America Trip 2007


Laundro-net, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Hudson reminded me of Northern Exposure. I kept expecting to see a moose sauntering down the street. It’s a city with a strong arts community, and the only place in our travels where I was happy to arder tea (and Earl Grey at that). We stayed at a greta B&B run by a pair of ex-punks (one of whom was also a former drag queen) and ate at the Red Dot restaurant.

Hudson photo album.


Pylons, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

It may not be as fast as flying, or as convenient as driving, but travelling by rail is still an interesting way to see a country. You tend to se the less well off parts of towns- the industrial and formerly industrial areas etc. I took a few photos from the Amtrak.

Amtrak picture gallery

Museum of Sex (Do I need to say NSFW?)

Furry head, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Skippy and I visited the Museum of Sex whilst in Manhattan. It was only three or four blocks away from our hotel and we found some money off vouchers. (Who am I kidding. Once I’d found it, I had to visit.)

I was surprised by the openness to photography in this and other museums and galleries I visited (but most especially in this one). There also seemed to be lots of dark, unwatched corners in the Sex and the Moving Image display that could become sticky with the wrong visitors.

The third room had an interesting array of displays, including many that could inform the Perfect Sex Toy project. I have the Sex Machines book to use as reference as well. There were also some really cool robot sex dioramas by an artist called Michael Sullivan. Wired has a gallery of his work.

The Museum celebrated its fifth birthday recently (there’s also video of the event at Fleshbot).

Museum of Sex photo set

Manhattan photoset

Carlton Arms, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

A selection of my photos from Manhattan are (and Staten Island) are up on Flickr now.

Manhattan photo set

We lit up Niagara

Horseshoe Falls, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

At night the two falls at Niagara are illuminated from the Canadian side by 21 xenon spotlights, each with an output in excess of 390 million candlepower. They’re World War Two spotlights retrofitted with German 4 kilowatt bulbs (the Canadians do do irony).

For a wonderful fifteen minutes last Monday night, we were in charge of them.

The lights are mounted on a building that used to be part of the hydroelectric power station. We elected to have dinner in the tap & grill under the tower. During the meal we got to see a press conference about lighting the falls purple for October to raise awareness of domestic abuse. Afterwards one of the photographers set up next to us to capture shots of the purple lights as they came on. He told us a secret. If we went round the back of the building and rang the doorbell, we might get to look around the control room.

So we paid for our meal and headed up the steep driveway that led round the back of the building. There was a car park and, almost hidden, a door. We had Manda ring the bell, because she’s the cute one who can get away with all sorts of things. For a while it seemed no-one was answering, but eventually and old guy opened the door. When we stammered through an explanation of why we were there he let us in.

He showed us through a workshop wallpapered with news items and letters out onto the balcony behind the first bank of lights then into the control room. Here he went over to a big panel and started flicking turn switches, showing us how to change the gels in front of the lights. With a suggestion that we left all changes for at least thirty seconds, so people could get pictures, he wandered off.

We tried to get red, white and blue on the American Falls, but just couldn’t seem to get the combination right. Otherwise, we had great fun, especially when thinking about all the lighting geeks we know who’d be so jealous. We may have broken the thirty second rule once or twice, but I swear it was accidental. When we were done the operator gave us certficates saying “I lit up Niagara Falls”, treasured possessions.

So, if you were in Niagara on the 1st of October and wondered what the hell was going on with the lights, it was probably us. Sorry.

For more pictures from Niagara, check out the Niagara set on Flickr.


JOE038, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Given to Mark and his mother, who were staying in the same hostel as us in Buffalo. They shall leave it somewhere interesting on their travels.

The Old House Abroad

The Old House Abroad, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

We travelled three and a half thousand miles to end up in a bar called McGregors where the beer mats advertised a pub two streets away from my house. Globalisation, eh.

Mr and Mrs Harry and Meg

Mr and Mrs Harry and Meg, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

And this is the reason we’re in the States. In a short but really sweet ceremony Harry and Meg got married.

Papaya King

On Wednesday I managed to accidentally have lunch in a New York landmark. I’d read about the predominantly New York phenomenon of hot dog and fruit juice stands somewhere online, so when I spotted Papaya King across the street I decided to give it a go.

The original store was opened by a Greek deli owner to serve exotic fruit juices. Being in a predominantly German neighbourhood there was a demand for frankfurters to go with the drinks. Oddly enough, the combination worked and became quite popular. (Courtesy of wikipedia)

Obviously I didn’t know any of this when I went in, but read about it in an article pinned to the window. I had the Chilli Double, two chilli dogs and a juice drink. The chilli wasn’t so strong, but the hotdogs were better than the one I had under Grand Central, and the papaya juice was thick and sweet.

Later, I found myself giving directions to an employee of Tavern on the Green for another Central Park landmark. But that’s another story.

That's better

That’s better, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Our Rochester hotel is significantly swisher than the one in New York. The Mouse approves.