Please keep in mind that this post is more than 3 years old. Opinions change. Tastes change. Everything changes. I may still agree with or like this, or I may not. But everything is kept up here for archival purposes.
Part 2. / December 1, 2005
A couple little addendums to my last entry.
The other thing you should know about Indri is that besides the whole “disgustingly cute” thing, (which she is apparently not going to let me forget), she is disturbingly smart as well. Smart enough that if she let it show, she wouldn’t appear anywhere near innocent. But beneath every puzzled look and cute grin, there’s another question that belies the engines churning away inside her head. And while she may not seem to always like being an adult, her reactions show an acute self-awareness and consciousness of everything she does.
If she’s anything like me, that probably drives her a bit crazy.
And then there’s New York City. Addendum Two. I think had been about five years since my last visit, and changes were visible. We arrived in Manhattan through the Lincoln tunnel, which comes out pretty close to the place I stayed the first time I visited, so I was able to immediately compare. That area just west of the Empire State Building has built up with traditional commerce a bit more. New movie theatre. More restaurants. Signs of life. SO for much of the city I saw. Certainly Starbucks has exploded since my last visit. More banks. More shops. Most of the national chains for just about any industry you care to mention. But what I love — what makes this New York City — is that even with all that, it’s still just a drop in the bucket. There’s just so much squeezed into every last inch of this city that even if every national chain of every possible industry opened a storefront in every square mile, it wouldn’t begin to fill all the businesses. In some places, the store fronts go three stories high. Indri, who’s been there for two years now (?) was saying how she still frequently finds new places when she goes out on the street.
Okay… maybe that wasn’t a short addendum.
Okay. Here’s another New York City thing for you. It’s dirty. It’s worn. It’s lived in.
And that really feels soooo good.
In most of the well travelled areas of DC, you’d be lucky to find a building that was older than 30 years, or hadn’t been significantly remodeled in that time. (The Washington Monument requires a complete face-lift every 8 years, or it starts to deteriorate. No joke.) We have people running machines that do nothing but take bubblegum off the sidewalk. Billboards are regulated nearly out of existence. Everything is square and anonymous. Soot and stains are sandblasted off at regular intervals. Vacant old-time department stores are remodeled into wonderful new office complexes. It doesn’t feel like people live here. It feels like people are here as an afterthought to the city. (Which is pretty close to the historical truth).
Whereas New York City bleeds people. You could never question it’s “lived-in” status. I looked at an ornate door handle in a lobby, that must have been at least 60 years old. It was on the door to the staff toilet. I’ve never seen a better example of organized chaos than Manhattan streets, especially after dark. The buildings are all from an age that remembered art wasn’t something in a museum, and design wasn’t just for brochures. There’s a visual maelstrom of shapes and sizes, between the buildings, and the parks, and the stuff that fills the cracks.
I read an article once talking about how Star Wars, when it came out in the ’70s, it was so accessible because it showed a grimy, lived-in future that reflected our own world, where so much of the sci-fi of the last 30 years had told us the future would be sanitized and soundtracked for our protection, (a la Star Trek). So if Washington DC is Star Trek, then New York City is Star Wars.
I actually thought this stuff about Indri and New York City would be brief. I had much more to say about work, and personalities, and cultural underpinnings. But it’s after midnight, and I’m starting to get tired. So go away and leave me alone until another night.