Skip to content

Two-Fifty New York

McSorley's Bar, 1912. John Sloan.

McSorley’s Bar, 1912. John Sloan.

Hot in New York. It’s never good when you’re looking toward the weekend, anxiously anticipating the ‘relief’ of a 93-degree day. But that’s what the city is in the summer, and running from it only takes more out of you. I made this observation with Tom Myers, who was out from Northern California last week: you have to get some of New York ‘on you’ this time of year. And we did, traipsing through Williamsburg in the afternoon sizzle-sweat. Could there be a more effective getting-it-on-you spot than this wonderfully oppressive Brooklyn stretch of Hasids, Homeboys and Hipsters? Mid-afternoon, July, in Williamsburg .. the definition of masochism. And yet it places a premium on every gentle breeze that passes; a buck-fifty bottle of water seems like the deal of the century. Two dollars and fifty cents for a brief ferry ride with the cool off the East River is like trading beads for Manhattan. An ice-chilled, air conditioned subway train .. off the charts.

People complain about the ‘Disneyfication’ of New York City, but those people are some of the biggest pussies going. Yeah it costs a small fortune to rent or own here, but for every across the pond import up-pricing apartments and scouring private schools for their kids, there’s someone scraping by on their fifth or sixth decade, too wrapped up in the day to day to recount old stories of CBGB or Bernhard Goetz. Or someone on their seventh or eighth decade with enough New York under their belt to put Bernie in the ‘current events’ file. It isn’t rocket science. New York is New York because of the people, in all of their voluminous, newcomer, old-timer, reviling, adoring, old money, new money and no money glory. It’s the women in the summertime, elegant in age or effortlessly beautiful in youth, a real-time reminder of nature’s ‘refresh’ key. It’s the boatloads of new arrivals landing on frantic Manhattan intersections with their wheeled suitcases, looking both overwhelmed and like there’s no place they’d rather be. You don’t need a personal guide or pricey ticket to experience it .. two dollars and fifty cents, again, will do. Go underground at the nearest subway station and purchase a one-way ride, then spend a few hours traveling aimlessly and observing before coming up for air. It might not register through the initial sensation, but you’ll have experienced something unique to precious few urban centers. If New York is losing its authenticity it’s only because we’re doing the same as a people. Personally I’m not buying it and suspect it’s the age-old standard lament of the uninspired, unimaginative, and terminally dissatisfied. Hell, half the people here on any given day are from somewhere else anyway.

Which brings me back to Myers and the summer of 2013. We got corned beef sammis at Katz’s deli (my second in recent months for those counting) then nursed a mild hangover from the previous evening over two light and two dark at McSorley’s Ale House. Tom recounted a visit to said tavern in his youth, walking through the door with his travel duffel still in hand to the welcoming strains of “they’ll let any asshole in here now ..” from a couple of old-timers. I cooked a Newport steak on my roof one night in the rain while we caught up with Mark Street – another Monaco Labs veteran from the Days That Used To Be – in my apartment below. We hit the George Best Irish soccer bar slash taco place down the block for a late-night meal and tequila and watched There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men on my new flat screen. We rode the A, F and G and we watched the people – those glorious New York denizens – do their thing. And we never even thought to thank them.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. cookie rojas wrote:

    Belated thanks to the people of NYC, including the guy with the broom at Katz’s, the buxom coffee skinned girl on the subway, and the young trio sitting next us at the Great Jones Cafe

    Monday, July 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    And if we’re going with better late than never, props to the fellow at McSorley’s who put your duffel-bag toting ass in its place.

    Monday, July 22, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink
  3. coleman wrote:

    Wish I could have been there!

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *