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I heart New York

Continuing the tour of my bookshelves, we’ve reached the grey shelf, and one of the standouts for me here is a huge, gorgeous coffee table book called New York: Portrait of a City by Reuel Golden, which chronicles the history of NYC from its very beginnings to just after September 11, 2001. The photos are nothing short of incredible, and when Rodger brought it home for me over a decade ago, it made me fall even more deeply in love with the city that at that point, I had never seen in person.



The Grey Shelf


New York by Reuel Golden

W Magazines

The elements by Jack Challoner

Harper's Bazaar, Vogue magazines

Hexagon magazines, hexagonistrology.com

Everything You Know is Wrong by Russ Kick

Decorating for Modern Living by Abrams

High Fructose magazine

Seeing with the Mind's Eye by Samuels & Samuels

Looking into Abnormal Psychology by Scott O. Lillianfeld

When Smoke Ran Like Water by Devra Davis

The Colour of My Dreams by Vancouver Art Gallery

Michael Parkes by Steltman Editions

Rembrandt by Horst Gerson


****


I’ve loved New York since long before I ever had the chance to visit. It started in the early 90s when I collected Marvel comics because that's where The X-Men, Daredevil and Spider-Man lived. All the years I lived on the east coast, as a high school student in Virginia and an art student in Baltimore, just three short hours' drive away from the big apple, I could never afford to actually take a trip there (because, obviously, I was a quasi-starving art student). It took until 2019 when Rodger surprised me at my birthday dinner with an envelope.


The restaurant was so dark it took me a minute to read all the way to the bottom of the printed plane tickets, where the destination said, "New York, NY." (Not gonna lie... I may have cried.) Two weeks later we landed in the city I'd been dreaming about and calling my "spiritual home" since childhood.


I loved it immediately. Everything they say about the buzz in the streets and the energy is true. We stayed for seven days and nights... well, eight counting the night we spent in the Bronx after missing our flight (but we still took the subway back into Manhattan to have dinner at our favorite Indian wrap place with the amazing Bollywood mural on the wall).



We logged tens of thousands of steps every day, walking up and down the length of Manhattan, taking in as many tourist attractions and weird off the wall little places that we could fit into every 24 hours. We toured the top of the Empire State Building and Freedom Tower, walked from our hotel near Times Square through Hell's Kitchen (very gentrified compared to the Daredevil comics of my childhood!), DumBo and the financial district. The next day we went north past Central Park and museum row, to the Library and Macy's, saw giant rats on the street and in the subway tunnels, shopped at a thrift store stocked with cast-offs from Broadway shows, brought home a garbage bag full of clothing from another incredible thrift store...



We posed under the Brooklyn Bridge and in front of the Wall Street bull, and walked in silence around the beautiful 9/11 memorial with hundreds of other reverent tourists. We ate authentic NY-style pizza, bagels, pretzels and tacos, had steaks at a famous Italian restaurant with celebrity photos on the walls, drank margaritas at a place claiming to have the best margaritas in the city, visited the John Lennon Memorial in Central Park and listened to a beautiful rendition of Imagine by a guitar player at said Memorial.



We even saw a Broadway show starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the grieving father of a young girl who dies in a tragic accident on a family vacation. I was utterly unprepared for the emotional impact of such a story in person and I cried throughout the second half of the show to the point where the man seated next to us actually asked me if I was okay. He probably thought I was having some kind of maternal emotional breakdown. Good thing it was our second to last night there because my eyes were puffy in every photo we took after that show!


We had a list of things we wanted to do and only checked off a fraction of them. We didn't make it to High Line Park or walk across any of the bridges. We didn't make it to Brooklyn or Harlem or SoHo, or a hundred other places on the list of "must see" neighborhoods and attractions. The streets are so densely packed with history and intriguing distractions, you find yourself walking in an altered state of heightened awareness and suggestibility, going wherever your curiosity, or whim, or a conversation with a fascinating stranger, takes you.



We did a WhatsApp video chat with my mother while we walked through Central Park and around the reservoir. At some point we stopped two police officers to ask for directions, and spotting my screen, they asked, "Who are we talking to? Is that mom? Hi mom!" When they gave us directions via subway, my mother asked if it was safe and they replied with wide smiles, "Everything is safe!" I think they actually meant it too. This of course delighted my mother who hadn't been to New York since the late 60s when it was a very different place in a very different time and she had a very different type of experience, adamantly never to be repeated. To say she had been nervous about my ever visiting the city would be an understatement, so she was very pleasantly surprised to see how clean, safe and beautiful it had become in the intervening decades.


Unfortunately, as anyone who pays attention to these things knows, Covid did a number on New York City and it hasn't fared well at all through the Biden Administration and all the immigration fuckery of the last couple of years. Whatever the whole story is there and whoever's fault it is, it seems like we visited at what will, unfortunately, for the foreseeable future anyway, be "peak New York." I will always love it, though, and I can't wait to go back.


Related posts:

Book tour, part 1: Nostalgia, a deep dive into Douglas Coupland and my early adulthood

Books, part 2: the Power of Personality, about astrology and other personality studies


Order my Badass Goddesses book in paperback, hardback and Kindle/tablet formats.

Check out my RedBubble shop for Badass Goddess art prints, apparel and more.

Listen to the Starzology Podcast featuring me, Alison Price and other special guests.

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oneill.dancer
Jun 16

It was indeed great fun to be a virtual guest for much of your frenetic walking tour LOL! Being given such warm welcomes from everyone in video range was a special bonus~

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