23.06.2010 - 23.06.2010 32 °C
In my experience, confirmed from my reading, the best way to really see a place is to do it with the people who live there, just like being shown around Queen’s yesterday by Jim. I was very fortunate to be invited to be shown around one of New York City’s other Borough’s, Brooklyn, by Ben (my cousin’s girlfriend’s father) a native of Brooklyn for over seventy years. We started by visiting Prospect Park and soon made our way to Coney Island. What Coney Island is now, is not what it used to be. Coney Island was the holiday destination in this part of the world, the North East’s Maibu or Miami Beach. The promenade was lined with amusements and theme parks with throngs of children and young people looking to escape the city. Since then, presumably because of the invention of package holidays and the accessibility of air travel, its hay day is long in the past. The people have since gone and now all that stands where theme parks once stood are relics paying tribute a more prosperous time. What hasn’t is what must have initially drew people to the area, namely is natural beauty; the beach is stunning and the water tantalisingly appealing on this baking afternoon. So it seems New Yorkers have it all; the buzz of the metropolis, the countryside just beyond the city and a stunning beach at the end of a subway line. Having everything is overrated anyway.
This evening I indulged in America’s pastime – baseball. My cousin and I went to see the New York Mets play the Detroit Tigers at Citi Field. I never properly appreciated American sport before, mainly because I’ve never understood how attending a sport, and just watching 40% of the game, can be enjoyable. I’ve learned that you have to put that aside. Part of the experience is not watching 60% of the game, as much as the 40% that you do watch. In what I did watch I saw a home run and the Mets won 5-0, so good result all round. I ought to note that on the train home there was some sort of engineering incident that required us to evacuate the train we were. What is of note is not the evacuation, but the public announcements every fifty-six seconds (I timed it) over the PA system to let us know that; firstly, there was a problem, secondly, a replacement train would arrive momentarily (or an hour and a half later) and thirdly that were there any more information we would be informed (or just informed anyway in about fifty seconds time to remind just of these three things).
This confirms something I have observed since the start of my trip. Americans, perhaps because they really do live a land of the plenty and demand what they want instantaneously, have remarkably short concentration spans and require information quickly in incredibly digested form; so that just as an American is reassured to know every fifty six seconds that a train is only moments from arriving when infact it isn’t and is quite content with that set of circumstances (something a European would perhaps find remarkably patronising) an also American holds a conversation on a particular topic for a very short period of time and any information that you wish to convey has to be fired in before they want to move on.
Tomorrow’s my last full day in New York so I need to plan how to make the most of it and whilst I’m at it, start thinking about how I can ‘snacksize’ the waffle I often talk.