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Confessions of a New York Comic Con Virgin – Part 1

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During the past few days I have been over in New York for the New York Comic Con. It was the first time I had ever been to the convention and it was a little overwhelming. I had an amazing time, met incredible people and saw fantastic things. I wrote down my thoughts and experiences. Now I am back home so thought I would share it with you.

Getting There

4th October 2017

“Is there a doctor on board?”

Surely you can’t be serious I thought when that message was asked on my flight.

Turns out there were two doctors and a good job as some poor chap had suffered a heart attack. Luckily they were okay, but it meant we had to land in St John’s, Canada, as that was the nearest hospital. The pilot and cabin crew were amazing.

They were taken off the plane to safety and after they hunted down the bags in the hold we got on our way again.

It did mean that the guy sitting next to me had missed his scheduled meet, greet and photos with Mark Hamill and Keanu Reeves. He had one night in New York City to meet them and he had missed it. I felt his pain, but what could he do?

When we finally landed in JFK there was an hour in the queue at customs. While I waited  I spotted the brilliant comic book artist Adi Granov join the queue and then move to the other, much shorter one – I was so close to saying hi to him! I slowly made my way to the customs agent who looked like a slightly less pockmarked version of Edward James Olmos. Fighting the urge to call him Gaff, so say we all, I smiled, answered the questions, let him take my fingerprints and photo and then I was through. A free man!

Oh yes, there was still the train journey into Manhattan. Was I on the right train? Which stop did I need to look out for?

Now everything had that slightly surreal tone that being tired from travelling through time zones often brings. Seeing places and street names from so many movies and films made everything off kilter.

It was now rush hour and the train filled with people from all walks of life. Again, the subway from the movies was now my reality. Nothing seemed real.

Check out our New York Comic Con coverage

Did I blink?

Now I was on 8th Avenue, sirens in the distance, and the streets of Manhattan welcomed me once more. It had been too long. I had forgotten how cool it was to be here. So much life, the constant hustle and bustle of strangers making the way in the world today (wrong city reference I know but you get the idea).

The tiredness of time zone travel lifted a little and I let the city in. There is no place like it.

At the hostel for check-in, relief washed over me. I was finally there. I had made it. Now all I had to do was wait for a woman to open a door that wasn’t there, while an elderly man tap tap tapped away on an old typewriter, and the receptionist gave me my key.

The room….basic isn’t the word, but it was mine. A bed, a sink and the sounds of NYC were all I needed.

Sleep was calling, but so was food and a beer or two.

A quick freshen up and it was back on the streets again. Making my way up to 30th, so much to see – The 24hour stores that seem to sell everything and always have the same guy behind the counter no matter what time of day, the cool guy just standing on a street corner, an ambulance rushing by, the beautiful woman who glances at you as you pass each other as you cross the road and for a second you fall in love for it to be forgotten an instant later as some new sound, some new place draws your attention.

New York City.

Paul DeNigris and me

Then I was at the Irish bar, The Molly Wee ,on the corner of 8th Avenue and 30th, to meet Paul DeNigris (director of the brilliant Mitch Rapp short film) and the barman asked me what drink I wanted and what team I supported. I answered Everton and played the game of answering the football (soccer for my American friends) questions without letting on that I knew very little about any of it. In my mind I passed with flying colours. I drank, ate some sliders and talked about movies and TV with Paul. Blade Runner, Twin Peaks, The Expanse and how everything is connected was discussed. Mind blown and another beer it was soon time to say goodnight.

A brilliant way to end a long day and great to meet up with an old Facebook friend.

Tomorrow brings the Comic-Con and a meet up with an even older Facebook friend and my After the Ending podcast Co-host, Mike Spring. It is going to be fun.

The walk back to the hostel was a nice wind-down and I almost felt like walking all night…almost. Sleep is drawing ever closer, but what have we learnt from today?

I think it is this.

I really do waffle on when I am tired and have had a couple of beers.

Goodnight and see you all on the flip side.


5th October 2017

Was out at 5:45 am, as my mind kept thinking it was 5 hours later, and wandered up 8th Avenue. On Twitter were similar tales of visitors from across the pond, awake at this ridiculous time! The city was already busy but it was still dark. People on skateboards flew by in the middle of the street. The smells of the city always amaze me – one second the beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers, hot steaming coffee, strange meat being fried at a kerbside hot dog stall, the stench of garbage, and then followed by freshly baked bread in a never-ending cycle. Always changing and always there. How Matt Murdock copes with that I will never know!

Ended up at the Skylight Diner on 34th Street. A proper diner where the waitress (Monika) didn’t need to write down your order and keeps topping up your coffee. Where two construction guys kept trying to chat her up but she was having none of it.

Pancakes, sausage and eggs (easy over) lay before me. Obviously, I ate it all. Drank more coffee, left a tip and walked back, this time down 8th.

The sky was lighter, my stomach was heavier and the city was busy. Before me was the New Yorker building, while a little further on I spotted the Empire State Building.

Here and there were people wearing NY Comic Con T-Shirts and posters promised an evening with Mark Hamill!

It was about another 5 blocks when I realised that my boots caused blisters!

Bugger!


Checked out of the hostel and now waiting for Mike and his friends to arrive in the city so we can book into the hotel which will be home for next three nights.

The Starbucks was one of the closest coffee places to the hotel. Well, the closest one big enough to comfortably have my case next to the table. There was a cool looking artisan, hipster, whatever the current trendy name is, coffee house opposite the hotel but it was about as big as telephone box (phone booth for the Yanks reading this – a box with a phone connected to it by a cord for those kids reading this) and I needed to sit down.

My heels comfortably padded with plasters but with the blisters promising merriment to come over the next few days. Hot green tea with honey pleasantly burning my tongue with every sip. All around strangers walk, talk, battle with WiFi and type words on luminous screens. We are all connected by light yet miles apart. Snippets of conversation buzz by me – She did what? The TPS reports need to be in by Friday and more banal moments of wonderment.

Sonder is always with me but always strongest in New York.

It also seems that a healthy dose of cod-philosophical pretentious writing of what I am doing and thinking has also afflicted me!

So it goes.

 

Next: The first day of the Comic Con!

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