It's hard to sum up my feelings about going to NYC. I mean, that's a real world-class city.
I'm from Vancouver. A city that constantly, if embarassingly self-consciously, proclaims itself to be just that. Last time I checked, though, I don't see people walking around NYC with "I HEART VANCOUVER" shirts on absentmindedly. Yesterday, in Vancouver, I saw two NY shirts (they were kinda well-worn and had all the tourist feel of a Nike jumpsuit). No director is shooting in NYC trying to recreate the picture-perfect Kitsilano scene. I suspect there's a dance club in upper Manhattan that has a higher GDP than all of the Lower Mainland.
There's a enormousness about NYC. Movies and books and the collective memory of much of Western Civilization are put in the backdrop of, are created in, are stamped out in the streets of that city. Midnight Cowboy, An Affair to Remember, The Godfather, Wall Street, The French Connection, Guys and Dolls, Independence Day. It's this fountain of zeitgeist, if I may resurrect a buzz word from '02 that has all the freshness of a Pompeii compost heap.
The bustle rustle, the bumble tub grinding tumble of it all. I never thought one could be intimidated by a city. It's just people isn't it? People, sewer system, a city bureaucracy, the police, the justice system, transit, by-laws, parks, sky scrapers, tenement buildings, concrete, cement, glass. But I am.
I've never really believed in the idea of city loyalty. It's part and parcel of the idea that you can take credit for shit you have had no hand in doing anything about. Like being proud you're tall, or your parents are from a certain part of the world. It's silly.
But I can see how one can feel proud about NYC. Like how one, I suppose, can feel proud about Canada. I'm not entirely sure how this is different from city loyalty. Where people from this city hate people from that city or blahblahblah 'TASTES GREAT!! LESS FILLING!!" merry-go-round of idiocy.
I suppose you can admire it. You can admire what a city stands for, what it's given birth to. What culture and personality it fosters. I suppose there's nothing silly about that.
NYC, to me, a West Coast bumpkin, is so many things and everything. Mostly things that aren't West Coast. When I think of the Hippie Annex (California, Oregon, Washington, BC), I think, laid-back, slow, relaxed, live-and-let live, work just enough to enjoy life, organic, coffee multinationals. Fast-talking, fast-moving, striving, dog-eat-dog, no-time-fore-chit-chat-let-alone-to-breathe, Dangerous Streets, grifting, authentic. Also, you know, Crime. With a capital C. The sort you make grungy, lo-fi tragic documentaries about. It's a burden of a city, I suppose, that is filmed so often and, I'm sure, so often inaccurately.
And here I am plunging headlong into it. A city, which the internet tells me, has almost a third the population of my entire beloved Canada.
What's it gonna be like? How am I gonna even experience through this filter of movies books shows? Will I be able to keep myself from craning my head back, shading my eyes, and muttering, 'That's one tall building'?
I hope I'm ready for world-class.