“…and he was buh-leeding awl ovah the apartment…I dunno, John, it cawsts a lotta dough…Then he jumped on the window display and pretended to be a mannequin! Hur hur hur!!!…I can do dat forya, shoo-wa…It’s like, 40 degrees in they-ur…Whadda fuggin’ joke…Is everyone in the West Village ho-mo-sex-you-al nowadays?!…”
You can spend fortunes going up tall buildings and sailing down the Hudson, eating in or dining out, but in New York the streets give you all the free entertainment you need.
New Yorkers slalom through crowds with an impatient arrogance that borders on Olympic levels of skill. They gots ta be somewhere and they gots ta be there fast. I think that’s maybe why the bankers and wankers of Wall Street pair their expensive suits with pristine white sports shoes. They conduct their telephone business as they zip around, shouting, mostly, into the ether as their wee white ear buds transmit the conversation to their recipient…and everyone else within two blocks of earshot.
“…they was nuthin’ like THESE rats, though…All I want is to be successful and live in a nice apartment in TriBeCa…The Yankees last night! Huh? Huh!!…I can give it to ya straight or I can suga’coat it in a little bullshit if you’d prefe-uh…Way da go, Amir…Have you noticed those shoes he we-uhs?…Fuck you, asshole…”
It makes for great entertainment. Stand with your back to the sandstone wall of a fancy department store or a graffitied bodega or a tacky Times Square tourist trap and watch and listen. Tune in and you’ll hear languages from all corners of the globe; hand-gesturing rat-a-tat-tatting South Americans, vowel-spitting Italian tourists, slow talkin’ African-Americans. Even in the jammed aisles of Macy’s, the odd Scottish tourist’s voice will cut through the stew.
“Yer da’ telt me tae try them oan, bit ah thought they wir bogging’, bit they’re actually no’.”
God knows what those whispering Japanese make of it all. A half-heard snippet here and a half-heard snippet there makes for interesting listening.
“…extra bacon? Fo’ a tip?…She’s playin’ the long game, man…I was like, I DON’T THINK SO…y’only tell me y’love me when y’fuggin’ me…I used t’be afraid of the Bronx…I heard chow chows are adorable…My social life is a gawd-damned diz-ass-tuh…”
Every one of them could be an opening line from a movie; a voiceover perhaps, or maybe the main character in conversation with their co-star.
They tell you that New York looks like a movie set, but believe me, it sounds like one too.
“…can you buh-lieve it? Can you?!…Nah. They-ur bagels taste shitty. You-uh bettuh awf going ta…The Nets? Ugh. Dead to me…I’m kinda fed up wit dat place…I dunno, Joe. Whadda YOU think?…They-ah was a lotta laughin’ and A LOTTA flirtin’, y’know?……Dis city is fuckin’ alive, man. Alive!”
Beastie Boys – An Open Letter To NYC
If this Beastie Boys video doesn’t make you want to visit NYC post haste, there’s clearly sumthin’ wrong witchu. Fast cut, metaphorically fast-paced and full of the sights the five boroughs has to offer, it’s almost got me misty-eyed for a city I’m still very much wandering around in. Kennedy Airport can wait a couple more hours.
An Open Letter To NYC is the Beasties’ post-9/11 love letter to their city of birth, and its ‘Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten, from the Battery to the top of Manhattan…’ refrain has been playing in a continual internal (and occasional external) loop as I’ve walked the hard miles this past week. At some point or other, the boy has picked up on it too. I’ve caught him rapping it with unselfconscious gusto when he’s unaware anyone is listening. It has a great lyrical message running through it, and with every othuh WORD! being empha-SIZED!, it’s SHOUTY! and OBNOXIOUS! and AmericanIZED! – just like those snippets of conversation that have also worked their way into the internal hard drive the last few days.