Flying towards JF Kennedy airport in New York, I recognized a bridge out a F Scott Fitzgerald novel. It was the bridge that Gatsby crosses to go into the city. I remembered the description of ash heaps and the mechanic who looked as grey as the ashes. The place looked grey and dull enough to befit the description. It´s always odd to me when I recognize places from their descriptions in books, as opposed to recognizing them from movies, but my first impression of New York was all about the Gatsbyesque. As I feel very identified with a lot about the mysterious icon of American literature (maybe more with the party-making generosity than with the millions…), this vision seemed about right.
Minutes later, when I was safely on land, I was greeted by a friend of my film´s protagonist, who was supposed to be bunking with us at the East Harlem duplex we were to share for the length of the East Harlem International Film Festival. He was an average looking, short man whose pumped-full-of-steroids muscles were hardly contained inside his tight white Tee.
If this had been a Hollywood rom com, I would be married to him by now: I was sharing a room with him, we never agreed on anything, and I took the big bed, while he had to sleep in a rather unconfortable sofa. Plus, we were staying with a couple, so that the whole situation conspired to bring us together. But, I have to say, opposites sometimes repel each other and, though we did manage to get along in spite of our differences, there was zero chemistry between us, and the romantic awakening never happened, though some people seemed to expect it of us.
Everything in New York had a cinematographic aura to me, not only our faux rom com. The spirit of iconic onscreen locations was there as I walked past Sarah Jessica´s brownstone from Sex and the city, as we circled the park, passing the entrances of buildings that reminded me of Seinfeld´s “doorman” episode, as a random lonely drunken wannabe actress of 40-something spontaneously started talking to me at a bar (and then threw up on the sidewalk); which would never happen where I live, where people very seldom go out to a bar on their own…
I met a teenager with funny sunglasses who said he was a TV producer, and played Quixote to a strange fat guy in a white suit who claimed he was Pablo Escobar Jr (or maybe it was the other way around, and the skinny teen was actually Sancho, regardless of the ill-fitted physique du role). We were at a red carpet thing, Miss New York Latina was there, wearing her band and all (a tiny olive-skinned girl with too much makeup and a smile that was bigger than her face), and the kid started leaning against a wall the way he figured movie stars must do, and saying (at 4 PM) that he couldn´t bear to be without a drink and a smoke this late in the day, so, we ended up walking down to the Milk Lounge (an alright place except for the fact that the handsome owner does not believe in glasses, and so, I had to take my margarita in a plastic cup). The happening kid on the block apologized for not having enough money on his card at the moment to buy my drink…
Later on, I would find out that the fat guy, who also had a big tatoo covering his chunky neck up to the neckline of his pink shirt, and whose blood-injected eyes made him look like a sick alien, was actaually one of a number of druglord-offspring impersonators around town. The TV-wink moment had been when he told me about how he had the rights to tell his father´s story, just like in the fictional project Medellin from the series Entourage.
Maybe I am recounting only the most sordid parts, but I guess that just came first to me, the stories about hopeless dreamers and clay-feet idols; but I did meet some pretty amazing film people, and I had a fantastic experience with the debut of our film on the big screen. Right now, flying from Los Angeles (my next stop after NY City) into Miami, and after some varied experiences there, from dining at the same place as Tom Hanks to watching a band test bass players in Hollywood, lunching in Malibu with my friend Veronica, and discussing film projects with a German director in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel; I sort of have a feeling that I have learnt some new things about that strangest of places people call America, or, well, its two seats of power. I should totally venture into the middle next, though as a Montevidean, a place without an ocean shore will never be my favorite place: it´s written in our genetic code.