Tuesday, 8 January 2008

It's a Big Apple

I loved New York so much that i stayed here for 2 weeks doing the tourist thing and looking for different things to do. I went and watched 'Chicago' on Broadway (pic), went to the Statue of Liberty (pic) and learnt about the immigrant process on Ellis Island, bought a harmonica and went for a lesson in uptown Harlem (pic) trying to learn the 'Hoochie Coochie Man', spent New Years in Time Square, played King Kong on top of the Empire State building, ate from all the fast food chains and the healthy food places serving big meals as well as having lunch in the newly renovated 'Seinfeld' cafe. "Hallelujah" and "Praise Jesus...ah!" were being shouted out loud and proud at a Baptist 'gospel' Church also in Harlem on the 1st Holy day of the new year (pic) and preparing myself and doing a bit of organising for South America in a couple of weeks time. I am now addicted to 'Starbucks Grande Mocha Frappacinno's' with whipped cream and a hint of caramel sauce and 'Butterfinger' candy bars.

Spirit Fingers
Going and witnessing what a gospel church is like was one of my goals in America. I set the alarm on Sunday morning and off i went. (I don't think I've ever been excited to go to church before). The service went for 4 hours, where the heavenly sounds of praises to Jesus, clapping and swaying to the melodic tunes got the most committed members shouting out "Amen" and "Praise the Lord..ah" at any random moment. You could definitely not fall asleep here. The Reverend to emphasis his points in the stories he would tell would SHOUT into the microphone with all his MIGHT to the point where you would be sitting back straight and hands on knees! It was a bit hard for me to understand the Reverends speaking and building up their stories into a full blown shouting session as their deep accents were so strong. This was a completely opposite experience to the church service i went to on Christmas Eve at Notre Dame in Paris, but was a lot of fun seeing how the African American worships and spends their Sunday mornings. You certainly walk out of there awake and ready for the day.

"Da na na na na..."

No, I'm not smoking, that's me playing the harmonica! I purchased one in France a while back thinking i could teach myself some blues after listening to an awesome player in a blues bar where he had around 15 harmonicas in his little bag. Well as it turned out, i had no idea how to play the thing. So i decided i needed a lesson and what better place to get a lesson than being in an English speaking country. It took a while to find someone who could teach me, but i found him. Arthur Moskuitz was his name and we 'jammed' (is that the right word) after teaching me the basic notes to "The Hoochie Coochie Man" (that's the song where you can make up your own rhymes in between playing the notes), he showed me how to 'bend' notes and how to hold the thing while playing. It was so much fun. As well as learning, we also chatted for ages about his life growing up and the hardships that he has experienced and living in a predominately black community. I got to see what a typical flat looks like in uptown Harlem and its not much, just 1 tiny room with everything shoved in their. My hair is a tad short due to me shaving off my mohawk as I'm sure the Gospel church wouldn't have let a white guy in with a strange haircut but it's growing back pretty fast.