As mentioned in my LA blog, I had intentions of keeping a travel diary during my ten days or so in New York, but all that fell out the window as soon as I got there. It really is a fantastic place, more exciting and endlessly fascinating than anywhere I’ve been, but it is so involving, so addictive, that it’s hard to stick to any sort of ‘program’. I was essentially only at the hotel to sleep, shower and change, then meet downstairs again and head off on the next adventure.
It was great to see Sam in his natural element. He’s spent a lot of time in New York and although it had been a while since his last visit, people were forever calling out to him in the street, sometimes through megaphones. He had a spark in his eye that I hadn’t seen before. I wasn’t mad at it, put it that way.
Siggy came over from Norway to see us, and although we didn’t get to hang out as much as I would’ve liked, because he left pretty much as soon as the book fair ended, I took one morning off to go skating with him and Sam, and it was fantastic. Check out the clip somewhere down there in this post.
Not many photos of me in here, but this one Siggy took of me at Tompkins that morning is a keeper. After the skate, walking in the sun to the book fair, I started getting strange rushes flowing through my body, like I had taken drugs. I realised that I was feeling really, really happy.
This was the only thing to skate at Tompkins, and it was fantastic. As far as I’m concerned, a skate spot has a lot more to do with the physical location (combined with trees and shade; access to water and nearby shops; plus people walking past and a bit of atmosphere) than the obstacles or the course or whatever.
Ostensibly, the main reason I was in New York, and America for that matter, was to attend the NY Art Book Fair. It’s a huge thing held at the MoMA Ps1 in Queens.
I was there piggybacking on the Heavytime Books table, with Ed and Todd. That’s right, Todd Jordan! More on Todd later. Rob couldn’t make it this year, as he has a fantastic new job.
Next door was Brain Dead, another of Ed’s irons in the fire. This is his BD partner Kyle, who lives in LA.
And this is Bobby, who works for Kyle.
There was so much to see there, it was pretty overwhelming. I was glad that I could just sit at our table and watch the thousands upon thousands of punters roll by. This was a thing that Peter Sutherland came up with – a Zine Tornado, in which you could stand and grab as many pages (of art contributed by heavy hitters) as you could while they blew around, then staple them together to make your own zine.
Shannon, the event head honcho, went in there naked
Here’s Shannon with his clothes on. Thanks for having us, Shannon!
Here’s a plan of the whole book fair.
Stefan Marx was there! I hadn’t seen him since 2008 when he had a show at Don’t Come, then I had one of his sculptures/ramps in my backyard for a while. He’s lovely.
Stefan’s sick bag art was a particular highlight
These guys were really good to us, because they let us through a door to:
The VIP toilet. Oh man, this thing was a life saver. Everyone else was lining up for hours, or going to the similar porta-loos out the front of the gallery. But who had the time for that? Not I, nor my tetchy bladder. The scene in there got pretty grim by the end of the fair, but it didn’t stop me returning many times a day.
My view on the way back from the porta-loo. The entry to ‘the dome’ we were in is right there. Convenient!
This jerk chicken was one of the food offerings at the fair, and one that I indulged in on multiple occasions. Smoky chicken, tasty rice, crunchy salad and fried plantains that Ed remarked were like ‘old biscuits you find under the fridge’. Mmm-mm. It was so good that I took Raph there when he appeared out of thin air one day, with the promise of the best chicken I’d eaten in ages. The whole situation went south very quickly, in a confusing suite of conversations that would not look out of place on the set of Seinfeld or a Woody Allen movie. That was the last time I visited the chicken stand.
There was a real vibe about old stuff at the book fair. So many old posters, zines and books.
This is our other neighbour, Garrett. Here he is with a bottle of wine he designed. What a guy! He kept on drawing on things for me.
This woman was wearing an incredible 3D printed cap, which I remarked on and she went on to try and sell to me. It wasn’t really my bag, but it did look great on her.
Here I am again, selfying up a storm in my ‘Large Single’ room at the Larchy.
This is the Larchy lobby, which was also floor 1, where Sam resided. Ed was on floor 5, and breakfast was served in the basement, from 7 to 10am.
The extensive scaffolding, road barriers and workmen made a bit of a dent on the Larchy’s exterior charm, but it all made me feel somewhat more at home. Being as my face has a sort of ‘building site’ feel.
Here’s just a street near the Larchy, one morning on our way to the fair.
Ed, waiting on an Uber.
There’s our table again!
Another view. Note my very own book of short stories, which I had only seen for the first time when we got there. It turned out great!
The zine tent was really hot, and seemed like the place to be (but who am I kidding? The dome was the place to be).
Tim was over from Melbourne with his Knowledge Editions. I made regular visits to his table, and he ours.
Ed and Todd doing book deals
Out the front of the gallery. So many people! I was probably on my way to the nearby diner for a little meditative coffee/New York Post break at this point.
Or possibly on my way to the bodega, where we purchased our afternoon six pack or two of Modelo. Funnily enough, I often bumped into Tim there.
People streamed by, some pausing to browse. When someone picked up my book I’d get a little tingle, like a fish had taken a nibble on my line. They’d flick through, then often put it down again, but sometimes they’d pause and have a little read. When I saw a little smile forming, I knew it was time to strike.
It turns out Kyle was sick the whole time, even though he was always in incredibly high spirits. He had plenty of different teas, potions and remedies on hand, including this honey.
Jules, Kyle’s girlfriend, was also great vibes and bought us amazing green juice on a regular basis.
The book fair ended eventually. It was exhausting, but a really great, intense experience. After that, the days of wandering began. We’d start the day at breakfast down in the basement, chuckling away into our terrible coffees, stale pastries and ‘bread’ (toast) with strawberry jam. ‘Here he is,’ we’d proclaim as Sam waltzed in 10 minutes after the previously arranged meet-up time. From there we’d hatch a plan for the day, usually beginning with something as simple as ‘Sam needs socks’ or ‘let’s go to that bookshop’, or ‘we’re meeting Rich at the skatepark at four’. It just rolled from there, in the most spectacular fashion.
This is the view down our street in the West Village. Such a pretty area.
Some bombs went off while we were there, but we would’ve been none the wiser if it wasn’t for the flood of texts and messages that appeared on my phone from concerned Australian friends and family. As if on cue, my phone went dead.
Someone staring into Sammy’s Noodle.
We went to a lot of workwear and military surplus stores. They’re sort of the last bastion of stuff you can get over there that is either impossible to find on our side of the world, or much more expensive. Sam and Ed stocked up on camouflage t-shirts, while I continued my search for the perfect pair of pants, and got Fred some ace dungarees.
Cool subway stop.
The Strand bookstore was down the road from the hotel. We went in there one day and, on a whim, I asked if I could speak to someone about possibly stocking my book there. I was sent to the top level of the massive shop, then into a back room where I met a very important book buyer lady. She was very nice to me and gave me her card, and took a copy of my book to look at. It was an enchanting experience, and I felt sure I was in – but I got an email from her the next day graciously turning me down. Next time, Strand! On the bright side, my book is stocked at Printed Matter in New York, which has always been on my list of dream stockists.
Ed’s friend Benedict took us around some of the galleries in Chelsea one day. Sam and I tagged along, and brought our tiresome attitudes towards contemporary art with us. Thanks and sorry, Benedict!
This one was my favourite I think, but mainly because it reminded me of Loose Leaf.
Here’s Sam getting mildly annoyed at some video art.
Around here was where the bomb went off. There was a bit of an eery vibe in the air, I must say. We were walking along when everything went all quiet, sort of like when it’s about to rain. I realised there was no one on the street, not even any cars – or maybe only a few. Suddenly, a fleet of police cars sped by, sirens blaring. They ripped around the corner and we poked our heads around to see what was going on. It seemed like some sort of argument, or fight or something – hardly warranting all that, but I suppose everyone was a bit on edge. Like scared rabbits, we ducked down into the subway.
Crazy buildings stopped me in my tracks constantly
I took this photo of a fire engine for Fred. Actually, I bought him a scale model of one of these, along with a NYC school bus, and he loves them. He calls the fire engine ‘Wee-oo’ and the bus ‘Pol’, and carries them with him everywhere. UPDATE: he’s forgotten about them now.
Police were out in force, perhaps because of the bomb that went off, but also maybe because of the cultural festival thing that was happening near Todd’s work. ‘And here is our annual celebration of… bullshit,’ he said, gesturing to the closed-off street full of sausages cooking in tents.
Special NYC barrier gathering
I was constantly 20 metres or so behind the others taking a photo of something or other. I went through all three of my camera batteries every day, then switched to taking photos with my phone. I didn’t put any of those photos here, but some of them are on Instagram.
Little bus for Fred
We went here one day for coffee, and the girl working was so rude that I excused myself and went for a walk around the block.
Ed had just poured some of his margarita in a shot glass for Sam at this point
Here it is. I think this may have been the margarita tipping point for me (pardon the pun).
This was outside Dimes cafe in China Town (?) I think. Now that was a nice cafe, with friendly staff and shiloads of mirrors in the toilet.
Most of the dogs I saw in NYC were of the tiny Pomeranian variety, so this crazy number came as a welcome change.
It’s just crazy isn’t it?
Central park outing
Todd, our gracious host. On top of the million things he had to do, he spent the entire weekend at the book fair, and he and his girlfriend Katherine met up with us and our entourage nearly every night and some lunchtimes for amazing meals at all their favourite spots. He even got us tickets to the Brian Anderson coming out doco screening, where BA mistook me for someone named Josh. Thanks so much Todd!
My fire hydrant fetish continues
I wasn’t mad at this guy’s orange skateboard.
The camouflage boys
To mix things up a bit one morning, we denied ourselves the complimentary Larchy breakfast and had breakfast at a bagel place around the corner. It was a move that none of us were mad at, although Ed and I had to make emergency trips to the toilet afterwards (the bagel place didn’t have a bathroom – what the hell?).
The Reservoir was a dive bar conveniently located around the corner from the Larchy. Most evenings on our way home, Sam and I would stop in for a swift nightcap at the Reservoir, only to speculate on why we had bothered going anywhere else. It was a wonderful place, complete with friendly staff who remembered us (‘How did the book fair go?’ one of them asked me, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember telling them about it), working toilets, and beer on tap. We saw an amazing drunken businessman putting on quite the display on one of our last nights there. He was dancing and showing off like an eight year old to the young woman he was having an affair with, then a group of older tourists put Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York’ on the jukebox and the whole place was up dancing. I can’t explain how funny it was, and I can’t believe I didn’t catch any of it on film. Ah well. The Reservoir.
Adidas demo at Tompkins. I was playing it down, but Ed could tell I was excited that we got to help Todd carry this Supreme box onto the court.
Richard Angelides sighting!
Tyshawn’s dogs. We really were in the thick of things.
So many Gonz sightings.
We had randomly bumped into a bunch of the Adidas guys at the bar the night before, including Daewon, Paul Shier, Nestor Judkins and Pete Eldridge, all of whom were really nice. Well, they all seemed really great to me, as far as I remember – that was the drunkest night of the whole trip. Which is saying something.
The demo was a really good vibe, which I think goes back to what I was saying earlier about what goes into making a great skate spot. Tompkins is internationally known, not only as a spot, but as a park and a place where people gather and meet. It doesn’t matter that it’s just a basketball court with massive cracks in it, it’s magic. The skaters from New York were stoked to be at their local park, and the skaters from elsewhere were excited to be at Tompkins.
Garry Trinh sighting. Garry popped up all over the place, snooping around being funny. I wanted to spend more time with him, but it didn’t end up happening that way. Still, it was nice to see him whenever I saw him, like here.
And that was just about that. I left the next day.
Last minute military surplus shopping with Sam
Oh, I had a good time.