Saturday, August 10, 2013

Top 10 Things I Miss About NYC

Continuing from last night’s, here is the partner post of things I miss about NYC, the Big Apple, The City. (If you grew up near NYC at all it was simply The City.)

1.       My friends and family. (Since I first wrote this post my dear Aunt Marilyn has passed away. So obviously this resonates with me more than it did before. I didn't rewrite the whole entry, because I don't think that would be a fair way to commemorate her. But know she is on my mind now.) Okay, an obvious one, but still very real to me. You can move the boy from NYC, but you can’t move the boy’s family and friends. I miss my mother very much, siblings, cousins and my father. I miss being in a place where they, and I, all grew up. NYC is very much home to me, it’s been a part of my life since before I can remember. I miss seeing my nieces very much, and I think they might miss me too. My friends are a given. I was so lucky as to have such great friends in New York. Brilliant, urbane, witty, smarter than I was, a lot of the time at least, but also sympathetic. Peers, my people. We still talk, and I still keep up with their lives, and they mine, but a good friend is worth more than gems and dollars. I miss them very much.

2.       My professional network. Related to #1, but different. This is the wide circle of friends, and friendly acquaintances I’d built up over a decade. People I could hang with, talk shop, we’d let one another know about professional opportunities, some were friends of friends. It was a whole ecosystem of sources, mentors, contacts, people who knew people, people who knew people who knew people. This was kind of a biggie for me. It felt like uprooting an old oak tree, meaning me, and putting him in all new soil, then ordering him to grow. So I did my best to grow.
3.       Chinese Food. Of course Louisville has Chinese food, but it kind of sucks. I love Louisville’s almost insultingly old school Oriental House, mostly because it looks like a set from “The Rockford Files,” and there’s one other good place around here, but I miss my Chinese food. Expensive, cheap, in those weird places that also sold Mexican food, I ate at them all, and at least liked most of them. I really miss Chinatown, and, forgive me rabbi, crab pork soup dumplings. Yes. Chinese Food.
4.       Improv Comedy. There is a team here, and they are wonderful, funny and friendly people. But NYC is so ripe with great, cheap improv it’s astonishing. And that was a big part of my world for about three years, so I still feel at home in that world, even if you can’t quite ever go home again. If you get what I’m saying. Suffice to say I had many of my biggest laughs of all time watching great NYC improv. And I miss it.
5.       Jewish Food. Okay, the deli food here sucks too. I miss the real delis. The first thing Randi, Stella and I did when we visited last winter was hit the Second Avenue Deli. The half sour pickles alone pretty much made me cry, and it only got better from there. The corned beef was to die for, and if I had died right then it would have been with a smile on my face. Then there’s the appetizing, the lox, the sable, the white fish, the matzo ball soup, the everything, that is not too hard to find in my old hometown, but impossible to find here. Deli=Jewish BBQ. (I don’t miss the pizza as much for some reason.)
6.       The Downtown Art Scene. This means art, of course, but also music, culture, that whole Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, cool Brooklyn thing. Seeing John Zorn, and some other weirdos at the Knitting Factory for $7. Catching Sonny Sharock at the same place for not much more. Being in the center of the entire world of cool, and knowing it, and reveling in it. Nothing can touch that vibration.
7.       The beach. When we lived in Brooklyn we went to the beach as much as was feasible. Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, Jones Beach. I loved the beach, it was part of summer for me. We got to go to Kiawah Island, which has a great beach this summer, but we had to go East to do it.
8.       The Publishing Industry. No way to get around it, when you’re a journalist it’s not a bad idea to be near the center of the publishing world. It’s changed a lot, and taken a lot of hits over the past five years, but this is the still the happening place to be if you want to be on staff at a publication of some sort.
9.       Those Magical Nights When the City Becomes Your Lover, Confidant, and Best Friend. I don’t know how to explain it. NYC is a total bitch most of the time, but sometimes, once in a while, there are those times when it just surrenders to you. All the lights turn and stay green as you cruise uptown in your cab. You see Spike Lee and his posse at an East Village record shop. (Happened to me in high school.) You walk down St. Marks Street and pass 80 Saint Marks, that little movie theater, that has since become a live performance space, and they just let you in because the show’s halfway over anyway. When you learn that your favorite hotdog place is also connected to a speakeasy. Those times when the locus of energy is working for you, not against you, and you get it, why you chose to spend your life force and time here. Until it’s happened to you I can’t explain it any more. But once it happens to you, you will understand. It’s a New York thing.
10.   Park Slope, Brooklyn. In my mind’s eye I cannot imagine a more perfect combination of both urbanity and a friendly neighborhood. Of all the places I’ve ever lived Park Slope was my favorite. Walk out the door, and go one block up and you’re in the city, with its shops, boutiques, bars, and street life. Walk two blocks the other way, and you’re along the canal. Hit the subway and boom, Manhattan is 15 minutes away over the bridge. If it didn’t cost so fucking much it would be damn near perfect!
So that’s my list. I’m sure I’ll think of more as the days pass, but this is a pretty good list. Maybe in some ways it’s a love letter to the city that I knew, rather than the city that is. That’s okay. It will do for now.
Next up: Top 10 Things I Think Louisville Needs to Work On (Don’t worry I’ll have a similar list for NYC too.)
*Okay, I have a few more things I miss a lot.
11. Bodegas. I loved having a convenient little store, usually with a friendly cat inside, about every two blocks or so. We don’t have that here, and I miss them a bunch. When I went back last time among the first things I did was walk into a bodega, and order something. It’s a common hang out place, a place for late night munchies, a place with dozens of different kinds of beers, sometimes some pretty decent sandwiches, toilet paper, all in the size of a very big walk in closet. Bodegas rule!

12. The Skyline. Okay, here I’m gonna sound pretty NYC chauvinistic, but whatever. All other cities have buildings, including tall buildings. Only New York truly has a skyline. 

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