A Very American 4th of July Weekend

American/British Dictionary

Seersuckers – I was wearing fabric shorts at the weekend. My friends, pointing at my leg area, starting talking about my seersuckers. I was unnerved. Apparently this is a term for these precise kind of shorts.

Creasing – means ‘laughing’ in British, but this is not acceptable in America. They find it quite amusing though.

Thursday 3rd July

As book workshop week came to an end, hurricane Arthur hit New York. Hot, heavy rain fell with such intensity that you were soaked through in under a minute. I’ve never seen and heard such relentless thunder and lightning. Nevertheless, we ran to the liquor store to get our supplies for the evening, along with most of the course and half of uptown Manhattan, apparently. By the time we got back (and then after a second outing, to Duane Reade for snacks) we looked half human. People were running through the streets, screaming like it was the onset of the apocalypse.

Lightning over the Manhattan skyline

Lightning over the Manhattan skyline

There was a much needed party on the third floor. Fun was had.

Friday 4th July

I was very excited for our 4th July weekend, but first on the agenda was sleep. Sleep. Sleeeeep. By 11:30 I was more or less up. Food was next on the list. A group of us went to Kitchenette for brunch. I got to wear my Old Navy shirt and looked about as American as possible. I ate something suitably fried, greasy and with chips. God bless America.

Turning American

Turning American

In the evening, Ryan, Jon and I went down to a park off Wall Street to watch the fireworks. We were just in time, and stood at the back of a large group who were taking a million pictures of themselves (for wedding, they said. Don’t care, we thought). The fireworks were great SUPER-AWESOME and, in good New York style, high on volume and quantity.

FIREWORKS over the East River

FIREWORKS over the East River. View impeded by pole.

The aftermath of the fireworks was reminiscent of the bit in horror movies where a plague descends, the city gets evacuated and everyone charges down the streets en masse. We were charged to Little Italy, where the smells of garlic and wine were too much to resist. There was a great atmosphere down there, as we queued to get into Ristorante Da Gennaro. Now look, it was very late (11:30) and I was a bit grumpy from hunger. So when a group of people cut in front of the line to steal the table we were waiting for, I might have lost my temper. I may have stormed up to their table at shouted at the waiter. I maybe (maybe) stood behind them and stared at them until it was awkward for everyone. But they did leave – hooray! The meal – when we got it – was excellent, and I definitely recommend.

Happy crowds in Little Italy

Happy crowds in Little Italy

 

Saturday 5th July

There was more catching up on sleep, yes. Eventually, I went to brunch (I don’t think I’ve ever had so much brunch in my life) with Ian, Jon, Ryan, Gaia, Rose and Carolyn, at Amigos, just down the road.

Brunch friends

Brunch friends

Afterwards, Gaia, Jon and I, in need of some sun and fresh air, headed to the Highline. I think they’ve added another block since my last visit, so now the whole walk is over one mile. Jon’s desperation to find a toilet kept Gaia and me very amused, though less so when we thought he might throw a tantrum in front of everyone. At the end, we reclined on the highly uncomfortable wooden benches and read for a while.

High Line selfie

High Line selfie

 

Resting on the High Line

Resting on the High Line

We stopped in at the Brass Monkey’s rooftop bar, which was so crowded for the football (SOCCER) that we left quickly. We wandered around Meatpacking for a while, then down to the village, succumbing to the chilled out, non-city atmosphere down there. Hungry as usual, we stopped at the White Horse Tavern for a drink and dinner – a celebrated literary spot where Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, and Hunter S. Thompson all spent time.

Ryan and Carolyn met us afterwards. After a jaunt to Magnolia bakery, we walked across and up Fifth Avenue to 230 Fifth, a rooftop bar. It was a perfect evening  – warm but not too hot, and though we just missed the sunset, the views from the roof were pretty spectacular:

 

View uptown from 230 Fifth

View uptown from 230 Fifth

 

 

Carolyn, Gaia, Me, Jon, Ryan.

Carolyn, Gaia, Me, Jon, Ryan.

 

Sunday 6th

This day is hard for me to talk about. The Wimbledon final. A fifth set. Feeling confident for a Federer win. CRUSHED BROKEN AND SHATTERED. Apologies to people who encountered me that morning. Moving on.

I went for a walk to clear my head (*sob*) and then met up with a friend, Anna, at Columbus circle, before wandering through Central Park some more. I must have walked five miles. It was another glorious day, and people were out enjoying the sun in droves.

View from Belvedere Castle

View from Belvedere Castle

 

View over Great Lake

View over Great Lake

Ryan and I met up with Melissa, Jon, Carolyn, Gaia and Rose on Broadway, as they came out of their show. It was pretty frantic, as Chris O’Dowd and James Franco were just emerging from Of Mice and Men across the road. Cue lots of screaming girls.

We tried to get away from Times Square as quickly as possible, and walked to Hell’s Kitchen for dinner at Marseille.

Dinner friends!

Dinner friends!

Great end to a great weekend!

Tig

 

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Book Workshop Week

British/Americanism Dictionary

Minesweeping – this British term does not exist in the US. It refers to the collecting of drinks at a bar that have been abandoned/left unattended by the purchaser.

Ratchet – This is debated. As far as I understand, it’s something a bit thrifty, possibly ghetto, but kind of cool. ‘This club is so ratchet,’ is a potential phrase. Sound off below if I’m wrong.

Friday 27th June – Thursday 3rd July

People’s laughter trickling over the verge into hysteria. Bottles of wine clutched furtively to chests like babes in mothers’ arms. Eyes, purple-ringed and puffy, glaring out over the cold war battlefield of staples on the 3rd floor table. This is why I haven’t blogged in a week. This is why you might have seen grown men and women curled in the fetal position, sucking their thumbs in some desolate corner of campus. This is book workshop week.

On Friday we were split into groups of ten or eleven, to form our own publishing houses. I was relieved and happy to be in one of the children’s groups. Thus began a very intense week of work. It’s so fresh in my mind that I can’t explain it in too much detail, but in brief: Each publishing house had to come up with book ideas, which translated into a prospectus to hand in at the end. Sound easy? WRONG. WRONG WRONG. This involved creating all the copy for each book idea, while the resources people (industry professionals) tore them apart and made us come up with more. Each evening we had to hand in a large pile of work which they reviewed in the morning and evaluated with the CEOs at 10:30am. Marketing plans, PR campaigns, sales strategies, business planning and profit and loss statements, copyediting, producing, designing – we did it all.

Oddfellow Books logo on business card

Oddfellow Books logo on business card

We named our publishing house Oddfellow Books, and one of the most fun parts was coming up with the fake company history (it involved Joan Collins, a baby vomiting virus, a Norwegian ice dancer and a Texan oil baron.) We took the initiative to make some business cards – thanks, Village Copier! – which I handed out on the Tuesday morning. The intensity of the workshop made us feel like we really were a publishing house, with the small detail of not getting paid. As CEO/Publisher, I had to wear a hundred different hats at once, go to a zillion meetings, and make sure we were on track for the final goal. It was great fun and I had a great team. Shout out to the Oddfellows: Marc, Lia, Maggie, Molly, Leora, Sarah, Concepcion, Melissa, Ashley and Emily. We still need to drink…

Oddfellow Books personnel

Oddfellow Books personnel

It was a very full-on week – great fun but definitely a relief to have finished. I’d hoped I could blog throughout the workshop but…that was naive. Soon to come: 4th July weekend!

Tig

New York Adventures: Rooftops and Red Cups part 2

Americanisms

Lanyard – I hope I’m right in thinking this is not a British word? Everyone was talking about these in the first couple of days, and I thought I was missing out on something cool that everyone else had. WRONG. These are the name tags we hang around our necks.

Shattered – in the US this only means something physically broken, and not ‘exhausted.’

Pre-func/pre-funk – This is the equivalent of predrinks. Pre-game is another option. The pronunciation of ‘func’ is seriously debated.

P1170282

Saturday

On Saturday morning, Ryan, Alyssa and I lazed around on the lawn outside the Journalism school. After that, I had a wander around campus, exploring some more of the buildings I have no place to be inside.

In the afternoon a big bunch of us got the crosstown bus and headed for the Guggenheim. There was a queue all down the block and around the next corner, as there’s a free offer going on at the moment. We went to the MET instead, and spent a happy couple of hours wandering round and getting lost (I’m feeling like a seasoned pro at the MET now – my fourth visit?). We went up to the roof at the end for the great views over downtown.

View from the MET

View from the MET

 

 

At the MET with Elinor, Alyssa and Marc

At the MET with Elinor, Alyssa and Marc

It was the longest day of the year, so by the time we left at 8pm it still felt like midday. We followed the MET with a visit to an equally significant cultural beacon: Shake Shack. There’s one in Covent Garden that I haven’t brought myself to queue up for, so this was a first. Shake Shack is a place where you’re presented with choices like, ‘Should I have triple caramel or chocolate fudge cake in my milkshake?’ and ‘Should I have four or five different kinds of cheese on my burger?’ It’s great. After that, the 12 or so of us staggered onto a bus and home.

Sunday

Another sunny day called for a trip to Central Park. I walked with Carolyn, Alyssa, Gaia and Rose until we found a shady spot by Harlem Meer with a suitable wildlife parade of turtles and herons sunning themselves nearby (note: they fly/swim away if you try to touch them). We all brought books – SURPRISE – and basked on the grass. I’m finally reading The Goldfinch, which is excellent. It’s not out in paperback here yet, so much edition is the talk of the town (we’re such nerds).

Harlem Meer

Harlem Meer

Gaia and I went on an epic walk through the park, around Jackie’s Reservoir and the Great Lawn to find Melissa and Jon, who were strategically placed by a Waffle Truck.

View south

View south

Despite hygiene concerns (the waffle-lady dug around in her ear with her gloved hand before serving the people in front), the waffles were great, and suitably covered in chocolate.

Waffles demolished, we caught the subway to Soho, for a spot of shopping. In particular, our US friends were keen for Gaia and me to get some patriotic clothes for upcoming 4th July celebrations (note: referring to this as Independce Day brings up images of Will Smith and aliens, so should be avoided). We eventually found $5 US flag t-shirts in Old Navy. I will wear mine with a vaguely uncertain sense of irony.

I dragged the others into the Scholastic store, where we became children again. I scoped out the Geronimo Stilton display a little wistfully. Fingers crossed I can create something similar back at home…

Gaia and Melissa are astronauts

Gaia and Melissa are astronauts

 

Geronimoooo

Geronimoooo

Talk soon turned to food. I suggested Golden Unicorn, a Chinese restaurant I first went to with my parents about six years ago, where the food was great and cheap and no one spoke a word of English. I led the way to Chinatown, but the restaurant seemed to have mysteriously moved, or maybe my maps were wrong. We found it eventually, but it was closed for a private event. In desparate need of noodles, we ended up at Great NY Noodletown, which did not disappoint with steaming plates of duck, beef, rice and noodles.

We ended the weekend with drinks on our way home, while we practiced each other’s accents with mixed success. I had the world’s strongest bloody mary. I’ve just recovered feeling in my lips.

Tig

NY nights

NY nights

 

New York Adventures: Rooftops and Red Cups part 1

Americanisms Glossary

Solo cups  – the famous red cup that we know from high-school movies. They make an appearance later…

Friday

Wendy Lamb, a Publishing Director at Random Children’s, gave a very funny and engaging talk to kick off the day. When my boss came to New York last October, I’d been in touch with Wendy to arrange their meeting, so I was particularly looking forward to meeting her in person. She explained her own interesting route through to starting her own imprint, and about why she is excited by Children’s publishing. She stayed until about 12:30, answering questions from pretty much everyone.

CPC lecture hall: me with Wendy Lamb

CPC lecture hall: me with Wendy Lamb (credit: Jon Michael Darga!)

After lunch – and an introduction to various American ice cream brands – was Adrian Zackhelm. He is a contemporary of our course director, who were at Doubleday at the same time. He now works in Business publishing with Portfolio.

THE WEEKEND.

Everyone a bit giddy at the thought of a weekend off, despite the looming assignments.

The CPC boys have been segregated to the 5th floor, which is obviously a no-go zone for everyone else, because of the feared living condition of squalor and underwear left lying around. We preceded the flat suite party on the 3rd floor with one of our own.

CPC boyz

CPC boyz

The main party was a test of names, as, for the first time, we were without our precious name tags. Cue lots of tentative ‘Hey, you’ and ‘Alright  How are you, mate?’

 

The most gratifying part of the night was twofold.

1) EVERYONE DRINKS FROM RED CUPS ITS TRUE YES ITS TRUE. Also blue cups, but lets pretend they’re all red.

2) Some none Columbia people turned up and tried to throw a rival party. There was confusion about who was who (no name tags, remember), and at some point the line ‘SHE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE’ was used in earnest and I probably grinned like an idiot.

SHE DOESN'T EVEN GO HERE

SHE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our night finished, um, late. We rounded it off by getting ‘a slice’ from a place down the street. The slice was twice the size of my face. Like, I’ve eaten whole pizzas smaller than that.

Tig

A normal sized piece of pizza

A normal sized piece of pizza

 

New York Adventures: Week 1

I’m going to kick off with my new words from now on. So –

Americanisms Glossary

Slugbug = VW Beetle (though I think this is localised)

Restroom = toilet. An obvious one, yes, but there was a misconception on some people’s behalf that British people say ‘water closet.’ I HAVE DEBUNKED THIS.

Biscuits = ARE NOT BISCUITS AT ALL. They are glorified scones. People eat them with gravy. What.

Graham Crackers = something like a digestive biscuit mixed with cardboard. Despite the spelling, these are pronounced ‘gram’ which upsets me.

Route – This is pronounced ‘root’ for a place name like ‘Route 66’, but when describing a method of transport it is pronounced ‘Rowt’

Tuesday

Promising.

Promising.

 

There’s a woman who stands in the little square outside my window at about 5am and shouts incoherently at passing traffic. We are not friends. This sign is on my other window, which makes me wonder is there has been accidental manslaughter by a past student? I will not touch the window because it will be me.

The day started with a panel on ‘The Future of the Book’, consisting of Brendan Cahill from PRH, Matt Schatz from Oyster and Matt Cavnar of Vook, followed by some more looking ahead from Madeline McIntosh, COO of PRH. Particularly interesting to hear them talk about the changes they’ve seen, and you can only wonder what changes the CPC class of 2014 will see.

The final speaker of the day was legendary Bob Gottlieb, who had anecdotes about everyone from Joseph Heller to Bill Clinton, and gave a fascinating insight into the ‘golden days’ of publishing. I suspect that seven figure deals done over an obscenely expensive lunch won’t be in my immediate future.

Wednesday

The speakers were Dawn Davis (Publisher at 37 INK), Niko Pfund (President of Oxford University Press) and Tayari Jones (author). Everyone was impressed with Dawn, and Niko and Tayari’s talks gave two new perspectives on the industry. Everyone wanted to be Tayari’s best friend, too.

I spent some free time exploring the campus a bit more.

Map of campus

Map of campus

Thursday

Kate Lloyd (Associate Director of Publicity at S+S) was first up, and gave some great examples of her working life.

Ruth Liebmann and Matthew Schwartz (PRH) spoke about digital marketing strategy, and caused some excitement with a galley of David Mitchell’s new book. I was unable to steal it. They were generous with their time in talking to me about backlist strategy when I accosted them at the end.

Alma Mater statue outside Low Library

Alma Mater statue outside Low Library

Next up was sherry hour. This did not involve sherry, but beakers of wine, sushi and cheese. The idea was to network with each other and be well-behaved. Of course this is what happened, though I was dismayed to find my sushi was vegetarian. Someone may have thrown a piece of cheese.

Campus, looking at John Jay and Wallach buildings

Campus, looking at John Jay and Wallach buildings

Michael Reynolds from Europa provided yet another alternative viewpoint, from that of a small indy press.

Stay tuned for red cups…

Tig

New York Adventures – The Course Begins

Monday 16th June:

I’m grateful that it’s not my first time in New York, because if it were, I might have thought the noises in the night were signs of impending apocalypse. Garbage trucks Trash compacters, horns blaring, construction workers and general yelling were all part of the nighttime chorus. Woke at 5, body-clock has betrayed me. Who am I?

Wandered up to breakfast at Alfred Lerner hall (BACON. EGGS.) and was presented with something new to me: that scene from an American high-school/college movie where everyone’s seated and the new person doesn’t know where to sit. I spotted some people I knew, and headed for them.

The first speaker was Jordan Pavlin, VP and Executive editor at Knopf, who spoke passionately about the book industry, and took lots of questions at the end.

Camille McDuffie, from Goldberg McDuffie, followed after lunch, to talk about CVs Resumes and cover letters.

Riverside Park

Riverside Park

We had unexpected free time afterwards. I decided to go for a walk and ventured the couple of blocks west to Riverside Park – one of my favourite parks in New York. It was about 27C and pretty perfect. I planned to sit and read but kept walking, until I realised I was at 96th street, cut across to Central Park and looped back up. My short walk turned into about 7 miles. I saw a man on some sort of skis with wheels, dragging himself along with one ski stick and one just regular stick/small tree branch. Tried to get a picture but he was too speedy. Got back to the dorm feeling slightly smug and more than slightly out of breath. Dinner. Dinner. Dinner.

In the evening, we had a great talk from Bruce Tracy, Senior editor at Workman, who advised us on the how an editor’s idea for a book can come to fruition.

To round off the day, a big group of us went to The Heights, a rooftop bar on W111st where we basked in a warm New York evening, and where my classmates judged me for not tipping the barman. What? It’s his job! Learning, learning….

Tig

Riverside

Riverside

Americanisms Glossary

Cookout = ok, not entirely clear on this one, but there is a much debated difference between cookouts and barbecues. The presence of pulled pork seems to be a factor.

Alright = Over here, this literally means ‘are you OK, because you look like you might not  be?’ and is not acceptable as a general greeting. People can get offended.

Blacktop = road surface made of asphalt

New York Adventures (Columbia Publishing Course) Days 1-2

Day 1:

Arrived about 5 hours late, shared a taxi with a friend made on the plane, dropped off at Pod 39 hotel which would be my residence for all of about 12 hours. It had a cool rooftop bar (this will become a theme)

Rooftop bar awaits...

Rooftop bar awaits…

 

Downtown view

 

Day 2: I thought it only right to start off with some shopping (who knows if I’ll have much free time later, right?) so started off at Union Square where I came away with some new shoes.

My first ‘lost in translation’ moment wasn’t far behind. We have to provide our own bed-linen, which I hadn’t brought with me, so next up was ‘Bed, Bath and Beyond’. It’s gigantic, Ikea scale, and mystifying. I asked for help finding a ‘DU-vet’ which was met with a blank stare. I then described what I wanted and was led to a wall of ‘comforters’, while the salesperson looked at me like I was a total moron. I thought I’d be smart and asked for a ‘comforter cover.’ Nope, this is called a ‘du-VET’ cover. Yikes.

I finally arrived at halls and moved my stuff in. My room is great and I will endeavor to keep it tidy. I’m facing north and west; I can just about see the Hudson if I teeter precariously on the window sill.

Home for now

Home for now

 

 

We kicked off the course with an orientation BBQ, where I got to meet my new classmates. We all have name-badges which are a total lifesaver! Great energy and enthusiasm; everyone excited for the course to start. About 20 of us gathered on Sunday evening and, crowded round one person’s laptop in one of the suites, we watched the season 4 finale of Game of Thrones. It was impossible to hear, and we had to turn the subtitles on, but a pretty perfect first evening – also a good early indicator that I’m on a course with like-minded people!

Tig

Each post, I’ll include new Americanisms that I’ve learned. Let’s kick off:

Americanisms Glossary

‘Comforter’ = Duvet

‘Bubbler’ = a water-fountain (I think this is a mid-West specific term; will investigate)

‘Cleats’ = studs on a football/rugby boot

‘Powerport’ = Plug socket (how much cooler is powerport!)