Ignite Wellington

Last night we went to the second Ignite Wellington event – the first being the night before we left Wellington for New York back in March.

The aim of the evening is to get people enthusiastic about Wellington and about possibilities – people get up on stage and speak for exactly 5 minutes to exactly 20 slides. No matter their profession, their talk can be about that or some experience they’ve had or some random interest they have.

Last night’s event was great, and I rate it better than the first. People spoke about everything from starting their own company to selling real estate on the moon to outdoor graffiti knitting to wallpaper to game design. You can see the full list of speakers on the Ignite Wellington website plus a video of each talk.

In the talk about graffiti knitting there was a slide of the tree cozies and you can see the one I knitted!

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I wrote down one thing from each speech – not necessarily something that sums up the presentation, but just something I liked or remembered.

  • Tell your kids that Santa’s not real before it’s too late.
  • Wellington has a leisure culture.
  • Wellington has some ugly public spaces.
  • Luck is an important factor between success and failure.
  • Do something to stimulate your grey matter.
  • I never want to finish the boat or I’ll have to find another expensive dream.
  • I skate through life on a thin veneer of knowledge.
  • If you’ve got a round logo then we’re working with you.
  • Wallpaper is for every day, it’s not saved for best like the good dinner set.
  • I’ve made a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.
  • Intellectual property is not just an idea, it has to have a place in the real world.
  • Moon, Mars and Venus are the most popular locations for extra-terrestrial real estate.
  • Our lives are lived in boxes and we experiment and play to learn the limits.

The next Ignite Wellington will be in another 6 months or so, open to anyone to speak or attend so go along for some thought provoking stuff.

4th of July weekend

So America has celebrated its birthday weekend in true American style – everyone is so proud to be American and everywhere we looked over the weekend there were American flags and people wearing t-shirts with flags on them.

The Rockefeller Centre had swapped its flags of the world for all American ones.

4th of July weekend

The 4th of July fireworks were a much anticipated even for us and we decided to splash out and get one of the 3000 tickets for a seat on the flight deck of the intrepid (retired aircraft carrier now a museum on the Hudson River). We’d seen the ship before when we went on the Circle Line tour with Mother and Father and it was cool to finally get on it. We had to join the world’s longest, sweatiest line to pick up our prepaid tickets but once we got into the cordoned off area we felt quite the hoi-poloi seeing the crowds of people along the closed off WestSide Highway.

4th of July fireworks

Up on the ship we found a great posi behind the seating where we could stand and see the crowds on the massive cruise ship docked alongside, the water cannons from the tug boats and of course the fireworks off 6 barges along the Hudson River.

4th of July fireworks 4th of July fireworks

The fireworks were really great – I reckon from each barge they didn’t do anything more spectacular or larger than the Wellington fireworks display but with it being from 6 barges, perfectly choreographed and lasting about 30 minutes it was rather impressive. They were set to uplifting orchestral music, the last piece being the American National Anthem at which point everyone leapt to their feet and there was no chattering – just the booming of the fireworks and fighter jets doing fly-by. Very patriotic.

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Here’s a 40-second snippet on video.

The walk back in to 42nd Street was hard work – the night was extremely muggy and 33 degrees, even at 10pm and a million people (literally) were all heading towards the subway.

Summer evening Yankees game

FINALLY we got to go to a Yankees game when it wasn’t rained out or wasn’t raining and finished early. We went to the Friday night game that started the second Subway Series (between the 2 New York teams) and it was totally different to the last game we went to.

We were up one level this time looking straight down to the game and quite near the ‘cheap seats’ where the fans have matching ‘bleacher screechers’ t-shirts, chant, sing, heckle the opposition, get sun burned, fight and drink a lot.

It was stinking hot when we arrived with the setting sun blasting straight at our seats but once it set it was a gorgeous evening. The Mister had sliders again but he got me a slice of good old New York cheeeeese pizza and it was delicious, followed up by ice cream in a little plastic bowl in the shape of a Yankees cap.

Friday night Subway Series Friday night Subway Series

It’s still amazing to me the extent fans go to, and when there’s 49,200 of them in a 55,000-seat stadium it’s truly awesome to see most of them decked out in Yankees gear. There were a few Mets fans in the crowd, a couple in our row and some further up including some that started a fight when the Mets scored and started goading the Yankees fans – there was blood and cops and hand cuffs!

Another great night but such a shame the Yankees lost. And thank god there were none of those FIFA world cup vuvuzelas drowning everything out – so good to hear the crowd cheering and oooo’ing and ahhhh’ing and calling out to the players to get them to give the crowd a wave.

Friday night Subway Series

Big BBQ

Went along to the annual Madison Square BBQ block party last Saturday. Not that I was going to hoe into plates of BBQ ribs but as it’s kind of our local park and an annual event we wanted to at least have a look. Plus we’d seen in promotional material that 50,000 people attended and we wondered how they would fit into the park … and where would all the little dogs go?

There were some streets closed around the park and everywhere there were lines of people waiting to get ribs, pulled pork sandwiches (The Mister), brisket, and blueberry crisp (me) and people sitting or standing and eating everywhere!

Madison Square BBQ block party

But again as we’ve seen in this town, crowds don’t phase anyone:

  • there were stacks of portaloos and hand-washing/sterilizing stations
  • there were loads of bins and recycling stations and someone clearing them constantly
  • each food or drinks tent just did ONE thing, cash only, clear signs up and people didn’t muck around – just ordered what they wanted, paid, and left. The Mister’s pulled pork sandwich line stretched almost a block then bent back a couple of times yet he only waited about 30 minutes

Madison Square BBQ block party

  • even though the food was mass-produced it was good and homemade and fresh – giant trucks ferried food in and parked in the closed streets ready to bring more as needed. My blueberry crisp and ice-cream could’ve come straight out of a suburban kitchen

Madison Square BBQ block party

  • all the food tents had packets of napkins, utensils and those foil pouches of wet soap/sterilizing cloths – what a great idea – just the thing for sticky BBQ food eaten with hands
  • all the tents had a coloured flag flying off them and a corresponding flag of the same colour being held by a guy to mark the end of the line – with lines snaking for miles and criss-crossing over each other it was a really obvious way to know where to stand with out going to the tent and tracking back down the line.

Madison Square BBQ block party

Topp Twins

Had a lovely unexpected evening out on Thursday at the premiere of the Topp Twins movie Untouchable Girls at the LGBT Film Festival in Chelsea. We realised we’d been completely remiss in contacting our Chrysler photographer friend Brian since being here, and when we finally made contact he invited us as his company’s guests to the film. Turned out he was the twins’ manager for a few years back in the 80′s and his company had been the independent financial backer on the film. We also didn’t realise the Topp Twins would actually be there!

There weren’t many New Zealand accents in the crowd, but they were certainly distinctive. We had an entire row of the theatre for Brian and about a dozen guests – we felt quite honoured! The twins came out to do a waiata before the film which was beautiful – they really do sing as one voice and a waiata is usually fairly beautiful anyway. The film was great! A mix of their lives growing up, their political stance in New Zealand in the 80′s, their being openly gay and Jools’ breast cancer.  We laughed, sang, cried and cringed (just a little) at some of the small town New Zealand footage – kids riding sheep at A&P shows and the twins busking on Queen Street – I wondered what end of the earth New Yorkers would think New Zealand was at!

The film received a standing ovation and during the question and answer session after the film there were a couple of questions about how they managed to have the lives they have in New Zealand, how the country accepted them and held them up as heroes and national icons ‘despite’ being gay – the American crowd were very much in awe of the acceptance. We felt quite proud to be Kiwis!

They tried to teach the crowd to yodel then Linda showed us how it was done! (See the video on my Flickr site.)

So I was feeling quite star struck by the end of the film – silly really because I’m sure I saw the twins live at some point, but when I got out and saw the throngs of people crowding around waving CDs and t-shirts and post cards to be signed I just had to get in there. They were lovely! Took a few minutes to chat about what we were doing in New York and pose for a picture. Their film t-shirt is black with an orange print on it but by the time I decided I just HAD to have one there were none left that would fit me … fingers crossed for another print run.

Us & the Topp Twins

It was great to see the film – we missed seeing it in New Zealand as it was constantly sold out! Days later and I’m still singing Untouchable Girls (well the that phrase at least).

Museum Mile Festival

There are so many street festivals on in New York during spring, where entire sections of large avenues are closed to traffic, and street vendors selling food, crafts and souvenirs set up shop. Tuesday evening this week was the annual closing of 5th Avenue so 9 museums could fling their doors open for free. We thought we’d head along to two we hadn’t been to before, the Guggenheim and the Museum of the City of New York.

The line to get into the Guggenheim was incredible, we got there about 10 minutes before the free entry started and the line went from 5th Avenue, all the way down 89th Street to Lexington Avenue and then around the corner and on up Lexington Avenue – we joined it by the time it had almost reached 90th Street and I reckon in snaked around there as well. It was just like those movies you see where people line up around the block, this was literally! However when the doors opened it only took 10 or so minutes for everyone to shuffle in.

The museum is not that large and has an eclectic collection of well placed pieces, some art work hanging traditionally, some art ‘installations’ and a few exhibitions involving film or lights and shadows. The museum itself is pretty incredible inside, a lightly campered continuously declining circular ramp leaving you quite dizzy even after walking slowly from top to bottom!

Guggenheim

The Museum of the City of New York was also small and quite interesting – lots of old clippings and pictures from early mayors, transport systems and city newspapers/magazines.

It was really amazing to see hundreds of people who didn’t seem to be the regular museum set lining up to go – a lot of locals and their families, rather than tourists and scream school tours.

It was such a gorgeous spring night that we decided not to fight the crowds at one of the larger museums and instead chose to walk through the entire park (as we’ve done once before) – it wasn’t quite dark and we entered 3/4 of the way up at about 95th Street. Everyone was out running after work and the park was bathed in setting sun – it was really gorgeous, especially the reservoir.

Central Park

We finished the evening with a late dinner/supper outside at Morrell’s.

New Moon: alternate script

Laughed and laughed and laughed like no Twilight groupie should at a screening of New Moon at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on Sunday night. It was shown on a screen out the back of the club, attended by a mix of people wanting to see a comedy show and some true die-hard Twilight fans in their Twilight t-shirts – the difference being the alternate script via voice-over from comedians The Raspberry Brothers.

I wrote a bit about it on the Xero blog so please read that to save me re-typing everything here!

Letter from New York – records & film night

NYC 140 Character Conference

Living here means I get to attend at the last minute amazing conferences that just wouldn’t be run or have the attendance in New Zealand, although this conference was very like one of a series of Ignite conferences we went to at the Paramount the night before we left Wellington to come here.

So for 2 days in late April I attended the NYC 140Conf - a conference about social media – aptly named 140 Characters (that’s how many characters are available to you in a tweet) where 140 people spoke for 10 minutes only, or took part in a 15 minute panel, over 2 days. A very engaging format – sure some people were a bit boring and by the end of it we were starting to hear the same things again and again – but still a very cool way of presenting a conference.

Continue reading →

Go Yankees!

Finally got to a game of baseball last night. The first Friday night game of the season at Yankee Stadium. It’s all The Mister has ever wanted to do on a visit to New York but the seasons have never been right and then there was that fateful day last year when we were here in June and non stop torrential rain cancelled the game and we weren’t here long enough to use the tickets for another game.

Yesterday wasn’t much better! It was very gloomy all day and a bit drizzly going into the evening but the game was still on. We rode the subway out to the game, and no need for subway legs on that ride – the train must’ve have 20,000 people in it and we were like grains of Aborio rice in those vacuum packed bags before you break the seal. Absolutely solid people.

The stadium was huge. Everyone was wearing Yankees gear, it was crazy exciting and very exhilarating for The Mister. Obviously I had no idea what was going on and was more feeling the buzz of The Mister being there at last, than the game.

Our seats were pretty good – 5 or 6 rows from the field and even though the stadium holds 55,000 people it seems pretty small and closed in so we had a great view and could see quite well. The levels of seats were stacked quite high so when we go again I think we’ll definitely pick the lower level even though I was paranoid the whole time that a ball was going to land on me!

Our seats

It drizzled for a while and I proudly wore my Yankees poncho and kept pretty dry.

Poncho

The poncho did make it quite difficult for me to leap to my feet and shout (not that I really knew what to shout about) and high-5 The Mister – yes, for all those who’ve seen me refuse to do it and complain that it would hurt, I had high-5 lessons from a colleague for 6 weeks before we left and steadfastly refused to do it until we got to the game and surprised The Mister by reciprocating … although luckily it was so cold I was wearing my gloves so it didn’t hurt … even though I know how to do it now, it DOES hurt!

The Mister went and got sliders for dinner (which we think a little burgers) – they were pretty tasty actually.

Dinner's ready

Then half way through the game it poured down, and didn’t stop, so they called it quits – all these matching men ran out and in perfectly co-ordinated sequence unrolled a cover and spread it over the pitch and bases.

And MORE rain

Such a shame but we were in reasonable spirits because we didn’t get too wet. Despite the price of the tickets I think I’d like to go again. It was a very wet steamy ride back into the city on the subway!

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