Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New York...a summary

Ok ok, sorry about the and work happened!

I can truly say that New York was one of the best experiences of my life.

Not only is the city so great but fact that I used my own money to get there and got to spend the time with the love of my life made it perfect. It was purely my time and we did things we wanted to do when we wanted to do them!

The city of course was awesome! If there was ever a contest for the capital of the planet New York would probably win- I know I am being all gushy but I can now see how people in the US just don't have passports and don't know where places like France are...they simply don't need to leave their country!

To be fair, New York is extremely different to, say, middle America for the simple reason that its a coastal city with an enormous influx of legal and illegal immigrants from places other than Mexico and a vibrant reading culture to boot (I mention the reading culture because they have have an excellent selection of media in NY).

In terms of what we actually did: On the first full day in NY we went to the Empire State building and there discovered the City Pass which gets you into most of the main attractions for half price. This we promptly bought and it became our what-to-see-next guide for the next week.

Here is a list of most of the places we went to while in the city: Ground Zero, The Chinatown flea market, Grand Central terminal, The Rockefeller Centre, The Natural History Museum, The Met, The Guggenheim, Central Park, The Empire State Building, 2 Broadway shows- The Phantom of the Opera and Chicago, Columbus Circle shopping centre, The 24-hour Apple shop, Hell's Kitchen, The New York Central Library, Times Square, lots of bookshops, a Radio Shack and we took the Full Circle Tour of Manhattan by boat.

I have never walked so far in my life but it was worth it! ;-)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Chapter 2- NY Day 1

I gained time when I flew over the Atlantic.

When I landed at JFK airport it was 10 in the morning (after having left Paris at 8 in the morning) and as I shuffled through passport control I was immediately gripped by a profound sense of uncertainty- here I was in a strange land in a strange airport and needing to meet the love of my life without the foggiest of which terminal she will be landing at or what her flight number was....this snafu was entirely my fault as I had somehow misplaced her flight details.

Now, if anyone was to ask me to choose any airport I would like to fly into it would have to be JFK- I mean, JFK is an airport folks! 7 terminals, each as big as a shopping mall, and a sky-train which would put the Gautrain to shame (or at least it will when the Gautrain is actually built). Impressive as all of this is, it doesn't help me one jot in finding Jen.

My first order of business was to get a new sim card to use in the US...After journeying to terminal 3 looking for somewhere to buy such an item I was told by an airport employee that I might be able to find something in terminal 4.

After walking the whole way up and down the terminal I finally found an electronics shop and got myself a sim card for the princely sum of $ didn't work for reasons I still don't know!

To say I panicked at this point is frankly an understatement. How the fuck was I going to find Jen??? The answer was right in front of me: payphones. My dad was luckily in the US at the time and I managed to get through to him on his American number.

All-in-all it worked out in the end. Jen's flight from Atlanta had been delayed and she ended up landing at terminal 2...which is where I found her at.

We found each other, found our luggage, found a tax and were on the way to Manhattan in no time.

The rest of day 1 was a blur- I had slept 4 hours in the last 20 and vaguely remember shopping for various essentials, checking in at the hostel, climbing the 4 flights of stairs to our room and then heavenly sleep...oh and eating my first meal on American soil: a jumbo slice of peperoni pizza- it was delicious.

until next time!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Chapter 1 Part 2- Joburg to Paris

Welcome back, good to see you! ;-)

So there I was, cramped and suffering on a Delta Airlines (operated by Air Fance) flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle (or however you spell his name) airport, I was more than looking forward to getting on my connecting flight and getting on my way to NY!

We land on time at Paris and we all dismebark into surprising crisp morning air. I glance at a map of the airport as I exit the jetway- its huge and I am in Terminal 2E....I need to get to terminal 2F which seems just a short walk away, easy peasy...NOT SO.

We are herded to a bus stop, no air trains here, we have to take a bus to our terminal...ok, I think how bad can this be! Well, it was Sunday so I think we got the C team of the airport staff- a crazy middle-aged French women was driving our bus and screamed at us everytime we came to a terminal in rapid-fire French. The map seemed so simple i thought as we veered left and right through the back roads of the airport, dodging luggage buggys and various pieces of discarded equipment- if the plane journey was hell, Paris airport was purgatory.

When we finally got to the terminal (I had been standing on a swerving bus for the better part of 20 minutes-lord knows how people with only a few minutes to spare manage to get to their connecting flights!) We had to take an elevator to the third floor, then walk through a maze of corridors, up stairs, down stairs, up escalators and across travelators- it struck me that whoever designed this airport probably never actually walked through it....

When i finally made it to the main departure hall I thought I had was only half-way. The main arrivals hall at Charles de Gaulle is the biggest load of wank I have ever seen. It is an empty, austere place with wooden floors and a wooden ceiling of some synthetic looking wood that towers about 5 stories above funtionality whatsoever.

Then we get to the security, bear in mind that I havent been outside of the controlled area, been screamed at by a mad French bus driver, walked 6 kilometres but actually only covered about 200 metres as the crow flies and now some French guy asks me in broken english to remove my shoes!!!!!!


I was pissed off....

Another 3 kilometres i make it to the departure gate with an hour to spare....but without any Euros I couldnt buy anything so I just sat there and waited for my flight to leave.

The flight to NY was a daylight was uneventful except for the fact we were delayed because of technical difficulties....this is always a scary thing to hear and I looked out of my window to see a gaggle of ground staff staring at out starboard engine....not good, I just fell asleep again, at least I had the seat next to me free!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The trip to New York Chapter 1 Part 1

Ok, I have decided to post all of these together or when I have time, after the fact over the next few weeks as i didnt have time last week to actually sit down and do this stuff.

Chapter 1- getting there.

I am posting this part of my trip as it was...interesting to say the least, at least for me (and besides I have some things to say about it so hey...)

Ok, so I fly from PE to Joburg which was fine....

get my luggage in Joburg and trek the 3kms through the parking garage to the International terminal...what a load of bollocks that was. When i get to the international terminal I am met with a seething mass of humanity (some of them literally seething)... there must have been at least 2000 people and their families crammed into that check-in hall. My check-in desk was number 60 something and after jostling down there I was promptly given a window seat...which i didnt realise at the time- this was the affect my trip profoundly for the next 20 hours.

So I say my goodbyes to everyone over the phone and trek 3 minutes to the departure gate...the seething mass has transplanted itself into that austere space now and we are made to stand in the line for what seemed like eternity- my feet are already sore.

Finally I get on the is full but the two seats next to me are empty ("awesome" i think) and I begin budgeting which parts of my body to place on this new found space....they close the doors and start preparing for take-off- I am elated as I think that I am in for a good, roomy flight but just as we are about to push back from the terminal two (old) smelly British people arrive and plonk themselves next to me....

The didnt get up the entire flight....not once, I was trapped.

Tune in later for the second leg of my journey..

SL has a new Editor!!!!!!!

Ok, I know this is a week late and that I haven't blogged in AGES!! AGAIN!

I saw that SL has a new editor and, because her editorial was, to be frank, disgustingly short and left certain key questions unanswered I have decided to post an open letter to her on here which I have sent off to her as well- Stay tuned for a response, if I get any.

Dear Louise

I know this is a bit late but congratulations on your appointment as the new editor of SL.

I have been reading the mag on and off for about the last 7 years and I have watched it grow, morph and, in my mind, degenerate.

When I heard that SL was getting a new editor I was thought "excellent, maybe now we are going to finally see a revamp of the magazine!" So I trundled over to the local news agent and bought myself your first was, disappointingly, the same as always but I was willing to let that slide. I mean, after all, it was your first edition and hey, since magazines usually work a month in advance (or should) it was probably a hangover from the Dixon administration.

Now, if you are still reading, maybe its because I am studying Journalism that I my comments may be seen to be over-critical but as they say in the classics "wait there is more more!"

I know that the nature of magazines is that they are aspirational- ie: Their content is aimed at a target audience but that audience does not see themselves in the magazine, rather the content is about successful, beautiful people a few years older than the reader.

This is all well and good if you take into account that a lot of high school learners read the mag- I mean, there were still students in the vox pops for example and these learners were all aspiring to go to varsity one day etc and be just like those Wits and UJ students/models you always seem to have in there.

But lately this has changed...

All of a sudden we don't have current students but ones who have graduated. Ones with jobs, ones who haven't been students for years ie: people who I can hardly relate to (I plan on studying for a while longer after my honours) and I am sure high school learners cant at all!

I never knew the "underground", counter-culture, out-of-the-mainstream versions of SL- those were a bit before my time. That ethos of being different from all the other consumerist magazines on the market has been lost to the bottom line of the balance sheet now, such is life I suppose.

I suppose my question to you is really "who are you and why are you here" seeing as you didn't answer any of those questions in your first editorial! What do you intend to do with the position you have been placed in? Will the magazine stay the same? Become worse (more consumerist) or better (more about students).

Having said this, I suppose that students are consumers and that you are catering to that gap in the market....if you read SL with this in mind it does that rather well.

But can it hurt to see vox pops from "normal" students at varsities other than UJ and Wits?
Can it hurt to have campus reporters at each varsity writing about....well...student life?

Is it a crime to want to be able to "see myself" in the content SL churns out? The theory that this kind of interaction with media is only reserved for community newspapers is bollocks in my mind.

A balance needs to be struck between the consumerist (money making side) of SL and giving what the audience, which ostentatiously is made up of students, not only content they WANT but also content they NEED! I understand that you need to make money in order to put this mag out but don't forget, you also need an audience to read the thing...don't forget them!

I hope you appreciate the responsibility of what being an editor means and that you can stand up to your publisher if you want to change anything about the magazine.

I will be watching.

Good luck and kind regards.

Peter Barlow