8/07/2008

I (heart) NY, mostly


video

I’ve never figured out how to deal with New York. I’m always a little edgy about going there, dreading the trip until I actually get there. Then, once I get settled in, I don’t want to leave.

I love the place. An hour just walking the streets in that city is one of the most stimulating experiences that’s available to me. In the space of a few blocks you’re likely to see more examples of extreme contrasts than you can comfortably assimilate in one day: examples of great art and crass kitsch, astonishing wealth and depressing poverty, stunning beauty and shocking ugliness, acts of touching and unnoticed generosity and blatant and infuriating selfishness.

I’ve always wished that I’d gotten my life together a little sooner and taken a shot at making it there. I wonder how my life might have been different. Of course, there’s the possibility -- or maybe the likelihood -- that I might have been a total failure and ended up much worse off than I am now.

I’m scared of New York. One of my worst fears is somehow getting totally lost in the city, alone, at night, with only change in my pocket and a dead battery in my cell phone. This fear coexists with the fascination and affection I feel for the place. It’s too big, too overwhelming, too over-stimulating, especially for a guy whose idea of a big city until he was 20 years old was Charlotte, North Carolina. I’ve got to add, however, that I’ve always intensely disliked Charlotte and can't imagine ever feeling the affection for that city that I feel for New York.

Anyway, we were in New York/New Jersey a couple of weeks ago. Went to a Bruce Springsteen concert at Giants Stadium, and my brother-in-law came up with great tickets for a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium.

I’m still learning how to use a new Nikon camera that has a digital video recorder, and my inexperience is obvious in the above video, which I shot while riding the NYC subway. The drummers hopped on the subway at one stop, banged out this little concert, took up a collection, and jumped off at the next stop to, I presume, repeat the performance on another train.

I got a kick out of the impromptu little concert but my niece, who lives in Brooklyn and rides the subway every day, says they happen too often as far as she's concerned and she’s pretty tired of them, especially when she’s had a rough day at the office and just wants to be left alone during the ride home. She says these kinds of things always impress the tourists, and I guess that’s why it impressed me.

1 comment:

jmigs said...

Willie,

Next time you go to NYC give me a call, and I'll help you with an itinerary unlike any you've had before. I used to live in Manhattan, and everytime I take Dianne there, I try to take her somewhere, or show her something, different. But one thing is a constant. We always go to Harlem on Wednesday night. First stop, Showman's Bar for a cocktail. It's an old jazz club, and the habitues have taken to us. Next, it's two blocks down, to the Apollo Theater for amateur night, then to M&G's Soul Food (two doors down fromm Showman's), and back to Showman's for a little jazz and a nightcap. That evening, on three blcoks of Harlem, is damn fine fun.

John