Sunday, July 28, 2013

Welcome to New York – Now Get Out

A Native’s Guide to Tourism

Hey Babe, Take a Walk on the Wild Side

“I happen to like New York, I happen to love this town
I like the city air, I like to drink of it
The more I see New York, the more I think of it
I like the sight and the sound and even the stink of it
I happen to like New York” - Porter

“Holly came from Miami, F.L.A.
Hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her leg and then he was a she
She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side”- Reed

Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets, so why not indulge those terpsichorean aspirations on the boulevards of the most vibrant, exciting, sophisticated, intelligent, cultural, artistic, colorful, diverse, culinary-keen, and, of course, humble, conurbation ever captured in Rand McNally’s  - a city so nice…  it’ll cost you twice. New York, New York, a beloved metropolis merely requiring extreme and ungodly quantities of currency to occupy, visit, fly-over or even quietly whisper its name; home to embarrassing and amorously aberrant office-seekers, and the most justifiably disliked, disrespected and deceptive toiler on a baseball diamond since Barry Bond’s head exploded, 50’s Drive-In, horror film-style into the size of a prize-winning pumpkin. Start spreading the news, as well as your hand sanitizer, and visit my home town, if you can make it here… consider yourself unusually lucky.

Forsake Frommer, fie on Fodor and tsk tsk to Trip Advisor and rather, heed these words. Welcome and attain inner-city enlightenment as we examine these wayfaring strangers, their curious customs, and gently and gracefully guide them on an expedition that eight million of us undertake daily.

New York tourists – Latin genus “Giuliani Disney-ficcation” are known for their colorful plumage and can be easily identified by shared telltale external signs – I love NY t-shirts, fanny packs, Statue of Liberty crowns and M&M store bags. They will commonly exhibit a glazed-over ocular appearance of being Zeppelin-esque dazed and confused for so long, and of a, habitually, in frantic need of voluminous and varietal information. If broaching contact with our guests approach slowly, with care and caution, as they are skittish and frighten easily; treat with kindness and courtesy and communicate correct coordinates to Liberty Island rather than comical misinformation leading them, instead, to Staten Island.

Visitors, take note, not a single resident, now, in our glorious and glamorous past, nor in our hopeful and promising future, has ever or will ever, don an “I love NY” shirt - not even if it’s a black one (meaning the shirt, not the resident.)  That garment is the surest signal of an Empire State outsider, and can often be seen, simultaneously, on all members of a nomadic clan. Observe the blonde, fair-skinned, freshly scrubbed, smiling from ear to ear Midwestern family. The oldest boy is the slightly, overweight placekicker on his high school football team.  The middle child, the only daughter, freckled, giggly, retainer-wearing and as innocent as a newborn bunny. And finally, in the size 6, husky chemise is the youngest boy, he’s tousled-haired, spoiled and slightly fresh-mouthed, and scared to death of the streets of Manhattan, tired of all the necessary walking, pining for the SUV and its reassuring rear seat DVD player, but refusing to descend the stairs into the cavernous unknown of any subway station. Dad is mustachioed, bespectacled, a bit paunchy from his love affair with Coors Light, and slightly wrinkled from the everyday hard work that paid for this holiday. These dads look like real dads. New York Dads have gyms in their buildings and overuse “product” in never-ending vain, vain attempts to maintain appeal to the young baristas they encounter each morn.  Tourist Dads resemble “The Old Man” in “A Christmas Story,” while their Big Apple counterparts are more the MC from “Cabaret.” And Mom, looking substantially older than she truly is, is but one cautious caterpillar to beauteous butterfly venture to a pricey New York salon away from obscuring the matronly school crossing monitor persona and revealing the genuine glamour lurking inside this past princess of the twirlers. Each one proudly sports their brand-spanking new, Iranian street vendor sold, 3 for $10, I Love New York t-shirts, which will, sadly, not survive the initial toss in the Maytag.

Typical Tourist Dad

Typical NYC Dad
Particularly fond of familiar, fat-laden, commercially mass-produced, chain restaurant food stuffs, the uninformed urban explorer can be found foraging at their natural habitats - queuing out the door and around the corner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner and The Olive Garden. They inevitably avoid any of the fine quality restaurants that make New York City a gourmets and gourmands delight, and a global culinary capital and fond food destination. 

As in rural areas, where there is nomenclature for gatherings of carbon life forms native to the environment, here, in New York, there are also labels for indigenous groupings. Whereas some may be accustomed to seeing and interacting with herds of cows, flocks of sheep, (if you’re from the UK, Flocks of Seagulls), racists of rednecks and intolerants of conservatives;  here one is more likely to encounter  turbans of taxi drivers, divas of drag queens, parkas of homeless, and most relevantly, tediums of tourists.

Tediums are well-known for definition difficulty with the name “sidewalk,” believing, despite the active nature of the term, that they are not intended for walking at all, but rather for standing in the middle of, in sizeable crowds, to gaze at guide books, formulate plans, and to attempt to interpret confusing subway and street maps. Foreign friends, should you, at any point, feel it may be appropriate to actually saunter upon these concrete walkways, remember that it always is to be done with no fewer than 5 people abreast and at the pace of a turtle with 3 compound leg fractures. Worry not about those around you, they are merely local denizens attempting to tally to their places of business, and will be more than happy to arrive there even tardier than normal.

A New Yorker's View of Tourists

 New York is no place for backpacks. Just once, ride a rush hour subway with humanity packed in like Kim Kardashian in her maternity wear, toting your High Sierra, and you’ll see the reasoning. Should you happen upon a mountain to climb in Manhattan, a nature trail to hike, or a desirable campground to call home for the evening, than be my guest. Under any other usual urban circumstances, for all that is holy, keep that Hellish, overstuffed monstrosity out of my face on the R train.

In the manner of entertainment and the arts, New York lacks for nothing. And anyone who is anyone knows that it is essential to appear here to claim true fame and success.  From Sunday through Saturday, daytime, nighttime and after hours, from gratis to grotesquely over-priced, the performing may pause, but never perish. We have jazz clubs. rock clubs, blues clubs, hip hop clubs, folk clubs, country western and comedy clubs; cabarets and piano bars, ballet, opera, symphony, all matter of live concerts, at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden; Broadway, Off Broadway, Off Off Broadway and any kind of experimental theatre the cranium can conjure…. and that’s just the half of it. But, don’t let these rich, rewarding and wide-ranging experiences distract you, remember, you’re here for Wicked and Jersey Boys, and best of luck securing ducats.

A New Yorker's View of Tourists pt. 2
We Gothammites do greatly value the funds you contribute to our city’s coffers, and are assured that you are all upstanding, upright individuals, doing your best to do your duty to God and country and to obey the laws of the pack; but enmasse your numbers can be quite overwhelming, unrealistic and uncontrollable, and the effect quite disruptive. Oftimes, our needs and desires run counter to each other. For example, the worst place to walk in the world for a Big Apple dweller, an area we avoid like Elliot Spitzer avoids fidelity, Sarah Palin intellect, and A Rod integrity, is Times Square, and you rush to it like Anthony Weiner to free Wi-Fi.

For century upon century, mankind has built cities, (until Starship almost ruined it) and then it created New York and achieved perfection. Appreciate, and perhaps more importantly, respect the hallowed megalopolis on whose avenues you are treading; and the history and tradition of greatness and uniqueness that has preceded your presence.

In conclusion, a stroll with Lou Reed along the city's "Wild Side," as Judy Garland and Cole Porter express what they happen to like about New York.

Any comments, questions, criticisms, compliments, candid confessions, cash contributions? Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.

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