Why I (heart) New York

July 22nd, 2008

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For my reverse chronological account of Last H.O.P.E., go here.

Everything I learned about New York I learned from Law & Order

July 21st, 2008

This is a fast and dirty post Vbar & Café, in Greenwich Village, a very cool little wine, beer and coffee bar I just stumbled upon, seeking respite from the melting heat and free wireless. It’s my last day in NYC and, as my flight doesn’t leave till 11pm, I’ve been wandering around, absorbing the city – something I haven’t had a chance to do while I was attending Last H.O.P.E. I did become rather familiar with the one and a half miles between my hotel and the Penn Hotel, where the conference has been held every other year since 1994. But this part of Midtown – while indubitably cool because NYC – is really not unlike other urban centres. There’s just better architecture and more people – way more people.

So this morning, I started from Grand Central Station and took the subway to the East Village and have been roaming around ever since. I do have a guide book, so that’s tipping me off to cool sites, like where CBGB used to be, Leon Trotsky’s old printing press and other nifty stuff. I must admit, I was a bit freaked out when I wandered by the Hell’s Angels Clubhouse, tucked into a row of apartment buildings on E. 3rd St., a quiet, tree-lined street. My first inclination was to take a picture – I’ve been snapping photos like a maniac – but checked myself immediately. Too scared.

I walked west to Greenwich Village to see what all the fuss was about and I haven’t been able to figure it out… maybe I haven’t hit the right streets. Washington Square is pretty neat – loads of people lining the benches, sleeping on the balding grass and just hanging out. There are a lot of parks in this town, which I like. I stopped by NYU’s Department of Media, Culture and Communication, just for kicks. It’s freaky: you have to give ID before entering any of their buildings. Because of this, calls were made, directions given, and I ended up talking to the graduate adviser, basically by accident.

I’m now off to find Bob Dylan’s old house and take a picture, like a total tourist. I hope to document the rest of my New York stay, but it will be in reverse chronological order, seeing as I haven’t had one minute to post about what I’ve been up to. I will say, my first impression of this town is immensely positive, and contradicts most stereotypes I’ve picked up through cultural osmosis. What I have learned about NYC:

1. It’s actually safe (at least where I’ve been).

2. It’s pretty clean (shopkeepers everywhere cleaning windows and washing streets – I’ve really never seen such a thing).

3. It’s really fucking crowded in Midtown.

4. There are loads of fat people here.

5. New Yorkers are nice (to my total surprise…no offense).

My biggest surprise: I’m still alive, despite what Law & Order has to say.

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