Event: War of the Worlds

I’m going to take a wee break from chronicling my trip to New York to post about The War of the Worlds.  I went to see the 30th anniversary live show of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds on 20 June, the night before I flew to New York.  Of course, a more diligent blogger would have come right home and blogged about it that night but I trust you won’t judge me too harshly! 

In case you’re wondering what I’m going on about, I’ll give you a brief recap.  In 1898, the infinitely talented H. G. Wells wrote The War of the Worlds.  In 1938, a radio dramatisation of the story led to a mild panic amongst listeners owing to its format of simulated news broadcasts.  I doubt many people truly believed the Martians had landed but in the months before World War II, reports of poisonous gasses and invasion would have been frightening if heard out of context.  In 1978, Jeff Wayne released a musical concept album based on the book.  The double album was about 90 minutes long and it tells through music and song the story of the Martians landing and their attempt to take over Earth.

It begins exactly as the book does: “No one would have believed in…

[press play]

I have to apologise. My simple little point-and-click camera might be okay for photographs but it takes shocking videos of limited length.  If you did listen to the clip above, you may have recognised the opening chords.  This version is actually quite famous.

For me personally, this was a very exciting event.  I’ve been a fan of this version for so many years that I know the entire double album off by heart and was absolutely thrilled to have the chance to see it performed live.


They had a full orchestra and Jeff Wayne himself conducted.  He received such a loud applause when he walked out onto the stage.  You can just see him there on the screen above.


The story is narrated by The Journalist and was originally performed by Richard Burton on the 1978 album.  His image was computer generated during the performance and his original narration used.  Justin Hayward performed the parts of The Journalist that were sung.  I almost fainted when I saw him there on stage (luckily I was seated).  This wonderful man was the lead singer of the Moody Blues and his voice is still really good.  There were actors playing the roles of The Artillery Man, Parson Nathaniel, The Parson’s Wife Beth, Carrie and the Voice of Humanity too. 

Look! Justin Hayward!  Sorry, I was a bit too far away to get decent photos of the cast.

It’s probably worth mentioning that I refused to watch Tom Cruise’s film on principal.  I’m just not a fan of Tom Cruise, his Mickey Mouse voice, the fact that he broke Nicole Kidman’s heart or the fact that they took my beloved War of the Worlds and set it in the modern day.  So this was the first time I’ve seen a proper model of the Martian fighting machine and it was awesome!

I took my brother along with me because Stephen had no idea what it was all about.  We had a fantastic night and I loved the performance so much that I’d certainly consider going again. If I have a spare £50 lying around and they come to the UK.

In the meantime, I’m going to Mika on Friday (Ste likes him and I won tickets) and both Pixies and Shpongle in October.  It’ll be the second time I see both those bands.

New York day 3: Circle Line Cruise

On Tuesday morning I got up nice and early and went through to Pier 83 on West 42nd Street. If you want to take a Circle Line Cruise, I'd recommend booking ahead of time at the Circle Line website or using your CityPass which you already bought yesterday on my say so.  I’d also recommend checking the schedules online as the option I decided to go on, the semi-circle 2 hour cruise, only runs twice a day at 11:30am and 3:30pm.

The Hudson River

The Intrepid at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

After finding myself a nice seat, the boat pulled out of the pier. 

Ventilation shafts for the Lincoln Tunnel

Chelsea Piers where all episodes of Law and Order are filmed

The boat goes really, really fast so it is hard to take photos.  In addition, the boat is obviously tipped at an angle as it speeds along so I had to come home and adjust the tilt of every single picture I took! 

The hole left in downtown Manhattan where the World Trade Centre used to stand

Eight years ago, this photograph would have been dominated by the towering giants of the World Trade Centre.  In fact, I would have had to reduce my zoom to fit them into the picture.  How very sad.

[Click on the photos for enlargements]

Today, the best way to locate Ground Zero is to look for the cranes as they rebuild the World Trade Centre.  I went to visit there on the last day of my trip so more about that later.

Once again, the spirit of New Yorkers moved me as the guide on the tour told stories not of bitterness but of triumph and achievement as he described the events of 9/11 and beyond. 

Ellis Island

The Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island

The East River

The Staten Island Ferry

I loved the story of the Staten Island Ferry!

“With $100 borrowed from his parents, Cornelius Vanderbilt purchased a periauger (a flat-bottomed sailing barge) and began a ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan. He repaid the hundred dollars one year later. By then he had earned a profit of $1,000. Eventually, his ferry service became known as the Staten Island Ferry, which is still in operation today” - source

The Financial District

Among the buildings you can see above are: 1 Financial Square (the silver and black glass building with graded corners), 120 Wall Street (the limestone stepped building), the Continental Centre (the green glass building).

The Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge

The Watchtower Building

The Watchtower Building in Brooklyn Heights is for sale if you'd like to buy the old Jehovah's Witnesses' headquarters.

Excuse me while I indulge my weakness for bridges.  The Brooklyn Bridge is above and the Manhattan Bridge is below.

The exquisitely ugly Williamsburg Bridge and the Domino Sugar Refinery

View of Midtown Manhattan with Stuyvesant Town in foreground.

Tudor City with the United Nations to the right

Another view of the beautiful Tudor City

At this point, the boat turns around and continues back the way it came. I was a little chilly by that stage so I got a famous New York pretzel and a cup of hot chocolate. The Circle Line Cruise is a long cruise and two hours is a big chunk out of your day in New York (especially if the second half is a repeat of the first half). I would rather recommend a tour that goes from one point to another than spending an hour going back the way you have just come. Perhaps then it would be best to take the three hour Circle Line cruise and then use your CityPass for the Statue of Liberty rather.

At about half past one I finally hit land again and with slightly wobbly legs, decided to head off to the Museum of Modern Art.

New York day 2: Times Square

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a weakness for hot dogs.  When I got down from the Empire State Building at about 8pm, I saw this  hot dog stand. 

It costs $2 for a New York Hot Dog and $3 for a New York Hot Sausage.  I recommend that hot sausage as it is thicker and juicier.  Yum!

[Click on the photos for enlargement]

The Empire State Building. I love the contours in this photo // Last glance towards Empire State

I walked away from the Empire State Building towards Times Square.  I was back in “oh my gosh, I can’t believe I am in New York” and I was drinking in the sights and sounds (having wolfed down my hot dog in 30 seconds).

As I walked towards Times Square I was assailed on all sides by a carnival of lights and sounds.  It was beautiful and exciting and I quickened my step.

As I came into Times Square, I saw that the had closed the road and that deck chairs had been laid out.  I took a seat.


The orange and white drums mark where cars could still cross on W46th Street but Broadway from closed before and after that point.

Sitting and relaxing in Times square

This was the most poignant moment of my entire trip.  It felt as if the life force of the city was flowing through me (but it is possible that jetlag and fatigue were causing me to hallucinate at this point!).

I asked a friendly, local looking guy sitting behind me whether the road had always been closed like this.  He said no, it was just a trial and they’d started a short while before.  (In fact, Mayor Bloomberg announced his car-free plan back in February and it was implemented late in May).  A short while later I was staring up at the sky watching rain drops as they fell down towards me.  It was like the moment in Daredevil where it rains and Daredevil can see Elektra for the first time.  The rain drops were so visible against the dark blue sky.  Friendly Guy had noticed this too and remarked to me in an almost giddy voice that he could see the rain drops.  It touched me that an obvious local, sitting there in his suit and talking with that lovely accent, could still feel like that after living in the city for so long.

Watching the sky but I didn't seem to capture any rain drops.

8.50pm [Monday 22 June 2009] Super surreal New York moment. I'm sitting on a deck chair in the middle of Times Square watching the people and the lights. I'd get a cup of tea coffee if a) I could walk, b) I wouldn’t lose my chair.  My camera has finally run out of battery and there is a subway right here – perhaps i should head home. 

I just took a photo for a lovely European couple – German perhaps?  Was going to offer but scared of losing chair (see above) but luckily they came and asked.

I love this city.  I love how friendly people are and I love how beautiful it is and all the greenery and old buildings.  It is so warm too!

I just got the most awesome shot of the buildings towering above me – hope it comes out.  Should stop writing now – it is raining and words are smudging.

I walked a block or so uptown to the end of Times Square but then I decided I was just too tired and walked back to where I had been to catch the subway. 

I’d had a late start to the day but had basically been walking for five hours!


I was most amused to see these two NYPD police cars, one jump starting the other.  I wonder if that is standard procedure?  Aren’t the cops lovely looking?  Just like in the TV shows.

I got onto the subway and caught the 1 train from W42nd Street to W110th Street.


Right around the corner from the apartment was Tom’s Restaurant.

9.50pm Am sitting in Tom's Restaurant (made famous by Suzanne Vega's song "Tom's Diner"). One block away from temporary home. $2.70 for a decaf coffee and some sort of orange sponge cake.

I got back to the apartment, showered and fell asleep the moment I closed my eyes.

Blogger Blog of Note

How exciting! Yesterday I got home from work to find that my inbox had gone crazy!  Emm in London was the Blogger Blog of Note for 16 July 2009. 

Scores of people have visited Emm in London, left comments and joined as members and I’m slowly going through and visiting people’s blogs in return.  It has been lovely and very kind of people to take the time.

Thank you Blogger (and bloggers)! You made my day.


I would recommend following the Blogger Twitter feed where you can find out about known issues and the Blogs of Note: http://twitter.com/Blogger

New York day 2: Empire State Building

I decided to hop onto a bus and head on down to the Empire State Building.

"Just got on bus and tried to use Metro card.  I thought I had three rides left but turns out you pay $5 for AirTrain at JFK airport so  only had $1 left on card.  Tried to pay a dollar but it only takes coins (like the phones!).  Driver told me to pay the coins I had which was only 66c!!  How nice!”

[Click on any of the photos for enlargements]

In the lobby of the ESB

It was a cloudy day and I was really worried that I would have limited visibility at the top of the ESB.  Note to self: I should have been more worried about being blown off the roof or hypothermia!  It was slightly cold and windy at the top.  I think the cold and grey kept most people away though as there weren’t many queues when I went to visit.  My CityPass enabled me to skip what few queues there were though.

I was absolutely shaking with cold so please excuse some of the blurry photos!

Looking West

Looking West you can see New Jersey in the distance beyond the Hudson River.  One Penn Plaza is the tall black building in the middle of the photo and Madison Square Garden is there peeking out on the bottom, left hand side of the building.

Close up of Macys and my very first glimpse of Times Square

Looking South

Looking South you can see the East River to the left, the Hudson River to the right and the Atlantic Ocean is in the far distance.  The land on the left is Brooklyn, Staten Island is straight ahead and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are the two little islands in the Hudson River.  Once upon a time, you would have been able to see the World Trade Centre to the right hand side of the downtown skyscrapers.

To the left, the building with the big, gold pyramid on top is the New York Life Building.  Moving back and to the right, the building with the smaller golden top is the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower.  The Flatiron Building is visible towards the right centre of the photo. 

Looking East

Gazing over the East River, you can see Queens to the left and Brooklyn to the right.  The tip of Three Park Avenue is just visible at the bottom of the photo.

I love this photo because it gives an idea of the giants, density and different styles in all of the New York’s buildings.  This is the view looking towards the North East.  The United Nations is the rectangle building on the right that seems to stand alone against the East River.  The Chrysler Building is there in the centre of the photo.

Looking North

Looking North you can see Central Park and the Bronx in the far distance.  I was staying near to the North Western corner of Central Park.  Almost back where we began, looking to the North West, you can see the Hudson River stretching off into the distance. 

It was a lot to take in on that first day going in to the centre of Manhattan but it is amazing now to look back and to see so many things that I recognise!!  It is silly but I am really longing to return to New York and soon!  Am I going to be one of those people that lands up visiting every year?