Happy Happy New Year!
I know I haven't been around in a while, but it's not for lack of trying. We have been moving out of our apartment and we're still in the process. Internet has been dodgey. Time has been short. Hands have been full. And in the last few years me and Aaron have grown a bit too big for our britches. We seem to have triple the "work stuff". Our last move was a breeze in comparison. As you grow as an artist it will undoubtedly translate to more tools, materials, etc... Moving our studio is a massive undertaking and setting up from scratch is very hard and very exciting at the same time. The walls kinda started to close in on us in our old place and now we can trim the fat, set up the right way, and try to keep it that way.
And in case you were thinking about trying it...DO NOT attempt to move during the holiday season. Too much is already happening...add a change of address to the mix and you will become one part ticking time bomb, two parts zombie, three parts emotional mess pot. So the past few weeks have been an absolute blur. We had to set our sights on a break...a time out...a pause for applause. We needed to find a way to distract ourselves from our own chaos. We decided that for the very first time in our lives we would brave the crowds and the elements of New Years Eve in Times Square, New York. Even though we have always lived relatively close to NYC we just never were inspired enough to do New Years in Times Square. We'd always watch the ball drop on tv and seeing those millions of people all crammed together in the freezing cold for several hours straight did not look particularly attractive. I panic in crowds, hate the cold, dislike public restrooms, and I'd prefer a cozy night with my sister and brothers and a ton of snacks. But this year I was not in my right mind...heck, nobody was in their right mind this year it seems.
A quick background detail for this story... This move that me and Aar are in the middle of isn't just any ordinary move. We're moving into my parents old house and for the first time in ages we have roommates. My little brothers Jay and Walt. They were both living in Asbury Park with my sister Missy...then my parents moved, and then Missy moved. So since my parent's house was left empty the four of us decided to move in together. And I guess New Years kinda marked the inaugural celebration for our little household. The four of us all went together and it was a first time for every one of us. It was strange for my sis Missy not to be included in the night but she had made prior plans in Brooklyn to attend ---- (prepare to time travel to the 90's)----- a Rave.
Ok, the epic night began around midday. We caught a train at about 2:30 in the afternoon and arrived in NYC at 3 something. You'd think this is an early start for a midnight celebration but when we arrived at New York Penn Station we caught some news footage showing people crowding into Times Square at 9 am! Our train in was standing room only as we got closer to the city and we felt like a herd of cattle as we ascended the stairs out onto the street in front of the train station...instantly blasted by a thousand street vendors selling super loud horns, assorted noise makers, light-up 2012 glasses, giant silly hats....they nearly force you to buy these things. After we fought through them we charged up town the ten blocks to Times Square. As you get closer you'll start seeing more and more Police officers and the barricades they wield...and just when you think you'll make a right turn and get into the thick of things...the cops slide a barricade shut and tell you to head two blocks farther...and then two blocks farther...until finally you are like 9 blocks away from where you want to be. Well not just you...but you and 5 thousand other people are 9 blocks too far.
And since this was our first time doing New Years in NY we sorta surrendered and squeezed into a block long bullpen jam packed with people. Our only view of the center of Times Square would be a giant Toshiba screen about a half block away. We were sandwiched in...making friends with our neighbors...and luckily, it was darn pleasant weather for this time of year...with all those warm bodies around us we actually had to hold our coats at times. We were all set for the long haul to midnight and then Walt loudly announces to us and everyone within earshot: "Ok, only 7 more hours to go!!" We laughed at the absolute absurdity of this. We were so intent on getting ourselves into a good spot, and at this time of year it gets dark at 5 o'clock ...we really hadn't stopped to consider just how EARLY it was. Aaron said...No Way, we are getting out of here...we can go do a million other things for the next five hours and still end up in a spot just as good as the one we were in. So we politely pushed and shoved our way out of there and just as we were about to be free of the bullpen my brother Jay strikes up a conversation with this amazing character named Jo Jo. My brother Jay is famous for talking to strangers...and he always formally introduces himself, inserting his name and a handshake into the smallest casual encounter..."By the way, I'm Jason, whats your name, how are you doing?"... Jo Jo was trying to sell us these very loud horns...and we rebuffed him thoroughly, telling him that there is nothing we are looking to purchase. Finally, Jo Jo digs his wallet out and says he has something that we will absolutely want to buy. He's got exactly 4 extra passes that are stamped and say that we are residents in the exact dead center block of Times Square....he has these passes because he himself lives there and he obviously made photo copies. Jay told Jo Jo "Hey, you seem like a nice guy but I don't believe you for one second that these passes are legit." Jo Jo was a wide eyed, fast talking street hustler but he swore that these passes were the genuine article...and he was willing to walk the ten whole blocks with us and show us first hand how they would get us through the barricades. On a night like this you really have nothing to lose...it's good to just follow the next adventure and see where it leads. Never getting your hopes up...but at the same time tossing your cynicism to the side. After walking ten fast blocks with Jo Jo honking his loud horns in people's faces as he's yelling "3 for 5 bucks!"...and at the same time he's telling Jay his life story and how he came to afford an apartment in the center of Times Square...(something having to do with a disability based on a botched ear surgery)...We get down there and approach the NYPD gatekeepers...Jo Jo leading the way...and oh yeah, we meet an Australian couple - Claire and Nelson...who are in possession of the same exact passes...they can't remember if it was Jo Jo who sold them the passes...and Jo Jo can't recall either. So us, Jo Jo, and the Australians flash our flimsy papers and Holy Cow...they actually work!
At this point we are so very close but we'd like to be even closer...we need to go one more block...but the address on our passes won't get us that one extra block. But still, we are close and we aren't crowded in the least...on this block it's pretty much only residents and phony residents such as ourselves. Jay pays Jo Jo 20 bucks and gives him a tip for walking there with us. Jo Jo now wants to be friends with us and is hoping that we'll all buy some beer at the liquor store and head up to his apartment to pre-game for the next six hours before the ball drops. Jay breaks the bad news to him that we don't drink...(it's great to have a good...and true...excuse for not going up to a wild eyed street hustler's apartment!) Jo Jo considers six hours of us not drinking...and then he considers the giant bag of loud horns he has yet to sell...and he decides that he'd rather try to go make some more money on the street. The Australians were relieved...they seemed a bit freaked out that they were all of the sudden going to be in some strange guy's studio apartment for no reason. If they were anything but Australians they woulda took off ages ago. But ask anyone...Australians "on Holiday" are willing to go anywhere and do anything! They are the best travelers to encounter. Jay kept telling them to speak English...which of course they were...but he was messing with them every time they said "bloke" or something like that. They would then re-say their sentence using an accent that sounded California surferish and replace "bloke" with "dude"...and then we'd say "ok, now I understand you." We would try to speak to them with an Australian accent but we were all terrible at it. It's a hard one to master unless you're saying lines from Crocodile Dundee. Anyway, at some point we got separated from the Aussies....this is how it goes on New Years...characters come in and out of your night.
Now, the question of the century when it comes to New Years in Times Square is "where does everybody pee?" And to be honest...I have no idea! Like, when you are bull-penned in...the cops won't even let you cross the sidewalk to grab a slice of pizza. Guy's from pizza parlors were running out and taking orders at the guard rails. Personally, we were set. We had passes that would get us very close...so we could come and go as we pleased...and we were very close to Port Authority bus station...which is pretty much a shopping mall. With five hours to spare we moseyed to the bus station...used the facilities, sat down and got a bunch of pizza, ate gelato...relaxed for a while. Then we headed back to our good spot.
Once we were at our "good spot" we began to desire a "better spot". There was a barricade that was keeping us from the absolute heart of Times Square. Our passes weren't any good for that hallowed ground. The only people we saw go through were a couple hundred folks in lime green ponchos. Who were they? We read the patch on back of their ponchos: Official Confetti Dispersal Engineers. Yep, these were the people who would be throwing the buckets of confetti from rooftops. After a while the crowd at the barricade stopped begging the cops and we decided to just smoothly walk up and say we had to get through to the next block. Walt was leading the way and when the cop asked to see ID he pulled out his photo ID...which just so happened to not be his license but his military ID. So the cop says to the other cop..."this guys got a military ID, let him through." ...and then Walt tells them that he's got his three siblings with him. Next thing you know...we are dead center...in this wide open space in the middle. It's only us and cops. It's so bright right there and there are millions of people all around...but we were in this big open space. We thought we were totally set. But then one of the cops saw the four fish out of water...really, it was us and a hundred cops...no one else...The cop asks us where we are headed...and we're like "right here"...and then he lets us know that we can "walk through" here but we can't hang out here...it's kept open for emergency vehicles, police, etc... So the rush of being in this front row seat was fleeting.
But now we were confident that we could head a block up and get even closer in a legit section...which we did. We ended up just about in the middle of the two stages. Lady GaGa performing just to our left and CeeLo singing just to our right. We were right at the Times Square Marriot. And at ten minutes to midnight the Marriot security guys decided to open up this barricaded area that got you even closer. And they were psyched to do it...they came running and waved us all through. CeeLo sang Imagine and then came the countdown...and then more confetti than you will see in your life comes raining down from super high rooftops...Sinatra's New York, New York blasting...it's just a spectacle and it brings tears to your eyes simply because it's so big and loud and bright. And no matter how bad your feet hurt from pounding pavement for 7 hours you feel that it's totally worth it. We met people from everywhere...all over the world...people that took 16 hour flights...made reservations a year ago...and we almost felt guilty for only doing this for the first time now after living so close to it all our lives. Well, you have to be willing to deal with some crazy stuff. Not everybody in those teeming crowds is happy to be there. You encounter some real deal jerks who think they can get away with pushing and shoving people out of their way. But you can't get too angry because the overwhelming majority of peeps are in a great mood. The jerks get squashed and humbled quickly. The good spirit is palpable. And man did we get lucky with the weather. It was downright balmy. Most years we watch the TV and you can see icicles on men's beards.
I'd say the worst part was the mass exodus downtown after midnight. We were in the middle of a crosswalk packed together like sardines for more than 30 minutes at one point. We squeezed out of there and dared not to try for the first train home...we instead hit a diner and caught the 2:22 am train back to the Jersey Shore.
Wow, so that's it, and believe me...that is the super duper condensed version. I'm so sorry it took me so long to post but I didn't want to just throw up a photo slide show and one sentence. I needed to give you a bit of the story. New Years in Times Square is definitely bucketlist worthy. Me and Aaron really want to make this year way better than last year...and we know that we can. You really do create your own circumstances in life...we just have to decide that we want to be happy...above all else, happy. And as far as last year...we know that we survived it on the backs of some great people. As we reflect we can see those faces clearly and we couldn't be more thankful.
All of our best to you and yours for a great year to come! xoxo, Jenny...and Aaron