Friday, February 13, 2009


There are parts of New York that are battened down during the day. There's groceries on the corners and boutiques that are artfully covered in grafetti, but there's also rows of caged up windows and abandoned-looking warehouses. These Dodge-City stage sets only look right when the moon and the street lights are shining, and the best, bluesiest buskers have staked their pitch on the subway platforms. Then, even the rotted-out tenements look like bars, because all the bars look like that too.

For all its dandy past and alarmist Daily Mail headlines, London has nothing on New York by night.Even on school nights, the bars don't get busy until pushing midnight. There's no bell for last orders, no need for a quick calculation about whether the rest of the night is going to be worth missing the last tube for.

Last night the opening band that were scheduled to play at nine didn't even show until eleven thirty. So I sat in the gloom, trying to make my bad wine last me, wondering if New York will turn back the tide that has seen me aching for my bed earlier and earlier as the years go by. In Japan we'd stay up and take the first train back to Koshigaya on Saturday mornings, trying to avoid our genki, fresh-faced students who were up at six for extra baseball practice. But then we had the wriggling 4am sashimi at the fish-market to stay awake for.

Here, even when I make like Cinderella, New York still infects my dreams. Lurid Bollywood soap versions of my past and future stay with me in the mornings, making me feel like I have woken up in the wrong reality. And sitting at my desk, trying to write my way out of another dream-muddle, the Wombats' refrain plays again and again in my head. Moving to New York, cos I got problems with my sleep.

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