New York, New York

Let me postpone the scheduled blog for one day to pop in this tribute to an amazing city.

New York is one of the grand cities of the world. It ranks with London or Paris or Beijing or Moscow as a community of people that rises to stature as prominent as the nation in which it resides.
Yet none of those other cities is anything like New York.
There is no place like New York.
The Big Apple.
The place where many thousands of immigrants have been greeted by the welcoming torch of the Statue of Liberty raised high, in celebration of their arrival. That grand lady, a gift from the French, lights the way to a new life, rich with promise and opportunity. So many tears have been cried on those waters, the tears of the huddled masses who latched onto a dream and dared to cross over.
New York is the place of Broadway and Central Park and Wall Street and Park Avenue. Of boroughs and rivers and tunnels and bridges.
An ethnic smorgasbord.
The place where terrorists destroyed two landmark buildings and thousands upon thousands of lives.
I love New York.
I’ve ridden the subways, arriving at the World Trade Center Tower station to emerge into daylight with thousands of trampling New Yorkers off to their jobs. Those buildings are no longer there. I’ve roamed the streets and prowled Central Park, scaled the Empire State Building, shopped the stores where price has little bearing on the purchase. I’ve frozen on a cold December night looking for a taxi when none was available. I’ve dined at cozy restaurants and dark, scruffy dives in the Village. Climbed through museums and art galleries.  Been as brusque and unsmiling as the next guy striding down the sidewalk with wary aggression. I’ve escaped upstate to relax and romance amongst the cliffs and hills and old towns that occasion the countryside.

The big cities of America are fantastic. You can explore them as you would any jungle or mountain wild. Watching your step. Los Angeles. Chicago. San Francisco. Washington DC.  I’ve driven and hiked them all. Los Angeles, the magical melting pot of ethnic culture and cuisine, 88 cities glued together as one. Chicago, the elevated trains and peculiar green river, the lake, the theater, the blues beat. San Francisco, the bay, the cable cars, the hills, the jail on an island, the bridges, the romance, the restaurants. Washington DC, the power.
None of them is New York.
New York is intense. You understand this when you enter the canyons between the tall buildings, always in shadow, never able to see beyond. You understand when you want art, or food, or goods. No place does it richer. No place more intensely. In the old days, we outliers would think New Yorkers were rude. Arrogant, actually. From a different planet. But no, we grew up to learn that we were wrong. New Yorkers were simply dealing with a place not easy to deal with. Not enough parking, too many muggers, too many people too close together, too expensive, too noisy, too busy. The financial capitol of America. Ha, I once rode in a yellow cab whose driver took the car up on the sidewalk to get around a blockage. He barely slowed. That is characteristic New York assertive. Stretch limos serve the airports, $80 for a ride into town from Newark; visit in style appropriate to the panache of this city. 
New York was not destroyed by the terrorists that day over a decade ago. New York grew stronger. More serious, perhaps. Less brusque, perhaps.
But stronger.
Hurricane Sandy blasted New York yesterday.
The storm created havoc. Stock markets were closed. Corporations were shut down. Subway trains were parked. Vulnerable parts of the city were vacated. Electricity was knocked out. The storm rampaged and destroyed.
It was only a hurricane. Not even so very strong by Philippine standards. But it hit head on, gnashing into a city surrounded by water. The commercial heart of New York is, after all, an island. Way smaller than Luzon. Perhaps smaller than my wee island of Biliran.
But this is New York, you know? The city that deals with things. And the challenge to recover will make the city yet stronger.
This city, so rich with history and sin and redemption, so deep with life.
America’s City.
Manila’s Big Brother.
Everyman’s City.
25 Responses to “New York, New York”
  1. andrew lim says:

    Except for Chicago, I've been to the cities you mentioned. And NYC is the one I developed a fondness for. LA is too disconnected to mean anything more than hedonism. ha ha haSF is also charming but those panhandlers have become far too many. It's NYC for me, where you can be higbrow in the morning (Met, Museum of Nat History) and low brow later (Times Square). You can be clean and nice (Central Park) or grungy (subways). Fine dining at lunch and fast food at night. Anything and everything, at your wish. A great place for thinkers and doers. Around this time last year, I was there. Still want to go back.

  2. You've characterized the cities well, andrew. Chicago is more on the order of New York, urban and tight center, culturally refined with museums and plays. Los Angeles is the kind of place it is fun to escape from, to go to the beach or mountains or desert, all a quick drive a way. Or to dine for every ethnic taste in the world, from filafel to tacos and the finest of sushi and shashimi.

  3. Edgar Lores says:

    Stayed 2 – 3 weeks circa 1980. I didn't make it there, but have fond and not-so-fond memories of:1. The Metropolitan Opera2. Museum of Modern Art (with Van Gogh's "Starry Night")3. Museum of Natural History (with the dinosaur skeleton)4. Guggenheim Museum5. Broadway (saw a matinee of "Chorus Line")6. Humongous pizza slices7. Seedy theater (watched "Caligula")8. Central Park (watched the flow of humanity)9. 42nd Street / dirty streets / so many blacks10. Rockefeller Center/ St Patricks's Cathedral / Waldorf Astoria / United Nations (older brother worked there)11. Central Train Station / subway / trains full of graffiti12. Bloomingdale's / Macy's13. Queen's BoroughA bucket-list must. Had the idea I could die after seeing "Starry Night".

  4. I find that non-fond memories become fond after a while, somehow becoming something I'm proud of for having dealt with it. Like 42nd Street. I stayed at a little apartment on 95th street, just off Broadway. It was cool to wander down in the crisp morning to get a bagel and coffee.The subway downtown was crowded, dark, noisy and a joy to get off of.

  5. andrew lim says:

    Must be the city boy in me that appreciates what a city can throw at you – the energy, the complexity, the intellectual challenges,etc. But Manila packs it in too tightly, like one commenter said in the previous article. Oh I love Napa Valley, too but Id become too fat and sedate there.

  6. andrew lim says:

    Edgar, I've been to your neck of the woods, too. Sydney and Melbourne are both great cities, offering pretty much what NYC can offer. What it lacks is the grime and diversity, though I think it's changing.

  7. Ah, yes. Napa Valley. The wineries are best toured in that mellow haze that comes from swallowing the wine at the tasting bars instead of spitting.California has another wine tasting region, not as well known or expansive, in the midstate area surrounding Santa Maria. It is a great weekend visit from Los Angeles.And if you want a really fine adventure, you can tour the wineries of Chile. They don't get a lot of visitors as you get away from Santiago a pace. When I visited a few years ago, we got very lavish personal tours through the winemaking plants, where much was done by hand rather than automation. One proud owner took us from vat to vat,drawing off samples of his concoctions directly from the huge metal vats.Glasses, not sips. No spitting allowed. He and we were all nicely stewed by the time we left.

  8. Attila says:

    Times are changing Joe. The time you lived in New York there were no hurricanes. The last 2 yrs we had 2 and New York is not prepared to handle them. As a building manger I'm having a lot of headaches now form the effect of it.

  9. Ah, yes, warm water pushing north, I suspect. When I was there, we had snow two feet deep. I like the picture in the article that shows how vulnerable the city is to hurricanes. Water water everywhere. Buy rubber rafts for your tenants. That's my advice.

  10. Edgar Lores says:

    Attila,Glad to know you're safe, that you obviously have power now, and that Sandy wasn't that bad for you and just left a few headaches. Cheers, mate.

  11. Edgar Lores says:

    Andrew,Ah, the world traveler. You've seen more than I have. I've never been to Melbourne. My great dream is to visit Europe. Who knows? We might bump into each other there in Firenze or Londinium, and talk about Ole Joe, the waywardness of the Filipino, the plight of the Chamorros and, let us not forget, the beauty and wonder of our time on earth.

  12. Been trying to contact my two sisters in Hackensack, NJ. They are just next to overflowing Hackensack River levee. Tried Cellphones and landlines. Nothing.They were told to pack necessities into evac bags and wait for reverse-911 call.I am just hoping they are not listening to Philippine Ambassador Joe Cuisia to call Philippine Embassy "HOT" line in case of emergency that is according to Rappler dot com. I told my sisters never listen to Filipino ambassadors, listen to American firemen. Call 911 instead of Philippine Embassy because Filipinos in Philippine Embassy are just absolutely totally FILIPINO. If ever they need action within 10-minute flat response call America's 911.

  13. American firemen and American policemen are way way way better than those snotty foreign-educated ivy-school graduate englischtzes-snob Filipinos.

  14. NOTE: Filipinos who may require assistance due to Hurricane Sandy may call the Duty Officer of the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C at 202-368-2767 or the Consulates General in New York (917-294-0196) or Chicago (312-501-6458). – RAPPLERdotCOMIf you are affected by Sandy, would you call Philippine Embassy or call the Americans ?I know all of "patriotic" "nationalistic" Filipino's answer. THEY CALL 911 all the time. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

  15. Attila says:

    That is funny. You made my day!Also all the leftist pro communist Filipinos as well.There are many of those here. There is a movie aboutrecruiting the troubled young Filipinos in to a leftist organization as oppose to becoming gang members.

  16. Attila says:

    Edgar:This storm was different than last year. We did not receive a lot of rain. The flood came from the higher see level. Also the wind was very strong. We are above the 49thm street so we were not affected as badly as those bellow the 49th street. last year was a downpour causing leaks everywhere in the building. Now only some flying debris and broken windows.

  17. joy oh says:

    patriortic and nationalistic naman eh, pragmatic nga lang hehehe. main functions of our embassies are: economic diplomacy, political diplomacy, protection and servicing phil nationals. but according to one embassy staff (not in the US), OFWs are excempted from paying taxes. being so, embassy staff salaries do not come from OFW money ergo are not beholden to them (OFWs). good grief !!

  18. joy oh . . . "good grief" indeed. That's like national bitterness that OFW's have found success outside the Philippines.Mariano, my wife has standing instructions that if I get kidnapped, to immediately call the U.S. Embassy. Hmmmm . . .

  19. J says:

    So you didn't include Tokyo in the list of supercities you mentioned. :p

  20. And what a gross oversight that was. Tokyo FOR SURE belongs there. It has some of the qualities of New York, being made up of a lot of concrete, much of it crowded, but has the elegance and kindness that you will find only in Japan. I suppose it is the deep, rich history that Tokyo has, or the other super-cities, that New York can't quite match. History in New York is concerned with mainly who owns the Apollo theater today.Please plug Tokyo into the list . . .

  21. Goot Joe, very goot. In the event of kidnapping never run to your nearest friendly local police station. Call U.S. Embassy hotline.2ndly, never ever let your family redeem you thru police intermediary. Ransom money is skimmed and scammed and you'll end up harmed. 3rdly, do not call local media. They do not know how to shut up.4thly, if Police send in their SWAT team, you better say your hail maries.5thly, if money is exchanged and you are luckily released in one piece, you will have the honor to meet benign0 as his poster boy of how effective Philippine police negotiators are.6thly, if you are recovered and ransom money is recovered YOU ARE ONE LUCKY AMERICAN !!!!

  22. Ah, very goot. I shall clip this and post it on the refrigerator next to the bible verses my kid is memorizing for school. My wife is the keeper of the refrigerator literature.

  23. Edgar Lores says:

    LOL, had a good belly laugh!

  24. Attila says:

    It seems that we (white foreigners) are not the target for kidnapping but armed robbery. Kidnappers are more after Chinese Filipinos, Indians and Filipino Americans. Unless we go to South Mindanao of course.

  25. Attila, kidnappers are afraid to kidnap white foreigners because they are backed up big time by their white governments big guns, drones, economic might and daunting travel advisories that makes Philippine government quiver on their knees to take action.Whereas, Chinese Filipinos and pure Filipinos are easy targets because Filipino government do not care about them. Kidnapping is just perks of Philippine police and soldiers to raise money for their families. When Indians gets kidnapped, they pay, white foreigners are discouraged by their white governments. Filipino-Americans are kidnapped by mistake.

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