Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Red New York City

New York in August is Hot.

Spending the month of August in New York helped me to go deeper in this beautiful city, actually I should say higher in this sky-scrapered and well-rounded city.

In fact, it helped me to see with new eyes some of the virtues, advantage and weakness unknown to me, of the place. When you city-visit you put yourself in a frenzying mode to see it all in a minimum of time preventing yourself from being engage emotionally with the location. You are surfing on the skin of the city, living cliché after cliché to generalized and biased emotion to your traveler life, reinforcing what you’ve heard before. You try to validate what you have built in your mind before the trip, and make sure you check-out things from your MUST do list.

Have you really been to Paris, without seeing the Eiffel Tower?
Have you really been to London, without seeing the London Bridge?
Have you really been to Rome, without seeing the Coliseum?
Have you really been to New York, without seeing the ______?

I guess so …

When you have a chance to stay longer in a place you start to remove the superficial layer you have build yourself into to unprotect you and let the city attack your skin and mind. I highly recommend traveling long enough in a place to develop your own routine and become part of the place to appreciate the time passing by and enjoy even better the surprising moment around the corner. This is a luxury travel since one might not have 3 months cash to spend one’s life wandering in a very expensive city like New York or Tokyo. But I was lucky enough to spend around a month with locals who introduce me to their part of the place. I thank them a lot for sharing their dear place to me. This is more or less the feeling left by New York after having spent a month in THE place.

Standing City
When you think of New York City you usually think of Manhattan. The city is huge, but in the middle of this hugeness, you can see something even bigger, higher and larger than normal. However you come to NYC, you are diving into it, so be it by plane, by car or by train. You have to come from outside the island and contemplate the city. It is almost going into a new dimension. You look at it, and you think: “There it is, that’s what it is”. The first time you see the city you do it from the top. Sky scrapers are in your face. The city is standing in front of you, and you standing in front of the city. That is the first impression you have, and you keep have it all the time. NYC is a standing city. You have to be standing all the time; it makes you grow up … physically (not to mention that you cannot sit in anywhere in the city). I guess it has to be done that way, being an island where people kept coming, the city needed to expend and the one way was from the top.

From the time you come in the place till you leave it, you move fast, otherwise you get crashed, compressed, sliced, segmented, parked, smashed, squeezed, reduced, packed, squared, compacted, and sometime balled out. To survive you have to step up, and move as fast as anybody else. No slow movement, no thinking twice what you want to do, where you want to go … clock ticking … $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1000, zero! Too late! Don’t think, do, but do it fast. Everything is fast, efficient and too the point: Buses, Subway, Queue, Cab, Tickets, Drink, Sleep, Eat, Move, Do and Think. Fast-Fats-Facts.

Positive Energy
If you are living in a place where you always go fast and you standing still, you better have a lot of energy. I saw somewhere that the average age in NYC is 35, and I am not surprise, this is a place where people have a lot of energy to keep up with this non stop 25Hours per day city. But NYC city is in the United State of America, and therefore is a positive person by nature. There is not “Half empty - Half full” thing, it’s much more “There is a glass and some water, and I am thirsty”.

Buildings are the skeleton, but people are the blood of the city. And New Yorkers are very unique people. They are so unique, that when they introduce themselves they are using number to speak to each other. “I am from 9 & 14”, “I see, Funny, I used to live on 7 & 12”. This of course does not fly for non-NYC people, but this is kind of ritual that one must go through when living in the place. I even cough myself doing it after sometime in the city. “I am from 24 and 35”. In reality I am from nowhere in the States, but I was happy to participate in the location-locution-introduction. When properly introduced, the NYer is actually very welcoming and enthusiastic about WHO you are, WHAT you do and the common interests you could share. I have never been asked WHY I was staying in NYC. It seems to be so obvious that nobody popped the question. It is very refreshing to have people welcoming you so warmly in their home. No WHY, only HOW. No justification only possibilities.

Hot – AC - Noise
The place changes shape with time. The first time I visited NYC was 15 years ago in the summer as well, and my recollection was that the Air Conditioning was full blast all the time. Nothing changed except that everybody has one AC in each room now. NYC is hot in the summer, and AC is a must. The bad thing is the AC raises the noise level. When you add the car traffic, police car, fire trucks and AC, imagine what level you reach. The subway noise levels can result in hearing loss for daily riders.

Universal – Multicultural - Diverse
When you put everything together you obtain a very stressful environment in where aggression is permanent, strong and damaging. So, why people are staying in such a horrible place?
Because this city is New York City, Baby!
This is a very rich place by history, diverse by its inhabitants, magnetic by tradition. People going to a city bring with them their culture and traditions that later on get diluted and mixed to immerge in a new sub-culture. Since its creation in 1776, New York welcome, accept and mix people into something new. I can only think of a handful of city which can come to such an evolution, and resonate for the world, being an echo for their people. The self fueling effect still exists today and brings a very special color in the rainbow of the planet.

Not much to say than watching the Bleu, Red and White NYC recent posts in this travel blog.

Food is as diverse, reach, and interesting as inhabitant of the city, but there is more than that. This is a national sport for every NYer, this is a serious business in which you have to know before it gets CIFO (Crowded In and Famed Out - state in which a place, person or activity became too popular and looses its authenticity and fade away under the spot line of the fame). Cooking is not an option when you have the best chef around the corner, and time is running off your hand every second. After sometime you start developing a close circle of friends who have the same taste as yours, or at least appreciate the same delicacies as yours. You have your cheeseburgers friends, your adventurous friends, your Thai friends, your Asia-Fusion friends or your Chic friends. Food is good for your soul, becoming an instant drug for your very disturbing life, an instant pleasure and gratification shared with the close friends you like. Food is a simple and gourmand way of buying your soul and body a piece of happiness.

Lighthouse of the Americas, New York is the reference is the land of opportunities. Anybody who believes in oneself can make it happen, kick-off some moves to become like what the city impose on you: tall, fast, universal, colorful, unique and crazy about life. Many artists dream to make it big in NYC because this is also an instant recognition and echoes of the world. You can be famous and live from your creation if you know what to do. This creates in itself a good reason to be in NYC for understanding what is the culture today, the true culture, not the Media culture.

When people move from one place to another, they still do exist in both. An invisible link has been created between the new and the old building a continuous flow of information, emotions and tensions between the two dots. In a migrant city of millions people imagine the net that all these links create, a giant platform to exchange. New York is wired with the latest human fiber optic forcing to share knowledge between its people. I am sure that the Dog Poop Girl was commented in Karachi via New York before it became an international phenomenon. I can not prove it, but I am sure that a Korean Grand-Mother living on the 42nd spoke to the Pakistani Taxi driver from Brooklyn about this and the missing link was created. This amazing net of invisible links reveals the unique force of the megalopolis, its constant awareness of its supplement. People know what is outside as well as what is inside. NYC is aware of what’s happening outside its wall.

New Yorkers update constantly their social, cultural and expert network, and force them to reevaluate their references to become more aware of their blind spots. The best thing that you could be in New York is a freshly political refuge from Zakitistan. Everybody will love you for your strength, your courage and ambition to change the world around you and their will privileged to have you in their kitchen. They might even help you endorsing a new constituent program to fight back the oppressor. The complexity, the constant intellectual debate and the contextual intelligence of a long time New Yorkerer will help him/her to proof read the world in a much broader sense than anybody else, beside a full time traveler or diplomat of course. How many international press photographs are registered in New York?

Don’t get me wrong, NYC is not for everyone. You have to earn it, give as much as you receive, you get suck out, dried fresh on your feet if you are not prepare. This is a do or died. NYC is very demanding on the body, soul. It gets into your bone, and you won’t be able to lie, hide or move after a while. This is so demanding that you discover your own limits. This is a special place for special people who one day decided to stop being normal and grab their life to own it fully and plentifully, fast forwarding their desire, aspiration and life. A NYer will not settle for a medium average experience. It has to be full, round and complete. The only question is “Can I afford it?”. I guess in a fast forward world you a need a new measure in your decision making process, money could be one of them.

New York City
This is a beautiful place where you are force to grew up fast, a place in which People are welcoming you for who you are, and take out of you the best of your culture and energy to mix all with the very complex net of knowledge already in place, self fueling the tremendous attraction, links and awareness of its own state.

For me the Big Apple is well rounded, always fresh and juicy. I ♪ New York City and New York City ♪ I.