Sunday, January 31, 2010

the day goes on and we continue: On Leaving New York

It hasn't quite registered yet. The leavetaking, the moving on, the new. It always takes some time. And that I can allow. And the issue of a routine is really main thing. Once there is a set pattern, a pattern to keep to, a pattern to deviate from, then you are home. Right now, it is like we are on some offbeat vacation, nothing quite what it should be even if it shouldn't be anything else. Which I suppose is enough, or sensible, at least.

There are things I will miss about New York. It is a city like no other. Perhaps the city. And I will likely still refer to Manhattan as "the city" for some time, even though I am miles away and never actually lived there. Our end of Brooklyn was really never anything to celebrate. Except for the fruit markets. I'll miss those. It's hard to beat a 24-hour fruit market.

I'll miss the trains. I would say public transportation, but fuck if I ever enjoyed riding a bus. I'll miss the city, or the things that go along with a city of such a size. Cultural institutions. Bars of all stripes. The food. The attitude of New York: a certain indifference, a certain inclusivity, a certain je ne sais quoi. I'll miss those nights where I would sober up with a sprained ankle in midtown wondering how I got there and where the closest N train was. Ok, night. But I hear it was a good one.

I'll miss the places. Grassroots. Circus Fruits. McSorley's. The Magician. Otto's Shrunken Head. Menkuite. The Strand. Yes, the bookstores will be a hard one to make up. The internet is a poor substitute for a good conscientious bookstore. So it goes.

Perhaps I will miss the museums and performance spaces of the city. I mean, I should. They tend to be rather impressive. I enjoyed the opera I saw. And the plays. But I feel as if I never fully took advantage of them, as if that was one missing page in my fairly incomplete guide to the city. I never saw enough shows. Did enough crazy and outlandish things. So it goes. I am slowly coming into my own. The universe will catch up to my story eventually. Or vice versa. We go on.

I would say that most of all I would miss my friends. And it is true. Or I will miss the times we had when we had them. Drinking at the 'roots over pitchers and arguments on Derrida. But so many of them left New York before I did, that perhaps that is a claim of a different nature. A regret of growing older and apart from, well in this case, grad school. Which is true. I miss grad school. I miss being able to have an intellectual conversation about pop culture and low culture at that. And I miss being able to have an unintellectual conversation about high art and philosophy. Those are matters that I will have to take up with the grand imperious internest in the future, I suppose.

I have never had much attachment to place. To any locale. I figure it is a product of my upbringing and the fact that I moved at certain, but formative, times. I don't find it to be a detriment. It makes the future all the more interesting, I suppose. Unbound to the past. Unbound to regret over leaving "home". Not that I don't have regrets. I regret that I didn't take full advantage of a city that I regret I never fully understood. I suppose it is damn near impossible to fully understand New York, but I should have done better, I should have done more. I regret that I didn't live in my ideal New York. I regret that while I had a neighborhood coffee shop and a neighborhood bar, neither were anywhere near my neighborhood. Or all that close to each other. I have this vision of what it means to live in New York. And I never experienced that. Not to say that my experience was bad. It just wasn't the one I had hoped for, or the one I know is there to be had, the one that suits me best. But I feel the same way about Vegas. Maybe it is only in leaving that I realize what I have missed. Maybe I'll go back. But just like re-reading a book of my bookshelf (now in one of 30 boxes on a truck somewhere on the eastern seaboard) there are so many other options. There are so many other things to see, places to go, bars to stumble into and out of.

In closing: it was a good two and a half years, New York. Thanks and you stay classy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The UnEnlightenment would like to remind you that today is that Last Day of the Empire

The world is falling apart and I am wearing sweat pants stained with baby food. I haven’t showered in a while and that during that last one I only had a chance to wash my hair, not the rest of my delicious filthy body.

Our government is impotent and vainglorious at the same time; a winning combination. Apparently 60 is no longer the magic number, 41 has taken its place. As if the sole point of being a respected member of one of the most powerful and notable legislative bodies in the world was the ability to ensure that the guys you don’t like don't get their way. Picture Nelson in a $4,000 suit with a $300 haircut and no class staring across the aisle, “Ha ha!” Nothing says senator quite like pouting in the corner. Campaign finance reform has proven to be a meaningless gesture and corporate interests no longer have to pretend that they aren’t buying elections. And life goes on as usual.

Haiti is a disaster of relatively unprecedented magnitude. At least for this hemisphere, in recent memory, not involving colonization or plague blankets. Which is terrible. More terrible is that it allows us to forget, pass over, and ignore all the disasters of regular magnitude that are happening all the time.

Our newsagents are bickering children in a shouting match hoping to drown out the inevitable drone of progress. The New York Times thinks it’s going to charge for its internet content. China thinks it’s going to stop Google. And the most interesting thing going these days is the “Late Night Wars”; which are, all things considered, a lot more interesting than the real wars being fought in our names (if only they could have been canceled in seven months).

But as I said, I am wearing sweat pants stained with baby food (blueberry yogurt and spinach to be specific) and my son is in his room crying himself to sleep because his teeth hurt. The world is falling apart. The world is just the same as it ever was. At least American Idol is back on the air.

“Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.”

- Chairman Mao