Thursday, January 10, 2008

If I Can Make It There, I Can Make It Anywhere

I did make it here 2 months ago today, so it's probably past due that I blog about my journey (sounds like I just got eliminated from American Idol and they're about to roll my highlight reel).

This trip caps off what has been by far the most travel-filled 18 months of my life. In August '06 I went to Scotland for 10 days (for work), then that December went to the Las Vegas Bowl with David. In January I made a quick trip to LA to go to Disneyland and audition for VH1's World Series of Pop Culture, then in May made an even quicker trip out there with my brother Adam to check out Dodger Stadium's new all-you-can-eat section. In the summer I spent 2 weeks in Orlando working on an independent film with my friend John (and checking out the Bon Jovi tribute band at Epcot), and also made trips to Idaho, Wyoming and Lake Powell for various comedy shows, hitchhiking adventures and near-shipwrecks.

Basically, what I'm saying is that my life is so interesting I should've started blogging years ago!

No...what I'm saying is I've travelled a lot more lately than I'm used to doing, and I don't really enjoy it. Airports are really annoying (hey, I sound like every stand-up comedian! Air travel jokes never get old).

There were a few things that stood out on this trip. At the airport in SLC, I ended up in line with Scott Owen, who is in my ward in Provo. Can't really say it was a random coincidence, since that's the only airport in Utah--if I saw him at the airport in Singapore, where he was flying to, THAT would've been random--but it was unexpected.

The other was the pilot for the Chicago to New York leg of my flight. As I boarded, he noted the Detroit Tigers cap I was wearing and started telling me about a time he got his picture taken with Gates Brown and Denny McLain. Many people know about McLain because of his 30-win season and many white-collar crimes (and I know him from my Earl Weaver Baseball battles against my brother--if anyone knows how to get me a copy of that game that would work on my laptop, that would be the coolest birthday present I could get), but it was a pretty big stretch for him to assume I know who Gates Brown is. (I do, but it was a stretch.)

As I was walking off the plane, the pilot emerged from the cockpit and said, "Take care of that Tigers hat." He must have worried I was going to throw it in the trash or something, because if you've seen my hat you know I don't take good care of it. It's not quite at Craig Biggio level, but it's pretty sweat-stained.

Well, me and my hat made it to NYC, and I had my first ever New York taxi ride. The cabbie was from Jamaica and lives in Harlem, so I picked his brain for a while on how safe it was so I could give a report to my mom. He described to me how bad Harlem used to be, how he used to be afraid all the time, but then in the '90s when Giuliani became mayor things started to change. The police cleaned up Harlem so much that he even got arrested once for peeing on the street, he told me. He claimed that Harlem is now the safest neighborhood in New York. I was glad to hear that, and VERY glad to hear that the days of unchecked public urination are long gone.

Just before we pulled up to my new home at 146th and Frederick Douglass, I saw a car parked on the side of the road with a bunch of bumper stickers on it. Most said things like "Read the Quran" and "I Heart Islam", but there was also a "Kiss 98.7" sticker. It's good to let people know what you're most passionate about.

So if any of you were worried about me when you heard I was living in Harlem, you can stop; Harlem isn't so bad (I know Lavell Edwards and his wife did a lot of work in Harlem too, when they were here on their mission). Plus, on my first Sunday here, when I told people at church where I'm living, one girl said, "That's not the real Harlem. You need to come visit 'Harlem Harlem' sometime" (i.e., the area around the Apollo; I've been to "Harlem Harlem" a few times now).

She has a point, though. I haven't felt uncomfortable in my neighborhood yet, except one time at the laundromat that I may blog about soon. We've got a Starbucks, a good-sized supermarket, and lots of other businesses that probably wouldn't have dared open in Harlem in its seedier days. I live across the street from Jackie Robinson Park, which is nice to walk through when the weather's ok.

So that's how I made a brand new start of it in old New York. Leave some comments. Or don't. It's up to you, New York, New York!

I'm so lame.


lori said...

i can't believe i'm the first person to comment on this post! even setting aside the fact that you've all ignored jeff's specific solicitation of commentary, how could the phrase "unchecked public urination" be left without a single note? wow.

anyway, i just wanted to say that the aforementioned phrase made me laugh out loud (pun intended). very clever.

jeff said...

I think everyone wants to avoid making my posts even longer by appending comments to the end, although I've received several today.

Keep 'em coming!