The Grey Lady
New York is my favourite American city, and features in my book when I took Australian Monitor amplifiers there in 1987. But it was dangerous back then - I met a colleague at a coffee place. After I left, (with Kev the koala - read my book for why!) a dark dude swooped into my seat and poked a knife at my mate under the table. It was robbery in broad daylight.
Because Hymie snored, I crept out of our hotel room and ventured into a dubious bar just off Times Square. It was 1.30am on a weekday. A pair of working girls engaged me, but I wasn't hiring. They were fascinated by my Australian lingo, it was the peak of the Crocodile Dundee era. Another lousy beer and I headed back, passing the reception desk caged off by bars and the gun toting clerk. The old lift jerked and rattled up, and I eased into bed while the old guy wheezed and grunted just a metre away.
I never shared a room again, except with a woman. Earlier in life I was always in a room with guys - road crew - and that usually involves exhausted short sleeps - and smells. Hymie was a tightass who figured he knew the cheapest route to anything. "I'll show you how to negotiate", he boasted as we went into one of the myriad of camera stores scattered around the square amongst the porn theatres. He haggled over a camera for almost ten minutes, and walked out triumphant with a price agreed - and no camera. The guy in the shop was yelling abuse. I found the same camera for $5 less all my myself in a quiet store downtown the next day, without the unpleasant haggling.
But it's the Grey Lady that represents New York best for me. I read the New York Times each day online, and also the Washington Post. The Sulzberger family still guide the Times. Between the two media firms I sort of 'get' a lot of what makes American politics and business tick. Not enough to avoid a shellacking in 2018, described in the chapter 'USA Moonshot' where I lost us a quarter million. We had a good time doing it tho!
The time zone difference means I am wide awake at 1am in New York, and one recent solo trip, probably to visit a trade show, I walked past 620 Eighth Avenue and stopped across the road to see the activity. Six black Lincoln Town Cars were outside, uniformed drivers leaning and smoking, waiting for the night staff to come out. The place was all lit up, late news presumably on the wires.
I have media blood, at school I edited the newspaper in year 6. The printer was in Campbell street, home of the Greek Weekly. The smell of ink and paper is with me. I worked as a copy boy for the Daily Mirror in Kippax street. But the Grey Lady is the peak, the pinnacle, and the final word on that embarrassing 45th. We need properly funded and structured media. I'm proud my magazine will enter 30 years of print publication in December 2020, now in the capable hands of Jason Allen.
• Great story on NYT here: https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/a14030/how-the-new-york-times-works/