Showing posts with label new york. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new york. Show all posts

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Conversation


We sat talking at the edge of the bar, oblivious to the noise around us. She was a pretty young brunette who had just transferred here from California. I was an overworked, jaded New Yorker in need of some Friday night beguilement. "I work in advertising" she says, barely audible. "Oh nice" I respond, "So what's better, New York or L.A.?" This question is one I frequently ask everyone I meet who moves to New York from L.A. I'm always comparing people's experience of New York to that of where they grew up. "Well," she says digging deep into her little mind, "New York is more convenient because everything is close by. And, you don't have to drive everywhere." I feign interest and pretend like her point is something I haven't heard. Unfortunately, I've heard it all.

I, the jaded New Yorker, have had this conversation one too many times. It's gotten to the point where, I already know what they're going to say. To spice things up, sometimes I play the guessing game, where I guess where they're from, or their ethnicity or religion. Just the other week, I correctly guessed two girls were Jewish just by knowing what neighborhood they grew up in.

Then suddenly, the conversation got interesting....

Monday, September 6, 2010

Short Days, Long Nights


It's that time of the year, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. I can see the sun setting lower in the sky. This is the time of the year where one has to take full advantage of every pleasant day if you live in northern latitudes. In my beloved New York that is especially true. For a long cold winter is almost certainly ahead. Maybe this winter won't be so bad. I hope not. It was a decent summer. I'm not sure what my best summer was. Maybe the summer of '99. I partied a lot that summer and had my first sexual experience. It was a hot one. I always want to show off my body that I've sculpted all winter long in the summer, but this past winter I did no such thing. Consequently, my summer body this year was just as scrawny as it was for many past summers.

I didn't go shopping this summer to show off any new looks. I had the same old same old wardrobe. There have been clothes that I've fantasized about having, and that having it will make me happier. I too am not immune to materialistic pleasure. I usually never get that item of clothing, but in fantasy I wear it and rock that look I so desperately want. I constantly evolve and so does my look. Now that I'm getting older I've changed and matured my look a bit. I no longer dress like some 20 year old pot head. I want to fashion myself as an intellectual. It doesn't always go with my company or environment. I don't want to dress too square. I want to be stylish yet sophisticated. To do this I need to be creative since buying a new wardrobe is a little out of the question.

No summer love this year. I think I already mentioned that in a previous post. My friend keeps convincing me to go to this local bar that I can't stand. I hate the girls that go there and the general atmosphere. I only ever go there because it's closest to me. I barely went out "bitch hunting" as we used to say, this summer. I went to the South Street Sea Port several times where I did meet one pretty young European girl that I briefly dated that quickly went nowhere. I didn't really hit my usual stomping grounds or the bars most favorable for meeting single ladies. Come to think of it I barely went bar hopping this summer. I guess on the account of how expensive it is.

I'm noticing that I'm writing too much about my personal life here. This blog is not suppose to be a personal blog. I guess the fact that I'm writing period is a good sign of productivity, since I can on occasion, go long periods without writing.

I'm reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity now. He is a writer most know probably for writing The Chronicles of Narnia. He is a Christian often cited in religious debates and he is credited with bringing a slightly more modern interpretation of his faith to the masses with his book. Even though I see through his arguments in favor of his faith and god like a fishnet bra on a hooker. I guess that if I wasn't educated in the new atheist's philosophies that have made my atheism stronger and unbreakable, I might possibly fall for some of Lewis' arguments. Perhaps if I was younger.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Summer's almost gone.


While studying and sharpening up my IT skills I've burned out a little bit and need to take a writing break. There's a heat wave blanketing the city. Temps are in the mid-90s. I've been stuck home for the past several days. There really is no reason to go out in this oppressive heat. Why would I want to swelter outside in the heat and humidity? The only reason I can think of would be to rejoice in what will probably be the last time temperatures are in the 90s until next summer. Heat waves always make it feel like summer. I've always liked the way summer felt. Some of my greatest memories have been during the summer. I like warm weather. I have a new appreciation for the fall but it's never an easy transition from hot to cold for me. I always want summer to last a little longer.

Don't go away summer! Last until October please!

I used to think really hot summers meant really cold winters followed. I hate especially cold winters. A little snow is OK. I don't have to drive and I don't live in a house so I don't have to shovel anything. We want it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. NY in the winter appears more urban. There aren't any green patches to contradict the concrete. The concrete wins. I'm in so much debt that I might not even be able to go shopping this fall to get new clothes. I'll have to come up with new ways to recycle my old looks. I kind of gotten out of the whole fashion thing recently anyway, but the urge does pop up from time to time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Seven Deadly Sins


Long is the way. And hard, that out of hell leads up to light.
-John Milton

When I was in high school I became obsessed with the movie "Seven". It's about a serial killer who kills his victims according to the seven deadly sins. The movie is a very dark portrait of a decaying American city, filled with crime, despair and awash in sin. I loved it and it had a profound affect on my during my adolescents. I wanted to do what the killer did, and rid the world of evil people. I've grown out of this fantasy over the years, and now that I'm older and know a great deal more about religion, I can reflect on the movie and its theme.

The seven deadly sins are not mentioned in the Bible, or by Jesus, they came about hundreds of years later in the 4th century by a monk named Evagrius Ponticus. They're an interesting list of vices that I won't dwell too deep into. They are:

Lust
Gluttony
Greed
Sloth
Wrath
Envy
Pride

I haven't read much literature about the seven deadly sins, but I might in the future. The movie is what I'm focusing on. It's suppose to be New York, before gentrification, before there was a Starbucks on every corner and million dollar condos were being built right next to housing projects. But New York is never mentioned in the movie, and the city is suppose to be a large anonymous American city, a template that could substitute for any large urban center. I loved how dark they made the movie. Seven was the darkest movie I had ever seen up until that point. Even the score was extremely dark and moody. The director used these low camera angles, and very low, dim lighting that is often pierced by bright yellow flash lights. We never see much of the cityscape, but only close ups of its more uglier districts. Every day it rains during the scenes in the movie, kind of like what's been going on in NY for the past 4 days. Rain rain rain. It's pouring rain now. The weather reminded me of the movie Seven and I guess that's why I wanted to write this post.

On the seven sins, the killer finds one person that exemplifies each sin to its extreme. An obese man, obviously guilty of gluttony; a lawyer filled with greed; a drug addict and pedophile guilty of sloth; a prostitute - lust; a beautiful model full of pride. The last two sins are part of the twist ending, and killers plan for himself to die. I see the movie as an example of how religion can make a man go absolutely insane with obsession and to find a perverse way to justify murder. I mean the killer was probably insane already, but religion gave him the justification he needed to torture and kill his victims. In his eyes, they were guilty of sin, of violating God's laws, and he was doing God's work by killing them. He thought God was on his side. He believed he was chosen by God to commit the murders he did: a martyr for God. Christopher Hitchens ponders what limits will people put on themselves when committing evil acts if they think they have God on their side. He makes the argument that when people think God is on their side, they will stop at nothing. No amount of violence or death is too much for the believer who thinks God is on their side, it justifies everything that might otherwise be deemed immoral.

And the movie "Seven" shows exactly how that can be true.


"One pound of flesh, no more no less, no cartilage no bone but only flesh, this task done...and he would go free."



Sunday, August 15, 2010

Urban Density


Continuing on my fascination with cities, particularly NY, it strikes me how much suburban sprawl there is in America. While making 3D buildings on Google Earth I noticed that a lot of European cities are much denser than almost all American cities. Most people live in apartments in Europe, even in the smaller cities and towns. In the U.S. most people live in detached houses. That's always been the American dream.

Americans like owning houses and Americans like their space. Space is what the pioneers found when they arrived in the New World: a giant near-empty continent, sparely populated by Indians. So they spread out from the cities of the east, to the great plains of the Midwest, eventually reaching the Pacific. What we have as a result is miles and miles of suburban sprawl, aided by the invention of the automobile, and the domination of the "big oil" companies. The epitome of this is Los Angeles. Many American cities and towns are built around transportation by automobiles. European cities are not. They were built years before automobiles and thus remain tightly compacted for easy transport. A few tiny parts of a few American cities resemble this, most notably the Wall Street District of Manhattan, and Boston's North end.

That tight density gives European cities their distinct flavor. It gives them their street life. Most American cities with several exceptions, have no street life because everyone is in their car. What you'll have is a few strip malls or a single commercial district, where people park their cars in go right inside to do their shopping. No walking, no motorbikes, or any bikes. I was in Portland, Oregon a few months ago and was shocked at how dead it was on a Saturday night, there wasn't a soul around. That's one of the things I hate about American cities: they're too boring and void of life. NY is the obvious exception to the rule here. NY has great street life, and not in just the Central Business District. That's one of the reasons why Europeans like it here. That's also why so many American tourists from other cities are shocked at how many people are out walking on the streets of NY.

In LA (which I loath) the rich want to live in the sprawling suburbs, whereas in NY the rich often tend to want to live in the city. They city, and city life is what draws people to NY. Who would want to live in the suburbs of NY? They are practically just like suburbia of almost anywhere else in the US. No, it's the city that people want. The exact opposite is true for many other cities in the US. Consequently most inner cities look like shit and many people have to drive 10 or more miles to get to work. I wish that we would, as a nation, move towards a more urban way of living, less reliant on the automobile, and reinvest in our cities. This is beginning to happen but the problem with this is that the poor who are living there, are often kicked out as a result. How can we balance this? Well for one thing even without investment, the poor can make their communities look better by not polluting and taking care of their environments. "Don't shit where you eat" comes to mind. You don't need massive capital investment to clean up a neighborhood. This concerns me since I may never get rich, and I don't want to get pushed out to the suburbs one day if I can't afford to live in the city anymore. In the end money almost always wins out, which is why I had a fall out with capitalism recently. But I have not embraced socialism fully as a result. I'm still trying to find the type of economic system that's perfect for me. It's like capitalism but with elements of socialism intertwined with it. That's really for another post anyway.

The bottom line is: suburbia scares me, and I want American cities to look more like Europe's.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Moving to New York...


It's amazing how many people want to move to New York, the big exciting city. I meet so many people from other countries, including tourists, people here doing internships, as well as people from around the U.S. who come here and fall in love with the city and want to stay. I remember not that long ago, just back in the 90s when all I heard was negative things being said about New York. The crime, the pollution, the noise, the small apartments, foreigners! I still remember a time when people wanted to move out of New York so bad. Most of my white friends growing up moved out to suburbia during the 90s. I stayed and I'm glad I did.

I'm worried that my area will become too nice an as result, completely unaffordable. So what happened was the exact opposite of what the fears of my white friend's parents were worrying about. The areas got better instead of worse, crime went down instead of up. As a result of those white families moving out, the city became more ethnically diverse. This is a classic case of white flight: fear that minorities will bring crime up and reduce property values cause whites to flee to suburbia, resulting in those neighborhoods becoming much less white.

Now however, whites are moving back into New York, drawn to it by the culture and diversity, that was a result of earlier generations of whites moving out because of the increasing diversity. Irony works in mysterious ways.

I can definitely understand why one would want to move to NY. If I grew up anywhere else I'd want to live here too. Suburbia is boring, as is the country life. Nice places to visit, but not to live. So what does NY have to offer a newcomer? Nightlife, culture, history, and an incredible cityscape to envelope you. Market rate rents are atrocious, however. All the new construction is luxury apartments or condos designed and built for the upper middle class and the rich. I've long worried about the fate of the middle class in NY.

NY does offer the chance to live in a secular society unlike many parts of rural America. I couldn't believe how religious some people were when I was down south. They use religion like a crutch to cope with daily life. I can see the glow in their eyes, when they speak of the God that is out there who loves them personally, and cares about their suffering and wants them to be happy. These are all the things that make religion so appealing to its victims. You don't meet a whole lot of those kind of people in NY. The ones you do see who are like that in NY are usually shouting from a street corner or a subway train, while panhandling.

I'm glad I live in NY, and my area, Queens, is urban and diverse. It's not Manhattan, but still no doubt the city. I can only hope I live here for a long time.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tokyo VS. New York


Well, I have to admit that I am a bit biased since I am a lifelong New Yorker, and have only been to Tokyo one time for a few days. My impression of Tokyo was lukewarm. It is an amazing city, the only problem I had was that it was not as tourist friendly as I thought it would be. Japan is notorious for not liking foreigners living there, but I thought it would be a little bit more friendly to tourists. There is a pretty decent amount of English language signs and announcements on the subways and in the airport. Contrary to what many westerners think, most Japanese speak little to no English. This is frustrating when it comes to negotiating directions and prices.

Not many Americans speak Japanese either, but who should learn whose language? Both countries are rich self contained economies where the citizens don't have to really learn any other languages to make money. That's the reason why the Japanese don't need to learn English. It's understandable.

Some other differences between NY and Tokyo besides NY being more tourist friendly, and that its subways run 24/7, Tokyo's shut down at night. Tokyo is safer yes, and cleaner. The Japanese are pretty nice people who are pretty helpful when asked for assistance. New Yorkers are notoriously rude, but that attitude is dieing down. NY has diversity Tokyo doesn't. NY could teach the world a lesson on how to live multicultural, it's a microcosm of the world. There isn't even a "Little America" in Tokyo that I know of.

In terms of the cityscape I didn't really see enough of Tokyo to accurately judge. It is laid out more like LA in that it's spread out and a bit decentralized which makes navigation a bit intimidating. NY however, is nicely broken up into manageable pieces that allows the visitor to digest the city a little bit at a time. Tokyo's skyscrapers are clustered in several districts spread throughout the city, NY's are too in a way but are more centralized in various parts of Manhattan. There are a lot of nice areas in Tokyo that have trendy shops and what not, like NY. Tokyoites are among the most stylish in the world, but so are NYers. The Japanese do have an interesting distinct style about them, but again so do NYers.

Japan does have a lot of hot Japanese girls, but so does NY. Both are style capitals. I'd say NY does have a better skyline, and that will be even more true after the World Trade Center is redeveloped.

I was hearing that Hong Kong is better and more tourist friendly than Tokyo is to westerners. I will be in Hong Kong in a few weeks and I can't wait. I really want to compare HK to NY. Both are amazing cities. I can't wait.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Trainspotting

When I was about 9 or 10 years old I was obsessed with the Subway and I used to go out and ride it all by myself. There were times when I even cut school when I was in 5th grade to go ride it. I think I rose every single line and went to every single subway stop. I remember once when I was transferring trains at Myrtle Avenue on the JMZ line this older black woman asking me if I was too young to be riding the train by myself. I really don't remember what I said.

Was I too young? I must have been about 9 or 10. I was far away from home and in neighborhoods that were really dangerous. Plus this was back in the early 90s when shit was really bad. I remember being on a station on the 2 and 5 line in the Brownsville area where the elevated tracks of the have a gap in between them where you can see down to the street. I saw this kid down on the street who looked up at me on the platform. Then a minute later someone throws up a container of ice cream up through the gap between the tracks and it hit the wall of the station about 10 feet from me. That fucking kid was probably trying to hit me with it. Other than that I never had any incidents on the trains when I was a kid. I never got jumped or robbed. I guess I got lucky.

Maybe I should do that again. Ride the trains. I have this renewed interest in all things New York. I'm in love with the city.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Walk in Manhattan

Yesterday I took a long walk in Manhattan. The weather was great, sunny skies warm temps. It had been a while since I went to Manhattan and really payed attention to the architecture. These are my shots.

This is the Upper East Side skyline peaking out:


This is the new Bank of America building in Bryant Park:




This is the top of Americas Tower peaking out. It's my favorite building in terms of design. It has an old school style art deco look to it adapted to the post modern era:


walking down 6th avenue I snapped some shots of the high rises along it between 42nd street and 23rd:








Looking west along 34th street:


The Empire State Building behind the Hotel Pennsylvania:


Herald Square:



A new high rise with luxury condos or rentals:


These high rises along 6th avenue are all relatively new, built in the past 5 or 6 years:




Looking back up 6th avenue towards Midtown:


I swung west on 23rd and passed by the infamous Hotel Chelsea:


Some of the that modern style architecture featuring the extravagant window arrangement and facade mixed in with the old on west 23rd:





I went up to the High Line which has just recently opened. It was an abandoned freight rail line on the lower west side of Manhattan that is now an open pedestrian walkway. It offers some unique views of the city previously unavailable to the public:










looking up 10th avenue:


Lady Liberty:


Jersey City popping up:




Looking down 14th street:


This new building is where voyeurs wait for glimpses of naked flesh:


Jersey City again:


The Meat Packing district:






Back on the street in the Meat Packing district:


I thought this building looked interesting:




That new Trump building in Tribeca:




The Freedom Tower:


This view will change dramtically in the coming years:






The Skyscraper Museum has wooden handmade models of the city:




Monday, May 31, 2010

What's my title?


I think one annoying thing about blogging is trying to find an appropriate title for every blog. Sometime I just cant think of one that suites the blog's content or I come up with the title first and then in the blog I end up migrating away from the topic in the title.

One thing I regret is not blogging before and throwing away my all journals. I should have wrote them online so they'd be up today. I also should have written more about my life growing up and my experiences instead of just about all my anger and fears. I guess that's what was on my mind.

I like to read memoirs of people about their times growing up and of the experiences during the times and places they take a place in. I like of those movies that take place years ago. I grew up in the 1990s and should have documented more of my experiences. I witnessed a dramatic demographic shift in my neighborhood from being mostly white Irish/Polish to turning Puerto Rican, then Ecuadorian, Peruvian and Asian. The Irish kids that I knew growing up started leaving one by one during the 90s. Many of them moved out to Long Island. I remember hearing their parents complain about how the schools here were terrible and talks of moving to nicer (i.e. whiter) areas were frequent as the immigrant population began moving in from Asia and Latin America. There were Puerto Ricans here as long as I can remember, but even they too started moving out of the neighborhood to the suburbs.

I used to think that Queens was getting bad. Now 20 years later that couldn't be further from the truth. White people are moving back into the area as the gentrification has spread from Manhattan. Crime keeps dropping and quality of life keeps rising. I hardly ever worry about crime anymore. I wonder if all those Irish kids who moved out of the neighborhood years ago wish they were back where they grew up. There are benefits to living close to the city. One is not having a car. Another is being able to walk to the supermarket and stores for what you need. The most important benefit is being close to the entertainment of the big city and not having to live in a dinky boring suburb.

Seeing all the positive changes to my area has made me realize what a great asset I have right over my head. I don't think anyone realized it back in the 90s when people were still worried about crime and were thinking of moving out of the city. I'm surprised that my mom didn't move out somewhere else. She grew up in the suburbs and moved to the city, which is the opposite of what most people do.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Manhattan



I love New York City. It's my hometown and the place of my birth. I'm so lucky to live and have grown up here. I know that if I was born somewhere else I would want to live here. To me New York represents the ideal urban metropolis. I mean when you think of a city, and of what a city should look like, with tall skyscrapers and busy streets, you think of New York. The center of New York is undoubtedly Manhattan. Manhattan is what people think of when they think of New York. Some people even think New York City is Manhattan and that the 4 other boroughs are perhaps its suburbs. I love Manhattan and have always wanted to live there, perched atop one of its thousands of high rise apartments. I'd love to wake up and see panoramic views of the cityscape, from within the city out my windows everyday. All the glittering towers, looking like a maze of concrete and glass.

To get the real experience of living in New York one has to live in Manhattan. There are parts of Queens and Staten Island and even the Bronx that feel like suburbia. Brooklyn has the closest feeling to Manhattan in terms of urbanization, although parts of the Bronx come close. Downtown Brooklyn is like the downtown of a mid-sized city. It would be the 4th largest city in the U.S. if it were an independent city. It's true that Manhattan overshadows the other boroughs just as how its many modern skyscrapers overshadow the stubby older buildings. I love the architecture of Manhattan. I've always loved skyscrapers, and if you like tall buildings Manhattan is got to be in your radar. It has historic art deco skyscrapers like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, it has the simple boxy international styles of the post-war years, as well as the post modern styles like the new Bank of America tower. The diversity of Manhattan's skyscrapers, with textbook examples of every architectural era being represented, are among its best feature. Other cities like Hong Kong have many nice modern high rises but lack the older art deco style ones. New York may not even be the high rise capital of the world any more, as other cities like Sao Paulo and Hong Kong have constructed more than New York in recent decades, but that doesn't bother me, I still love New York's skyline the best.


I love how Manhattan is an island physically separated from the rest of New York and the world for that matter. Entering it from the outside is a thrilling experience. The experience of driving into midtown across the 59th Street Bridge is one to remember, and it never ceases to amaze. At once you are transported in the heart of "the city" surrounded by skyscrapers everywhere, noise, traffic, pollution, the dense urban jungle that is Manhattan. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, one of the characters describes entering into Manhattan from the Queensboro Bridge, "The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Growing up in NYC

There is something about New Yorkers. Growing up in NYC, was great. I wouldn't have wanted to grow up anywhere else. in NY you have the world at your doorstep. I had friends from all over the world. NYers party hard. Growing up me and my friends we would get drunk all the time when I was in high school. Smoking weed was just about an everyday thing also. Most people who grow up in NY like to party and drink and do drugs. I don't think there was anything wrong with that. I have two cousins who grew up in Maryland and thay were raised so goody-to-shoes to the point where I think they really missed out on a lot of life's experiences. All parents want to keep there kids from the bad things in life, I guess, I'm lucky that my parents were a bit loose.

Listen to kids who grew up in NY. Listen to their accent. NYers have a great slang that we use. Kids who grew up in NY do tend to be a little ghetto. Almost every kid in NY says the word "nigga" as if it was dude or man. Nobody else does that outside on NY. White kids in California don't use the "N" word, unless they're being racist. I'm not saying it's right or wrong it's just something about NY culture. I guess its because the hip hop culture started here, and that's why aspects of black culture are so ingrained here in the NY culture. I'm not sure exactly.

NY is the drug capital of the world. Every other friend of mine sold drugs growing up. And just about everyone was using. All the rich yuppies on Wall Street do drugs, most likely coke. If you didn't do drugs to me it seemed you were in the minority. Or maybe, my perception is just skewed in favor of drugs because my friends did drugs growing up, I'm not sure.

You can party hard in NY too. There are 10,000 bars and clubs in NY. Before I started going out I'd party at my friends cribs. We'd listen to music or make music, since many of my friends were musicians, and we'd drink and smoke. It was fun back then and I'm glad I lived it. I just wished that I had kept a journal back then to have documented some of the experiences, and turn it into a book.

Like I said I wouldn't have wanted to grow up anywhere else.

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