The Fedora Chronicles Takes Manhattan!
Created on Monday, August 13th, 2007 (Work In Progress: Last Update - August 17th, 10:004AM with the start of Page 3)
[Pictured Right: Aaron Gantt and I in Times Square.]
I've known Aaron Gantt for a long time. I've virtually watched him grow up via the Internet, the Telephone, PM's/E-Mails and Instant Messages. So, you would think that when he told me he wanted to go to New York City and asked if I would go pick him up, I would have jumped at the chance.
Fact is, and I'll be honest... I wasn't in any big hurry. This has nothing to do with Aaron. In fact, if he was flying into Boston or Manchester New Hampshire, I would have jumped at the chance. But there's something about New York City that's pretty daunting. It has an international reputation of being a rough place full of either violent, rude or unconcerned people.
I've also had a nagging worry about going to New York since September 11th, 2001. Wouldn't it be just my luck that there would be a terrorist attack on the day and at the place I was visiting. I had been on a morning flight from Boston to LA out of Logan Airport on the same airline... there are moments that I wonder why the terrorists didn't just choose a different date, or why didn't I. I felt as if going to Manhattan was pretty much thumbing my nose at Fate and pushing my luck.
But, I refuse to be terrorized or scared off to do anything. So I told Aaron that I would indeed pick him up.
Monday morning rolled around and I took the print-outs from Google Maps that was to bring me to the JFK international Air Port. I should just throw this out here... I love maps, I love directions when they're written well, I love the challenge of following directions and maps when they're taking me to some where new and exciting... and I love places of departure and arrival like Air ports, Sea Ports and the occasional Train Station.
For what ever reason, when it comes to maps and directions that are supposed to bring me to an Air Port, Sea Port or Train Station, things usually get pretty confused and screwed up and for the most part (with some exceptions,) I refuse to take responsibility. Air Ports are usually pretty busy places, or they are surrounded by many different industrial complexes, car rentals and hotel accommodations. Sometimes, some cities like Boston like to skimp on signs that might be helpful to weary travelers in the busiest of areas. You'll have no problems getting to the court house or the town clerk's office, since there are signs every where (forbid the mere notion of you not paying your taxes and fines...)
Here's a question that I kept asking Aaron when we were traveling - why can't the transit authorities in so many states do a better job at putting up signs leading people to where they want to go. On every sign on every main route to the airport, there should be a something to alert the driver to where they need to go. There doesn't need to be a giant sign that reads "Hey, idiot... THIS way to the Air Port." Just a symbol like the one above pointing to the air port, just so you know you're heading in the right direction.
Getting to the JFK International Airport is at least 37% easier (Inside joke I'll explain later, if I remember) then it is to Logan Airport, while it's more then twice as far. I drove to New York City on the morning of August 6th, and the fog and cloud cover was pretty think and I didn't get to see much of the iconic city as I passed through it. There were some signs that were helpful, but as I hinted at already, there were some sections that were confusing and left plenty of room for doubt. It also takes you about $20 in tolls to get from New Haven, Connecticut to the air port. Which is something I learned about New York city in general, simply moving from place to place and be an expensive endeavor.
Once I got to the Air Port, I called Aaron's dad and asked what air line he was on... which lead me to park near terminals 4, 5 and 6...
There's one parking lot for these three terminals. It's perhaps one of the biggest structures in the air port and you can see it clearly from the surrounding terminals. I believe Terminal 5 is the iconic TWA Terminal designed by Eero Saarinen, the "futuristic" style terminal that people are so familiar with since it's been in a lot of TV and Movies. (Most recently I've seen it in "Catch Me If You Can..." But I'm not sure right now of any others..) That terminal is being renovated and modified for "Jet Blue." You can read more about that project by clicking on some of the links below...
JFK Terminal 4 had nothing to do with Aaron's, it's now used for all of Jet Blue's abroad flights, any flight to any location not in the continental United States is handled there. What can I say about this terminal that I walked around trying to get information about Aaron's arrival and Gate Number, besides the fact that it feels as if you're walking inside the interior or a Zeppelin made of Aluminum and glass. Walking around something that's both this vat, empty and sterile feels as if you're visiting your own nightmare or had stumbled upon a set built for as Science Fiction epic Stanley Kuberick Science Fiction Film that was never made, or an interior for a deleted scene in "Forbidden Planet." (It sort of feels like it was built by The Krell, doesn't it?) Terminal 4 has a huge section converted into a mall, a perfect place that sells everything a traveler might need... including a shop that sells ties that rage from $90 to $140, Several News Stands and book stores, and several New York City themed shops.
When I finally found the right Terminal (Number 6, which is a lesser version of Terminal 4) and his Jet did show up, I finally met Aaron face to face for the first time.
It was a pretty surreal experience, I've spoken to him on the phone countless times, swapped advice and stories about our own adventures and talked about projects that have come and gone.
It's hard to imagine now that he's 20 years old, in College and already making a name for himself in his circles as an artist and guitar player. He's turned out a a fine young adult with a good head on his shoulders and a bright future ahead.
Aaron and I then ventured into New York City via the Air Train... despite the name it doesn't fly - it's the remote controlled train that looks exactly like some sketch that Matt Jefferies or Ralph MacQuarie drew up for another Science Fiction melodrama... and it looked and sounded exactly like the tram used in (again) Forbidden Planet. [I'm starting to get the vibe that the people who designed and built the JFK Air Port really loved that 1956 classic. The Whole Area a wonderland for anyone who's seen the film.)
Once we rode the Air Train (which neither flies nor a Train, or does any wild thing that roller coasters do... but should for the steep price you pay. For the cost of this Tram, it should have an attended with a drink-cart or an in-fight movie... but that brings me back to the fact that it doesn't fly even though it's called the "Air Train." This joke is getting kinda old, so maybe I should just note that they should call this the "Air Port Tram..." to keep fools like me from cracking wise...) As I was saying, once we rode the Air Tram to Jamaica Station and took the Express Subway to the stop nearest to The Empire State Building.