Banterist

From New York, original humor writing & commentary by Brian Sack. Subject to all the flexible quality standards of internet self-publishing.

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How New York Is

Hello Corey. Very nice to hear from you. Indeed it has been a long time, and thank you for asking how New York is.
New York is doing quite well. I saw a midget walking a dog recently. I’ve never seen that anywhere else I’ve lived or traveled. The dog was as big as the midget, and I imagine being that close in size to your dog gives you some sort of bond that average-height folks could never really enjoy. I have to assume that a dog simply likes you more if it can stand on all fours and look you right in the eye. Perhaps my theory is faulty or untested, but now I stand convinced that man’s best friend would probably prefer he be a midget.
I suppose he could have been a dwarf. I can never remember the difference. I don’t know what the rules or etiquette are as far as labeling little people go; something about body/head proportion. I’m not too concerned, really, because if it came to blows I’m confident I’d win, unless there were hordes of them gnawing at my ankles.


There is no such thing as boredom here. If you can’t find entertainment, it will ultimately find you – in the form of an outrageously-dressed citizen or a taxi driver and plumber on the verge of a fistfight. What is truly amazing is how ordinary it all becomes after a while. You really have to try hard to notice things. When I first came here, what seems to be ages ago, I noticed every single thing that seemed somewhat odd. Now, I don’t think I’d even break my pace for a nun shitting on a piano.
It’s a very international city, that’s what I really love. Just yesterday I was walking by Grand Central Station. There was a giant inflatable rat and six unhappy union members pitted against a huge building. An immigrant was shouting into a megaphone about an oyster restaurant, but his accent was totally unintelligible. I suppose that’s the American dream nowadays: emigrate here, don’t learn the language, then immediately set about attacking your employer to get your share of the pie increased.
Any food you want – it’s here. In Chinatown it’s sitting in a basket on the sidewalk. Other cities have Italian places. We have Italian places that specialize in regions. Italian isn’t good enough, it has to be Venetian or Tuscan or lost recipes from someone’s grandma in Trieste. We discovered Koreatown not too long ago and ate thereabouts. The waiter spoke no English and I spoke no Korean. I don’t know what I ordered or ate, but I understood the international sign language for ‘add salt and mix’ and it was delicious. and mighty foreign, without the hassle of air travel.
The city is an Attention Deficit Disorder paradise, for certain. Restaurants and stores come and go faster than African autocracies. One moment it’s a Pizza place, then it’s French, then it’s a different French, then it’s a tequila bar. You learn to appreciate these places more because you’re worried they might not be there tomorrow; like a grandmother who just turned 94.
There are always things to do. So many, actually, that you often can’t decide what to do; then you wind up choosing by default to not do anything at all. But that’s okay too, because even though you realize you’re missing everything, you know a lot of it was unjustifiably expensive. Just look at your copy of Time Out however, and you’re happy to live in a place where it takes 160 pages to tell you what’s going on that week.
Surprisingly, it’s very hard to meet people, according to my friends who can’t meet people. There may be millions of people here, but they’re too busy to meet you. I know several single ladies who would like to murder the folks at Sex & The City for making the shallow, carefree, super-independent, career-focused lifestyle seem like so much fun. They’ve decided it’s not that much fun. The show may be drawing to a close, but it’s leaving plenty of unfulfilled 38-year olds in a state of sheer panic. They chose to live like Samantha Jones, but stand to die like Leona Helmsley.
The car is long gone. It made no sense at all to keep one. The transit system is quite good, and often times you’ll spend a weekend without straying more than a few blocks from your apartment. Though I miss the car itself, I don’t miss the driving part. Walking is healthier. You can think more. And if you get distracted, as I usually do, it’s not potentially fatal. Or it’s less potentially fatal anyway. I suppose I could get hit by a bus or fall down a manhole. Or shot. Stabbed. An air-conditioner could fall out of a window. Or scaffolding could collapse. Runaway taxi. Gas leak. These are some things I think about when walking.
On a simple stroll, there are as many things to look at and read as there are to avoid, so you’re always busy. There is always amusement to be found in the comments scribbled on advertisements or walls. Various folks who think they have something important to say do so with regularity, either writing, sticking or spray-painting something somewhere. Most are banal, some are quite clever and a few are occasionally brilliant. You really appreciate living in proximity to such folks; these aspiring Wildes armed with markers and a penchant for vandalizing property.
It is totally true: you can spot tourists a mile away. For the most part, they’re no problem. Every once in a while you’ll find one freaking out or over-reacting to the stimuli. But you can usually handle them, since they’re already somewhat intimidated. I like being asked for directions, because it means I don’t look like a tourist, but it makes me very nervous. I feel like I’m on a game show and get flustered. Same goes for when I’m asked what time it is. Come to think of it, maybe I’m becoming neurotic. That happens over time here. In fact, it’s as easy to spot the outsiders as it is to spot the folks who have never lived anywhere else.
You’re welcome to visit any time. It’s more enjoyable when you have visitors because you appreciate all the things you’d normally take for granted. I wouldn’t normally think to eat a $29 Foie Gras-laced hamburger or sip an $18 Rainbow Room martini, but it makes much more sense when it’s under the pretense of being a good host. Even better if you’re here on business and can expense absurdly priced burgers.
Anyway, you should definitely plan on a visit. I’d ask you how Detroit is, but I think we all know.


Previously

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