This time last week I was enjoying myself by celebrating my birthday in New York City. It was my first trip and was quite an experience. I hadn’t “experienced” a city like that since well, when I first came to Las Vegas. Vegas has its own feel, but its quite different. NYC felt like it had history and it felt like a home. Not my home, granted, but the city felt as though you were walking into your best friend’s grandma’s place. Everything there was grounded…rooted…the city is a weathering rock. And despite all that, I didn’t bring my camera…purposely. I already have enough work to do and I knew I’d spend all my time shooting rather than enjoying the company of friends. For the record, the iPhone is not a good camera phone, but it did do a nice job when you can hold it steady. That’s the view from my hotel room pictured to the left there.

I hadn’t seen my friend Shwu Huoy, (pronounced Shu-Hoy), since my last semester in grad school about two and a half years ago. We’ve kept in touch over the years. So it was definitely cool to see her again and have her show me around her city. We both graduated at the same time…but with dual Master degrees in the same programs: MBA and a MS in Telecommunications. When we graduated, I came out West and she went East. So she’s only been there a few years, but she’s got that city down. I arrived on Friday morning and I got to see her later that afternoon. From then on, it was us in the streets or the subway. The subway system seems so difficult to learn and I felt like I had to be on guard for much of the time. I was surprised to learn that Shwu Huoy often took the subs at night. I guess I’ve seen too many movies about how dangerous the underground trains can be. When you see women with strollers doing this, you start to feel a bit more comfortable with the idea. The intricacies of the labyrinths were truly a monumental feat of engineering. At one point, as I commented on the last post, I saw a huge rat go around the corner. Nobody even flinched.

Central Park was probably the most amazing to me. I’d meet people everywhere and talk to them for a bit, conversing with them like we were life-long friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while. I met a beautiful woman who had shaved her head. You could see through her blonde stubble that she had a map outline of the globe tattooed on her skull. It was gorgeous. I had to ask to check out her head and I HAD to give her a card, cuz I’d love to work with her sometime. I played catch with a couple guys throwing around a football. It was one of those “I had to.” moments for me. All I had to do was signal the guy with the ball that I was wide open for a pass. It the universal signal meaning, Throw the Ball. Of course, I caught everything thrown my way.

Central Park was another staple of New York in which I had a misconception. I didn’t realize how large and expansive it was. I thought it was just a open space surrounded by trees. No…the place is more than 850 square acres. I could have spent my entire time in the one place. We walked the walking/running/biking paths and I came upon a group of women who were trying to get one girl up into a tree for a picture. You know me…never to leave a damsel in distress. So I boosted her up onto the tree limb and helped her down. We proceeded on over to a pond where there must have been a million people in row boats. We watched one couple run into another. That many people really takes the romance out of it, I think. That’s where Shwu Huoy and I stopped to catch up on life and the happenings of our lives.

We were due to meet good ol’ Dave Rudin later that night for dinner. We made our way over to the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan, and had dinner at the Pacific Grill. Our waitress, Irena, who is from Russia was a beautiful girl. She’s with me in the picture. I had a lobster ravioli entree that was delicious. I liked it better than the place we went to the night before, which was an Italian joint, in China Town called Il Piccolo Bufalo, if I remember correctly. Pacific Grill had the view, it was next to the open waters, and it had Irena!

The three of us then took a walk over the the Brooklyn Bridge and we walked to the other side. Now that was an experience as well. Only two thing marred the moment. One was the traffic. There were still a bunch of people walking and biking at night. Second, and most weirdest of all was a scary moment when a guy made a threatening move toward Shwu Huoy. Dave had stopped me for a sec to explain some sights. Shwu Huoy didn’t immediately see that we had stopped and walked another 15 feet past us. I half listened to Dave as he explained the view and watched a somewhat imposing figure of a man approach Shwu Huoy. She never said anything to the guy but he made a threatening move toward her as if he wanted to make her flinch. Granted, I was over there in less than a second but it still unnerved me that the guy had gotten that close to her. I guess my concerns in the subway were warranted after all. The guy just smiled and walked on. He passed us once more later on…said something….and left. I kept my eyes on him the whole time.

We had breakfast at the Tick Tock Diner which was connected to my hotel, the New Yorker. We hung out there for a while with my bags in tow and then we did B&H Photo which I didn’t even realize was just around the corner from where I stayed! The place was HUGE. I know many a photog has walked in that place and come out broke more often than compulsive gamblers do in casinos here. I got to meet Dave’s friend. Dean Lavery, who really knows his stuff and takes some wonderful photographs.

I know there is something I am missing or forgetting to mention but I’ll pick it up in the next post. Oh, I think NASCAR can save a lot of money training their drivers, if they’d just train them in a New York City Cab.