The Empire State Building is the tallest building in New York, and one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks. Its 102 stories were completed in 1931, and it stood as the world’s tallest building for forty years. It is used for offices but is also a tourist attraction, with an observation deck on the 86th floor, and has made numerous film appearances, some of the most notable of which are King Kong and Sleepless in Seattle.
The Empire State Building in fact glowed blue in 1995 on the evening of Frank Sinatra’s 80th birthday as well as the evening of his death in 1998, in tribute to his nickname ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’. Different colours are used to light the building for different celebrations, notable events and sports matches, as Changez describes in the book, but on ordinary evenings it is lit with plain white lighting.
Mighty Mouse was a cartoon superhero mouse created by the Terrytoons studio. He originally appeared in 1942 as a parody of Superman, and became a cultural icon during the 50s when he was given a television show. The show ended in the 60s, was revived briefly in the 70s and 80s, but the character has not been seen since the 1990s.
The Adventures of Tintin were a series of comic-strip albums written by the Belgian illustrator Hergé, featuring a young reporter, Tintin, as the hero. Flight 714 was published in 1968 as the 22nd and penultimate book in the series. In the comic, the heroes fail to catch Flight 714 to Sydney and instead become embroiled in a plot featuring a millionaire, a private plane and an island in Indonesia.
‘Intoxication’ is forbidden according to the Qu’ran, and as a result alcohol and other drugs are illegal under Muslim law. Observant Muslims should avoid alcohol, even leaving it out of recipes whilst cooking. As Islam is the predominant religion in Pakistan, this means that technically around 97% of the country should not be able to drink, but in reality the alcohol situation is quite different.
The Wall Street Journal was founded in 1889 and has the highest circulation of any newspaper in the USA with a readership of 2.1 million. It is printed in New York City and mainly covers American financial and economic news, and international business affairs.
Chelsea is a neighbourhood on the West Side of Manhattan in New York. It is primarily residential, consisting of townhouses built around the 1830s, and has recently become a centre of New York’s art world, with many galleries located in renovated warehouses and new purpose-built venues. Changez later describes the art galleries of Chelsea as 'an insider's world - the chic heart of this city' (p.64).
The Lower East Side is a neighbourhood located in the southeast corner of Manhattan Island. It was for a long time an immigrant, working-class neighbourhood, famous for its tenement blocks and large Jewish community. However, it has been experiencing recent gentrification, due to the proximity and influence of the more upmarket East Village, and as a result has been placed on a list of America’s Most Endangered Places.
Central Park is one of New York’s most iconic landmarks, and the most visited urban park in the USA. Covering a total 843 acres in the centre of Manhattan, it is 2.5 miles long and 0.5 miles wide. It features lakes, reservoirs and a zoo, is bordered by some of the city’s major hotels and museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Guggenheim Museum, stages outdoor summer concerts and other events, and is visited by some 25 million visitors every year.
Released in 1978, Grease is one of the best-loved musical films ever. It is regularly voted top of lists of musicals, and at the time of its release was the best-selling film of its genre. Set at the end of the 1950s, it tells the story of a high-school romance between two lead characters played by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. For an idea of the 1950s America Changez refers to, just watch the trailer!
‘A&R’ is a term commonly used in the music industry, standing for Artists and Repertoire. This is part of a record label which scouts out new artists, oversees the recording process and markets the record. People who work in A&R need a clear understanding of the market they are targeting and as such are often themselves young musicians or music journalists.
LSD is the most commonly used hallucinogenic drug, which provides the user with a ‘trip’ of exaggerated emotions and hallucinations. Long-term use creates a danger of flashbacks, and other short-term effects, like dilated pupils, may also be compounded, as Changez is suggesting here.