09 June 2016

The Town

Here we are, one week into New York, aka another summer! My first take upon arriving last Thursday was that it’s a cesspool here, as I biked down toward the East Village on 1st Avenue. But I tried to remember that’s what I always feel when I get here — especially post-Taiwan and having such clean subways and stuff. With New York, you take the good with the bad and a few whiffs of garbage and drunks wasn’t going to diminish its greatness. As a Lucky Peach article comparing SF versus NY food stated, "People move to New York to be plugged into the pulsebeat of the world.” I needed to feel the pulse.

After a weekend of co-ed bachelor party stuff, mainly consisting of a burlesque show at Duane Park, I was ready to dive into some of New York’s cultural offerings. Oh, this time around, I’m subletting a room in Stuy Town, which is located between 1st Ave and Avenue C. Stuy Town is a private residential village, six blocks high by three avenues deep, and filled with massive brown buildings where nice Manhattanites are silo-ed in. It’s a bit far from most of the subway stops but my summer plans are to just Citibike everywhere so no matter. (While I probably wouldn’t live here full time, my sublet is only for two months so I figured I would want to be in the city at least.)

If there’s any restorative for my joy in the city, it’s biking up and down the streets at night. 2nd Avenue bike lane, you're the best!

On Tuesday night, I went to my friend’s open salon at his School for Poetic Computation. Brandon, who’s actually my classmate from Taiwan, has also moved here from overseas concurrently with me, and is engaged in this ten week course. (The school's motto: "More poems less demos.”)

The salon featured a variety of artists, coders, video game makers, and other speakers who were sharing their works. It was a packed room and it made me think of how just about any niche interest in New York can bring in a crowd. That’s the beauty. Plus the crowd was quite diverse, filled with minorities and women, which was a pleasant surprise.
And then last night I went to a reading at AAWW, after biking up to the Flatiron and picking up dumplings and boba on the way. Hua Hsu, of Grantland and The Atlantic among many others, was introducing his new book, and the co-guests were stellar. Jon Caramanica, music writer for the New York Times. Ashok Kondabolu, formerly Dapwell from Das Racist. Plus Kiese Laymon, whose work I’d been following for years. (Laymon couldn’t make it unfortunately.) It was an all-star lineup and even with all that, I found myself there by way of Esther Wang, a writer I’ve only recently started following on Twitter.

Again, packed house. And a thought provoking event. I didn’t stick around afterwards because I rushed out for a hamburger and to watch the GSW-CLE game, but I’ll be back next week for an event with Esme Wang.
And I guess that’s what I’m talking about, that stuff like this doesn’t happen for me elsewhere. Maybe it’s there, maybe I’m not digging hard enough, but in New York things are just easy, accessible. There’s too many things that bring my various interests together. Of course this is weighed down with the inconvenience of living here, and the high cost, but that's just part of the package isn't it?

My stated goal this summer was to revamp my circle. Find some community, find some new friends, get inspired, get some work/writing done. And underpinning that is to find out where to stay for the next few months. I guess it’s a beginning. Again.