New York is very liberating
Contrary to popular myth, New Yorkers are very friendly and approachable – unless they’re in a car, or a crowded subway. Then, not so much. But I’ve bumped into people in bars, on the subway, walking my girl’s dog (she’s the best conversation starter in the world); and they just launch into conversation as if you’ve been friends for years before wandering off with an affable “take care”. There’s just so many different types of people here that no one could care less what you look like, what you wear, what you do; anything. You feel free to reinvent yourself as whoever you most want to be.
House Of Brews on 46th St (image flickr4jazz)
You meet some characters
I found a fellow Kiwi in Pony Bar (American craft beer nirvana) called Greg who’s a librarian & beer aficionado living in Sydney. Anyway, after later dragging him into the House Of Brews to sample their galaxy of quality suds we struck up a conversation with a couple of friendly baseball-cap-sporting guys from Jersey (as they call it, or New Jersey on the map – New Yorkers all look down on people from Jersey) called Mark and Joe. Mark was a tall, solid plumber and the father-in-law of Joe, a policeman. Joe wasn’t just your average police grunt though. He had served in Iraq and Afghanistan in Military Intelligence and was considering going into the CIA as his next career move. They took us down to New York’s oldest continuously operated saloon, an Irish Pub named McSorleys, which claims it opened its doors in 1854, and only admitted women (“kicking and screaming”) in 1970. Famous patrons include Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, the poet E.E. Cummings and John Lennon, while Houdini’s handcuffs are chained to the bar.
McSorley’s Old Ale House, Julia Stiles in the hat (Image DoubleBen)
Stogies in the air
I’ve noticed a lot of men smoke big, fat, cigars – most of which smell quite pleasant, unlike the rest of the odors of New York. Oh. My. God. Every three blocks or so utter I utter the same refrain in my head: “I smell dead people.”
Ray Ban sunglasses and Chuck Taylor shoes seem to be the fashion statement repeated most regularly here – and Nikes. It’s as if there’s a New York bylaw that decrees all citizens must own at least one pair of Third World Labor haters, and usually several pairs. It’s a little eerie.
Prices are annoying. There’s a goods and services tax 8.875% which you always have to add onto the marked price of anything, which, when combined with a tip of 10-20%, can rather inflate a price that at first seemed quite cheap. Pain in the rectum that. Build the tax into your marked prices asshats!
If you like movies, you’ll absolutely love New York. There’s another cinema roughly every 10 blocks, and they show old movies, new movies, weird movies that never get released anywhere else, new movies that have stopped showing elsewhere – film festivals of every description. It’s heaven!
The internet, god bless its eternal soul, is an even better, more useful experience than before. Which is saying something.
One thing I love: type in what you’re looking for to Google along with your area code, say “cinema 10036” in my case, and up comes a list of all the cinemas in my area, along with what features they’re showing and what time, and you can even pay through Google. The service is fast (20 mbps @ casa del Mitch) and cheap ($33.95 a month with unlimited data). There’s just so many more services, and the social media is just so much more relevant. For me, it’s bliss.
Oh and finally, Central Park in Autumn is amazing. Here’s a few snaps I took over the last couple of days.
Romance on the hoof in Central Park, Fall 2009