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What I did on my summer vacation


Everyone said I should take a vacation and so I took a vacation.

It was just me and my brother, Jeff, and we walked around New York City. We looked up at the buildings and at restaurants that sold pizza by the slice, and we looked at many people who were looking up at the buildings and restaurants that sold pizza by the slice.

We looked at the building where Lou Reed met John Cale…

…and the one where William S. Burroughs lived in the Seventies and Eighties:

We looked at the Chelsea Hotel, where Mark Twain and Allen Ginsberg stayed and where Sid killed Nancy and where Dylan Thomas died.

We looked at Central Park, which is a sort of enormous green hole punched into the middle of all of those buildings on Manhattan Island. In Central Park, we sat on a bench.

I showed my brother a picture of Genesis from 1972 and said, “Can we find this rock?” Sheepishly. I asked him sheepishly. And naively, too. As questions go, it was a pretty dumb question. Central Park is 6.1 miles around. One-point-three miles square. I was asking about a single rock from 1972.

Jeff looked around. He looked up. Then he pointed at a rock about twenty feet from where we sat.

It was the Genesis rock.

When I got back home, everyone asked me about my vacation. Had I seen the Statue of Liberty? (Yes.) Had I seen the Empire State Building? (Yes.) Had I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge? (Yes, that, too.)

“What was your favorite part? Tell us absolutely everything!” everyone, the same everyone who had told me I should take a vacation, said.

“I saw a rock where Genesis sat in 1972,” I said.

And then everyone looked kind of sad, as though I were missing some very important point about it all.

Comments

  1. I fully understand about the rock. If I were in NYC, I'd go see the statue of Captain America in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. (I assume they've installed it there by now). The heart wants to see what the heart wants to see.

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    1. I haven't even seen half of the things people are supposed to see in Houston, and I've been here for decades. So it's nice to see the sights in New York, but... yeah, the heart wants to see what the heart wants to see.

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  2. Kinda makes sense, though. Why would they move a rock in Central Park, and Genesis weren't exactly New Yorkers in 1972, so they probably wouldn't go anywhere too far off the beaten path.
    It's still fucking awesome that you found it, though, although I will admit to having an oversized attraction for places that are also moments in time. I used to eat my lunch at a place with a view of the Greek Theater in Berkeley when we first moved here in 1984 because of all of the musical history that went down there. It sort of seemed like as close to a magical place as I was likely to encounter, and it made the whole city seem like it could be just chock full of them, and that seemed really important then.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. I don't get out of town very often. Never been to NYC before. I tend to be someone who would rather read about things than to go see them. But it was nice to do something different.

      Never been to the west coast. At all. California seems like a place where maybe a future trip might take me, although being the Anglophile I have apparently become, maybe I ought to look at Real World Studios and various sites from Doctor Who over in the UK next.

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  3. one can certainly get lost in seeing many things in New York and make the trip want they want it to be. I love the two comparison pictures. Glad you made it.

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    1. Me too. My brother insisted on walking everywhere for about 12 hours a day, every day, so I saw a lot of Manhattan Island and a little bit of Brooklyn. Now I can say I've been there.

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  4. It appears as though you had a wonderful vacation.

    Looking at the buildings where the pizza came from combined with a bit of music history.

    You should go on vacations more often, my friend.

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    1. Haha. Definitely more than once a decade, yeah!

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  5. My first trip to N.Y.C. I was 8. My mother, sisters and I were on the way to join my soldier father in Germany. I don't remember much about that trip except the prop-jet ride across the Atlantic. The second trip on our way back home three and a half years later I recall like it was yesterday. Mainly because I saw the Yankees beat the Red Sox. Mickey Mantle AND Whitey Ford played in that game. We toured the old Yankee Stadium and Monument park before the game. My last trip there was when I was stationed at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, in 1972. My buddies and I drove into 'The City' to each sell a pint of our Blood (my 0- was worth 19 bucks back then), visit the then infamous Times Square, and hit Aqueduct. On top of the world and wild in the streets at 20 is deeply etched in the folds of my "gray matter frittata". As is my oppressive Vertigo while standing under those skyscrapers. Good Times, Great Italian Grinders!

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    1. They've apparently cleaned it up a lot since about 1990. The days of New York being the city of Lou Reed nightmares are largely in the past, at least in Manhattan itself.

      The news talked about a couple stabbings in Queens while I was there, though.

      Saying you saw Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford play would bring some bragging rights!

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  6. A rock that big just HAD to still be there...it prodbably goes down to the centre of the earth. Genesis were a cool looking group of guys....that 'other guy' on the rock is pretty cool too.

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    1. Yeah, i sort of felt like I need a cool coat with lots of frills in order to sit on the rock at all. It sucks when I look less cool than even Phil Collins (who is on the far left, sitting, in that photo).

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    1. The short and inglorious career of the British punk band, The Sex Pistols, came to an abrupt end in 1978 when bassist Sid Vicious murdered his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, and overdosed shortly thereafter. It's the stuff of legends in punk circles. I've never been a punk fan beyond Patti Smith and The talking Heads, both of which, admittedly, had more art rock tendencies that most of the punk acts deserving of the name.

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  8. Cities are fun but I'm on a timer to get back to fields and beaches.
    Understand the pull of the rock better than the tourist to-do list, although those things can be fun too.

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    1. Absolutely, Lisa. Initially, when I started thinking about taking time off, I was drawn to the idea of seeing stars in the night sky. We can only see about 3 stars on a clear night in Houston, at least where I live.

      Someday, I'll see something natural. But had I not taken my brother up on NYC, I would have ended up sitting in my room reading for a week (which would have been okay, too!).

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    2. Natural and reading - these are both good holiday options :-)
      I am spoilt for stars here, and rocks, and nature - although last week I acquired an insect/spider bite/sting whilst showering, and very often the fields are steeped in manure.

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    3. My ex, when she lived here, had tarantulas and scorpions here - about 15 of each at one point - so the possibility of getting stung or bitten was always in the background of my consciousness. Plus, bugs don't like me. I haven't been bitten by a mosquito in about 20 years.

      But I'm not a big fan of sweating, so my outdoor adventures are going to have to be in cool season.

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  9. Marvelous! Whenever I go someplace my favorite part about being someplace is never some place where everyone expected it would be. That Genesis rock thing was the find of the trip. Marvelous!

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    1. Thanks, Tom. I don't take many vacations, but my most memorable ones are the ones where I had the least number of things planned. Discovery and surprise just work better for me, and this was sort of like that!

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  10. "And then everyone looked kind of sad, as though I were missing some very important point about it all."

    I'm not a very good tourist. I don't check out all the hottest spots, or even any specific spots at all. I try to get a taste, a feeling for the place I'm visiting. Be that a city, or an entire country. I like it better that way. Being able to say, when asked how Peru was, not that "Machu Picchu was so amazing!" (it was neat though), but that I have never, in the entire month there, eaten the same species of potato twice, even though it's a staple in many dishes!

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    1. I can relate with that. I kind of like to know what it is like to live somewhere. I mean, I live in Houston and I have never been to many of the gotta-see touristy spots. When I was in Denver a few years back, I really melted into the town, and I feel like I know it better than the towns where I did the tourist thing.

      I rarely leave Houston, though, so it's not usually a thing.

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  11. That is so cool about the rock! Great picture! I remember when I was in Venice, many years ago. I wanted to go to the bridge, where Madonna made her video! I did and right now, I can't remember the damn song! LOL! I'm not into Madonna anymore! LOL!

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    1. The "Like a Virgin" video, sure! That's pretty cool. The rock and the bridge seem like weird things to want to see, but if that's how we relate to a place, then it makes perfect sense.

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  12. You've reminded me about how I felt when I stood on the spot where the plane that carried Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens crashed. The ground was covered in thick snow just as it was when they died on the 3rd February 1959.

    My birthday is on the 3rd February.

    That's a great photo of you on the rock. Cherish it.

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    1. That's a weird coincidence.

      But yeah, I think everyone has their own psychological map of the world. Mine doesn't include the day the music died, but I can relate. It's impossible to explain the significance to someone who doesn't share in it.

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  13. Glad you had a nice vacation. Thanks for sharing with us.

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    1. Thanks, Mr. Shife. My vacations are extremely rare, so I thought I needed to address it before it faded.

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  14. Chelsea Hotel - stay and die here? What's with that place. I admit I didn't "get" the Genesis rock until I saw the picture. I was thinking it had a Biblical connection. Thinking of death and places, my wife and I enjoyed a guide tour in Savannah GA. based on the movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". Spent time in the great Bonaventure Cemetery on that tour.

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    1. The only thing I remember about that movie is "This place is like 'Gone with the Wind' on mescaline!"

      Yeah, the Genesis thing. There are going to be more references to Genesis in here (there is generally about one every 5 posts). I have finally accepted they're hardwired in my brain from when I was 14, and I'm accepting it.

      I'll give you a heads up before this becomes an overt Genesis appreciation page, though.

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  15. Last year, we went to Portmeirion in Wales, which is where the show The Prisoner was filmed. I've never seen the show, which was supposed to be very Kafka-esque, but there was a giant chess set that figured prominently in it and I got to pose next to the Queen. Your story, and your rock, is better though. Glad you had a great trip:-)

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    1. Thanks. I hope it's not another 7 years before I get out and go somewhere again. I just enjoy the reading, writing, and listening to music thing so thoroughly that I hate to get torn away for too long.

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  16. It is good to have places that you return to. Red always goes to Battery Park every time he is in NYC for two reasons. It is the place where Ishmael starts his narrative in Moby Dick. And it is the location of the East Coast Memorial. The memorial features a strangely fierce and compelling American eagle statue and four gray granite pylons upon which are inscribed the name, rank, organization and state of each of the 4,611 servicemen missing in action on the East Coast. And the inscription never fails to bring tears to Red's eyes:

    ERECTED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN PROUD AND GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF HER SONS WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN HER SERVICE AND WHO SLEEP IN THE AMERICAN COASTAL WATER OF THE ATLANTIC OCEAN. INTO THY HANDS, OH LORD.

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    1. I think I missed Battery Park. There's plenty of things I apparently saved for next time!

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