As one resident I recently met told me: “The exteriors of the buildings are covered in a thick layer of filth, and the streets smell like cat piss… But there’s just something about New York that makes you love it and want to be there.”
That’s as good as a description, besides, “It’s the dirty version of Toronto!”, that I’ve ever heard of the Big Apple, so we’re going to go with it.
#80: New York City.
While there are certainly more enlightening, serene and geographically stunning locales on the planet, NYC is one of those places you just have to visit before you die (of natural causes, of course).
Schmackary’s Cookies (the best thing about Hell’s Kitchen besides Daredevil). NBC HQ. Midtown Comics. And of course, Broadway. For me these places define my New York experiences.
But I’d never have visited the Big Apple in the first place without my daughter and her incredible passion for live theater. She was so overwhelmed the first time we strolled down 42nd street that she couldn’t string two words together. I’m still not sure if it was a commentary on my parenting skills or not but I’d never seen my kid that happy.
There’s usually a chemical inducement at play when a young person is that loopy but it was all about Hamilton the musical, baby! Broadway has helped my child to open up and be transformed by something so much bigger than herself.
Granted, she’s never gripped my arm tighter (kid’s like a boa constrictor when she really needs to be) than when were making our way across Times Square and NY’s other pedestrian highways and byways for the first time. She eventually learned to accept that New York (and all big cities) are populated by individuals who wander about and spout colorful declarations like…
“Why did that tramp leave me for potato salad? I loved that bitch!”
“The Day of Divine Judgement is coming… So clean your socks!”
“Got any spare change, pal? I got a penguin to return home and I don’t have bus fare to Hoboken!”
That last guy was obviously a big Bugs Bunny fan. (Google it, kids.) But in all seriousness, if you’re a student of human nature you HAVE to go to New York someday. There are performers of every stripe and motivation; some actually care about the craft while others care only for the coin. You’ll encounter souls who were once kids who were full of life and dreams, but are now lost, some beyond saving. I actually began to cry as I watched a man many would regard as a hobo gently rock back and forth against a dirty wall on a dirty building on a dirty street. If you looked hard enough you could see a little boy playing in a field of green; the boy was long dead and the man was soon to join him.
Lovers, fighters, dreamers, two-legged animals, criminals, watchmen, politicians, they all congregate to this bustling metropolis for reasons all their own.
New York is a living, thriving (though it sometimes appears otherwise) organism. It has it’s own ecosystem (and yes, part of it does smell like cat pee), and tribes. There are towering testaments to glass and concrete beside enduring monuments to architecture of a bygone era when human beings actually cared about what they were building. If you can, take your time and really explore the seemingly-endless facets New York’s dual nature; the city is cutting-edge and retro all at once.
Seeing it for yourself, and seeing how it changes you, is certainly worth living for.
See you in the lobby, kids…