Thursday June 21 2012
The temperature hit the high ‘90s in New York today, with records set across the Tri-State Area and for Central Park in particular, and health authorities issuing warnings for society’s most vulnerable members: babies, the elderly, the 8 million dogs in the city and pet snakes. (If you’re worried, take your snake outside and pour bottled water on it, and under no circumstances let it roast on the sidewalk.)
It was time for the terminally un‘acclimated’* to leave town. (After a sweltering walk across the fine High Line punctuated by artisanal cucumber and mint iceblocks, that is.)
As hoped, I’ve eaten a plethora of fine and evil street foods, teared up about the Big Story of immigration, found a bunch of good flet woites (the best being at Smooch in Fort Greene and of course DUB pies, traded mildly on the rep of the Conchords, grappled with obscure dating rules and failed at bags (everyone buys online) but scored with both Jimmy and Manolo – and just generally, predictably, fallen in urban love again.
It’s like my proper New Yorker friend Betzy wrote on her latest trip home: ‘I’m sitting next to a pile of vomit breathing exhaust fumes waiting for a bus which may never come and I couldn’t be happier!’
The city didn’t let me down on my last day. Nor did the normally delightful subway which turned on, among other sights:
-A self-proclaimed PhD holder ranting against the Obama government;
- A guy untrousered and threatening to urinate on the tracks if the ‘goddamn train don’t come’;
- A clutch of little grade-school girls (10 years old? 9?), with their teacher, seat-dancing and rapping word-perfect, profane shit (‘Ya booty girl, that thing is like a Mac Truck/Ya booty girl, beep beep, back it up…’)**;
-An unlikely lantern-jawed ginger rock’n’roll hero in the centre of the car, pumping his arms, snapping his fingers and mouthing aggressively like the Billy Idol of old to his reflection (and to collective muffled giggles); and
-Light mayhem at Hoyt Schererhorn station, where incomprehensible announcements interspersed with an unholy air-raid-siren noise to drive everyone madder than the heat already did. ‘Is this train local?’ ‘Is this local?’ Well, was it? Nobody knew.
Mind you, this was nothing in the scheme of things [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/una-lamarche/the-six-crazy-people-you_b_222028.html]
Brooklyn taunted me with its beauty that evening, with its lit-up windows, wilty June trees, stinky, rich trash fragrances, hot concrete, open hydrants and stoop chats. The public pools would open officially the next day. A couple million of tomorrow’s Lethems, Yauches and Allens, Lees and Basquiats and Kims and Smallses dwelt in a couple million apartments. Yes, children grew in Brooklyn. Snakes roasted. I exited via Jersey.
I wanted lingering glances but the city was invisible in furious red haze seconds out of the Lincoln Tunnel, replaced by smokestacks, cranes, vast lots and general rust belt classicism of the Springsteen kind.
Then, three accents of the Soprano kind (one male, two female) giggled, slapped, grunted and generally went at it all night long through the wall in my cruddy, cigar-smoky airport hotel. The dream really was over.
Thanks, New York. It’s been bangin’.
*My long-suffering husband still howls in hilarity at the memory of our first not-date, where I appeared in dripping makeup, top-to-toe black wool and a (Conchordian) beige and tan cardi. In Sydney. In December.
*Am I the only one reminded of Tom Wolfe’s dire A Man in Full whenever quoting rap/hiphop lyrics? I cringe for him and all of us, while held in thrall by the memory of the deeply cruddy ‘Shorty’s Johnson’ rhyme he penned for one character. (No! I’m not)