Tuesday, November 09, 2004

New York State of Mind

New York, New York, the city so nice they named it twice. If I can make it there, I'm gonna make it anywhere. New York, New York, it's a helluva town, emphasis on hell, depending on who you ask.

Millions of people visit this city from all over the world. Everyone who comes here expects any number of things, including:

1. They will be pickpocketed, evidenced by the number of dorks wearing knapsacks on their chest.
2. There are BAD neighborhoods, particularly Harlem, Brooklyn, or anywhere lots of non-white people live, with the exception of Chinatown.
3. Vice abounds, with almost as much voracity as a sex tour of Thailand. If there isn't a church, there's a liquor store or a titty bar. Oh wait, that's in one of the BAD neighborhoods.
4. The subway is a dark and dangerous place, ready to capture you and take you to a BAD neighborhood, especially to Harlem
5. Brooklyn is a remote and exotic place, extremely difficult to get to from Manhattan
6. Black folks love receiving tour buses full of Europeans who can't understand a word of English, but want nothing more than to hear gospel music sung live, followed by a real soul food meal at Sylvia's -- but they'll only go on a tour bus because they're too afraid to ride the subway to one of the BAD neighborhoods, and they'll only take the tour early in the day while the sun is high in the sky.
7. New York is filled with beautiful people; young (if not chronologically, then surgically), white, reed-thin (subsisting on cigarettes, large coffees with cream, and alcohol), dressed in designer duds (usually paid for by mom and dad), with 212 phone numbers and zip codes beginning with 100, making you believe they're rich by paying $1800 a month to share a 1 bedroom with a roommate (the cat whose name is on the lease got the bedroom)
8. Homeless people are everywhere, and aggressive. Mind you, these are the assumptions made by folks who have never visited San Francisco -- they have a real homeless issue
9. If it's trendy, it's come from New York, and from the characters in item #7
10. New York is the be-all and end all. You'll love the city like a crackhead loves the pipe, and as we know crackheads are on every street corner in a BAD neighborhood (you were waiting for one more BAD neighborhood reference, weren't you?)

I was born and raised in this city. Actually, I was born in Brooklyn, but my Brooklyn feelings are the subject of another post. I've never spent more than 6 weeks at a time away from it. I've lived in Queens, Jersey City, New Jersey; Manhattan, and Brooklyn. I have friends and colleagues in every borough. I work in midtown Manhattan -- the bastion of all things New York. I have New York City in my blood, and I may just die here.

New York is a crazy city, but it's also like a small town. Yes, there are 8 million stories in the naked city, but just like a small town, we care about our communities. We worry about our kids. We don't like paying more for anything than necessary.

In my previously mentioned job, I get to hear from lots of concerned citizens from all over this great country, and as I've shared, I'm alternately offended and amused, but this one burned me. The author, obviously not from New York, closed her message with:"What can you expect from ...out of New York'.

How dare she? Don't blame New York for your puritan principles. It's not our fault that you've been made to feel such shame about the body that censorship is far more desirable than therapy. Don't hold New York responsible for your conflicting feelings about sex. Lighten up, lady! Whether you agree or disagree, New York has, in the last 10 years, has cleaned up quite a bit. 42nd street is no longer the temple of porn flicks and cheesy sex shops it once was. Clubs are routinely busted for drug sales, underage drinking, and quality of life offenses (things like noisy patrons disturbing the surrounding neighborhood). You can't smoke inside, except your own house.

I've visited a sex shop or two, and some needed to be shut down. I've even seen a porno flick on 42nd Street, and the closing of it was no loss, between the smell of old semen and desperation and the rats running the aisles. I appreciate being able to call the cops to tell my occasionally noisy neighbors to shut up, and I don't mind not having the smell of cigarette smoke competing with the aroma of my molten chocolate cake in a restaurant. I do mind, however, the attempt to sanitize, homogenize, and lobotomize the citizens of this one-of-a-kind burg, who take pride in their freakishness. New York isn't the belly of the beast -- it's certainly not Hollywood, after all -- but it also serves as one of the few places on Earth where a Black man and a Japanese woman; two burly guys with handlebar mustaches and leather chaps; a woman with dreadlocks and a woman with a Chanel purse can walk down the street holding hands, celebrating their glorious freakishness. New York is every stereotype and none of them. You can expect great things to come out of this city, but it is only because of the great people that are here.

Mrs. Never-Break-A-Sweat-or-Raise-Your-Blood-Pressure, I hope you'll visit my city, and I hope you find the fabulous freaks here.

The Bronx is up, and the Battery's down; the people ride in a hole in the ground. New York, New York -- it's a helluva town. Thank God.


Blogger roy said...

I still think we should go back to smoking weed in movie theatres, pissing in the street, and murdering tourists, but other than that I agree with you.

Have a swingin' vacation, homes.

- R

6:02 PM  

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