My name is Don J Whistance….
On Tuesday, 8th September 2015 someone suggested that I write a blog about my experiences in New York City and beyond…..so here goes!
Saturday, 20th June 2015
A friend drove me to the Bournemouth Coach station where I boarded a coach to a Heathrow Airport Terminal to fly out to New York on Saturday, 20th June 2015. I had never flown over such a long distance and found myself talking to an American couple who had flown to the UK to visit their daughter who was studying at one of the Universities that are scattered throughout the Highlands & Lowlands of Scotland…
I can recommend flying with Virgin Airways as they were very accommodating and appeared to feed you none stop!! The cost of the return flight was just over £550….arrived at JFK airport around seven hours later and after passing through customs boarded a Metro to Howard Beach station where we all got off and paid $6 to pass through the barrier to the main Metro terminal. The station master suggested purchasing a Metro card for the month for $117. This allowed me to travel through New York City for approximately $4 per day. Which was very cheap..
Sunday, 21st June 2015
I travelled on the Metro to my first of four “Airbnb” accommodations arriving late on Saturday, 20th June 2015 in Brooklyn. The room was very basic and just off from the main apartment where a family of three lived in their cramped lounge alongside their bedroom and a small ‘rest room’. In America, the word ‘toilet’ is not usually uttered aloud. I realised that I would need to find a local bar to escape to and the elongated Irish bar just across the road from the apartment was where I based myself over the next three nights. The evening passed by with the help of several flat screen TV’s showing the Women’s World Cup which was eventually won by the USA team…
The single bed in Brooklyn….
On Sunday I took the Metro under the Brooklyn bridge and into Manhatten…
Bedford-Nostrand was the nearest Metro station and is located on the right of the map below:
Walking towards the Metro station, I spied upon a wall a beautiful statement which was captured on my ‘philosophical’ mobile phone:
The Metro underground is made up of numbers and letters (N, Q). So the RED underground line includes 1, 2 and 3 trains. Often when on a train there will be an announcement – This is the ONE train….next stop W42 Street. This is Times Square and it was important to take a photograph of a building here:
In Times Square people were celebrating the “Solstice” by praying using their bright, red mat:
Times Square on W42St. would become the ‘focal’ point through my six week stay…..although my initial impression was that I wanted to return to the ‘peace and tranquility’ of Dorset in South-West England! After a few days I decided to embrace the experience.
I was here to attend a Meisner Technique course at The Actors Studio and to search for any Steve McQueen locations in Manhatten and in particular Greenwich Village which is where McQueen was based as a twenty year old after leaving the Marines.
My first website: http://www.stevemcqueen-justclickhere.com has a LINK page to some images of New York which I made reference to during my residency in NYC…
The second underlying reason for my visit was to locate where The Clash ‘punk’ band had performed at The Palladium and Bonds and where they had lived during their visits to NYC. My other website: http://www.theclash.org.uk was used as a reference point…
In 1962, Steve McQueen filmed The Great Escape in Germany in locations around Munich, Bavaria, Pfronten, Hopfen-Am-See and Fusson and over a five year period all the locations linked to this iconic war film were located with friends and fans and the website: http://www.thegreatescapelocations.com was produced. But between June and the end of July 2015, it was the turn of America to welcome my presence and a Blog would be detailed and maybe a ‘Steve McQueen Manhatten’ website would be created in the near future.
in 1963, Love With A Proper Stranger was filmed in Manhatten with Steve McQueen & Natalie Wood and one of the scenes was filmed inside the World famous store, Macey at 151, West 34th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.
And of course, all good cities has a cowboy of some sort or another:
Steve McQueen attended the Neighbourhood Playhouse at 340 East 54 Street in New York in 1951…
Steve McQueen obtained a two year scholarship to attend the HB Studios…
McQueen auditioned for the Actors Studio at 432 West 44th Street in the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood of Manhatten in New York (Founded: October 5th, 1947).
On Monday, 22nd June 2015 I stood outside The Actors Studio on West 44th Street, not realising that I should have been at The Acting Studio in W54th Street for the Meisner Technique acting course….
Arriving late was something that appeared to go against me over the next 6 weeks at The Acting Studio as my tutor was always dropping a comment about an Englishman abroad…
We commenced the session with the Meisner Technique of ‘repetition’ which is where you sit opposite your partner on a chair and you describe something about them:
“You have a blue top on.”
They repeat in the ‘first person’ :
“I have a blue top on.”
This continues until there is an ‘impulse’ to change the response:
“You are smiling at me.”
“I am smiling at you.”
The classes were on a Monday, Wednesday and a Friday from 1.00pm to 4.00pm.
I immediately made friends with a colleague who was based in New Jersey and travelled into Manhatten each day, which took her approximately two hours. Over the six weeks we would find different Irish Pubs nearby to drink and chat before she travelled back to New Jersey on a coach from Port Authority Bus Terminal at 625 8th Avenue.
Whenever I had a spare moment I would search for locations linked to The Clash punk band and to Steve McQueen and Neile Adams. On Broadway, Neile appeared at St.James Theatre at 246, W44th Street –
Steve McQueen appeared in a play ‘A Hatful of Rain’ at the Lyceum Theatre at 149, W45th Street –
Opposite the Lyceum Theatre was where I took coffee – BOND 45 Restaurant….
Monday, 22nd June 2015
The Clash locations included – The Hit Factory at 421, West 54th Street & The Plaza at 17, Plaza Place –
Tuesday, 23rd June 2015y
Moved from the Brooklyn accommodation onto the “One train” and up to 635, 137th St.Nicholas Avenue, Upper Manhattan, the heart of Harlem. Up a lift and the 6th Floor where a room awaited with a single bed and a bathroom with table and chair. The ‘artistic’ flat had four bedrooms, a communal bathroom, a dining room, lounge and a kitchen area. Already, I have provisionally booked this abode fro next June/July 2016!!
The Clash played at the Palladium, NYC on the 21st September 1979 and Paul Simonon smashed his bass guitar – East 14th Street between Irving Place and Third Avenue –
The building is now called “TRADER JOE’S WINE SHOP” !!
Monday, 29th June 2015
Walking through Manhattan, my British humour kicked in as I spied a dead “War of the Worlds” alien-spider in the form of a yellow taxi which are allowed to dominate the Manhattan landscape on a daily basis..
Saturday, 4th July 2015
The weekend allowed time for Manhatten to be explored and with it the unexpected such as this “Pop-Up” shop which had an Aladdin cave of art and more art…