20 December 2007
Bite the Big Apple...
I don’t like New York City, I never have. I have never been charmed by it. But it has taken me a long time to figure out why.
There is actually something off-putting about the fact that you can get anything you want, at anytime you want in New York City. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is unique. Everything is available (at a price of course). It is a type of gluttony that is not appealing.
New York City is too big. It swallows you in indifferent canyons of glass and steel. I can feel the buildings over my shoulders like uneasy strangers. I don’t feel that way in Boston, or London, or Paris. I can walk in those cities and not feel the coldness of the architecture. Their buildings do not block the sun from the streets.
It is not just the buildings, but the sidewalks too. The throngs of pedestrians are the current of an angry paced river. It is dizzying.You cannot pause in New York City—you will be consumed. You can’t stop or catch your breath. I can’t operate at that pace, I don’t have that edge in me.
I prefer my cities a little quieter, a little more manageable. I like to walk without feeling like a salmon going upstream. I like to be able to stumble upon places and delight in the discovery. In New York City there are a million different voices and places vying for your attention and your money. There is a feeling that everything has been done before, or if it hasn’t, it is only valid when it is done in New York. It is an elitism that New York tries to deny, but it is ever present.
I never feel like I belong in New York City. I am always a tourist, and I always will be.
There is nothing alluring to me about a place that will not hesitate to swallow you in indifference. I am not one to sing the praises of the Big Apple, I’ll take Boston any day.
(I took the above photograph yesterday in New York City. There is something very sad about that neon sign, and something very true.)