Thursday, May 12, 2016

Grass & Concrete

There is a small outdoor bar near the Brooklyn Bridge shut in a little grove of trees and shrubbery with only pockets of sky and river and bridge and city to peer in like voyeuristic neighbors from a distance. The green encapsulates and invigorates while the dusty brown of long-spent brick and mortar stares at you and reminds you that you are in New York and not some other place with sandy beaches.

The booze is too much and the food even more so, but I can kind of see why some would pay such unseemly prices to have lunch here--the place is set up like a beach-side cabana in some British or French-owned colony from the 1800's still populated by dark-skinned natives. It's a bit other worldly--if you stay long enough to go blind to the inane New York squabble from tourists, locals and babies, not to mention the shouting of class-trip children who march endlessly South past the bar towards the higher Piers and then back again an hour later, still squabbling and screeching but with less energy, having been filled with chea ready-made sandwiches of PB&J, egg salad or chicken salad, or maybe makeshift burritos filled with brown rice and pinto beans. Who knows? I don't make lunches for grade school kids.

The whole of Brooklyn Bridge Park is laid out over 1.3 miles of river side, but really grass only inhabits the first third--the rest is mostly concrete and pretends to make sense in a beach-community kind of way if someone who was born in the middle of the Bronx was to describe a two-home island off the shores of Nantucket during a fever dream. Most of what I assumed were water features, including a closed boat ramp and a swirling water area I forgot to write down but essentially looked like a closed, windy boat ramp, seemed to be untouched since the year prior and most of the trees were too young to be of any good for shade. However, despite it's clear lack of understanding of whatever it was going for, Brooklyn Bridge Park still manages to have a few moments of the surreal honesty that a lot of new York parks seem to pull of. It is a weird sensation that starts with the thought "only in New York," as a detriment, the aforementioned boat ramp and spiral boat ramp being obvious notes toward this idea. Namely only a New Yorker would think that someone would launch a boat there. Only a New Yorker would fence in a lawn on a manufactured hill that runs for 200 yards and have one entrance on one side and expect no one to hop the wire fence, and only a New Yorker would not hop the fence when that gate over there is clearly open. But over time, and the further I got away from actual trees in favor of marsh-grass and concrete tide pools and is that supposed to be a beach? it started to feel more legitimate, more proper, more like a fenced in beach that just needed time to grow into its new shoes. You've got to give this stuff time, Wes. Relax a little.

Suddenly someone puts music on and though it doesn't ruin the mood, we could do with something more timeless than whatever it is, something sweet and quiet and uneccesary but I get it--any music will help keep the bubble going, keeping the place to it's own even when the sky gets dark and the tiny bulbs strung across the patio wink on and shed their orange glow.

The guy who I assume is the proprietor is a gruff, sunglasses-indoor kind of guy with an Irish cap and gym shorts and high socks in running shoes and despite his toolish exterior I have to commend him--if he's owned this place more than 12 days he knows what he's got here and hopefully won't fuck with it too much. Part of me wishes he was twenty years older and wearing a straw hat with a white suit jacket , drinking endless mojitos at the end of a nonexistent bar but the other part of me know that would ruin it--it's as if I like that this place has an other-worldly vibe but doesn't try too hard to pin down whatever world that is. No straw on the tables, no giant margarita bowls, nothing served in coconuts. It is already perfect without these things--no pretentions and no need for concrete whirlpools. It is the precise place to get a drink on a quiet Thursday afternoon while your legs rest, a breeze wafts in from down river and the problems you've had over the last few days feel mostly out of sight, over there on the other side of that little grove of trees.

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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Jimmy Cliff Ain't Got Nuthin on Me

There is an apartment a block away (or is it two? I'll have to check) that can probably see into my room right now. My windows are huge in this apartment, all the windows are except the bathroom's, and I wonder if it's so you can get out of them if there is a fire or if it's a carry-over from the days before plastic and the windows had to be bigger...for some reason? No. That doesn't make any sense. Perhaps it was the style of apartments at the time (1920's? 30's? I forget. I think 30's. So far I'm batting about 0.000 for knowledge about anything around me) but the point is this: these windows are huge, and you can see through them.

The windows in that other apartment building are bigger, though, and holy hell that building is like 4 or five stories higher than me right now (I'm on the second story) and if they wanted to on this dreary Saturday morning, someone could walk right up to their window over there, remove the elephantine curtains they must have, sip their coffee and look through binoculars and probably watch me talking to all of you over there. Makes me think if anyone ever saw me having sex. The answer is "No" there, buy the way. I don't leave my "drapes" open for potential voyeurs. In case you were wondering.

There are videos taken with cameras with crazy lenses on the internet where people are zoomed in on some innocuous thing--a guy mowing his lawn, a couple on a bench, some boat on a canal--and then they zoom out and you find that the person with the camera is like half a city away looking down from a high building or hill, spying on this other persons doldrums and completely aware that they are going to put the video up on line, people are going to view that, and then that person is going show other people, and then there is the potential for millions of persons looking through several screens and time and place to watch some guy picking his nose and reading a book too blurry to read.

This makes me think of what I can see, and share with others, and my first thought is that I live across from a pre-school, which is closed (it's Saturday, again, for those of you who aren't paying any attention), they have a fenced-in playground that just got new wood-chips (the truck woke me up trying to park the day before yesterday) and all the cars are smattered with what must have been an early morning rainfall as they look slightly wetter than they did when I got home last night (1am) but too dry to have had significant rain in the last 2 hours.

Which reminds me, this week has been hard for people who like the sun and the light it brings to warm your face or heart or existence. It has been a low, grey, wormy kind of week and it's been hard to get up every morning knowing that though the weather is starting to finally warm-the-fuck-up we're still dealing with cool nights, wet afternoons, and just low, ready-to-burst cluds that make going outside without an umbrella a treacherous plan. I plan on doing that today, though. Because reasons. Also my friend is coming by. But also because I need to get out and move, look at and listen to strangers, look at the world again and see it from a new perspective.  Because listen: I'm kind of a doom-and-gloom kinda guy. I am not always glass-half-full. In fact, I rarely am. But I do understand the strength of perception, and I do understand the depth or perspective. I know things will get better. I know they can get worse. I know that life makes you eat shit, and I know that sometimes you still come out on top. But to me, what becomes important the more I see it and the more I'm aware of it, is that perspective and perception are related and that what you see and how you see it now isn't always how you'll see it in the future, or even exist as the same thing. I guess my point is that that person over there who can look down into my apartment may never een notice they can, and if they do, they might not write a blog about it.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Presented by Clearchannel



I need a new phone. Or maybe I need a better phone. That's it. The second one. The phone I have now seems to do whatever the fuck it wants and it's driving me nuts. I've spent the last twelve minutes trying to send a text message, but since the piece of shit decides to download whenever I actually get active on my phone, my text messages won't send. But thank God Lyft, a program I've used exactly twice, has patched itself. PS--all my other apps (why don't we call them programs anymore?) updated yesterday. Why isn't it coordinated? Why isn't it programmable to download at, oh I don't know, a period of LOW activity? Like 2 am?

I'm a bit media-saturated right now. I finally watched the new Ep of Game of Thrones (more on that later), got a Hulu account and started watching 11.22.63 (more on that later), I'm on my second badge in Pokemon Ruby and now I'm watching Seinfeld while I write this. It's the pilot episode, because I haven't seen all of them and didn't really watch it when it was popular (I saw it many, many times but I didn't watch it if you know what I mean) and so I had to start at the beginning. And it's helping me realize how distracted I am. If I pause it, I wonder what happens next, if I turn it off, I lose the ability to stop and start and drift off.  The idea is to have something in the background that I can kind of ignore, roll out on to every now and again, then come back in and do what I have to do.

The other "problem" is that I'm distracted by successful shows and projects around me that seem to be compelling and not totally out of the reach of someone who can string a couple-three ideas together, but for some reason I can only watch for a few hours before I have to change the show/do something else. Game of Thrones, now almost completely out in the woods beyond the "hope-it-gets-finished-before-he-dies" George RR Martin plotlines seems to be cramming a whole bunch of stuff into the season, just like the last. I predict lots of cliffhangers and no conclusions. 11.22.63, though, when it's not cramming exposition, is pretty interesting so far. I'm not all the way through it yet, but it's pretty great so far. James Franco is kind of awesome in it--which is hard to swallow since he's such a fucking goofball whenever I see him in anything else. Every now and then he crinkles his eyes a bit like he does in The Interview and I can't help but laughing out loud. To myself. In my empty apartment. I feel like a weirdo.

The thing is too that I am watching commercials again. Between Youtube and now my Hulu free trial, I now get some of the advertisements I see on the subway--it's almost like the posters now are designed to remind you of a commercial you saw on TV. That way you get the same message twice worked into your brain. Not subliminal, mind you, more hiding in the open. Still feels pretty much like advertisers have no idea how to reach their audiences. It is weird coming back to it, though, even in the small way that I have (what, 12 commercials in an hour? Most less than 30 seconds? I just realized that it's probably more than that--by a lot--oh no) and it's so strange how easily I've come back into it when it's in small doses. The last time I left my apartment and got a real spike of television into my head-vein the commercials were more numerous than the show and four-times as loud. Here on Hulu (the one where I can't skip the commercials) if they're louder I haven't noticed, and for the most part I just do something else while they run. Sometimes I think I don't notice them, but then I start thinking about my insurance premiums or eating at Applebees while listening to Spotify.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

There's a clinical name for it, isn't there?

I don't know why the formatting is fucked up It's driving me nuts looking at it. Sorry...
"To begin... To begin... How to start? I'm hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. Okay, so I need to establish the themes. Maybe a banana-nut. That's a good muffin."  --Charlie Kaufman, Adaptation

I haven't given up, but starting is difficult. And every time you stop and start it's like going back to school, going back to the start it feels like its a taller hill, mountain, cliff. Whatever.
I haven't watched the new Game of Thrones, but I have watched The first episode of Horace and Pete (twice, technically), Breaking the Maya Code and the first half of Jaws (again). Is this why I don't write? Overabundance of Media? Or is it lack of idle time? Or is it lack of gumption, or some weird mellowing of my dreams? Or have I given up? Let's talk about something else.Pancakes are great, aren't they? Out of all the things I can have for breakfast, pancakes are definitively up there, though I must be honest in my old age I enjoy scrambled eggs and a good western/Denver omelette better on most days because they're easier to make at home. Omelette is a funny word--theres at least 1/3 more "e"s in there than I think rightfully belong there, but it's French, so it kind of makes sense that the "e"s are a bit excessive. French is an interesting language--I tried to take it as a kid (mainly because everyone else was doing Spanish and fuck that--an opinion I later pooh-poohed with the same self-satisfaction [God, I really am a monster--look at all these dashes and half-self-effacing declarations, who do I think I am, anyway? I'm so deep in this segue I'm using BRACKETS for Christ's sake!]) but mainly what I learned was that learning other languages is harder than I really want to try. Even now I make jokes about how I've flunked Spanish a bunch of times (I'm still churning my way through Duolingo and dropping it after two months only to pick it back up once the mood strikes again). Wow, this got depressing, lets back track a bit before I get too deep in this wall of self-pity.

Honestly my most normalized breakfast at this point is a bagel with cream cheese a couple times a week with a coffee. My favorite breakfast is probably the breakfast sandwich, which isn't my favorite sandwich, which I don't even know what that would be. Bacon cheese steak? Turkey Club? Cheeseburger? I mean, sandwiches probably entail a good bit of my chosen food type, but I would think most people would consider a cheese burger a cheese burger and not necessarily a sandwich (though technically, we can all agree that it is, and that the question is unarguable). I also like making grilled cheese, and would prefer that you learn how to mix your goddamn cheese when you make it, and for the love of christ use butter, you're already eating literally a fat sandwich coated in fat, why the hell would you use whole-wheat bread? Healthy eating is ridiculous when it comes to grilled cheese. For realz.


But making a real sandwich takes time and love. It's not like chasing bluegills or tommycocks. You have to toast the bread, use crisp lettuce. Get a real tomato for crying out loud--something local grown local, certainly not one of those rose-colored shitty-chemical-colored tomatoes you get everywhere else. And maybe that's why so many people just go to shitty places and let some slack-jawed idiot slap fake meat onto the cold bread they pulled out of a fridge that was loaded with wilted produce. What I mean is maybe it's also why I put it all off--the writing, I mean. Maybe it's my desire for perfection that hold me back. Maybe I'm afraid that I'm just going to make a bad sandwich.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Hi

What's missing?

I wrote something earlier, deleted it. Will I delete this one? Right now I'm reading Mysteries of Pittsburgh--debut novel of one Michael Chabon--probably one of my favorite writers. I haven't read everything he's got, but I read a couple and he's fucking good. I don't know what it is about him that fascinates me, or why his prose is so easy for me to gobble up like cheeseburgers straight from the grill (with those little squares of american cheese laid oh-so-perfectly upon their tops). But every time I start one of his books I feel like I have landed inside a strange bubble of reality and time--usually one that is almost my own but not quite. This one is less maddeningly confusing as the first I read, The Yiddish Policeman's Union but not as epic as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, but that's okay, because it's about being drunk and confused in college. I know that undersells it, who cares? If you want to read it, go do that, or you can borrow my copy, alright? If you're reading this than maybe my opinion matters to you. Either way, this isn't a book review.

On the other hand, I'm listening to Anderson.Paak's album Malibu and I kinda dig it but I don't get it. It's weird and unruly and not repetitive and I haven't changed it. This following a week where I listened to Minor Threat by Dave's suggestion as well as Arcade Fire's Funeral which of course which's genius I am only now discovering like 10 years after the fact. It's usually how it goes.

I'm not trying to structure an argument here, I'm a little too self-aware that I haven't written here in three years and the last things I wrote were for my friend teecozee's blog called "theoretical Thursdays" (found here) and the last thing I wrote for myself was a little over a year ago. Can't let it get me down though, gotta power through the weariness and the nightmare of self-effacement before it unspools into whatever that other article was about (don't worry, it's gone now. Shhhh, shhhh, I'm here now, all will be okay and the mean truths can again go unspoken).

Before I read Mysteries of Pittsburgh I read Unknown Man #89 by Elmore Leonard, who is an author every single person (especially aspiring authors) shoud read. His dialogue is spot-on and I like that his charaters are visceral and give absolutely no fucks about anything else but what they're up to.

There is a fire-siren going off every forty seconds or so, starting low and reaching a crescendo within seconds and holding there, right on the outer edge of steel-blade slicing evil, mind-numbing, wriggling excruciation before dropping down below the line of hearing. And then of course it winds right.the.fuck.back. UP. If it goes on for another hour it will drive the entire neighborhood insane. I'll have to cordone off the stairwell as sound-induced zombies crawl up the banisters and toss molotov cocktails up onto the foyer, parents will overturn carriages, skip over the baby formula for the hard liquor and hand soap, drinking both with fevor only matched by the way the children throw chunks of the torn up street through the windows of local businesses. Fire will start in the corner of the gas station and the whole thing will go up, engulfing the whole block, and probably half of the next one, an M conductor traveling past with be inundated with sound, drive the train too hard and fast and whip through the station and rattle the bridge until it collapses onto the street, filling it with wrecked debris and cars and train parts and lives and then they'll call the locals, and they'll come in, go mad and start gunning down the innocent, then they'll call in the SWAT and the same thing will happen, and my normally mild, boring street will fill quickly with warring factions of madness driven by a sound that holy fuck it finally stopped. Whew. That was trouble.

I am 8 songs into this album and still haven't changed it. I think that is a good sign. I don't really know how to listen to music anymore, or how to find good shit. I don't even know if this album I'm listening to is any good. I do know it's not shitty. So I like it. I recently tried to discuss how I am an album person with Dave (after he called himself "an album guy") and realized that it's a topic that doesn't really warrant a conversation. We're the new Old, aren't we, Dave? Give us another fifteen years and our children will draw comics about us gumming our food we're so old.

In conclusion, this is my conclusive paragraph. In it, I will make vague references to my earlier statements and try to tie them together in a conclusive way, so that I may conclude this paragraph as well as this group of paragraphs that couldn't be called an essay even if I wrote it in double-spaced type in 14 pt font (Times New Roman). With any maybes, I will be back soon to put more thoughts into your heads. Hopefully with more, "you know"s and long-winded extrapolation of what I really meant earlier when I said. Not to mention the unmentionables and the way sometimes you just want to write something and say it instead of having to have a real point. It's nice.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Rant #738, Appendix B: Notes in the Margins

I have always abhorred writing in books. Not the typesets or the fonts or anything, but the physical writing in books. I don’t deny that there can be completely justified reasons for writing in books, especially by teachers and students--why take the time to write notes on a post-it or whatever and put it in when you can just highlight and/or underline, put a word or phrase, a question mark, an exclamation, whatever, especially in text books which really aren’t books at all in a sense, but are really just instruction manuals on some aspect of life--be it History, Biology, etc.  In these instances it makes sense for future discussion, homework, tests, etc. 

But, for a moment, let us consider literature and fiction and figure out what writing in a book is actually doing and why I don’t do it. I don’t want to argue my opinion is correct--I think a lot of people who think about things way deeper than I DO write in books, and freely without ever even questioning it, but I want to say why I don’t, and why I can’t fucking stand it when people do it.

First off we’ll hit the subject the easiest and most “who cares?”--it’s ugly. I know that ugliness is a terrible reason to avoid doing something to anything--especially if you’re the only one who cares. If you’re doing it to your own book, why should anyone give two shits whether or not you tagged the margin with this comment about the meaning of the candlesticks in Les Miserables or Holden’s hat in Catch in the Rye or whatever? It’s your book, do what you want with it! I am a supporter of doing whatever you want to your own things--like George Carlin said about cars--flip switches, turn dials, etc etc. and if you must break out your pen to write “Clearly adversarial to other’s opinions” in the margins, well, I’m not telling you you can’t but do yourself a favor and look at it after you’ve done it. 

Besides a few Literature books from school (The Odyssey and Dante’s Inferno spring to mind) I know of two notes I wrote in a book I was reading recreationally. One was in a Chuck Klosterman book where he was arguing about Superman and Batman being adversaries (Nemeses?) and one where I pointed out an annoying anachronism in The Body (made into a movie called Stand By Me) that I considered a plot hole because I was too self-assured that I’d found a flaw in my hero’s work that I had to shout it from the rooftops. Both of these notes are in blue ink and are written in the upper left corner of the page where there is significant space to write a note of semi-importance to absolutely no-one but myself. These notes are tragic for a couple of reasons I’ll get to later but first and foremost they are UGLY. The page is set in neat, squared paragraphs and here comes my notes in jumbled, teenager/twenty year-old handwriting sloping across the page like a slug-trail, loped and sliding, slick and rude, fucking up all the symmetry and neatness of the page. It’s like when you’re painting a wall and you slip of the ladder and grab the wall to slow your fall--a big ugly swath of original color down the middle of your new, improved color. I hate it.

Not to mention the comment itself.  It’s never anything really life-changing or surprising--and even it it is or was, then what was the point? Superman and Batman didn’t get along? No WAY! That changes their whole dynamic, doesn’t it? No, wait, it’s practically the only reason they ever work together! To promote drama! It's the thing that makes The Justice League interesting in the early days. Batman vs Superman is seriously the reason the end of The Dark Knight Returns is so good--Klosterman wasn’t trading new or even interesting ground here, and my note (which points this out in my neatest handwriting, as if to make sure anyone else who ever read this book after I died or gave it away or sold it at a yard sale in 2025 knew that I was, like, totally as smart or even smarter than a guy who wrote some very well-thought out and sometimes very blind pop-culture commentary about the 90’s in the 2000s) only points out that I know it. Even if it was a life-changing note (none of mine were)--then I’m pretty sure I’d remember it. If anything, the actual writing of the note makes me remember it that much more--and so now I know that, for instance in page one-hundred-whatever in The Body, the pistol is discussed, and then on page three hundred whatever, everyone acts surprised when it’s there, nothing has really changed. It’s not a story about who knows about the gun, it’s a story about growing up and losing your friends and feeling ashamed of who you are and having friends who want the best for you even when you can’t see it. The Body is a great book--and yet I had to--HAD TO write that little flaw in it to prove to no one but myself that I had read that book so deeply that I could point out fuck ups no one else had ever noticed. Little did I realize that someone probably saw the flaw--and said “fuck it. What’s it matter--this is a great book.” Who the hell did I think I was?

My point being that whatever is buzzing through your head when you grabbed your pen and started scribbling notes in the margins aren’t really that important, and if they were, you probably don’t need to write it down. I have had several teachers and professors tell me I should “read with a pen,” writing all kinds of things down in the margins--how this part relates to that part, underlining turns of phrase, writing grocery lists, I don’t know--but most of that stuff turns out to be useless anyway, especially if you re-read the book. If you re-read the book there you are, reveling in your private mode, perhaps seeing things differently this time since now you know the end and can see how well the thing was put together, how tightly wound the plot is (or vice-a-versa--it’s rare but I have definitely been underwhelmed on second reads of books that were great on the first run) and then all of a sudden, you-from-four-years-ago extrapolates a point that is either totally wrong, inherently meaningless against the greater scope of the work and/or distracts you back to whatever stupid shit you were doing four years prior when you wrote that ugly note in off-color pen in the margin. And to anyone who thinks re-reading a book is meaningless--to that I say simply that you’re wrong. Books are not rides on the subway--books are vacations into other peoples thoughts, feelings and emotions, they are escapes into places that are filled with the meaning that life sometimes lacks. Because of this, they should be experienced several times, to get the points and nuances, the rhythm and the cadence, to re-experience the experience and see it from a different view. All books should be read twice--even Dune.

And this, I think, is the crux of the biscuit--When you write a note you ignore the context of the book, you ignore the forest for the trees. The rhythm is tampered with when you have thirty words written sideways on the page and it will bring back the formerly important things that you thought of before and ignore the stuff you may have missed. It pulls out four notes of the guitar solo in your favorite song and brands them as Important when really the whole song needs to be experienced from the first clang to the last note that stretches into the end of the track. When this context is lost the whole meaning of the book can be thrown into the bushes. It’s like those jokes about professors needlessly pointing out that the “Curtains are blue because the character is sad.” Though I agree that many times the curtains are “just fucking blue” I can’t argue that they are ALWAYS just fucking blue--Holden’s hat DOES mean something--the Candles-sticks DO mean something--but when looked at alone they mean much less than when the book is looked at as a whole. Holden’s hat only means what it does in the context of the book, and to point it out somewhere in the middle of the book when your 16 year-old self finally figured it out there’s no need to mark it on the calendar. Who cares when you discovered it? It's the fact that you discovered it that's important. The discovery is less important than the doors it opened. Finding the dinosaurs was great, knowing that they existed is AMAZING. 


If I make one last note before putting this overly-long rant to bed I want to say that it’s not an advocacy for ignoring great moments in a novel, or a place you can go back to. It’s not even to say all defacing of books is wrong--I’ve always been a page-folder and always will be (except with other people’s books, of course). And so when I find a line I love, a paragraph, or simply a setting that speaks to me in a voice that I rarely hear and opens up the floodgates to something in myself I hadn’t seen in awhile, or ever, I fold the page. It’s ugly, sure, but not that bad, and for me it builds an anticipatory feeling that knows I’m about to get to something that’s really good. On re-reads I sometimes land on these rare moments and I revel in their beauty and others I wonder what the hell I thought I was doing folding that page, but either way I can come to that line in a new way, and the difference can take your breath away.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Send Lawyers, Guns and Money

I've lived in New York for awhile now and theres a few things I've learned about the people here that is causing some concern. Well, perhaps that is a little harsh, but there is something that makes me know that when I planned on living here "for awhile" I was correct in assuming that it would eventually tire me out and though I don't think I've reached that point, I do notice that I'm becoming increasingly disillusioned about what it takes to live here, and how up to it I really am.

They say that when God closes a door he opens a window, and despite my feelings on God being completely moot, I do think that it works the other way around, as in when a window opens, a door closes. If I take anything away from this New York thing, I think, if I had to pin it down it would be that there is a part of your soul that gets eroded away here over time. The people who live here are not soulless, I don't mean to say that, but I think when you emigrate here you are born with a worldview that will eat away at you until you conform or leave.

My cousin and my friends went to Florida a few years ago for a Spring Break that turned into an adventure for all of us, some more than others, but there was a moment when My cousin and I hadn't even gotten there that was telling about how the world sees this place. Our flight was scheduled out of New York during a heavy Nor'Easter that was systematically dismantling street signs all across New Brunswick (where we lived at the time). Our flight got cancelled and the next day was mostly going back and forth between terminal and service counter trying to chase down two seats on a plane to get us to Florida. I remember we had slept the night on air vents and gone to like 7 different flights which were then delayed or cancelled completely, and in a desperate last try we got a flight to Nashville which would then transfer to Florida. I remember distinctly when the woman told us that we would have to run to catch our next plane because we had five minutes to go like 30 terminals or something. She described it as "you're going to have to run." So we made the flight (my first first class experience--paid for through 20 hours in an airport trying to salvage a vacation I could barely pay for before and almost thought I was going to die on at least twice after) and tried to sleep (impossible, despite drinking two free Heinekens), knowing we had five minutes to check in at another airplane in a place we had never been surrounded by people we did not know. Finally the plane landed and we looked at each other--tired, hungry, desperate for the whole fucking mess to be ended--and sprinted off the concourse and charged through the terminal. I remember dodging old people moving entirely too slowly in our paths and pulling suitcases piled higher than they could stand upright, soldiers with their pants stuffed into their black boots, silent as they watched us scramble around them as they waited to get on board. Finally we got to the check-in desk and tried to explain to the woman through giant, rasping breaths why we were there and how we needed to get on the plane because we needed to get to Florida by any means necessary. She looked at us, sweating, tired, haggard, wide eyed and frightened for our "adventure" and said with a kind, understanding smile: "Oh, Sugar, we held that plane for you. You're not in New York anymore." Stunned faces stared back at her and I remember thinking "they held the plane? With all these people waiting? That's so...nice!" We looked at her, thanked her, and sat down on the carpet near the water fountain and waited for them to start boarding. It wasn't so much that I didn't understand why they held the plane, but that they actually did it.

Those word stuck with me, and living here now there is a certain understanding that has completed the circle: I know what she meant by her statement but I also know how she profoundly missed what it was that caused it. She thought (or so I assume) that New Yorkers are heartless, cold and are so uptight that we always leave on time--that New York in general does not give two shits if you are going to miss your flight or how missing this connection fundamentally ruins all the stuff you've looked forward to for the last three excruciating weeks, the time between when Finals were eons away and then POW right-here-right-now-c'mon-it's-everything. But really the issue with New York being seen through that lens is that it ignores that there are too many fucking people here. The only way to truly understand a city where 45 people live in a small apartment building in Brooklyn that occupies less acreage than my father's front yard is to understand that no one could function here without completely ignoring the needs of some of the people around them. It's this fundamental difference that comfounds tourists to American cities and City people when they visit the suburbs and rural areas. It's not that things are slower, it's that there are less people, so you don't have to shove anyone (or at least as many) out of your way to get where you're going.

Living this close to others and going out amongst them every single day is an experience that I think everyone should have, if only to understand your place sometimes in the world. For every person who knows you, there are 243 who do not know you exist, and 45 of them want to shove you when you stop to check Google Maps at the top of the escalator (.002 of them want to stab you and throw your body down an elevator shaft, but those people are waaay rarer than you'd think). This becomes obvious when you see entire crowds buff and wobble when a homeless guy starts freaking out in the middle of a sidewalk. People make a face and run away (tourists, newbies) and the others just move a little faster and stare off into the distance like vietnam soldiers walking past burning villages. This is because this isn't the first, second or 23rd time this has happened, it has just become part of the mentality to ignore the part of your brain that simultaneously shouts "Run away!" and "I should help that other human being." When a person understands that stepping over a homeless guy laying on a vent in the middle of the street will not be viewed as antisocial, or rolling your eyes at someone begging for change, or planting your feet in front of a baby carriage because fuck-you-lady-I-was-here-first-and-the-subway-car-is-almost-full-and-I'm-almost-fucking-late is not wrong, especially in the wider scheme of things. The world is hard and demanding and we have to take it as a fact that not everyone cares about you.

However, open your window to this reality for too long and the door to compassion and understanding, fairness and concern may swing shut. During me and my cousin's endless airport day I can't imagine how many times the same customer service person had to say "I'm sorry, sir/ma'am, I can do nothing to help you." Imagine how many suitcases were lost, how many family reunions were ruined, how many Spring Break shitheads never got to where they wanted to go. And this, I think, is the crux of the biscuit. There are people in my life now that I have had drinks with, had long conversations about the natures of reality, religion, education, politics, reason, logic and philosophy that I counted among my friends, who have become just another rat in the maze after the same cheese I am. I do not find them to be less than people, they are not the homeless man on the sidewalk screaming at traffic, but they are other mice in the maze. And in order for me to get my cheese, sometimes I have to swing some hinges and those hinges may effect others, and sometimes in negative ways. This may not be the state I am in presently, but I know that there are people whom I have come in contact with who do think along these lines, and do so because that is the way you have to live sometimes. Sometimes you have to draw a blade to stay in contention, and sometimes you have to use it. Ask those poor suckers who tried the stock market and had their lives eaten up by better, more ruthless players.

But to do so is to become inhuman, I think. Ethics is a strange thing, and when all the winners are the ones who were quick to draw their blades, everyone learns the game to survive just that much longer. New York is like that--a city of people who have learned to draw their blades, and have learned the game better. But because of that, certain things get missed. The kind touch, the "have a nice day" while meaning it, the not just being an asshole because "hey, this is New York, get used to it." Things are done half-assed here like it's no one's business, and I think it's because no one ever says "Jesus, what if that air conditioner falls on someone?!" There's a lot of "fuck it, it gets the job done." Most of this mentality comes from there being so many people that no one will notice, but also from being in that mental space of "well, the job fell on me to get it done, it's done, let's move on," which is how a city full of 8 million people are bound to feel when if you don't return your bottles the old asian woman down the street will do it for 5 cents a pop, where you can see piles of trash on a roof that just happens to be near a subway exit, where barbed wire surrounds empty lots. People who move here know about these things, but experiencing them is different on a wholly new level. In the end it comes down to the real nature of things: adapt or die, stay or go, repel or become. Evolution of your mind--am I a mouse in a maze or am I a man who needs to eat? Are these really all the same things? Conundrums like these always fuck with my head because they boil down to what I am made of as a person, and the decisions I make always alienate some of the people I have in my life. Send Lawyers, Guns and Money--get me out of this.

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