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 Back to NYC 

Submitted by Carlo Becker on Fri, 04/18/2014 - 23:16

This past weekend, we did a trip to New York in order to present our Access Analyses for this semester’s GLC project at the German Center for Research and Innovation in Manhattan.

    I was in the group that left Athens on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. in a van. Seven seats, eight people. You do the math. And of course, I got picked up last, so guess who had to sit on the floor first! The vehicle’s middle row had only two seats with an aisle in between to access the last row. This is where I sat for the first two or three hours, leaned backwards against the center console, and supported by a blanket and pillow. And it wasn’t even as bad as you would expect. Still I was glad when it was Julia’s and then Mitch’s turn later on.

     The trip went well and without any complications, and I think it took us a bit more than eight hours to get to the hotel. Since the GLC ain’t run by millionaires, they had booked the Ramada in Jersey City just on the other side of the Hudson River. It was located in a pretty run down area and was itself…—well, let’s say it was better than the neighborhood. We settled in and then took the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) subway to Manhattan, got off at 33rd and 7th, I think, and split into those who ate at a Thai restaurant and the rest—Michael, Mitch, and me, who grabbed an awesome burger at some deli. Then Julia joined us and we walked the High Line, an old elevated rail track in the Chelsea area that has been turned into a kind of elevated park and walking path. Nice. Afterwards, the group reunited and we went to Times Square which simply gives you a new understanding of postmodernism and hyperreality. Not exactly the most beautiful place in town. But worth seeing once in your life. Back home.

     The next day, I took the PATH to Manhattan, got off at Christopher Street and walked to the Strand Bookstore which is a bit northeast of Greenwich Village. If you have only the most remote interest in books and ever have the chance to visit the Strand, do it! Bring a couple of hours, though. And someone who tells you not to buy 15 books. It's huge. Hundreds of thousands of books. I was very strong, bought only one new and two used books. I spent the rest of the afternoon in Washington Square Park among hundreds of people where I saw Tic & Tac (awesome breakdance/stand-up duo backed by two other guys and a small kid; the link directs you to a short documentary about them, you can see them perform right In WSP where I saw them. If you don’t have much time, just watch the ‘human helicopter’ at 8:40. Oh, and be warned, they’re not exactly p.c.!). I also watched and listened to three great jazz bands in different places of the park before I once more visited the Caffe Reggio on MacDougal Street where I already had a coffee in January, this time reading a bit into Proust (Swann’s Way) instead of Kerouac. Then back home where all of us met—and as a surprise, Professor Garrett was there as well!—in order to go to an Indian restaurant for dinner. Apparently, it’s pretty common that restaurants that do not have a concession for selling alcohol (which costs them money) allow you to bring your own beer, wine, or whatever. This was the first time I ever had a can of beer in a restaurant. The food was great, too. Didn’t catch a lot of sleep that night. One of my group members for next day’s presentation had caught the flu a day or two before, and he didn’t feel better now; the air inside our room was stale, the temperature high, and the loudly humming air conditioner in the living room didn’t quite reach the bedroom. So he and I went out at around 2 a.m., got him some soup and a thermometer and headed back home. And I wasn’t even tired; I worked on a blog post and read some more Proust. Might have fallen asleep around 4 or so.

     The next morning, we went back to Manhattan close to the German House (not far from the United Nations) where we would present in a few hours. Grabbed a coffee and a sandwich and went through our presentation again. Then off to the German Center for Research and Innovation where we eventually—after some waiting and taking group photos—rode the elevator to the 22. floor (which took less time than to get to the 5. floor of the GWZ) and learned a bit of what the GCRI does and how it works. Then all of us gave our presentations except for another guy who had apparently also caught the flu and wasn’t able to present. All presentations went well, I think. That's what they told us, at least.

     The van group was all back together and ready to leave Jersey City at around 7 p.m. This time, I was the last one (of the three of us who were willing to take one for the team) to sit on the floor. The first couple of hours I read, but after nightfall and lights off, I listened to some music, rediscovering old gems like James Vincent McMorrow and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (Check out these songs! You’ll have a hard time thinking of any more beautiful songs that you’ve heard in the last months!). Back home in Athens after 4 in the morning.

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