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"New York City", an Essay
[Soundtrack: "New York" by U2]
The Ben Turner Y2K Whirlwind Tour of the West concluded last week in New York City, with no new tours planned until the new millennium begins. (maybe Austin and Philly [again], Japan, and Australia this time?)
Rome remained the best of all the cities visited, with the vibrance and life that exuded from it, while Philly was comfortable living, Paris was almost surreal and felt like I was visiting an impressionist painting, Austin was familiar and pleasant, like an old friend, and then there was New York City.
Big cities are fascinating because the stream of energy and culture never seems to stop. You're bombarded with more concerts, clubs, plays, celebrity events, museums, expositions, and public festivals than you can handle. This is of course a good thing because you can never get bored, but my impression leaving it all was that I always felt like I should be doing something there, that I was missing out on things while I was sleeping. In short, not too different from the feeling I get when tapped into the newswires. It almost seems unnatural to not continue riding the flow of information and interaction. News goes on without you, and so do big cities.
Which made NYC at least for now a better vacation than a possible place of residence. I imagine that feeling goes away as you visit it more often and it sinks in and it becomes less of an overwhelming intimidating big city and more of the only place in the world you could imagine living in.
I've never seen any place so bustling. It was wonderful. Much different feeling than you get in big cities in Europe. Those cities have normal cycles, NYC doesn't. It is in a class all by itself.
So anyway, here's the list of what I did. I'm proud to get all this packed into one week, and came away pleased with what I was able to experience. My only complaint was that I didn't get to see any drum and bass there and I didn't get to see all of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There were so many classics there that we didn't have time to catch. But they'll still be there when I return.
... Tuesday ...
Arrived at Manhattan Club with mom, met aunt in lobby. Bought tickets for that evening's matches of the Chase Championships at Madison Square Garden. Saw Martina Hingis beat Julie Halard-Decugis, Anna Kournikova beat Jennifer Capriati, two sets of the Van Roost/Callens victory over Halard-Decugis/Sugiyama. Major babeage. In the crowd: Pam Shriver, Zina Garrison-Jackson, Kim Clijsters, David Dinkins, Bud Collins (doing commentating).
... Wednesday ...
Went to the Yoko Ono exhibit at the Japan Society Gallery. Was surprised, didn't know about her artwork and the movement she was a part of. Saw Trump Tower, walked around the NBC building a bit, walked by MTV just before Marilyn Manson was going to arrive for that afternoon's TRL, pondered going on the NASDAQ Marketsite tour, but didn't. Lunch in Grand Central Station. Went to that evening's Chase matches: Lindsey Davenport d. Elena Dementieva, Monica Seles d. Sandrine Testud, Kournikova/Hingis d. I forget. In the crowd: Davenport, Clijsters, Kournikova on Hingis' lap, Vannessa Williams.
... Thursday ...
Museum of Modern Art had some interesting ideas, I actually enjoyed modern art for a change. Saw the dance show "Contact" at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center, had dinner at Iridium, jazz club which had Spirituals to Swing, good jazz band. Have met a lot of people from Fordham online, saw where it was in person. Was watching TV, got real excited about who was gonna be here tomorrow...
... Friday ...
Got my ass out of bed early to stand outside the NBC building for standby tickets on that night's Conan O'Brien Late Show taping. Met a chick who works on Wall Street as a programmer for some aspect of the bond market. Annoyed her with endless curious questions about working inside Wall Street. Took the NASDAQ Marketsite tour, tired as hell. The interactive game was cool, overlooking the NASDAQ wall, thought the rest of the tour was pretty weak. Was going to bash Tom Costello's knee in as per requested from the traders, but Quintanilla was filling in for him that day. Slept during day. Went to see Late Show taping at 5ish, was lucky enough to get in since they took 20-30 standby's. Sat in back corner, not by choice. Saw my Gwyneth...Gwyneth Paltrow...beautiful and charismatic. Came back all jazzed up, my dad arrived, we went to eat at a nearby French restaurant (Seppi's?). Stayed up waiting for Trish and Nancy to drive in from Philly, saw Conan show on TV, then they came and we went to Limelight... This time it wasn't gay night, so it was more fun for us straight guys since more women around. DJ did some weird things like a 5 minute pure vocal set, alienated a lot of the crowd. Came home late, still jazzed about seeing Gwyneth and Conan. I'm such a fucking tourist groupie loser.
... Saturday ...
Got up 3 hours later to try to get SNL standby tickets. Now, obviously Conan doesn't get as much interest as SNL does. A long line was already there, with the people in front holding sleeping bags. Walked home somewhat disappointed. Came back, went to Carnegie Deli, and slept all day, stayed inside all night while everyone else went out to see a friend of my dad's. Saw SNL anyway on TV, with Tom Green. Was disappointed. Not surprisingly, Mr. Cam Barrett and his Al-Gore-sense-of-humor thought it was hilarious.
... Sunday ...
Walked through Central Park, saw Strawberry Fields and John Lennon's building. Got taped by eager Japanese amateur filmmakers. Went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, saw the Egyptian temple they moved there, some Chinese and Japanese art and armor, ran out of time before seeing too much of the impressionist and modern art. Took taxi to the Helen Hayes Theater, saw "Dirty Blonde", a performance about Mae West. Spilled Mountain Dew in the cab, tipped the cabbie extra. He was nice about it. Dindin at a newly opened French restaurant (forgot the name).
... Monday ...
Saw Guggenheim. Impressive design, but the proposed design for the new Guggenheim in NYC even more impressive. Realized how much I love cubism and find its color palette so appealing after studying Renaissance and Medieval art all through college. The infatuation begins. The Armani exhibit was the main focus there, but only liked the men's suits and the sheer black women's dresses. Failed attempt to get ticket to tour the NYSE as all tickets for the day were sold out. Disappointed. Saw nervous traders smoking outside, remembered that that's not a job for me, floor trader. Went to top of World Trade Center instead, lovely view.
Flew home, and as usual sat next to crazy stranger who loved to talk. Oy. Arrived home safe and sound, tired as hell and sleeping schedule still messed up. Enjoyed the trip quite a bit, felt I learned a lot from it.
And so that's it for 2000. The plan was to travel a lot after graduation and I did, so I'm happy about that and thankful to my mom for arranging a lot of it. These experiences will add depth and perspective to my life and my attempts to understand it. Pleased about that.
Wondering what's running through some peoples' minds when they say they'd get nothing out of traveling, that their money is better spent upgrading their computer or whatever, that they can get everything they want from where they live, that everywhere in the world is the same.
We live in a beautiful world, and it's really only the people who stay in one place their whole lives who complain about it without really knowing what's good or bad about it. It's really as the tune "Harmonic" by Hex goes, the bug complains about what small part of the rug it's on without seeing the entire pattern from above.
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