Tuesday, 28 January 2020

South Street, Philadelphia: After Hours!

Taking it down to South Street in Philadelphia had to be done, I was ready for all kinds of shenanigans to take place that night! The weather was bitterly cold but South Street had its nighttime game on fire! I was mad hungry, ready for some Philly cheese-steak goodness at one of South Street's eateries! Bob & Barbara's opened my eyes to a new kind of drag! P, let's get it!

I wasn't bothered with food in Philadelphia aside from the afternoon's find at Nick's Grille & Bar in the Old City, that all changed when I found Ishkabibble's on South Street. I had my sights set on one of their cheese-steaks ever since I put together a paid USA travel blog during 2014. Ordering one Philly chicken cheese-steak needed to happen, doing just that I lived for the pint-sized kitchen facing seating that gave me full views of the realness that went on around me. My sandwich was freshly prepared in front of me, I kindly moved up one seat to allow three fabulous ladies to sit together. Taking in the South Street during my Iskhabibble's visit gave me life! Choosing the original venue at 337 South Street allowed me to see how things went down up close and personal. I tucked into my sandwich, the flavours were immense, the extra cheese had me in food heaven again! The toasted bun was crunchy, so delicious!

Taking my time at Ishkabibble's was necessary, my Philly chicken cheese-steak was huge and I wasn't about to waste any of it! If the food wasn't enough, the clientele made me crease with laughter because they were straight up Philly! One lady had ordered three subs for takeaway, she openly ran her mouth about the freezing temperature that the shop was! The three ladies were on their way to the 'Trap Karaoke' event that was taking place across the road were dressed to kill, their hair and nails were on prey! For me it wasn't just about the food, I was soaking up every piece of realness! What in the hell was 'Trap Karaoke' anyway? I would be finding out eventually, that nugget of ratchetness needed to be uncovered! Needless to say, I devoured my Philly chicken cheese-steak but I couldn't finish all of it because it was absolutely huge! Loving Iskhabibble's, it had been well worth the wait since those 2014 days of Philly blog research. Philadelphia was giving me those food feelings!

Walking back into the cold, I was in search of Bob & Barbara's Lounge to see Lisa Lisa's weekly Thursday night drag extravaganza. I was early, unknowingly walking in the wrong direction I was able to see South Street from a very quieter side. Even though those establishments were closed it was still interesting to see the variety that South Street served on a daily basis. I saw shop windows that featured mannequins who were wearing next to nothing, serving all kinds of risqué lingerie and the rest. Having already eaten at Ishkabibble's a little bit before my bitterly cold walk, I didn't pay any mind to the other restaurants. South Street served difference, I had been drawn to this much talked about street after one of the former Rupaul's Drag Race queens responded to my tweet. Finding Bob & Barbara's was the only thing that I wanted to do, the cold was well below zero! Pulling myself together I turned around without any haste!

Getting back into the vibe of South Street during that freezing Philadelphia night, South Street still served something vibrant without things going over the top. Getting closer to Bob & Barbara's the shops along South Street ranged from tobacco shops to vintage antique stores, the antique store front window transported me to another world! My last night out had been in Jackson Heights, Queens where things went down a Latino path, I was walking along a very different street that served something totally different! Oh, I was ready to get my drink on but that had to wait, consulting with my Apple Maps on my iPhone, I only had to walk for a few more moments. My day in Philadelphia had been full-bodied, I had seen so much! No, 2012 me would never venture down to South Street let alone stay overnight! South Street's Thursday night vibe from the outside was quiet, I could sense that what would greet me down the street would be another story entirely. I needed a drink!

Stepping foot into Bob & Barbara's transported me into a film set, giving me all the feelings of a premium dive bar! I had asked Philadelphia native, Willam Belli for advice for things to do at night in the city. William suggested that I check out the drag show at Bob & Barbara's. Ordering a hot toddy needed to happen, giving me life and the assurance that I wasn't going to freeze, I allowed myself to enjoy the environment. The venue gradually became busier and the legendary Lisa Lisa could be seen walking around the bar, greeting patrons and making slick jokes. I couldn't wait for the show to begin, something told me the queens performing would challenge my thoughts about types of drag in the best way! Getting myself another couple drinks from the bar, sure the bar filled up before the show started. I wasn't bothered about getting a good seat, it was all about snatching views of the queens to tip them well, B!

'All I Want For Christmas' was served with a smattering of 'Toni Braxton' from another performer. The first two performers slayed the venue with their nerve and uniqueness, I lived for those early performances! Serving some Christmas inspired 'Ariana Grande' with all her Christmas finery, one of the performers with blonde locks and a Mrs Christmas suit knew what to do, she brought the house down! An ebony beauty graced the stage with a sultry rendition of a song that I couldn't recall, I tipped her favourably and even got a photo taken with her! The performer in the photo above didn't have to stand, she slayed the her number with ferocity. It was only necessary to have one of the queens perform a bit of 'Liza Minelli!' I got my drink on, enjoying several double vodka cranberry, I was having the time of my life, I got my life! The night was so good and the performers opened my eyes to drag queens who served it big time, serving it with something special! Philadelphia done right!

Send Me South!

Joseph Harrison

Monday, 27 January 2020

Back To The Beginning... Philadelphia, USA!

Several years have past since that first Philadelphia moment, being back on the USA's Northeastern  coast I headed down from New York City see what was going on! Taking the Megabus wasn't planned, I wasn't stunting so needed to get to Pennsylvania's Center City within good time. Going back to the beginning was the medicine that I needed, sure I had rushed things in 2012!

Stepping down from my Megabus from New York City onto the pavements of Philadelphia's Center City streets, a sense of correctness washed over me. Snatching views of Newark Liberty International Airport on the way from NYC was magic, those memories will remain. Returning back to Philly had to be done, I had rushed around like a crazy fool during my first visit back in 2012. I gave Philadelphia's Old City the respect it deserved, taking time to appreciate the 18th Century architecture. My Starbucks Coffee that I had opposite the Megabus stop within NYC's Hudson Yards didn't satisfy my hunger pangs, I was going to revisit the Old City and Penn's Landing within good time, adding the quickness to my pace. Being back in Philadelphia felt great, I knew where I needed to go and with my hostel reservations made I didn't need to think about getting the train back like the first time. B, Philadelphia had me paying my dues!

Taking my time I headed for the Delaware River to find Penn's Landing, I had literally walked past this Philadelphia gem during my explorations within the Old City streets. Getting down to that accessible Philly waterfront area didn't take me hardly any time, acquainted with the waters that William Penn arrived in 1862. I wasn't interested by the origins of that Philadelphia landmark but after researching things, I stood in the same place that gave the state of Pennsylvania its name, but nothing else should be mentioned because that time period was questionable to say the very least. Leaving the crazy of New York City felt good, I would return the very next day. The crisp cold air that morning gave me life, the waters of the Delaware River glistening in the winters sunshine. Making plans for my then imminent UK arrival, me and my brother coordinated those airport pick up details whilst Penn's Landing served views for days! My third U.S state and city in one week! Yes, Philadelphia!

费城 knew that I needed to pay more attention with my culinary choices, I wasn't going to be endorsing any chain restaurants during that overnight visit! Nick's Bar & Grille caught my attention, serving Philly with an unassuming vibe I headed in for my first drink of the day. Taking my seat at the bar allowed to fulfil that 'All American' bar experience during that lunchtime. Going for a pint of craft cider had to be done, paying attention to the lunch time menu was the right choice to make! Cheese is no joke, I live in China right now and that dairy staple isn't cheap! Embracing my stateside location I ordered the meatballs and the mozzarella sticks, on the side I had a healthy serving of parmesan cheese for those meatballs! Soaking in the environment, I enjoyed my lunchtime treats, the cider went down nicely and the food tasted so fine! I knew that I was going to miss all that cheese! Nick's Grill & Bar served it right!

Rewinding back to my first visit to Philadelphia, I hadn't done my research nor did I completely trust those streets. Taking some years of experience and with Newark recently revisited I had no issue feeling the true vibes during my Philadelphia comeback! Letitia Street within the Old City served everything, interesting eateries fronted the period features along that clean Philadelphia street scene. My morning with Penn's Landing had felt right, the lunchtime time finds from Nick's Bar & Grille were bang on the mark! Philadelphia during that 2019 moment stood as the right decision for me to have returned in the first place. My next moves were on the way, saying no to public transportation was the order of the day. Heading towards the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall gave me another first-time flashback! It was mad, I had the feeling that I wasn't going to get lost during my Philadelphia wanderings, I remembered a lot! I was ready for the night, the afternoon had even arrived!

After stopping for one cheeky pint of cider near City Hall, my next Philadelphia endeavour was to find the heart of Philly's Center City! Embodying every inch of my Samantha James personality, I found myself in the heart of Downtown Philadelphia. I had briefly seen that part town during my 2012 visit, as with the other elements I didn't spend enough time to pay full attention. Being dealt with a second chance gave me life, it gave me an appreciation for that moment as I stood in the heart of the city with the main government buildings and courthouse as my immediate location. I had forgotten my little black bag, make no mistake I needed that because I hadn't lost my phone since it stayed safe in that bag, scouring the shops along Chestnut Street didn't prove fruitful. I didn't find a replacement, but I was acquainted with such a sweet lady in passing, her gentle manner reminded me of my friend, Chanel. So sweet!

Let me recount my random act of kindness. Ever since I returned to Newark, NJ, I had been faced with full frontal scenes of homelessness. In China it's so rare to see those kind of sights, things are so different compared with the United States. The majority of the homeless people that I saw near Newark Penn Station basically pleaded with me to give them some money, my heartstrings were pulled at but somehow for two people they still found the resources to smoke rather than to spend the money on food, choices? Very that! In Philly, as I made my way towards City Hall I saw a man sitting on the pavement looking incredible down on his luck, something told me that I needed to do act upon my thoughts. Putting a one hundred dollar bill into his cup, I wished him a happy holidays. For once I didn't pass judgement, whatever he decided to spend the money on was his choice, the fact he never begged in the first place, that gave me the sense he wouldn't squander the money. Just be kind!

My final port of call during my return visit to Philadelphia had to be the 'Gayborhood!' I had mapped out my Philly day of exploration with a fine tooth-comb, my pre-trip research allowed me to maximise my time to see many parts of the city, that included the city's kitsch corner. Lined with quirky shops and doggy pampering parlours, the understated camp nature of Philadelphia's 'Gayborhood' made me feel very comfortable indeed. I wasn't looking for any drinks within that part of town, I was looking 'Giovanni's Room'. First time around I discovered a wonderful LGBT bookstore that doubled as a thrift store, all proceedings from the thrift products go to fight HIV-AIDS. Bagging two copies of my British 'Attitude Magazine' during my 2012 visit, I settled for a copy of 'Out Traveller'. I saw an ethnic Chinese patron, I asked if the prints were popular with the Chinese students? LGBT texts are hard to find in China!

Content with my mammoth day out spent in Philadelphia, I retraced my steps back to my hostel as I had found its location that morning. Choosing Apple Hostels for the night was the right thing to do, securing reservations at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel caused me many issues. Getting my passport and other items locked away was fine, if truth be told the staff at my New York hostel in Long Island City were much friendlier. The day had been full packed but the night was about to get crazy! Giving myself sometime to freshen up and to charge my phone was just the thing that I needed to get done. Taking my time, knowing the way around city and having patience allowed to see new and familiar sights within Philadelphia's city core. The night ahead was going to be fabulous along South Street, ensuring my accommodation was near that street was hard enough to execute, I had to make the best of the situation. Returning to Philadelphia was the right thing, yes it made my trip better!

Forever Philadelphia!

Joseph Harrison 

Thursday, 23 January 2020

NYC: Rollin' On The River!

Feeling very rough from the night before, only five mimosas brought me back to life! After pulling myself together I got back onto the NYC Subway towards Hudson Yards, I had something familiar to see through new eyes and with a certain show I needed to see those special piers. Finding room for two beers, making moves towards the legendary Stonewall Inn was right!

December was the month when I first discovered the High Line, an elevated walkway that used to be a freight rail line through the Meatpacking District. It felt like a lifetime since I first visited the High Line in 2012, nostalgia was all around me in that moment. Getting off the NYC Subway at 34St-Hudson Yards I was fronted by a sea of skyscrapers and construction. It was then I saw the Megabus, I used that chance sighting as fate because I was going to get the train to Philadelphia the next day. Following the Apple Maps on my phone I found myself a brand new entrance to the High Line. Walking onto the elevated train tracks gave me breathtaking views of the Hudson River, this new section of the High Line gave me maximum life! I was feeling all of those feelings that I had felt before during that first visit, some years later the sleek elevated walkway/park gave me so much more! The High Line had me speechless!

The fashioned wood benches and abstract garden space had me feeling every second of that New York City state of mind. Nothing could interrupt my thoughts or feeling in that moment, the wind blasted one freezing chill but New York's High Line gave me everything! When had the extension been built? I had missed so much during my absence from NYC and NJ! Getting one more chance to be with the High Line felt so good, being back within that riverside location felt correct! Taking every sight in like it was the very last time, I loved it! Walking so far I didn't see it as necessary to walk to the part of the High Line that I had seen before, I had many things to accomplish that afternoon, the sunset was mad early! As I walked away from the High Line back on street level I couldn't help but notice the office types gather together around televisions in some posh lunchtime hangout, it was the trial for impeachment for the current President of the United States of America! Perfección B!

Paris was not burning during that bitterly cold afternoon in December 2019, but the memories made during that period could be felt in the air. Located near Christopher Street and the Stonewall Inn stood Pier 45 & Pier 46 along the Hudson riverside. I strolled down Christopher Street Pier past the Marsha P. Johnson Memorial Fountain, one legendary freedom fighters for civil rights for the Transgender and Gay movement. The rainbows told me that Christopher Street Pier held the same as the street because of its LGBT reference and commemorations. If truth be told I lived for Pier 46 along the Hudson riverside. Taking my chosen photo was something of a task because I wanted to catch the piers in the sunset, so much had happened along those piers. I tried to figure out at the same time how the ballroom queens and working T-girls would walk and dance along the piers. The piers were serving Hudson River realness!

It's January 2020 and I have just finished watching the first two seasons of 'Pose FX'. That legendary show took me by the hand, showing me the piers in the most artistic and raw fashion. The ballroom culture features around the early 90s NYC on the brink of the HIV-AIDS epidemic. Intrinsically linked with the Trans advocate Marsha P. Johnson, the immediate area held significant to that community within New York City's rainbow population. Hopping back to that cold December 2019 afternoon, the fact those piers stood quiet gave an eery feeling, I had visited this area for that reason to understand more about a time that would have been my fight, looking back on their time its becoming parent this generation might have to fight all over again! I could visualise Blanca looking for new house children along the piers, with Pray Tell strutting along the same pier in his flamboyant get up! The piers near Christopher Street schooled me and Pose helped me put my visit into perspective! Yes!

There's one bar that I had to visit, the Stonewall Inn was something that I didn't think about when I actually lived across the Hudson River in Newark, New Jersey! Getting myself from the piers before the sun had set, I propped up the bar with a beer to soak in that heroic NYC LGBT boozer! Claimed as a National Monument and U.S. National Historic Landmark, during one hot summer night in 1969 the patrons at the Stonewall Inn that night fought back after the police made another raid. I have seen bits of information about the riots and to see the people from the LGBT community fight back with such ferocity, their heated rioting did just the ticket to get the police off their backs to leave them to their fabulous everyday business! Those movements made on that summers night forged the way for New York City first Gay Pride parade on June 28, 1970. Truly, Lower Manhattan's truth has helped me study my hersory!

With the riots taking place in 1969, the escape of the ballrooms in the 80s and 90s must have felt like a holiday? Through the rioting and pride marches, the community worldwide stands together with venues such as NYC's Stonewall Inn. As I sat the bar I got talking to a lovely lady, she was part of the LGBT community and what we spoke about wasn't important it was just nice to meet a kind human being. That half day in Lower Manhattan zoomed past, from the new riverside views along the High Line's extended route to the 'Pose' worthy piers near Christopher Street, the day ended with a beer or two at the Stonewall Inn without any hiccups. Learning my herstory and recapturing Christopher Streets kitsch nature, it was like NYC Pride all over again, those years past had made things look more vivid. Taking the NYC Subway back to my Long Island City station had to be the one, the mimosas and beers had worn off, I needed to sleep properly before going to Philly. NYC kept on giving me more!

I Know My Herstory!

Joseph Harrison

Friday, 3 January 2020

Jackson Heights, Queens: After Hours!

After waking up from one beautiful 'disco' nap, my explorations around Brooklyn had me feeling sleepy! I had faith in my pre-trip research, not drinking much since arriving into New York City I had only had a few ciders in Bushwick the previous day. Starting off in the hostel bar with a few Long Island's had to be done! My Korean roommate made great pre-drinks company!

Dressing in my best, I found myself a seat at the bar within my Long Island City hostel. I wasn't about to leave the city without having a few Long Island Ice Teas in that neighbourhood that was aptly named. Along with my Korean roommate from my dorm, we shared a few drinks before I headed out to Jackson Heights. The conversation was great, we spoke about languages and the Korean Peninsula as I had been to both sides of the DMZ. He was very interested about my time spent in Pyongyang because it's not cool for South Koreans to cross the DMZ borderline. It hadn't been long since my weekend of craziness in Seoul, that also made for good conversation. The drinks were going down nicely and I hadn't even made it to the Subway at that point. Turning things blue, I opted for one Blue Long Island Ice Tea! The night was still young at that point, my disco nap and pre-drinks had me ready! I was ready for Jackson Heights! 

Heading out of my hostel I headed for Court Square's 7 Train platform, taking the Subway towards Flushing to Roosevelt Av-Jackson Height Subway Station. I had made tracks the previous day to that area, half piecing together my route from my research and the previous day made things work somehow. Walking under the tracks gave me the sense for that colourful neighbourhood as the train crossed the tracks that were above me. I already knew where my drunk food would be coming from, that Colombian eatery had been found online after I had randomly googled photos of Downtown Newark. The Spanish writing on the shop front reminded me of my first ever Jackson Heights visit during October 2012, I had no idea about what kind of venues that could be found along Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, NY. Feeling thirsty I had my provisional driving license ready, I never need to carry I.D in China! Did I feel safe? Yes, I felt in-control and if truth be told the streets treated me well.

Finding 'Friend's Tavern' was easier than I had previously thought it would have been! Getting my I.D approved I made my way for the bar, ordering Corona's to begin with seemed like something sensible to do. Getting into the beats, everything was mad Latino and that was fine with me! Embracing the Spanish music and drinks had me on the dance-floor, living my best life of course! The clientele were mostly speaking in Spanish, the guys I was speaking to spoke English just fine. Going for my first margarita had to be done, I took my first taste to be greeted with a huge tequila kick! Loving the music some more I enjoyed that Jackson Heights nightspot to the fullest! The drinks kept flowing and if truth be told I was living for my own company, I enjoyed my night and that was the only priority! The latin beats and drinks at 'Friend's Tavern was all that I needed within that Queens spot. Another margarita, that tequila though!

Stepping out for a little bit, I made my way to 'Hombre's Lounge' to check out another Jackson Heights Latin Gay venue. Being a weeknight things were quiet but no quieter than 'Friend's Tavern' was. There was Spanish karaoke going on, getting my Corona seen off I made my way back to 'Friend's Tavern' for a few more beverages and a good dance on down! How my previous visit to Jackson Heights in 2012 had been during the daytime with no alcoholic drinks consumed, the Indian food enjoyed during that previous visit was equally as spicy like the talent during my boozed up 2019 visit. If I had visited at the weekend, those Latin go-go dancers would have impressed me much! Yes, for me to find such a venue that brought some different looks and sounds compared with my usual China nighttime venues. I enjoyed my last drinks before making my timely exit from 'Friend's Tavern', I had consumed enough drink and had danced for my life! Jackson Heights served fuego! ¿Comida?

I was hungry like nobody's business, tracking down 'La Abundancia' during my walk from the Subway Station gave me those Colombian cravings instantly! Greeted with straight up Colombian realness, apparently they didn't have any menu so I asked the lady to put whatever she thought tasted good onto a plate. Grabbing a can of 'Postobon Manzana (apple pop), how badly I needed something to balance the alcohol that I had just downed between 'Friend's Tavern' and 'Hombre's Lounge'. Finding a table within the empty Colombian bakery and cafe allowed me to dig into my packed plate. I was getting all kinds of flavours, the beans in gravy blended so well with the meat that was on my plate. Getting my rice fix was more than appreciated, along with the plantain that had been cooked to perfection, I was living my food fantasy in that moment of drunkenness in the centre of Jackson Heights, Queens! La mejor comida!

La Abundancia translates into 'plenty' in Spanish, I enjoyed my abundant Colombian plate of deliciousness! The music that was playing reminded me of Puerto Rican Reggaeton music, in that moment I loved the Latin American and South American vibe of that corner of New York City! After finishing my Colombian feast I made my way back to the same Subway Station that I arrived at a couple of hours before, getting the train back to Court Sq was surprisingly easy because I knew during early morning hour that my Colombian meal would keep me on the right track. The night definitely was a success, I didn't put myself in any stupid situations and best of all I didn't lose anything! Finding my hostel without any issues I had one of the best sleeps of the holiday, after that night my jet-lag disappeared! Jackson Heights gave me my NYC night out with a Latino spice! Let's just say the next day I needed five mimosas to bring me back to life! ¡La ciudad de Nueva York lo sirvió todo! ¡Gracias Q!

¡Bebidas, música y comida Colombiana!

Joseph Harrison 

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Who's Calling? ... It's Brooklyn, NYC!

Brooklyn had been part of my New York City days out during my 2012 year whilst I lived in New Jersey, but if truth be told I had so much more to discover within that borough of the city. Taking things slow, I knew that such a task needed two days to tackle the four segments that I wanted to achieve during my jammed schedule. From DUMBO to Bushwick, I was mad for it B! 

Going back to Brooklyn was something that I had wanted to do, during those pre-trip planning days I made sure that four parts of the borough would be explored and then some. Taking the train from my hostel a little later during that morning compared to the previous day, I headed for DUMBO. My GPS went crazy with my path but the views over the waters facing Manhattan were amazing, not being bitter but I had limited time so I wanted to get on with things! Going down the hill that crossed with Doughty Street had me facing the Brooklyn Bridge from a very different angle, the first time around I only walked across the bridge back in December 2012. Wanting to spend some time under the bridge, I mooched around the swish area that oozed something special with its restored vibe. I wasn't allowed to walk up-to the water because one of the sidings were being used for filming. Sure, the views were just ace B!

DUMBO looked so swish as I mentioned above, with the Brooklyn Bridge sweeping down in one direction and the class New York City style buildings sitting on ground level, it was such a darling NYC sight to see. DUMBO wasn't one of the places that I had originally planned to visit during that first part of the day but the Brooklyn Bridge Park had me using my time to reach, it was to be that DUMBO found me first. The morning was a chilly one indeed, finding a cute Italian looking restaurant along the parade of shops and restaurants below the bridge had to be done! The atmosphere of the place oozed Christmas in NYC, they had specials on winter spiced drinks so I enjoyed two mulled wines for good measure. Being only my second full day on the East Coast of America, the feeling to have seen so much already felt like such a blessing. I got talking to some ladies who were from England but their vibe wasn't what I wanted to be around. Finishing my wine, I moved onto to find Bushwick! Cider!

Taking what felt like three different trains I reached the artsy neighbourhood of Bushwick, known as the 'Bushwick Collective' for the warehouses and spray paint and graffiti street art that has caused quite a stir with people looking for a slice of an alternative New York City within Brooklyn. After remembered seeing Kiesza's music video to her song 'Hideaway', I had to see the colourful graffiti street within Brooklyn's Bushwick Collective. Getting off the L Train at Jefferson Street had me fronted by a hazy splash of colours, I loved it! Needing the toilet I found the Cobra Club and not being rude I stayed for two pints of craft cider. The alternative vibe of Bushwick made me feel as if I had transported myself to another world! Yes, it was trendy and I saw those preppy 'hot yoga' studios, getting it together I knew that I was just in Bushwick for the street art because it looked off the scale! Yes, Bushwick was superb!

Impressed by the nature of Bushwick as I walked within its collective state of art, I lived for the harsh contrast that the warehouses gave the immediate area. I sure thought that my Chinese artist friends would love to visit this part of the city for the photo taking and gallery visits. Art isn't my cup of tea but I appreciated the views and enjoyed witnessing the difference. Feeling thirsty once again, I found 'The Rookery' for another pint or two of delicious craft cider, it was holiday time and nobody was going to judge me for those choices! Taking my seat at the bar, the clientele weren't on my level for many reasons but I wasn't there to make friends. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with a side serving of tomato soup, no word of a lie it was the best decision made of the day! The Bushwick Collective part of my day was filled with colours and off the wall graffiti and delicious food and drinks. On the way to a friends for the night, Brooklyn would be continued the next day! Done!

So, call me crazy but I didn't know why I found myself awake at 3am in the morning, but nonetheless I got myself back onto the streets to continue my Brooklyn odyssey. Leaving my friends apartment in Jackson Heights I went for the biggest American breakfast at a nearby Denny's. With it still being like nighttime I finished my breakfast, got back out onto the street with the nearest NYC Subway station in mind that would take me directly to Coney Island. I already knew that the boardwalk at Coney Island wouldn't be lively, I was fine with that because I had never seen it during my time in 2012, it was somewhere that I just needed to step foot in, that was all! Arriving into Coney Island signified to me that the weather would be horrendous for the whole day, that wasn't going to stop me because I wanted to see everything! Grabbing a much needed boost, I went into Dunkin Donuts to refuel for the morning ahead of me.

Braving the crosswalk construction site as I walked across the road, I was fronted with a place that instantly reminded me of Point Pleasant Beach with a hint of Blackpool for good measure. During the rain I could imagine how this Brooklyn Pleasure Beach hideaway would be a getaway for the city people to have some fun on the rides and eat some seriously delicious yet unhealthy snacks. I walked slowly towards the promenade with an air of caution, I loathe seagulls and Coney Island's were the same size as dogs! The rain and wind did nothing to impress me during that promenade moment but it was the weather I was meant to experience in that moment. Even though the whole of the promenade was shut it did nothing to dampen my spirits even if I was getting soaked by the incoming showers, how had the weather been so settled the day before? I had sealed the deal with my third Brooklyn sight and with time on my side I wanted to revisit the Hasidic Jewish enclave along Lee Av next.

My timings were on-point that morning that I still had two hours before Gottilieb's Restaurant would be opening. Fearing not I took a walk down memory lane once again, finding Lee Avenue so easily it was such a treat to see the children take the Hebrew marked school buses as I walked towards my chosen avenue. The Kosher delicatessen's and bakers looked just the same, some had certain renovations that made them look more modern. Being Hanukkah lots of shops and establishments within that closely guarded neighbourhood stood closed. I caught glimpses of the children's clothes shops, how cute those Kosher clothes looked! Stumbling past 'Tiv Tov' reminded me of my August 2012 day of exploration, that was the first time I had ever walked into an ultra Jewish neighbourhood. Stopping for a hot chocolate and some marble cake, I wondered about the time that I still had until Gottilieb's would be opening! Oh, the rain!

I had a moment of madness, leaving Brooklyn for Hudson Yards 34st because I thought that the rain would subside, then I would be able to save some time by seeing the High Line. Coming to my senses I jumped back on the train to Marcy Av, thankfully by some miracle my Kosher feast could begin! I ordered a bowl of chicken soup that contained Matzoh balls and noodles. Going for a slice of the potato kugel had to be done, the pastrami looked divine so I had to have some within a rye bread sandwich. Needing a drink I chose carefully, wanting to keep it all Kosher I chose a can of Coke because that soft drink has always been known for being certified Kosher. I took my time, I honestly enjoyed every single bite of my sandwich and slurp of my Jewish penicillin. I had never tried potato kugel before that day, I had only just seen it on documentaries about Jewish life. The kugel tasted mad good! Thankfully I made the journey back to my hostel, to fall into a lovely disco nap! Yes!

Blinding Brooklyn!

Joseph Harrison