Friday, March 27, 2009

I F*%king love New York!!

What a beautiful spring morning! As I towed Anevay and one of her pals to school this morning, it occurred to me that there is no where I'd rather live than New York... Bathed in the morning light, neither the shrill sound of trucks backing up, migraine-inducing jackhammers, nor the stinky woman who stood behind me on the subway with her bag pressed full-stop against my spine, could shake my good mood.

It being a Friday, and me being the type of mom I am, we were running late. 20 minutes late, to be exact. There's something about being late that makes me move even more slowly... It's the feeling of heck, I'm already late, so instead of stressing out Anevay trying to make her hurry, why not just take our time and enjoy it!

See, New York has a pace that is a little faster than most other places. When we moved here from Wisconsin six years ago it took us a few months to adjust. I've always been a fast walker, but it was more than that. It was learning how to navigate my way through a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of people without bumping a single person, and running to catch a subway train even though another one was only two minutes behind it (what a difference from Wisco, where a bus might not come for another hour). In New York, minutes count.

Or, in the case of one man this morning, seconds count.

Since this morning I had decided to slow the pace, it made sense to stop for coffee at the donut cart close to Anevay's school. The two men who run the cart are incredibly kind, know how I like my coffee (even though I rarely buy from them). They were getting my coffee for me when Anevay asked if she might be allowed a donut. I'm not big on junk food (in fact, although we're not vegetarians, we eat a lot of tofu and veggies in my house), but being in such a great mood, I told Anevay to pick something out. Two seconds later, and the man in line behind me hollered, "Hurry the f*%k up!"

My (American)Irish blood immediately blushed my cheeks, and even as one of the guys in the cart yelled, "hey, man, it's Friday, cool off," I spun around and proceeded to get all 'New York'.

"Don't talk to me like that. Can't you see I'm standing here with kids?" (note- Anevay and her friend were standing to the side of me, talking, and hadn't even picked up that any of this was happening)

Immediately, the man smiled, then laughed in a good natured manner. "Hey, how you doin'?" he said in his best New Yorker's accent.

It was one of the security guards at the Tweed Building, which houses Anevay's school (I seem to be having quite the time with security guards this week).

"Not bad, man, how you doin'?" I responded. After all, it had been me who had ignored the cardinal rule of the New York minute... namely that in such a large city, surrounded by millions of people, even when I want to slow things down, I need to understand that the rest of the city is still moving along at the same fast pace!

This is what I love about New York. Sure, the people are abrasive and confrontational. But most of them don't hold grudges. If New York were a person, it would be a PMSing woman... emotional, sensitive, alternately laughing and crying...

New York is my cup of tea. It's the bee's knees. I hang my hat every night on image of the Empire State Building. I call it my own. I'm raising my kid within it's stifling, sweaty, warm, and yet arm's length embrace. New York is home, man, it's home.

And so, a small list is in order (hey, it would be longer, but time is of the essence!!).

1) 'New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down' by LCD Soundsystem.

The title of the song says it all... My daughter and I sang it a lot this past winter on cold walks to the subway. Click here to hear the song. It's AMAZING.

(A little aside: Anevay's first love is the son of the drummer for LCD Soundsystem (nice guy). They used to buddy up at the park quite a bit. Now that I'm done hibernating for the winter, maybe I make a call to set up the playdate I've promised to Anevay!)

(Another little aside: One of the best big concerts I've seen in NY was the Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem show at Randall's Island two summers ago... SO. MUCH. FUN.)

2) 'Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

Last night one of my best friends, a native New Yorker, came by for movie night. What we saw delighted both of us, and even elicited a few laughs from my roommate, Clare, who sat across the loft working on her computer).

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (see trailer here) is not only a well-written, witty screenplay, with great acting and amazing music, but it was so much fun to follow Nick and Norah on their adventures around the city to all of the music venues I love so much, as well as watch them foray into Brooklyn to see their favorite band play, which leads me to number three on my list...

3) 'Union Pool'

In Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, most of the characters were on a mission to find the secret location where the band 'Where's Fluffy' would be playing. At one point they all piled into a van and drove into Brooklyn, where they ended up at a location called 'Brooklyn Pool'.

Well, Brooklyn Pool is, in real life, the fabled Union Pool, where amazing bands and too much booze (at least that's been the case for me) meet on a weekly basis. Union Pool even has a photobooth (I have late night pics from that booth that will never see the light of day)...

...a huge patio, and, although the crowd has become younger (or maybe I'm just getting older), it's just a terrific one-stop venue for chatting up strangers about music, life in Brooklyn, and for seeing some great characters...

In fact, a couple of years ago I went to see some of my pals in TV on the Radio play a Hurricane Katrina Benefit- I went not only to support a good cause, but because I had heard through the grapevine that my all-time favorite, Will Oldham himself (Bonnie Prince Billy), would be playing a few songs... (He did, but unfortunately I was in the bathroom making out with my ex-boyfriend. Sigh. That's sometimes how it goes at Union Pool. Oh- that reminds me... That was the same ex- whom I had met through the Internet and eventually shared the loft I'm in now with- that I had my first date with at Union Pool. Go figure.)

4) Williamsburg Bridge

I live blocks away from the bridge, which is a suspension bridge that connects the Lower East Side of Manhattan to my Williamsburg neighborhood in the BK. I run across it, walk across it, and have even skateboarded across it. From the bridge one can see landmarks in both Brooklyn and Manhattan (duh), the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and George Washington Bridges, and, from that vantage point, the water of the East River looks *almost* blue... My ex-roommates from Germany (we miss you, Daniel and Eveline!!) used to celebrate birthdays and holidays with champagne in the middle of the bridge.

Good times!

(And not such good times... I remember a few years ago when the MTA strike happened and I had no choice but to walk home in heels from the Seagram Building on the corner of Park and 53rd to Williamsburg... By the time I got to the bridge I was not a happy camper... Have you ever had blisters on the bottoms of your feet? Not fun.)

5) 'This is New York' by Miroslav Sasek

This beautiful children's book from 1960 is filled with illustrations and brief descriptions of NYC landmarks. My daughter and I have spent many hours pouring over the book's pages...

(both notable and poignant is the absence of the World Trade Center... the book was written before the Towers were built and subsequently destroyed)

And that, my dears, is the shortest list in the world... Perhaps you could add some of your favorite New York places/films/music in the form of a comment? But hurry the f*%k up, wouldjya (written with a HUGE New York smile)?!


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