Monday, May 5, 2014


…Ah, New York City.  How to talk about it?  It’s like trying to comment on the universe in a meaningful way, or at least that’s how it feels for me.
New Yorkers often scoff when outsiders talk about the city’s energy, yet NY’s vitality is undeniable. 
Even in the rain.
And rain it did while I was there; for a day and a half.  Big, fat-assed rain, too.  I can’t recall ever being so drenched.  But even that was something of an adventure.  I didn’t buy an umbrella and thus I spent many hours dogging those who had theirs, hoping to not get my eyes poked out.  I took a dive in a divot/puddle in the middle of one street while toting a suitcase and came within inches of having my forehead pulverized by a cab.
Indeed, there is all kinds of adventure in the Big Apple.
Then the skies cleared and the rest of the time the weather was mostly terrific. 
The people watching is extraordinary.
I saw a black man with a Kool-Aid green dreadlock wig and a fuchsia pin stuck through his nose, sitting on the curb panhandling while blasting Donna Summer from his boom box.
I saw…
A guy dressed like Tiny Tim.
A guy dressed as Batman.
Many kosher Jewish men with ringlets and long beards, spindly-legged almost all of them.
On a narrow street near No-Lita a gruff sounding truck driver was shouting at a bicyclist, swearing expletives at the top of his lungs, each of them flipping the other off.  It looked to end badly for the cyclist, but at a light he took a sharp turn, adding “F*&^ You, You F#@!ing Jackass,” while screaming away.
In Chelsea there was a slightly beat up Datsun.  Each dent had markings which detailed how it had occurred, for instance: “***2/13/2011 Boat fell off the ledge and landed here.”  It was pretty clever as well as comical.
I had some celebrity sightings: Robert Wagner and Jill St. John looking a little lost on the upper eastside; Merritt Wever aka Zoey from “Nurse Jackie”; and tops of all, my TV crush,  Emmy Rossum aka Fiona on “Shameless.”
There was big food and big drinks replete with big laughs.  I had dinner with one of my favorite new writer friends, Bud Smith, as well as Gessy Alvarez one night in SoHo.
I bought clothes I don’t need and over-tipped wherever I was.
I walked miles and miles and still came home three pounds heavier.
Freedom Tower, or One World Trade Center, where the Twin Towers once were, soars 1,775 feet in the sky.   When the entire project is completed, there’ll be five structures in all. plus two massive pools in the spots where the former North and South Trade Center buildings were before 9/11.
While I was there, tourists took pictures standing with the pools behind.  It was weird to see nearly each person grinning for the camera, despite what had happened, despite the names of the dead being etched on the steel plates where said tourists leaned. 
I don’t really fault their smiling. Moreover there seemed to be some kind of lesson about time and distance, how certain scars may be eternal, yet days pass, memory blurs, while slowly and subtly, we become more and more disconnected from what once seemed an irrevocable horror.
I discovered Highline Park, a mile long trail that runs parallel to an old railroad rising three stories over a section of SoHo, ending at The Meat Packing District.
The weather was perfect that day, hot even, and international tourists flooded the area.  I couldn’t detect half the different languages I heard.  It made for a beautiful cacophony.
I went to Hogs And Heifers, once thee hot spot back in the early ‘90’s.  A film was even made about it (“Coyote Ugly”) and stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Brad Pitt and others got their photo snapped while there.  Now the place is a mostly filthy, rundown relic, a reminder that you have to respect success once you get it, and when you do get success, you need to keep evolving if you wish to stay relevant.

…There was so much more, of course.  Every minute in NY brims with some revelation or observation that seems uniquely charged in a way that one’s world back home (wherever that home may be) simply isn’t.  And that’s part of why we go there, all 47 million of us, each and every year.

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