From the moment I turned on the TV in our apartment I felt the wave of familiarity return. The box blares with news about politics, cops killing people, the Playoffs of Ice Hockey and Basketball and as has happened every year we have been, a notorious murder trial; this time the gripping Etan Patz murder case.
Back in Sydney I had not watched TV for 9 months, partly due to work and partly due to the fact I had enough of the toxic crap it fed out. But here I allow myself to indulge in some mindless escape from reality. With a day job in health my interest is peaked and my dark sense of humour treated to the medical and drug commercials.
“Have you suffered from Exploding Head Syndrome? Exploding Head Syndrome, or EHS, is a confirmed medical condition. But with the right treatment, it can be controlled.” Surely I did not hear that right?
Ten minutes pass. “Do you feel your life is ruined by excessive heartburn? Fire-ease is the answer.” Cue pictures of healthy guys running on the beach.
“Side-effects may include dizziness, depression, diarrhoea, migraines, vomiting, swelling of the hands, legs and feet, suicidal thoughts or actions….Do not take if you suffer from colds, flu, asthma, are young, elderly or you are pregnant.” All of this is being read over a background soundtrack of Pharrell Williams’ hit “Happy”.
Once I could tear myself away from this entertainment we were heading to Madison Square Garden on our second day to watch the New York Knicks against the Detroit Pistons.
Little did we know the Knicks were bottom of the ladder; this was the last game of the regular season and they had lost almost 70 games. Once the game started we could see why based on their lethargic and comical attempts at lay-ups and rebounds.
However the countless Time-Outs, Quarter Breaks and Half-Time show made up for this in abundance. Firstly one of the competitions involved a slightly overweight, lifetime Knicks fan shooting four consecutive shots with the difficulty increasing each time.
His first was a simple lay-up under the basket. Fail. The second from the free-throw line. Fail. The crowd laughed hard. It was a little humiliating. The third from the 3-point line. It did not even make the backboard.
Trudging to the final line for the halfway line shot I lost interest and took out my iPhone, not even concerned to watch the inevitable miss. As I looked up from scrolling his run-up and jump seemed excessive. He somehow karate-kicked the air. At least he gave it his best shot.
The ball looped up. Most of the arena got up to go to the bathroom or get the next Budweiser. As it came down it arched like an arrow, hit the backboard perfectly centred on the target square. It dropped clean through the net.
Cue pandemonium. Carolina and I jumped up screaming along with the rest of the stadium. Much swearing and disbelief later the fan was being high-fived by anyone in sight and posed for photos with the oversized $10,000 cheque. I abhor the cheesiness of it but I could not help labelling this guy a legend. The real American hero.
With the excitement dampened by the Knicks’ second-half performance the 3rd quarter break brought more fist-pumping entertainment from the guys shooting t-shirts into the crowd.
Until this point they had either thrown or shot them into the crowd’s flailing hands, in a gun-style cannon and a rocket-launcher. But this time they brought out the big-boy. A multi-cylinder cannon whizzed onto the court, driven by a young white Knicks’ performing employee, oozing patriotism and attempting to whip up the crowd.
Irony and ironic are favoured words of mine. I use them regularly. But if anything was ironic, this was it. The cannon unloaded, shooting 30 t-shirts in quick succession high into Madison Square Garden. Huge steam clouds emanated from the cannon controlled by the “Solider” pumped up on Red Bull. His colleagues bounced around the court.
The song “America, F**k Yeah!” from the movie Team America played in my head. Considering the illegal murder occurring around the world at Western military hands, this scene was a little disturbing.
But this did not bother than fans of course, everything was free that day from most of the merchandise to hot dogs and soft drinks. A sugar-filled frenzy was inevitable from the get-go.
A mental note was made that perhaps the bigger brands that handed out so many free goods should think about donating to the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen or The Bowery Misson where we donated our clothes on the last day. You can read about my soup kitchen experience here.
From everything we saw in New York it was clear to me the best entertainment was once again always the People. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s final blog called PONY: People Of New York.