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Thursday, June 01, 2006

NEW YORK STATE OF MIND

Last week, I took a much needed vacation to lovely N.Y.C. with Mitch. The "Big Apple" has always been one of my favorite places to go -- originally because it is home to my passion of Broadway, but also because of the many museums, restaurants, diverse neighborhoods, shopping and the hustle and bustle of city life that is so different from living in Los Angeles. I've lived in Southern California for most of my life and have found joy and comfort in it's familiarity and the many opportunities it has offered me. Growing up, I visited other cities and states and always believed Southern California was a great place to live...until the first time I went to New York.

My first introduction to New York City was via the song N-Y-C (see full lyrics below) from the musical, Annie. I was initially intrigued by the idea of "the pulse/the beat [and]/the drive" of the city and the glamour and mystery associated with that. Living in Southern California, I never really experienced the buzz of city life -- trips to Los Angeles from sleepy Orange County never gave me a rush of excitement that I heard New York apparently had. It was a foreign idea (to me) for a city to have a pulse, beat and a drive but it wasn't until I first visited New York (at age 20) when I discovered that the city was everything I hoped it would be and more. I loved that New York had such a different and distinct personality from that of Los Angeles.

N.Y.C. is always moving and changing, tough, complex yet vulnerable, straightforward and honest. The people who are there are (for the most part) there because they want to be. "The whole world keeps coming/By bus/By train/You can't/Explain/Their yen/For/N.Y.C." After all, I believed (and to a certain degree still do) that people in the city are there for a reason with a yearning to fulfill some specific purpose. Perhaps this is my own idealized perception of the city but being in the arms of N.Y.C. feels like magic because of all that the city has to offer. As chaotic as New York can be, it is always somehow quite soothing to me. Some people leave the city to recharge, but I need to go there to get my fix and be reminded of who and what I am. The "Big Apple" isn't for everyone but I've always known what it has meant to me and I don't think I'll ever tire of it.

Check out my photos from my two recent trips:
* * *
N-Y-C
by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin

NYC
What is it about you
You're big
You're loud
You're tough

NYC
I go years without you
Then I
Can't get
Enough

Enough of cab drivers answering back
In language far from pure
Enough of frankfurters answering back
Brother, you know you're in

NYC
Too busy
Too crazy
Too hot
Too cold
Too late
I'm sold
Again
On NYC

NYC
The shadows at sundown
The roofs
That scrape
The sky

NYC
The rich and the rundown
The big parade
Goes by

What other town has the Empire State
And a mayor five foot two?
No other town in
The whole forty eight
Can half compare
To you

Oh NYC
You make 'em all postcards

You crowd
You cramp
You're still
The champ
Amen For NYC

The shimmer of Times Square
The pulse
The beat
The drive! (NYC)

You might say that I'm square
But then I come alive

The city's bright
As a penny arcade
It blinks, it tilts, it rings

To think that I've lived here all of my life
And never seen these things

Oh, NYC
The whole world keeps coming
By bus
By train
You can't
Explain
Their yen
For...

NYC
Just got here this morning
Three bucks
Two bags
One me

NYC
I give you fair warning
Up there
In lights
I'll be

Go ask the Gershwins or Kaufman and Hart
The place they love the best
Though California pays big for their art
Their fan mail comes addressed to NYC

Tomorrow a penthouse
That's way up high
Tonight
The "Y"
Why not
It's NYC

NYC
You're standing room only
You crowd
You cramp
You're still
The champ
Amen For NYC!

3 comments:

Franny said...

I am going to NYC in July and was thrilled to stumble upon your blog. I haven't been since I was 3, so it will be like the first time. And we're seeing a show at Radio City Music Hall, which is thrilling!

The poetry is lovely and moving and appropriate I think. (BTW, not meaningless drivel!!!) lol

SincereCaramel said...

That is so funny. I've only been to NYC once and I didn't care for it. I am from florida. i think I will give it another go.

Mitch Glaser said...

I enjoyed exploring Manhattan with you.

When I first traveled to Manhattan a year ago, "the pulse, the beat, the drive" of the city swept me away. I felt a vibe of human motion and interaction that taught me what "urbanity" truly meant. I must admit, though, that I arrived with trepidation, fearing that Manhattan would push me into several concurrent panic attacks!

Having grown up in the suburbs of Phoenix, L.A. has always seemed "urban" to me, but it's a city whose inhabitants seem to lack the sense of "purpose" you describe. L.A. is an anoymous place with millions of inhabitants who never interact with each other. I believe the difference between the two places boils down to the fact that people share sidewalks and subways in Manhattan while people share freeways in L.A.

It's hard to say which of our nation's two largest cities is "better," because the differences are so stark. I appreciate and love L.A. for what it is, and it represents how America has evolved. Yet Manhattan represents the true spirit of America throughout its history; that's why people continue to be drawn there to achieve their dreams, and (sadly) that's why it was a target for terrorists.

You are right to point out that Manhattan isn't for everyone, and I suspect many of our comrades on the Left Coast would say they prefer our lifestyle, but I don't think I could ever tire of it either. I hope to return with you many more times.

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