Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Touchdown

I made it to the US.

On the Monday morning, before leaving, I headed out of the unlit misery of Leo's shared bathroom (he lives in a block with suicides, hookers, and party people), and offered him my final thought before heading for the airport. I surveyed my luggage. "I'm telling you now, you have 1 minute to remove any novelty sticks of dynamite or any interesting bags of white powder you've secreted throughout my baggage..."

He laughed. "It's all going to be one big nasty surprise... at the security point."

I gave him my mobile phone. "Ignore any strange women who may ring. Well, actually, don't ignore them if you want to enrich your life with, well, with... stuff..."

I was hit by a whammy at the airport, filling out my visa waiver. I didn't know you needed an address of where you planned to stay. I got on the phones as the clock ticked down and had someone turn up the Pennsylvania Hotel, 401, 7th Avenue in New York.

I made it through the controls, passport stamped for the first time, the right to stay till 5th March 2005 (90 days).

Mr Pig

I sat by my departure gate, grappling with the reality that I was going to the United States. I wanted to tell someone, anyone, so badly where I was going, what I was doing. A guy in a wheelchair, his legs looking demuscled and reset, was pushed in. I smiled at him, he smiled back.

Some more of his family showed up. His son, a man in his thirties, looked straight off like a pig. I wondered if he ever went into a butchers, ignorant of his condition, and asked to buy sausages. I saw myself as a butcher, stood on the other side of the counter.

"I'm sorry, Sir, but I can't condone cannibalism, go get your sausages someplace else, Mr Pig..."

Or maybe he never thought about it. Maybe he looked in the mirror and saw a matinee idol staring back.

Or maybe he'd reconciled himself to life as the Pig-Man... and accepted occasional outbursts of porcine behaviour, rolling naked in mud in a specially constructed sty in the corner of his bedroom, his agonised wife telling the children that "Daddy is very very poorly..."

Oh, the kids, the little darlings. One of them seemed to take an interest. He came over and violently shook the back of my chair. Then he thumped my head. His family appeared mortified. Then his other little brother came over and repeated the shaking. I made a vague joke... "I'm on antibiotics, but it never mentioned being attacked by children as a side effect..."

The Gay World in the Sky Fails to Materialise

It's not clear why, but there are usually a preponderance of gay boys working the skies for the world's airlines. I boarded my Aer Lingus flight to New York pondering what kind of acne-ridden teen sporting highlights and a mohawk I may find lobbing pretzels at me at 37,000 feet.

It's all part of what I am calling The New Gay World in the Sky, a progressive zone, where not only are discounted cosmetics, cigarettes, and alcohol, freely available, but there is also freedom for divergent lifestyle opportunities to be pursued. As I wondered whether a completely gay airline featuring saunas, miniature hockey pitches, and a nightclub, would be financially feasible, I discovered the awful truth - we had an all-woman team on our Airbus, and they all looked conventionally doll-like.

My research would have to wait.

The Bomb

I flipped through the channels on the in-flight entertainment and there was Brazil! There was something hugely rewarding about watching scenes of bomb explosions while reclining on a transatlantic flight.

I guess the ultimate in-flight movie for non-US citizens bound for America would be a CGI-extravaganza starring a hero with your own face (perhaps slightly Arabized), cunningly texutre-mapped from the mugshot entered into the Big Database of Potential Enemies that you are forced to join on the lower floor of Dublin Airport.

The movie documents in agonising detail your own arrest and torture for plotting a terrorist atrocity . You'd be strapped down and forced to watch it while wearing an orange jumpsuit and a parachute, the understanding being that "ain't no problem to take a detour and drop your un-American ass off at Camp X-ray..."

Working title -> Operation Perpetual Triumph: How the USA destroys its Enemies (starring Your Own Sorry Ass)

The Plain Girl from the Mountains

I was trying to think of nothing at all, but the girl sat along from me kept catching my eye. She asked me if I'd like to sit nearer and eventually I relented. I bought myself two gin and tonics, then thought to offer her one. Then we had two more. Her name was Emily, and she was from North Carolina, she'd been off in Ireland and various parts of Europe, working and exploring. She had with her a journal that she'd recorded details of her trip in, closely written in different coloured inks (today's entry, compiled during the flight, was in racing green). She'd also pasted in airline tickets, tourist handouts, etc at the relevant points.

I found it hard to be impressed by such activity.

Emily explained that the journal was completely sanitised, so that her parents could read it without questioning the wisdom of letting her explore Europe, and she would carry the full levels of debauchery encountered as a series of beautiful and not-so-beautiful memories. Most of these wild times seemed to revolve around that dangerous chemical substance that is better known by its trade name, Guinness.

I pondered what a truthful entry in Emily's journall might consist of.

"Woke up at 3 p.m., covered in vomit. My hands were shaking uncontrollably as I searched in vain for my clothes. Being Galway, a laidback place where every person is a friend, I dispensed with worrying about my apparel and began the naked 3 mile hike back to my decrepit living quarters.

On the way I was greeted by smiling and joyful faces. A group of burly men carried me in to a barn, laughing and singing songs, before I was covered with a succession of broad backs, while other members of the party busied themselves with the recruitment of several barrels of Guinness, the better for us to enjoy the occasion. After an afternoon of uncomplicated yet joyouous rutting, I was gratefully placed inside an empty barrel and, with a lusty kick, sent rolling home. It was the usual low-key, midweek, way of things here..."

Emily was sad to be returning to the US, while I was becoming more and more excited. We mulled over the contrasting feelings and then I moved away to watch the last half of a Tom Cruise film without bothering with the sound. It involved Tom Cruise sitting in a taxi and occasionally jumping out because of crashes or the need to shoot people. He did this while the black taxi driver pulled scared faces. That this experience still failed to help me fall asleep I take as conclusive proof that I will never sleep on an aircraft.

New York

We arrived at JFK airport. I saw my first dressed-up Jewish people at baggage reclaim, long beards, black suits, black hats. I saw my first Big Fat American walk past. I looked in vain for my first Cute as Hell and Wearing Next to Nothing Teen-Tease American, but there seemed to be a shortage. Maybe all the Teen-Tease Americans were on strike...

I rode a train out to a place called Federal Circle: Station C and encountered here the raw materials for a paranoid work of art called Phonecall to the Ramada Hotel.

It basically goes like this, after the style of Samuel Beckett.

-> Materials Required ->

One exhausted traveler with Heavy Luggage
A row of complementary phones and a bus stop, separated by 50 yards of rain-soaked sidewalk
Wind and rain
A hotel receptionist
A shuttle bus with driver

Phonecall to the Ramada Hotel by Jason Kennedy

X enters stage right.
He is walking slowly, his body language indicates an advanced state of exhaustion. He approaches a row of complementary phones.
He fumbles in his pocket for a scrap of paper.
He dials 70 for the Ramada Hotel.

Receptionist [always cheerful, never able to recall any previous conversations with X]

"Hello, Ramada Hotel, how may I help you?"
"Hi there, I have a reservation... I'm at station C, Federal Circle..."
"Okay, we'll send the shuttle bus right over to collect you... if you would make your way outside to the collection point."

X pulls his heavy luggage along 50 yards of sidewalk to the collection point. It is raining, the wind is cold. As he approaches the collection point, a bus with "Ramada Hotel" on its side pulls away.

X waits in the cold and rain for 15 minutes.

X decides to return to the complementary phones, dragging his heavy luggage.

"Hell, Ramada Hotel, how may I help you?"
"Hi there, I called earlier... I am at Station C..."
"Okay, we'll send the shuttle bus right over to collect you... if you would make your way outside to the collection point."
"I did that, the bus pulled away as I approached..."
"I will speak to the driver..."

X retraces his steps to the collection point. As he approaches the collection point, a bus with "Ramada Hotel" on its side pulls away.

[Repeat this sequence until death intercedes]

The End

Finally, another person arrived who required the Ramada hotel. The spell was broken and the Ramada shuttle bus immediately appeared. I appreciated the design of the bus, noting the fact that the driver's spot was much more tucked in than in a British bus. I figured this was to make it harder for ultraviolent Americans to stab and shoot him as he discharged his duties.

"Look, I'm doing so much for you, my brother..."

The next morning I set out for the airport again. I wasn't prepared for the Shuttle Bus drama to be replayed, so I requested a cab.

A sneaky, evil-looking man was produced, and he expressed an earnest desire to complete the Incredibly Complex Task of securing me a cab.

He took out a cellphone and made some calls.
He took some paper out of his pocket and wrote something down.
He went outside and smoked a cigarette.
He made some more calls.
He laughed and joked with some hotel porters.
He disappeared.
He reappeared.
He smoked another cigarette.
He waved his arms while he talked on his cellphone.
He did all this while looking sneaky and evil.

After about 15 minutes, he returned.
"Your cab be here soon, soon, few minutes..."

I waited outside in the cold and rain.

My cab arrived. The sneaky and evil man came over.
"Here is your cab..."
As I went to move, the sneaky and evil man made a move across me, his palm discreetly out, waiting for me to reward him for his heroic endeavours. I gave him five dollars, anything to get rid of this guy. He looked at the money and gave me a sneaky, evil, smile. His eyes glazed over, like he'd just had an orgasm (maybe he had), and then he dematerialised.

I left for the airport.

6 Comments:

Blogger gymnut said...

What!!!!!!
don't do that, im excited for my ol' mate, first full on adventure and then in the middle of your blog you cut me off. You better finish the latest entry. Please please dont leave it as a title, i want your views on the big apple, etc.
Well enjoy.

Simon

6:45 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

Sorry!

I also had a disaster and my laptop seems done for, so there has been a slight delay.

Extreme Unction now resuming usual service.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Claypot said...

I wonder if the 'contd' will include an inability to work the payphones. I had that problem, and I'm not stupid (honest). The card phones spat out all my credit cards at me, the coin ones refused to take any money and some woman kept repeating over and over again 'which number please?' I mean, I knew the number, what I needed to know was why ever phone in NYC was fucked. But perhaps you will tell a different story.

3:57 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

Yup, my phone problem was of a more existential nature, trapped on a rainy bit of sidewalk, trudging backwards and forwards for no discernible reason for 30 minutes, repeating the same pathetic pleas and receiving the same unfulfilled promises.

I should've called it Waiting for Bozo.

3:30 PM  
Blogger KarbonKountyMoos said...

Well, well, welcome to New York!

3:35 PM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

Oh, thank you, bless you.

if you ever stay at the Ramada, be sure to say a big hello to Mario, the hotel receptionist with the strangest hair in America (well, the strangest i've seen in my entire life...)

9:13 PM  

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