Tag Archives: New York City
Maybe it’s the Recession, but ugly real estate seems to be New York’s latest scourge. Granted, New York is already a tough place to live. But even in an era where deceptively low interest rates still exist, who exactly would want to pay 2.5% on a $35,000 condo that looked like this…
Or, how about something that looks like a rejected set piece from A Clockwork Orange?
I was reading the Sunday New York Times, and stumbled across an article about matchmaking services between men in finance and women in fashion. I’m not so naïve that I don’t think there aren’t shallow people in New York, yet I was still surprised by the story.
It’s no secret that status is the big thing here. It’s the reason half the under-30 crowd moved here: to be someone five years after college. Yet it still weirds me out to consider that my generation is beginning to get married and have kids. Or, at the very least, seriously concern itself with getting married and having kids. But, to at least create a bit of empathy, I tried to imagine what the story is behind some of these people. What would happen in their lives that brought them to a pair of vodka and Red Bulls, talk of how wonderful Paris is in the springtime, and how they can’t wait until the next Dave Matthews tour. For the record, this what I imagine conversation to be like between all young, successful, boring couples.
Now, on that last bit, I don’t mean to sound like some culture snob. Sure, there was a time when I railed against yuppies in my blog. There is definitely evidence on the internet of me touting my love and knowledge of TV On The Radio as superiority. But, c’mon people: that was sooo 2008 Matt Fried. Now, I’m all about Frightened Rabbit. Anyway, what I should be saying is that: I always railed against yuppies because they embodied everything I thought was wrong about living in New York City. But then again: for me, New York never changed past 1955. I was majorly disappointed when I got here three years ago, and found out that La Coste had turned half of Manhattan into its playground. But now, I’m really beginning to wonder: seriously yuppies – why are you here? It always occurred to me that people came to this city to find something. The least of it was a husband, or a “future ex-wife”. For the upper crust, is it really all about a life of quiet desperation? Do they not believe in fate, excitement, or even the idea that there’s more to New York City – and love and life – than just simply someone to share a mortgage with?
It all just gets me wondering about what we really do think we know about monogamy and faith. Is it really about finding the one you want? Or only ever about loving the one you’re with?
1. Spending almost $100 on new music leaves one feeling completely guilt-free. This principle is true because the record shop is still a living, breathing mammal in Chicago. On Saturday, Reckless Records in Lakeview brought me back to a happier place: the pre-Napster era. Also, on a side note: when I am in a record shop, I always get this strange urge to buy half the inventory. I think this happens because I personally believe I have very sophisticated, indie-alternative tastes that impress people. These tastes need to be satiated by me spending at least $70 at any given music retailer.
2. Having a backyard is not a privilege, but a goddamn right. Sure, in New York, we try to substitute our losses with fire escapes and rooftops. But when was the last time you could play a safe game of wiffle ball on a fire escape? After 2007, my robot leg and I found out it was an urban myth.
3. A bicyclist never has to worry about dying in Chicago. I am convinced of this, because Chicago clearly wants everyone riding a bike versus driving a car. Since I never learned how to ride a bike, I now understand Charlton Heston’s position in Planet of The Apes. And I’ll only say this: I will shoot any biker that threatens my way of life.
4. Chicago is the land of the Chicago Hot Dog and taco stands. God bless America.
5. Even if it is part of the gay culture, The Market Days Street Festival is for all Chicagolanders. If you truly don’t get why gays are fighting for equal rights in this country, Market Days will show you that they are people, too. Also, if you’ve never been to a gay club, Market Days will do its best to fix that with throbbing, deep bass house music, a ton of shirtless men, and me being all out of business cards. Oh well… there’s always 2010.
6. Midwesterners are the most down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet. So down-to-earth, that they’ll ask you to babysit their teenagers at O’Hare International Airport. True story: the morning I flew back to New York, I’m standing on line at baggage check. I strike-up a brief conversation with a mom and her 15 year-old son, who was traveling alone to New York City. The mom then takes me (a total stranger) aside, and asks me to keep an eye on her kid as we fly back to New York together. I’m running on no sleep and no coffee, and now I’m stuck making awkward conversation for two hours about illegal file-sharing and Phish. I’m almost beginning to wonder if God tattooed “Professor John Keating” on my forehead, and I just can’t see it.
Hey New York! Remember that two and a half weeks of rain we got from June to July? Followed – finally – by some sunshine and no humidity? Well, guess what?!? Starting yesterday, we get a whole another week of thunderstorms; now with humid conditions! Oh my God – it’s a summer sequel! And just like Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, who the hell wants to see it?!?
For you non-New York readers, Monday was absolutely beautiful. So much so, that I found a few minutes to take a couple of pictures from my fire escape. The skyline of The Financial District is in the background. Yesterday morning, it was a completely different story.
Hipster Romeos do not intimidate me. Sure, they have many things going for them that I do not: they have the look, they have cultural “tastes”, they have a demeanor, which most single, under-30 New York women have come to expect. It’s a mix between Andy Warhol-femme and Brandon Davis-macho. At some undocumented point in cultural history, one woman down on Essex Street swooned, and it created a domino effect to rival anything The Eisenhower Administration ever augured. Obviously, all of this frustrates me. How the hell do I compete against such debonair excess? When I shop for clothes, I show up at a Target with an American Apparel catalogue, stake out a salesclerk, and spend the afternoon picking out inexpensive monochromatic t-shirts. Here’s the truth: I can’t compete. I just cannot. So, with that realization, I decided to embrace who I am. Instead of trying to lock horns for the affections of waifish females on a hipster’s level, I decided to bring them down to mine.
I went out, and bought a dog. A 19 year old puggle, to be exact.
Scientific studies have shown that an “average handsome” gentleman with a dog sets off a powerful pheromone in women. Presently, NASA is trying to convert it into rocket fuel. This means: I walk into a bar on East 2nd Street with Rufus on a leash, and it’s lights out, Ryan Adams. Sure: the little guy is blind in both eyes and only understands one command in Mandarin (“Ni-Pei!”, “Beg.”), but I rescued him. And doesn’t that alone – ladies – make me infinitely more sexy? What I’ve discovered is a seduction technique of Three Mile Island proportions.
So, to all the Hipster Romeos in the five boroughs, I throw down the inappropriately short cut-offs. It’s a level playing field: between you and your Frye boots and me with my blind, crossbred mutt. May the best poseur win.
Photo Credit: “Summer In The Lower East Side” by Weegee (Arthur Fellig), 1937
1. If it’s yet to happen, don’t expect a summer romance until Labor Day Weekend. By then, everyone is going to be looking for one last, drunken hurrah; before the fall and common sense sets in.
2. Welcome to your internship’s high point. You now know: how to beat the line at the local Starbucks, how crowded the rush hour 6 train is going to be, and which bars will never remind you that you don’t actually live in New York.
3. No matter what, there will always be an Ultimate Frisbee Game you can join in on in Prospect Park. Beer gut, body hair, and being 5 years removed from college should never stop you from going shirtless.
4. “Did you hear about The Clash reunion concert at Central Park Summer Stage?” Yes, it sold-out during the AMEX pre-sale back in April.
5. Some things are never forever, but the Annual Summer Choking of the post-Torre era New York Yankees appears to becoming a great tradition.
6. The Class of 2009 moves into LES, the East Village, and Williamsburg looking for a paycheck, a purpose, and the best place to get 2 for 1 PBRs.
7. A vacation and a “stay-cation” are one in the same in Recession-era NYC. Be ready for raging, Jimmy Buffett-infused beach parties on the fire escapes of Chinatown.
8. Yes, Shakespeare In The Park is producing another great season of summer theater. For free tickets these days, sleeping out on Lafayette Street is the least of your concerns.
9. Substitute “ice cream” for “crack”, because Mister Softee is one welcomed plague on the streets of New York City.
10. The new Wilco album is awesome. You should download it; y’know – now that Virgin Megastore is extinct.
This was the scene at Prospect Park on Sunday. It was 67 degrees with a light breeze. Today, it’s been alternating between windy and rainy. Spring in New York City – like having a bipolar girlfriend.
My Monday began with a very simple declaration: “FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKKKK MMMMMMMEEEEEEE!”
That, my friends, was the sound of agony. Not of a tortured soul. Not of a voice yearning to breathe. Not even a repressed hedonist with the prose of an 11th grader. More precisely – that was the agony being experienced by my central nervous system as a rusty nail pushed it’s way through the fleshy bottom of my left foot.
9:00 in the morning and, already, this day was off to a great start.
Monday wasn’t supposed to start this way. Sure, it had been a long weekend – filled with an audition, a video sketch shoot, and an attempt to recover on Sunday – but I was supposed to wake up with the Eye of the Tiger. On Monday, I finally decided to get back out on the job market at full blast. Even if it meant only sending out one resume a day, and working my way up from there. I was not going to surrender to pessimism. I was going to be unstoppable. I was going to go out into the world and land a new writing job. Because now, I had the resume and the experience. For a year, I’d been enjoying great success as a blogger and a contributing writer on Guidespot.com. After I landed my first substantial freelancer’s check, I made up my mind: “Forget temping. I’m lucky enough to live in a world where I can make money as a writer.” 2009 was going to be mine, bitches. I could already see my first interview in Rolling Stone being published in January 2010.
“It’s not mandatory that you get a tetanus shot, but if it’s been a while, you should probably come down.”
That was the sound of the record to the soundtrack of my life being pulled mid-“Death or Glory”. To be more straight-forward: the nurse working at the health care facility that accepts my crappy HMO insurance.
“You should get down here before 2:00 if you decide to get it.”
One hour later, I’m not sending out my resume to Maxim, or writing a pitch letter to ESPN Magazine. I’m sitting in my doctor’s office. There’s no wifi. I’m stuck watching the rain collapse in buckets on the outside streets. I hate this. It’s Monday morning and my blog is getting no traffic. I was too tired to write anything on Sunday. “Alright, Matt; then just wake up early on Monday and write something then.” Clearly Fate had other plans. Even worse, hours are slinking by and my resume is in no one’s hands. The whole day is going to go by and jobs are going to get snatched up by less talented, yet slightly more attractive guys. Times are getting tough and my $80 jury duty check barely got me through the weekend. Very slowly, but surely, I can feel The Fear creeping into my brain. The Fear that one morning I’m going to wake up with no cash, back in my first crappy studio apartment in Forest Hills, Queens, with no choice but to get on the god-awful E Train Express to an entry-level job in Midtown that I hate.
At that moment, I started to feel like the protagonist in my screenplay (I’m writing a coming-of-age teen comedy). The story is about an 18 year old kid with big dreams, dying a slow and ironic death in the suburbs. I’ll skip the coyness and just say that it’s completely autobiographical. Ten years ago, I sat in class after class in high school waiting for the last bell to ring. Then I was free to leave, move to New York, and start my life being famous and important. Ten years later, I can’t even defend myself against the stock inventory of Home Depot. This is quickly not turning into the future I wanted.
A few hours – and one semi-painful needle later – I’m back at home. I’m working furiously to send out my resume. I’m resigning myself to be okay with the fact that my blog is going without new content on a Monday. “There will always be the rest of the week.”
The day drags on.
Caitlin comes banging on my door, wound up like a mitochondria after thirty shots of espresso. Caitlin is the six year old daughter of my upstairs neighbor. She rarely takes “No.” for an answer, and makes that clear as she insists on bothering me when I tell her I can’t be bothered. In retrospect, the first mistake I made was answering my door. After twenty minutes (which includes her breaking into my apartment – not cool by her mom or me), I’m able to get her away from me and back to work.
It’s now 4:45.
I can maybe work for another hour. By 6:00, most businesses will be done for the day. I have a rule about job applications: I don’t do them on weekends and I don’t submit them after 6:00. I’m still exhausted from the weekend. My arm is tender from the tetanus shot. I’m beginning to think I should call it a day. That’s the luxury/curse of being self-employed: you set your own hours, and then spend your after-hours wondering if you did enough. This whole day did not go as I wanted. I’m wondered if this is even worth it. Maybe I should just contact a bunch of temp agencies; it’d be easy money. Maybe I should go on Unemployment; at least then I’d be getting some steady money from somewhere. Either of these options seem way easier than the course I’ve set myself on.
Then it shows up in my Gmail – an e-mail from a music blogger job. They liked my writing sample. They liked my resume. They want to talk to me on Wednesday. My eyes widen, “I want to get paid to write about music!” I respond back and confirm an interview time.
What just happened? Did my hard work just pay off? Can I actually get my semi-mutilated foot in the door to somewhere respectable in this town? To be considered for a job as professional writer? You and I both know the answer, my friends. My faith is restored. I wrap up my last application and then call it a day. It’s 5:30. My foot is still a little sore, but I want to get out of my apartment. I decide to drop-off my laundry and go take a walk. I need it. I deserve it. Always remember the lesson learned here, folks: even a day that starts with a rusty nail through the foot can still end on a good note.