What would you do if you only had one week left in New York City? Excellent question.
Responses are as varied as the people I’ve met in this great city and range from Turkish baths to botanical gardens, schmancy brunch spots, and endless amounts of walking. In my last week-and-a-half in New York, I want to really love this city. She’s been my constant companion for the past two-odd years and I want to do her right – no tears, no speeches, no cowering, no wimpering – just naked gratitude.
I’ll miss her, that’s for sure, but more for what she’s shown me; more for what I’ve learned about myself while living in this place; more for the wonderful people I’ve met; more for the life-long friends. New York has been very good to me – very good for me – and, for that, I could never feel sad.
When I say goodbye to New York, I will not only bid farewell to part of my life but also a piece of my heart.
Adieu, mon ami!
She’s the first one to go.
Of the 2o-somethings in our group of friends, Sara is the first one of us to cross the threshold of a new decade. My milestone comes later this year. Whereas Sara celebrated her 30th in Brooklyn at a small bar called Good Company, I think I’d prefer a more natural surrounding.
After many months of thought, I’ve decided that I would most like to spend my next birthday in the Redwood National Forest or at Yosemite National Park. When I was a kid, I had a tremendous fascination with the natural world, an awe that’s followed me into adulthood. It makes perfect sense.
But this post isn’t about my birthday (it kinda is), it’s about Sara… and a creepy bus in the courtyard of that bar. Valerie actually said that she wants to get married on it. Let this post stand as the living proof of that statement.
I’ve been dying to check out Pylos, purportedly the best Greek food in all of New York City. Even Astoria? Even Astoria.
Located in the wastelands of Alphabet City, Pylos was worth the walk. My friend Mike even joined me for the smorgasbord, equipped with dolmathes, pita, giant white beans, lamb shank, and Tetramythos wine.
By the time I left, I had eaten so much that I was literally moaning. Pure misery but in a really great way.
I missed my morning run and I felt really guilty so I decided to leave the apartment a bit early and walk to work.
Third Avenue is very different at 9:30am. All the shops are waking up – owners raising their dirty window gates, spraying various chemicals on the sidewalk, and sloughing muddy water with brooms. Every block seems to have different groups of men on each corner, briefing each other about this and that, and pausing only to watch a woman walk by. Unfortunately this also includes me, who by the fifth block peeled off my jean jacket to expose winter-white limbs. When the spring comes, there’s a sexual hysteria that descends on New York City. Women expose more skin – bare legs, arms, and painted toes – these appendages no longer chained to boots and wool. It’s a yearly ritual, a parade of flesh, and men respond like sharks to blood.
Alas, Third Avenue in the morning. Overheard conversations about last night, the start and stop of traffic, the expert sidewalk maneuvering that is only learned by walking these streets over and over again. It’s amazing what a little sunshine sifts to the surface; how fresh the City looks in the early daylight.
When my roommate offered me a cup of Turkish coffee, I had no idea that she’d want to read my grinds.
In fact, I’d completely forgotten about the fortune telling tradition of reading one’s coffee grinds at the end of a cup. Honestly, we were hacks: flipping our chipped mugs atop dessert plates and trying to decipher the symbols. My grounds appeared to show the image of a camel and the shape of a robed figure, both of which my roommate said were good signs. She remembered that the symbol of camel meant that I would be relocating soon. The symbol of a robed figure? Who knows.
Maybe you can make out something decipherable…
My “Maine Squeeze” Carter came to visit last weekend and we made a pilgrimage to the American Museum of Natural History.
If you recall, I also embarked on an adventure to the museum - though, alone – recently. I’ll concede that our time at the museum was much more eventful than my own – after all, we did have an en route picnic in Central Park while meandering crosstown.
I also got to scratch a “to-do” off my long list of items when we stopped at the Hayden Planetarium for “Journey to the Stars.”
Why are so many New Yorkers obsessed with being “real New Yorkers?”
This thought entered my mind while watching a promo for the NY1 “Real New Yorker” campaign yesterday. A narrator speaks over photos of different New York street scenes while asking the viewer certain questions: (I’m paraphrasing) “why do you look into oncoming traffic instead of the traffic light before stepping into the crosswalk?”; “how do you know the street vendor umbrellas are garbage?”; “how do you know which subway car will drop you off closest to the exit?” – “you’re a REAL NEW YORKER.”
I understand the angle. NY1 is at once attempting to illustrate it’s longevity while also giving viewers the “secret handshake.” New Yorkers wear this city like a badge and rightfully so. The longer I’ve lived here, however, the more I’ve come to see New York as I would any other city: just a city.
Before I moved to New York I got a lot of chatter about how expensive it is, how hard it is to “make it,” how everyone is rude, how New York is the loneliest city in the world, how it’s a dog-eat-dog world and New York City has the sharpest teeth – the list goes on. What I’ve found? Well, there’s truth in every trite adage but only a little.
As with any megalopolis, New York is going to have slightly stiffer competition than other cities, more expensive options, more people thus more of the ruder variety, and, yes, it can be very lonely. My point is, when I stopped glorifying New York City and saw it stripped naked standing in front of me, I realized that we’re not so different from everybody else – we’re just more concentrated.
Sure, New York is different in the details: I walk everywhere; I look like a pack mule coming home from the grocery store; I have a personal relationship with my cobbler. In many ways, I feel like New Yorkers are closer, more in touch, with their residence just because of simple interaction. There is an energy to this place but there is no magic.
So why are New Yorkers so obsessed with being “real?” Maybe it’s because we know how special this city is. We know how, perhaps, we once glorified the skyscrapers and bustle; how we felt when we first visited; how envious we were of our friends that had already made the leap. We also know the dirty, often stressful realities of living here.
Maybe that’s what they mean by “real.”
The night began with an ice sculpture.
I think it was intended to be a dog but it ended up looking more like an icy bust of Zuul. As in the Gatekeeper of Gozer. I made the mistake of mentioning this observation aloud, which got me into a lighthearted but truly serious argument about whether Zuul was those beast dogs or if Zuul was merely the spirit of a demigod that could inhabit any form. The answer? Both, I guess. At any rate, I am a nerd.
After that, I caught Cass McCombs at the Bowery Ballroom, where I reflected on the 15-almost-16-year-old me. This bored my young friend Sam, who speaks of the ’90s as if it were some urban legend.
Who is Zuul?
Totally sold out.
Cass outside of the Bowery.
Every time I go to the Bowery Ballroom I’m always reminded of the first time I went to the Bowery Ballroom.
At the time, he worked for the corporate arm of Sam Goody (Remember Sam Goody?!), which had offices in Greenwich Village. Last time I checked, it’s a bank now. In 1998, however, it was the mecca of cool and, when ever I’d come to town, my dad made sure to show me just how cool it really was. That meant tagging me along to his office under the guise of an “internship,” loading me up with a bunch of free music (it was during this time that I discovered Belle & Sebastian and Superdrag) and taking me to tons of free shows. We saw so much music together, in fact, that live shows have since become a tradition between the two of us. Seriously, we saw everyone from Van Morrison to Beck to Ben Folds to Fastball and Semisonic.
You remember Semisonic, don’cha? The ubiquitous “Closing Time” anthem? Yeah well, we saw them at the Bowery Ballroom. I don’t really remember much of their set but I do remember the floor was especially sticky. Like, pull your shoe off sticky. I also remember seeing the chubby, bespectacled frontman of Harvey Danger hanging between the necks of two young women. That’s about it.
Any time I go to the Bowery Ballroom I always think about those random details. I also think about how cool it would be if the me now could talk to the me then. Specifically, that I’d be standing in the exact same spot nearly 15 years later recounting the arbitrary events of that night. The 15-year-old me would’ve been totally stoked. Heck, the 29-year-old me is still totally stoked!
Cass McCombs tonight @ the Bowery Ballroom
When is it time to give up? Well, if the steadfast presence of the occupiers down on Wall Street have anything to say about it, never.
There’s a reason that the Protester was the Time Magazine 2011 Person of the Year. There is something about the very spirit of protest that really embodies our time and, within it, a true – if not naive – belief in change. A belief that surprisingly perseveres through violence, ridicule, homelessness, joblessness and even weather. Faith, I guess you could call it.
What can the lay person take away from all of this? I believe that it all comes down to the simple seed of dreaming. No, not the kind where you’re naked sword-fighting Darth Vader in front of your peers. The other kind of dreaming; your goals. Would you endure brutality, destitution and the elements for your dreams? I think it is an important question to consider when considering what you are truly passionate about.
For Heaven’s sake, keep the dream alive.
Two guys were handing these out at Union Square this morning.
It’s been a whole year but it’s finally happened. I have a cold.
Last year, if you recall, I was laid up for a whole three days while battling my first run-in with the flu. That’s right, I’d never had the flu until I moved to New York City. I credit my mother’s breast milk for this accomplishment (Thanks, Mom!)
Honestly, my first year in the City was by far the roughest. I puked, I coughed, I flued, I sprained, and swelled but you know what? I am now the pinnacle of super immunity. Well, almost.
Thankfully, I’m not bed-ridden but I probably shouldn’t be roaming these city streets like a bobble headed pilgrim in search of Christmas presents (and my way back home). At any rate, I’m on the up and up – though utterly humbled by this scratchy feeling in the back of my throat.
Damn those subway hands!