Guest post by Dinah Burke
New York, New York…. it’s a beautiful town” as the song goes. Well actually that’s an apt description. It’s a monumental town -the skyscrapers loom over the city centre like gargantuan concrete and steel trees; some of them such as the Empire State Building beautiful and almost delicate in their design.
It’s a town brimming with iconic images – approaching the overwhelming mass of Manhattan while shivering on the Staten Island Ferry; sitting on the park bench underneath the Brooklyn Bridge much as Woody Allen and Diane Keaton did in the film “Manhattan”; ice-skating in Central Park at night watching the bulbs from the surrounding tower block apartments twinkle like perennial fairy lights; drinking in one of the trendy bars by the old dockyard and reminiscing about Marlon Brando battling for employment in the docks in the film “On the Waterfront”; driving underneath the elevated railway line where Gene Hackman careered wildly against the oncoming traffic in frantic pursuit of the cold-eyed assassin in “The French Connection”.
Much of the city is an open-air film set. It’s a cultural town- The Museum of Modern Art is unfussy and unpretentious but contains some marvels of contemporary art. At the Rockefeller Centre you can watch rehearsals of renowned international orchestras for free as well as testing yourself on an ice- skating rink; live jazz is as prevalent in New York as in New Orleans or Paris. It’s a multi- cultural town- all human lfe is there: every language and dialect is available on the streets: any variety of food is available day or night: specialist ethnic food stores proliferate.
Most of all it is a dynamic town – it’s the city that never sleeps; the hum of traffic around the clock; the assertive tones of native New Yorkers in shops, bars and restaurants sounding alien to the restrained ears of buttoned-up Anglo- Saxons. It’s the same language but a radically different culture,