Monday, June 22, 2015

Ohhh NYC...


I’ve been in NYC for about 2 weeks and returning to London today. It’s been a weird trip. A full trip. A busy trip. A too fast and too slow trip. While here I couldn’t help but do the comparison game of NYC vs. LDN. It’s such a trite thing to do but impossible to escape. With that in mind I will parley a few things about NYC that I may have not noticed so much before. These are good, bad and just I don’t know type of things. It’s not a measure of one place being better then the other but being away from something you once knew so well makes the return to it much stranger then anticipated.

The “What do you do?” question – That question, “what do you do?” is so different when asked in NYC then in most other places (perhaps not in LA). When this question is asked it is a form of vetting. It is basically a summing up of the other person and judgment of if they are valid, valued and or worthy of heightened or actual interest. It is asked in other places but in NYC it is more then a mere icebreaker. It is a network tool and it is constantly deployed to slice through people, conversations and social situations. Why is that? Maybe it’s because everyone is so damn busy and to be honest making new friends is not the m.o. in this town as one already has too many of those. This question is honest in its swiftness but it is also just the worst when it comes to being a human being to another human being. How does one get out of this four word social trap? Pretend your deaf or just be vague enough to seem fabulous, slightly rich or highly socially connected. If you are any of those things, congrats you’re in. If not, just silently sip yourself into a stupor and stay out of the way.  

Whitney Museum – Ummm yeah, this is the best museum I have seen for a long time and most certainly the best in contemporary/modern art in NYC. The current show, “America is Hard to See” is a stunner and full of consideration and nuance. The word that keeps popping to my mind and lips is the word ‘generous.’ It is generous in the way it presents the work and the building is generous in how it encourages and allows one to see the work. You don’t think about the building so much as you think and feel the space. That to me is the true success in the marriage of art and architecture. It enhances versus dictates. In addition, this building (designed by Renzo Piano) also has a respectful and tasteful populism with many and large outdoor vistas. Looking out from them and seeing mostly the parking garages and municipally used docks and lots it stings back to a New York that is disappearing. One that was gritty and unstrategic in its facade. Who knows how long that will last. In a few years time I’m sure it will be populated by bland avant garde gardenscapes and nouveau-riche condos but hey, I’ll take it for as long as I can. Truly, finally, NYC gets a museum that it deserves. (But honestly the admission fee should be much less and free for students).

Busy Busy Busy Bees – Everyone is insanely busy in NYC. I know people are busy everywhere but seriously, you are just busier here. Like a lot busier. It’s good but also a sign that capitalism is winning.

Food – I have eaten out all but two meals in the last two weeks and that is making me not swimsuit ready but hey it’s been really yummy. Mexican(ish), pizza, bagels, bubble teas, Chinese, Burgers, Hippie Salads, Wings, onion rings, Thai, Beer, Wine, Middle Eastern, Japanese, Korean, Italian, more pizza, you name it NYC has it and it is so good and it is way cheaper to eat out then in London. That’s a huge difference that I have noted before but this trip has made me even more aware of it. This is because the restaurants in NYC are reasonably priced to cheap and are super good. Also, the fact that most people have small apartments with even smaller kitchens, means going out to eat is the de facto meal norm. London’s restaurants are expensive to very expensive and although many are good the price is not worth it most of the time. Groceries there are very good (they don’t label things ‘local’ because basically everything thing is actually local) and less expensive so making food at home and having impromptu or planned dinners happen very often and with a casualness that is refreshing. Both are nice but for one who likes to cook and is a budget student, eating out every meal even in NYC adds up. It was worth it though. I am eating my third meal of pizza to bon voyage my trip and to tide me over till I return because I know there’s other pizza out there but it’s just NOT NYC pizza.

Single Life – Everyone I know is breaking up. Well that’s not true but returning home I got a big dose of catch-me-ups and many of those involved stories of heartache, unravelings and giant f-yous to former flames. NYC is a hard city for love especially if you are a woman and especially if you have goals and crap like that. Being busy, being driven is not a good bedfellow for amore if the other actual bedfellow has issues one way or the other about all of that. It hasn’t been all bad news on the love front though. Many friends are happily married and about to move in with their significant others and that’s all grand and all but yeah, NYC is the single, hooking up, it’s complicated town it has always been.

Scene – What’s the new art scene? What’s the new music scene? What’s the new party scene? Who are the new hot young things? What are the hot young galleries? Who are the cool artists? Who is cool? What’s new? What’s old? Answer: Nothing. I know 10ish months of not being here is too short of a time to truly judge this but the NYC scene is feeling stale and I think this has been for some time. Every year or so there is a new batch of kids from some art school from someplace that descends the city or there is a strange crew of arty weirdos that dress different, feel different and just pop things off, which can feel like a breath of fresh air or can be a cringy cliché, but regardless it’s something new to notice and to chitter about. This has not happened in the last year plus and maybe it’s because I’ve been away but yeah, things feel a bit off or flat lined at the moment. I have faith though. Hopefully in September when the kids have enough saved up to move to the city things will replenish and zing with new energy again.

Gallery Overload – There are too many galleries in NYC. Stop it. People. Just Stop It!

Fashion – I am so impressed and invigorated by NYC fashion right now. London is very self-aware in how it dresses. It is sort of like how NYC was 3 years ago (sports wear meets goth) but with an injection of raver and lots more sweats. The London look is tight and it is fantastic in its comfort and informing social solidarity but NYC is kind of killing it with its mix of styles and diversity of looks. Everything is okay to wear here and it’s more an attitude of wearing it that makes it look great then a certain oeuvre of style. Things I really liked seeing are cuffed or cut loose pants on guys to lower shins with high socks. Girls wearing very big but somehow comfortable looking shoes with tiny-tiny skirts or shorts. Khaki’s in that color or in shades of blue. Monochrome outfits that are slightly dirty with touches of color and linen being so easy breezy in all this heat. All I wanted to do is shop in NYC since it is so much cheaper but sadly for my condensed space life I am only returning with more staples of black and white. Oh to be able to have more then one suitcase of clothes would be a dream.

Beach – You can go to a really nice beach for the cost of one subway ride ($2.75). That’s truly amazing.