comic shop. This is mid-town and it is a mass of humanity, including people looking to get their hand in your pocket. As veterans of this shit we should know better. “Yo where you guys from?” says the kid with a handful of CDs “UK” I reply intent on not breaking stride.
“Tell Tim Westwood he’s a wanker.”
What? Wanker? Americans don’t use the word wanker, it throws me – “I think it may have been mentioned to him before.”
“Yeah we played at the Manchester Apollo for him, supporting Dizzy Rascal and he di’ent pay us.”
Wanker, Westwood, Dizzy, Manchester Apollo? All very English. We ended up paying three bucks for a CD that has probably just got him saying “stooped white muthafucka” on it and laughing at me.
The person who suffered for this lapse in street smarts was the drummer on the subway at Bleeker St. After a pint in the Peculier Pub we were heading back to the Bronx and in the 5 minutes we were waiting for the train he never dropped a beat and he was playing real fast on some plastic tubs and a fire extinguisher. We would have dropped the three bucks on him but we had bust our sukka budget.
We scooped up a couple of six packs back near Barry’s, watched the NBA finals, Dallas tying the series 2-2 and Barry gave us his take on English soccer in the US.
“People think the Americans don’t get our football but the Premiership is massive here now. Here they thought our football was boring and full of people rolling around pretending to be injured. For the most part English football isn’t like that. It’s fast, exciting and unpredictable. And we should be grateful the Americans don’t really get into football, see if these guys in the NBA started playing football instead of basketball from an early age, you’d have these 6’ 7” fast, skilful athletes to play against. Fortunately in the US, NBA and American football is where the money is. But there is a huge and growing appetite for English football here and any English team not coming over here, especially one with an identity like Newcastle would be mad. I think we really missed a trick not coming out here as a club to support the “Goal” film.
“Most teams have got ex-pats out here but as far as Americans supporting English teams; Arsenal are massive with the trendy scenesters and Liverpool and Manchester United are big anywhere, but especially here with the Irish connections, Chelsea are nowhere because they have got no identity and I have never seen a Stoke shirt for example but Newcastle have got a real appeal. They know the Brown Ale, they love an underdog and when they meet us the drinking culture really suits a lot of them. Sport in America is a celebration, it’s about having a good time whatever the score and that’s what we do.”
I ask if it’s easy following the trials and tribulations of Newcastle over here, especially when we were in The Championship. “I saw nearly every game in The Championship, to tell the truth it was one of my favourite recent seasons. I think this season has been excellent as well considering we have just been promoted. “
Barry has been over here for 10 years but is in no hurry to return to Newcastle to live, despite having an obvious passion for his homeland (he has a brilliant framed photo of the Angel of the North that he took himself) and will knowledgeably talk at length about any player in our squad. I say knowledgeable because we pretty much agreed on everything from Joey Barton, to fans underestimating Danny Simpson to why we scored 6 against sunderland last season. I’ve had a season ticket for 10 years and he hasn’t. It seems my old argument about armchair supporters not knowing what the f*** they are looking at doesn’t stand up anymore. Or maybe Barry and his corner of the USA is a special case.
Wrong Song at any Moment = f***ing Bee Gees obviously “More Than a Woman” – what, like She-Hulk?
Right Song at the Right Moment –“ Leave Your Lights On” – Everlast; a gravel voiced song of hope and redemption from the underestimated ex House of Pain frontman with Carlos Santana twisting the soul out of his guitar at the same time. (on the Peculier Pub jukebox)