May 27, 2015
Today I had the opportunity to make a rare trip to New York City. I don’t get to the Big Apple as much as I used to. As a Teenager I felt like New York was a part of my being. I was there many times a month both days and nights. Now I am a Tourist.
Part of me really loves NYC but by the same token I also hit a wall and can’t wait to leave and get back to the hills of New Jersey. Today’s trip was mostly for the benefit of trying to develop a company with an old friend of mine. So it was really a business trip. But how could any trip to New York be just business? There is so much to see. Everywhere you go is a potential for sensory overload. The lights of Times Square, the diversity of people, the sounds of the cars and busses. And music from every store with an open door trying to entice you to come on in and buy baby buy.Today I had the opportunity to make a rare trip to New York City. I don’t get to the Big Apple as much as I used to. Part of me really loves NYC but by the same token I also hit a wall and can’t wait to leave and get back to the hills of New Jersey. Today’s trip was mostly for the benefit of trying to develop a company with an old friend of mine. So it was really a business trip. But how could any trip to New York be just business? There is so much to see. Everywhere you go is a potential for sensory overload. The lights of Times Square, the diversity of people, the sounds of the cars and busses. And music from every store with an open door trying to entice you to come on in and buy baby buy.
I took the train into New York as I find it very relaxing and helps me to prepare for my adventure. As we go from the lush wooded areas of where I live I stare out of the window taking quiet notice of the change in scenery. Going through quiet suburbs, and older bedroom communities. As we get closer I see the places that time and society have forgotten, or better yet ignore. Boarded up windows, kids playing basketball in rundown asphalt parks, people sitting on benches holding brown paper bags drinking whatever? The we get closer to Manhattan, I see that the landscape has changed, now I see wetlands (swamps when I was growing up) and the remains of toxic industries that were relegated there because no one was living there. Now abandoned while the Courts figure out who is responsible for cleaning up the soil. This is still and industrial area but now people get fined for dumping so I see lots of dumpsters, compactors and big vats or drums for the liquid that needs to be recycled.
Eventually our train goes underground for that crossing under the Hudson River. I can’t help but remember as a child growing up I used to listen to the American Humorist on WOR AM radio, Jean Shepherd. Shep used to say that he wanted to paint a giant crack just above a water spigot in the tunnel and just open it a bit so that a little water would dribble down the wall. Little did I know, in those days, that the tunnels are actually not on the bottom of the river but dug out of the bedrock below. Still to this day I smile at the thought.
Finally I get to New York City and Pennsylvania Station. It is a hot, humid beautiful morning so I decide to walk to Columbus Circle to meet my friend. And begin our talks. I hoof it over to Fifth Avenue because I want to see it in the summer since I only get to see it Christmas time. Fifth Avenue is loaded with Tourists.
Amazing. Everywhere I turn my head I see tourists, natives, commuters, street artists, homeless, and day trippers like myself trying not to drool on our chins while taking in the sights and sounds. The City is ALIVE!!!! Yes a concrete, steel, and glass jungle is teeming with life. Like worker ants bringing back food to the nest or bees gathering honey this place is alive. I hear English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and many other tongues that I cannot begin to imagine where they are from. A cornucopia of humanity. I am enthralled. One can see the rich (and maybe famous) walking along the poor and homeless. Lord and Taylors, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, Starbucks, Rays Pizza (never mind which one), Cheap knockoff electronics and cameras, Starbucks (yes I mentioned that already but Starbucks may be the new McDonalds) giant TV billboards touting everything, perfume, shoes, television shows to Broadway shows. And lest we forget sex. Yes, not as notable but still sex sells in the Big Apple. But not one car window washer to be found anywhere, a holdover from the Giuliani years I guess.
I walk towards St. Patrick’s Cathedral and immediately notice that it is no longer hidden behind scaffolding. In fact its beauty stands out for the first time in years. I am tempted to stop and photograph it but am running late as I feel like Huck Finn on a journey down the river on a raft.
I get up to Columbus Circle and meet up with my friend Duke. Together we take care of some business and have lunch. It is true that the friends that you make early on in life are ones that, no matter separated by miles or Continents, you will be friends with forever. Like two people married for decades we finish each other’s sentences. Scary and hysterical at the same time.
After lunch we continued our discussions sitting outside the restaurant, in one of those tables set up on Times Square in the middle of the road. Everywhere I look, I see many many people doing the same, but for the most part not talking to one another. As is with much of today’s culture, their heads are tilted down, looking at their little screens looking at pictures of the city, selfies with the Empire Station in the background, texting, or making Facebook postings. First off, since I am not a cabbie or truck driver, I really love the idea of these little areas without vehicles, but you know what is missing? And boy do I mean missing. Not one charging station anywhere. In fact not one charging station anywhere that we went all day. I looked for an outlet to plug into in Mr. Broadway the restaurant where we had lunch but could find one. Not one in the cabs that we took. Mayor DeBlasio, we need charging stations!!! Finally, when we went to the Microsoft Store, I brazenly unplugged one of the phones that they were selling and plugged in mine as I made believe to be interested in buying a Windows Phone. Come on folks, we are well into the new millennium, let’s get some charging stations, and free wifi all over the ‘Greatest City in the World’. But more importantly, my cell phone battery is now down to 25%.
Finally, as rush hour was waning, I decided to head back to New Jersey, I had hit the wall (only at 40mph this trip) and between the Subway and NJ Transit I had a two hour ride ahead of me. I made my descent into the underground world of Manhattan to begin the journey home. Immediately, I was aware that I did not smell urine anywhere, the station was clean and the people seemed more civil and caring. There is hope for us all yet. Penn Station was very busy as there, unbeknownst to me there was a power outage on one of the lines and loads of Thunderstorms in New Jersey (did I mention that I carried an umbrella and rain jacket all day and looked like an idiot in the sun and heat?) but the people took it all in stride.
There is a whole underground culture in NYC. I even saw a Kmart. But that may be the topic of another blog.
I made it home with no incidents, had a glass of wine and shared my experiences with my wife. All in all, a great day.
You should try it sometime.