We all have our stories of low times and hard-ships. But no one wants to hear it, because we get up, we move on and we make it work. The ability of New Yorkers to wade through the crap that life spits at you is amazing, and many of them still seem to be able to keep a smile on their face. Life continues on, no matter what, and we all know it.
That's what keeps me here: The people in this city. They survive. We work hard, we earn our cut, and we keep our mouths shut about it too. I'm not talking about the select few that get to sit in a cute little office all day, sipping a mocha grande latte el gigante with frosting, extra cinnamon and a complimentary scone. I'm talking about their secretaries. The guy who empties their garbage. I'm talking about the window washer looking in on them as they scrolls through porn all day.
These are the people that make this city what it is. They are the blood, sweat and tears of this city, and they are proud of it. The owner of your favorite little fast-food spot who always wishes you a good day, no matter how bad his might be. The guy at the 34th street station who sees you rushing for the train, and always holds the door for you without a grunt or rolling his eyes. The token booth clerk at your local station who smiles and waves every morning. The guy at the grocery store who will help you with anything you can't seem to reach, and waits for you to make your decision, no matter how busy he may be. The people who know that we're all in this together, and we have to make the best of it we can.
I had a higher paying job a few years ago, which I screwed up through no fault but my own, and I remember saying all the time "I have no money" or "I'm so broke.." Yet now, making considerably less, I have learned to consolidate and spend wisely. I'm about to re-work my apartment. Some new couches, new bed, new paint job, couple of other things. Stuff that I felt, back then, I wouldn't be able to afford.
So, as I sit here, killing some time before work, I surf the Internet searching for things to hopefully one day frivolously spend my money on. Although, I find that the things I would most like to spend my money on are just slightly out of reach.
At 27 years old, I feel I was born a good 10 years too late. I do not have a drivers license; a lot of people in NY feel it's unnecessary. If I did though, I'd probably have an old El Camino..1970 Chevy Nova.. maybe an AMC Javelin (all 2-door models, of course.) I'd definitely have bucket seats in the back (if there even is a backseat at all,) a thick-ass racing stripe down the center, a roll cage installed, and even a god-damned 8-track player.
I would get myself a big fat case for the over-sized tape cartridges, crank up some Skynyrd, Floyd and Zeppelin (among many others,) throw on my drifter, hit the gas and go for a cruise down an old dirt road, with a hound dog named Blue in the passenger seat, and no actual destination in mind. I'd be the epitome of 70's white trash (minus the mullet and the trailer but, then again, I've seen trailers larger than the apartments around here.) There's a problem with that though.. I live in New York Fuckin' City. The closest thing to a dirt road around here is a bike trail in the park, which is surrounded by city streets and honking horns.
If I wanted to go to a drive in, the best I cand do is a car parked inside a storefront with a screen for $75. (sounds like an interesting idea, but it just doesn't do it for me) The grindhouse theaters are closed, so midnight-movies barely exist anymore. The next time you see that guy with his guitar in Washington Square park and think "only in New York.." remember that years ago The Grateful Dead did hundreds of free shows in the city, as did many other musical legends. The guy sitting there now is accepting donations so he can pay his iPhone bill.
The great clubs of NYC are now long gone. CBGB's, Coney Island High, L'Amours (now re-located to S.I.), the Limelight and The Wetlands to name a few. And the ones that are still open, have become something so entirely different its not even recognizable anymore. Old nightclubs have become bikini bars, the dimly lit after hours restaurants are now frequented by the P.C. yuppie scum that ruined it all in the first place. Bars that thrived on their ability to be diverse and entertain any group of people on any given night, have been bought out and turned into trendy, florescent, overpriced Japanese restaurants.
St. Marks Place, which seemed to be the one spot that refused to change and would always be there for the drunks, punks and purists alike, is now littered with neon signs and chain-stores. St. Marks didn't even change when they opened all 8 Starbucks within the 3 block radius. So, when did we let this downtown oasis become trample fodder for advertisements?
A walk downtown used to mean poorly lit streets, record stores open till 3am, bars that served REAL drinks, not colored water with an eye drops worth of something that vaguely resembles Jack Daniels. Weirdo skateboarders doing insane tricks off of anything they could find, providing hours of cheap entertainment is quickly becoming a thing of the past. I can't even have a god-damned cigarette without getting "that look" from some whiny coffee server complaining about the connection between lung cancer and global warming. I even miss the wasted junkies who could fall asleep leaning on a streetlight.
What has happened to our fine city? The yuppies got in and refuse to leave. But, again, people find a way to survive and move on. Things change, places changes, but the people stay the same. A few new saps on the block trying to change our lifestyle isn't going to shake us up one bit.
Through the good and the bad, I'm still a New Yorker. Born, bred and eventually dead.