I start my last full day in Brooklyn with a morning jog to Prospect Park. I felt I needed to offset some of my indulgence over the past few days.
The first leg of my journey was fine. There were even a couple of friendly/jeering shout-outs, as I was wearing my Arsenal jersey. Coming back was a different story.
I thought I mapped out my return leg in my head just fine. I’m going to blame it on moisture seeping from my brain due to the sunlight and 95F degrees (35C) heat. I got lost.
What I thought would be an easy 30-40 minute jog became a 1 hour 50 minute epic. I don’t regret the experience though.
It took me through some neighbourhoods I never would have seen. My hostel was located in a predominantly African-American, Caribbean and Dominican area. Not far north of there I discovered a huge Hasidic Jewish community. And for half a block shortly after, all I could hear on the streets was Spanish.
NYC really is the melting plot and I don’t think I’ve seen the half of it. Maybe 1/10th.
So I’ve found out my hostel is located in a pretty big Caribbean community. And thank god for that.
On my first morning in Brooklyn I wake up at 6am after arriving late the night before. The 26-hour flight left me groggy but surprisingly still on two feet.
I decide to take a stroll, buy the NY Times, some fruit and Jamaican coconut water. It came in a large can for $1.50. Refreshing.
Walking back to the hostel and hoping someone was awake to let me back in, I couldn’t help feeling I hadn’t quite broken my fast.
Behold, in front of my eyes was a chalkboard reading, “$1 Doubles”. What’s a double? I went inside the small takeaway adorning the Trinidad and Tobago flag and asked.
With a thick Caribbean accent she explained it was a spicy chickpea filling between two small pieces of roti flat bread. The filling was tasty and lifted by the fresh green salsa added. The roti was moist and nourishing.
I’ll put some photos up when I buy fifteen more next time.
Producer/Writer/Director/Actor Spike Lee shows us what it’s like on a scorching hot day in the predominantly African-American neighbourhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. AKA Bed-Stuy.
In between the outrageous 80’s Hip-Hop boom-box sequences and the slick radio talk from a young Samuel L Jackson is a heart-wrenching story of racial misunderstanding.
The importance of a diverse community to co-exist is expressed in a passionate tale told from many angles. There are strong links to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
But even if you don’t enjoy movies with a message, there’s still plenty to like. There’s Brooklyn smack-talk, an amazing soundtrack and brilliant performances from John Turturro and Danny Aiello.
I’ve heard Bed-Stuy, do or die, has changed a bit nowadays and is a little more accommodating. Let’s hope there’s still some of the same charismatic personalities in the neighbourhood though … without baseball bats.
In a week I’ll be relocating to upstate New York for six months to study. The first month will be a whirlwind of travel before I even set foot in my college dorm.
Like so much of my life, football will dictate where my travels will take me. The MLS All-Stars vs. Manchester United will keep in the Big Apple for the first week. So I’ll first rest my head at Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Birthplace of Biggie and Jay-Z. It also happens that Aussie radio hosts Hamish and Andy will be taping their new show in BK. Another QUT exchange student and I will be there in the studio.
I’ve then got two and half weeks until NY Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire back in NYC. Conveniently, Toronto’s Festival of Beers will be on to fill in time and give me another destination to aim for. Not a lot could prevent me from sampling many, many beers on a Canadian summer’s day.
Before I return to Manhattan, I’m also stopping off in Montreal and Boston.
Its hard to believe this will all be happening so soon. I still have to complete tasks as mundane as photocopying my passport and deciding which jeans to take. All I can do is hope that I achieve everything I want during my last week at home and prepare for a life-changing experience abroad.