We had a late start today. You see, we go to sleep around… 5am! I haven’t quite figured out if it’s jetlag, our bodies not adjusting very well to the time difference or the fact that we are staying 3 blocks from Times Square so it is literally buzzing with noise, food and people outside all the time. Either way, our sleep patterns are way out of wack. We have decided tomorrow we will arise with one eye open if needs be at a more godly hour to get a good crack at the day. On the positive side (which, let’s be honest, is our favourite side) New York is also running all the time, so we had a full action packed day today right up until dinner time at 1am. Ha! Incidentally, our midnight feast was where we had our first crack at adding tax and gratuity to our bill! Carry the 1, denominator…
We headed off, with our kirituhi kauae on, ready for the day ahead.
We had planned to head to Brooklyn to check out our venue for next week. So we went down to the subway ready to get some stuff done. Thanks to Eden (Vie’s brother) who knows his way around, there really isn’t that much fluffing we do in terms of travelling around here because he knows all the tracks. Vienna is clever and since it’s my second time here, I know what a train looks like. HA! The New York subway system is AMAZING. The amount of “lines” you can take and the way you get around is honestly one of the most thorough and well thought out systems I’ve ever seen. If you’re gonna come to New York, and you don’t have a cool local to help you not get lost, grab this free app called HOPSTOP. It will show you all the lines you need to take, Blue, Orange, Red and Green etc. Once you’re on the right “line” there are F, C, Q, Z etc trains depending on where you want to go. It’s not rocket science but you do need to be confident enough to stop strangers and ask if you get lost. The last thing you want to be is a million stops away from your destination in the wrong direction. Everyone loves a trier, but everyone loves someone that asks for directions instead of getting lost even more.
We sat down, our train today was running with 4 and 7 minute gaps. While I was sitting this kid next to me asked me about my moko. His name was Dominique. I noticed him drawing and I noticed he had doodled all up his arm, and they were really good. He was dope! He wanted one straight away, so I explained “well the one I’m wearing is for female to wear”. Next thing I know, another kid listening in jumps in and is like “oh yeah, the guy ones have it all over their face right?”. I was stunned! It’s funny because he knew more about it than most of the adults that have bothered to ask instead of just stare so far on this trip. So, we talked to him about Moko, we talked to him about Maori and we were able to leave our cute little friend Dominique with a reminder of some of the stuff he had just learned about our culture.
“Hi I’m Dominique and this is a moko and I’m from Brooklyn”
I also noticed today, so much more staring than we experienced the other day. I don’t know if was because of where we were? We were in the subway a lot more, in a smaller confined space and with more people in close proximity to our faces. Lol. But it felt like the amount of people looking at our moko was next level. I managed to secretly snap a vid of some of their reactions. Check this and then imagine this ALL day!
How funny is the guy at the end! So happy/amazed to get a close up look of my moko! We got up close and personal in the subway carriages again too- some of the regular commuters have amazing balance! Got a sneaky shot of one guy we hailed as Boss of the Subway- he was holding and reading a book with one hand, and holding his man satchel with the other, he barely even swayed when the train stopped and started at each station! Kill’n it Subway master! (woops, totes got snapped taking a sneaky pic! Haha)
So our trip to see the venue got a bit sidetracked. For anyone that knows Vienna and I, that’s kind of normal. It’s not that we are really unorganised, okay maybe a little bit that, but I like to think that we just look to enjoy the things that come our way. This time, that just so happened to be Grand Central Terminal (Station to nearly the whole world, but we were corrected that it was wrong haha)
This part of the day was cool, and by cool, I mean really freaken awesome. See, we decided pretty much straight away that we were going to do some shots here. We walk around everywhere here with a Soldiers Rd ready bag, equipped with all we need to give myself the vintage makeover to clash with the iconic and sometimes urban backdrops that are New York City. Vienna is on hand with her camera to shoot. We are literally like walking art. Especially here. So we did some shots in the middle of Grand Central Terminal. The awesome thing about Vienna and I is that we work so well together. She knows what I’m like and I know what she’s like. She also has the most amazing eye to accompany my crazy ideas. Somehow our artistic chemistry just works. I think this shot we got in Grand Central was one of those times. (So excited to show you guys these shots!) We caught the eye of so many people who watched from afar or even came up to ask more about what they saw. One awesome lady from Chicago who is the an executive for ProActive skin care gave us her card and said that she was now our “contact for when we wanted to come to Chicago”. Can you believe it!
After working around Grand Central for about an hour, we were hungry! Vienna and I are big on food, Vienna is more of an expert baker/cook and I’m just an expert eater. Another reason why we make a good team.
At Eden’s recommendation we headed downstairs to Shake Shack. If anyone has ever been to In & Out Burgers in LA, this is kind of the same thing. The burgers are basic and they are boss. Just really really yummy with a mean pattie, a bit of lettuce, tomato, cheese and some sauce. But somehow so much nicer than other ones. The dough of the bun is a bit different/softer too. Order a chocolate shake as well. They taste like Ben and Jerry’s chocolate ice cream melted in a cup. It’s a sweet little spot downstairs from the main terminal in Grand Central and if you’re nearby, go eat there!
On a side note, I’m not sure how you’ve ever perceived Grand Central Terminal, but you could literally spend a day looking around there. It has heaps of shops, MAC, an Apple store, clothes, honestly everything you would find at a really awesome mall back home. Go downstairs to where Shake Shack is and there are about 5 other food places all around it. Just around the corner from there are some market type stalls. It’s almost an attraction in itself.
We stopped off at MAC, basically because we are girls and it is MAC. This part was crackup. You see, as soon as we walked in and started talking to the workers there, they straight away wanted to know about our kirituhi moko. Probably because it is something they have never seen before, it’s on our face and they are makeup artists. So, unfortunately for Eden, we were in the MAC makeup store for a good 45 minutes. Sharing our business, sharing our culture, talking about our portraits and what we do. We even did Moko on some of the workers there to rock around at work! Shout out’s to Rene and Ashleigh! You guys are too jazzy. FYI. The funny thing is, I think this could only have happened in New York. Like, I’m just assuming here, but I shop at MAC back home a fair bit, so I get a good enough vibe on the place. I doubt that we could walk into MAC in NZ and they would let us put Moko on their workers and let them rock it around work for the day while they sold to customers. I find that strange, how you can come to New York and be embraced for your difference but that back home people may be offended by it. Food for thought. Anyway, we bought stuff from there too. Lol. Couple of lipsticks and some much needed Skin Finish powder to go along with some makeup brush cleaner. MAC makeup in the states is like, ridiculously cheaper than it is at home. I don’t know how much the plane ticket costs for it to get to us, but man, we are getting RIPPED! Lol.
We then headed to Brooklyn. Finally, after 5 hours of being sidetracked, we reached our destination, just in time to catch the New York Festival of Lights. WOAH! Firstly, getting there was crazy. Because everyone was trying to head there, and New York is packed with people, after we got off the train and headed for the exit there was a bit of a line, and I’m not talking, let’s all wait in a nice single file line to get out the gate. I’m talking, a million people cramped into a tunnel where you couldn’t actually see the destination, or the gate, for at least 5 minutes and just people, boobs to back kind of proximity close the whole way. I’ve never been in a Zombie apocalypse, (Vienna and Eden are both huge on Zombie movies so it must have been fresh on my mind) but that is EXACTLY what this situation felt like, if ever there was to be one. The funny thing is, nobody pushed. There was no screaming or yelling of “what the hell is going on up there”. Everyone just sussed it out in a very cramped orderly fashion. I guess when you live here long enough, it helps just to work in with the million other people sharing your space!
New York Festival of Lights was craaaazy! There was a full disco ball Micheal Jackson guy dancing on top of something he could have easily fallen off. There were lasers going and an opera singer/ accordion player performing with the laser light show. There were people and food and lights, lights and lights everywhere! We loved it. Just took it all in. Its amazing just how much stuff goes on in the city, all night.
We decided to cruise, but NOT the way we came because being cramped back into the subway with the outgoing tide seemed like a silly idea. So we went off walking to the subway stops a few blocks down and on the way we actually caught some AMAZING views. Of course, with amazing views and sights comes inspiration and would you believe it, but in 0 degrees, this Maori stripped down to her singlet to get changed again for some shots with the skyline and Manhattan bridge backdrop.
We had a Russian photographer stop to see what we were doing- now if a Russian is shivering, you know its cold! So she probably thought we were crazy. We just used the lighting from the street lights and the bright city backdrop and it played right into our hands. Here’s a funny side note- Vienna has to deal with photographers giving her their 10 cents all the freaken time! I think they find it crazy how she just uses the bare essentials of lighting and reflection (pretty much whatever we have and the lighting around us). I think by nature, kiwis and Maori are really resourceful. We work with what we’ve got, which isn’t that much most of the time, but we make it work. This is what Vienna does and we really don’t need to point out that her shots work. It’s obvious they do, you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now if they didn’t. Lol. She’s good at what she does, so we always have to have a little chuckle at photographers that come to question her technique or just look on in awe at her amazing skills.
On our walk back to the Subway (we are still in Brooklyn at this stage) we saw that there was an open art space selling books and handing out free drinks and showcasing some artwork, and did I mention that it was freezing outside?? So you know what we did. In we popped to “check” it all out and grab some warmth. Turns out it was pretty awesome. There must have been a launch of something, because there was a guy in there signing books and lots of people trying to talk to him. This space was HUGE, and it had a little bit of everything. There were photos on display on the walls with their explanations. There were tables and tables of books and people just standing around reading and buying them. There was a drinks table next to the guy launching and signing his book. There were church pews in the back and huge steps leading up the wall for you to sit on and watch a video of time lapse photographs from someone riding around on a motorbike in India or somewhere like that. There was even a Sitar player and a bongo guy creating some sweet mood sounds. We thawed out a bit there and had a nosey. I enjoyed it, kind of got a cool sense of how anything goes in Brooklyn and how art there is pretty much the life source of the place. I’ve heard that from a friend that lives here, but I got to see it first hand. That was neat.
So Friday the 7th of November proved to be a busy one for us here in New York. Our culture is rich in originality and our country is lucky to have it so ingrained. People here are curious, rude, excited, ignorant and all of the above when they see us on the streets. But that’s what we came here for, to showcase our beautiful culture in a place like New York!
Stay tuned for blog post #3. We go watch the All Blacks smash England at a place called The Australian, and bump into and hang out with some Maori people living full time in Manhattan!
T & V