Category Archives: New York City

Why I Like New York City


Many People

What many people don’t like about New York City, is that there are too many people.  It takes focus to walk down a street and maneuver past all kinds of bodies going right, left, stopping, slowing down or speeding up.  But this is precisely what I like!  I love being in a crowd.  My favorite is the subway at rush hour.  I enjoy the idea of being compressed amongst the hundreds of bodies on the subway train with the blank or tired sagging faces turned in different directions trying not to slip and fall.  I like to stand my ground while other bodies push me about.  Everyone is fighting for their body’s room, and one has to be assertive about claiming space at peak times.  This arouses in me a love for the city because I see, and literally feel life gushing and pulsating around me.  Sometimes you can feel the heat of the person next to you and realize how close you are to a stranger: closer than you can get anywhere else without it being socially unacceptable.  I smile when the conductor yells to not hold doors for the last few people that squish into the subway train instead of waiting for the next train because this shows that, yes, there really is an overwhelming amount of people, of life.  And I am more interested in the idea of confinement in the subway, reminding me that I am alive, over the confinement of a coffin, alone and dead.

Carelessness

I really like how careless people are in public.  New Yorkers have seen and heard so many odd things about so many people that odd things don’t capture their interest as easily as the rest of America.  People dress more unusually or wear crappy old clothes and others don’t pay much attention to that.  There are so many people and everyone is so busy and in such a rush that others don’t have time and energy to care about each individual as much.  And in a way I like the idea of this.  I like the fact that one can go about their business without others wondering who this person is, why he’s dressed like this, or what he is up to.  You go into a store for a chips and beer, and the cashier doesn’t really care about you.  He serves you quickly, because there is likely another customer behind you, and that’s another dollar.  To him you are just another buyer.  I think it’s great when strangers don’t care about your business because it allows you to be yourself, not attract attention, and not think about what they think about you.  You don’t have to answer to “Hi, how are you? Did you find everything you were looking for today?”  Everyday encounters aren’t elevated to special occasions the way they are in small towns.  You can simply be an object to others; another number in the city.

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I Like Garbage

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When I first visited New York, before 2007, I thought it was cool, but I didn’t want to live here.  I remember thinking that for one, it is very dirty.  Garbage on the sidewalks, garbage on the streets, garbage on the subway tracks, towering piles of garbage bags on the sidewalk ready for pick-up.  Gross greenish-colored puddles in crevices near sidewalks, with that shimmering gasoline reflection.  Oil stains, black dots from gum, papers, cups, bags, beer cans, broken glass, poop, furniture parts, mittens; the list goes on an on.  It makes every inch of the city feel dirty, and the kind of dirty that just cant be simply washed off.  Ever.  And there are so many unpleasant smells.

As of summer 2010, I began to appreciate the disgusting smells and mess.  It was no longer something that repulsed me.  It was like acquiring a taste for beer after you hate it the first time you try it, and then grow to enjoy the unique flavors of beer.  I no longer felt “at home” when I went back to the clean, calm streets of Milwaukee, without a scattering trash on the street, dirty smells, or nasty thick puddles…I became empathetic to the puddles, smells, repulsive fluids and other things…their origin.  I saw their unique beauty.  Still aesthetic issues were secondary.  What I realized was I sincerely admired what this garbage represented.  It was evidence of life.  It came from people, from hurried people trying to get on with their daily and not so daily life, it was proof that people are busy, existed and were most of all alive! It’s kind of a sexy notion.  The same way you think a dance club or bar is sexy if it is full of people.  I enjoy seeing overflowing trashcans, with piles of trash on top and scattered around the can—that failed to accommodate the demanding energy of the masses and the garbage collectors that couldn’t keep up with people’s excrements.  Without garbage on the street, it feels like there are no inhabitants of the city, something feels wrong—the gritty architecture and grimy sidewalks look superficial without litter and waste.  Yes, New York is a beautifully grimy city—it reminds me of the Velvet Underground, the lives of poor creatives, and the nature of punk.

Now when I need to throw something away and there isn’t a cop in front of me, I just let it fall from my hand naturally, or throw it somewhere unless there is a trashcan to practice my aim.  But if I miss I just don’t bother to pick it up, because I want to contribute to the aesthetic of New York City.  And in Milwaukee or other cities I do the same because otherwise the streets just don’t look right; too perfect to be lived streets.

I’m almost inclined to call this garbage ridden cityscape sexy?  It signifies danger and adventure, carelessness, and walking amongst it heightens one’s awareness. Maybe it makes people more comfortable at being closer to other clean people instead of the dirty streets.  Clean streets are stale, somewhat pretentious, and lack a sense of touch.  A grimy, dirty, decaying cityscape makes people look better and places more approachable.  If the place is too clean and perfect it can highlight people’s physical blemishes.  But amongst the context of garbage a lot more people look clean, sexy and pretty because of the contrast.

conversation #7 (Chinese bed store)

A:  Jheese eesce gda full.

B:  Do you have a queen-sized like this?

A:  Oh ya it come in othza sizjes too, why you haf a girlfriend?

B:  No.  I need a bed first.

Observation #5 (NYC real estate)

A lot of people in NY, who want to sublet have cats.

With the exception of 2 craigslist ads, nobody wants a “party house,” or for their roommates to “bring the party home.”

The opening of a sushi restaurant in an ungentrified place is a sign of gentrification.

New York Thoughts

As I was searching for thought trying to fill time on the subway I realized my butt is starting to get sore from sitting on these hard ass benches. They are ergonomically well-made but why don’t they at least have some upholstery on them? Surely NYC has the money. They can’t put that soft furry upholstery layer on them because it would get worn down within days or weeks from all the butts that rub up on them getting up and sitting down and movin’ about. It just wouldn’t handle all those NY butts, not to mention the Midwesterners’ and Texans’. It wouldn’t be convenient and profitable for the MTA to change it so often. And upholstery is much harder to clean. New York City is the first place where I can see the effects of human beings on a man-made environments faster than nature’s effects. A beauty of New York City is that when there is a new section of the road built, or various other architectural elements, within a few weeks you can spot wear and tear on it from its use by human beings. The public gives it character in this short amount of time. The new black dots on the sidewalk, the grimy oily stains and specks. Each new square foot gets tested immediately by numerous people. Often it seems that people wear down a certain place or architectural element faster than nature. In a way people play a much larger role in shaping their landscape in a big city than in a small one. The urban landscape actually grows, changes, acquires a different character, and ages, as a living thing.

Update

INSIDE: MIAD students came to NYC for their fall break. I met up with some of them, it was good to see them and hang out for a bit. I went to DIA Beacon that weekend, where i saw lots of minimalistic and conceptual art. It was great timing for me to see this art. I realized new things about these types of art and had some experiences with it unlike before. Its weird that this minimalistic/conceptual museum is located in a very small town far away from downtown NYC. I also met up with 2 friends that i went to Israel with this summer who were here during the same week but for different reasons. I went with Aaron and his friends to a comedy club. Bunch of comedians there some are actually very big in the comedy world. some of them (the host for sure) get drunk and or high before they step on stage and do their thing. It was really funny stand up for the most part but one comedian had like no funny material to deliver and he went on for like 5 minutes making fun of some guy in the front row-his toes and how he wore flip flops. Then he made fun of another audience member. He was bad. I’m always doing something and all these experiences are very overwhelming. I get way too many ideas to manage. I already filled up 1.5 sketchbooks with ideas to do and i get down cause i have no idea when i will actually complete these ideas. I read an article and while i’m reading i will get like 2 ideas and have to interrupt reading to jot the down or risk forgetting them by the time i’m done reading the article. Sometimes i can’t fall asleep till 5am because i’m thinking of things, ideas, life, the world making different connections and reflecting on my experiences here. _____________________________________________________________
There is so much interesting STUFF out there that when you try to understand how much there is it overwhelms you and kind of punches you in the stomach. And sometimes it scares you when you think about how much time you have versus how much time you need to see, experience, and think about all this stuff. One night i threw my sketchbook on the floor before turning of the lights and trying to sleep but in about 15 minutes remembered a good idea i had for art and wrote it on the cover of the sketchbook in the dark. I’m planning to find an assistant for this summer to help me when i’m doing art that requires simple repetitive actions.

Beggars and so called "Entertainers"

Anyone who rides the subway in NYC encounters beggars. And a few people give them money. I did, but now i avoid it. I think you can make a lot of money begging or performing. The time between stops is 1-2 minutes, and they collect about 1 dollar total every stop then advance to the next train car. Thats like 30-60$ per hour. Cash. That is better than what i can officially earn today. I’ve thought about begging myself, i mean i am a college kid without income. I also gave serious thought to making an outrageous suit like from toilet paper and sitting in a busy subway car or walking around train to train putting a smile on peoples faces and getting money in return. If i have time i think i will.

This is Where it Happens: NYC

My first week of school or so, i was walking to my studio, and on a cobblestone side street in front of a building there was a photoshoot. There was a new slick looking sporty Nissan, a photographer, crew (lighting, makeup, assistants) taking shots whenever there weren’t any cars driving by. The model was some young Asian man. I stopped by to watch, its just like you think a shoot would be. The photos were of the model getting out of the car. The photographer gave cues to the model when to get out over and over and over. Then after a car passed between the camera and the model, he would do another set of the same photos. It was kind of funny seeing the model do the same action (get out and then back into the car) again and again. when you look at an ad on a page you forget they had to perform the same action until they got it right. Its really repetitive.

The building where my studio is has no one living there, its all production studios, artists, designers businesses, etc. there are a handful of galleries in adjacent buildings. In one i walked past a studio photo shoot, this time with an attractive female model. I walked 2-3 block from my building and walked in cause there was a sign for a gallery. Went to it, then discovered there were like 4 or 5 on that floor, and some artists studios. I realized there are a LOT of artists and galleries in NYC. its very inspirational to be in this environment. Makes you think outside of the box, outside the confines of your college. It makes you want to work harder. But it also cautions you about the competition you will be faced with.

Nevertheless, here is a description of New York.

You know when you are casually looking through a magazine, notice the articles, the Ads, and in the back of your mind know that someone made it. It’s not someone you know, and not in Milwaukee or your city, but somewhere. Or when you watch a movie or you see credits and backstage footage you think about someone creating this somewhere “out there.” Well, New York city is that “out there.” This is where all of these things happen. Not just small things, but big things, the things that are the greatest or most important. I haven’t realized this the first time i visited NYC, but now i do.

Chealsea and Opening of Art and Fashion Season

About a week ago was the opening of the “art season.” Something that is not heard of in Milwaukee. I’ve only heard one of my teachers tell us what it is. Well in NYC is where it happens. It is most felt in Chelsea (the part of Manhattan that is now the center for art). The art scene was UN-BELIEVABLE. There are over 200 galleries in Chealsea alone, not to mention other parts of NYC. I walked into one building and saw that on every floor there are 3-4 galleries. With people in them, not just empty. Of course the most prominent galleries are on the first floor facing the street. There are a lot of galleries that are prestigious representing great and well-know artists, with professional gallery workers, (notice the “s”), wine of course, crowds of fans, giant rooms to space artwork very comfortably, and enough headroom for cheerleaders to flip each other and build pyramids. These galleries present an image of confidence, assured the work will be bought, similar to a Ferrari dealership. All kinds of people show up, from students that just came out of their art studio, to fashionably dressed wives and husbands. I went in a group but it was impossible to stick with each other and not always be concerned if everyone in our group is present. Its easier to get lost there among the crowds than on Saturday in Disneyland. I was in awe.
I went to one huge gallery were a really good artist was showing and called my grandma. “Grandma, i’m going to put you on speaker phone, listen.” I walked around the gallery, then went outside so i could talk to her. “Guess where i am.” Grandma: “well, it sounds like you just left where you were, but i’d have to guess you were at a club.” Me: “Ah, no, actually I was in a gallery.” Then i crossed the street to another gallery and noticed the smell of pot eminating from somewhere really close to me, i became curious, but i couldnt see anyone who was smoking. (I remembered i have asthma, ARRG, dammit.) Then someone behind me against a wall, by the entrance to this massive gallery, says something like, “it smells like pot.” I turn and see the voice was addressing a clean man, 33ish dressed in a nice suit, standing with the last centimeter of a joint between his fingers. Calmly, taking a drag, as if he was just smoking a legal cigarette. then some younger ladies came up by him and asked “isn’t someone going to see you?” He replies with a smile, ” No, there’s so many people here no one’s going to find where its coming from. Would you like a hit?” Then i couldn’t hear what they replied, but he jokingly asked to check their ID’s. I could only imagine seeing something like this in a movie.

Some of the art i saw was ok, but some was amazing. Gordon Moore was a favorite, reminded me of John Sully.