Hot town, summer in the city

New York is NOT alive.

There is no more hackneyed, cliche writing trope than the personification of a city. It is not 'alive,' there is no 'pulse,' there is no 'rhythm' or any other word that implies movement. It is a slab of concrete, with other big slabs of concrete jutting out of it interspersed with green areas and glass and metal and that's about it. No matter how hard I write, how long I stretch a metaphor or force an analogy, New York will not come alive.

But dammit, it sure feels alive, doesn't it?

This was my first day being home where I felt the pulse and the rhythm and all that crap. My weather widget portended rain but mother nature had other ideas. Clear skies and a warm sun heated pavement and stripped off layers and caused beads of sweat to roll down faces. The subway station felt like a sauna and the bus had no working A/C and the streets were packed and it felt like the beginning of summer in the city.

If you were to plot New York seasons on a bar graph, with the Y-axis being "Level of Magic," summer ranks fairly low. It's hot as hell, it smells like garbage everywhere and being outside is simply unbearable. The streets get choked with tourists like a fat, white version of Calcutta and roaches rule the streets like a gang from The Warriors. Every damn Sunday is another damn parade (a subject for another day) and it's too expensive to see a Mets game and all the Broadway shows are impossible to get into and every movie theater has sticky floors and is packed with kids and the movies suck anyway.

The money season is autumn, of course, because New York is rarely as pretty or tolerable as it is around Columbus Day. But fate worked out that my big return to New York would be in hot-garbage-roach season, so here we are.

And honestly, for a first day loop down to Rockefeller Center and up the West Side, it wasn't that bad. Living in DC makes you forget how batshit crazy most people are, because 'Washingtonians' are devoid of personality. No one actually lives in the Federal part of Washington so it has no (ugh) pulse or life. But New York is always jammed full of crazies who give it that dread literary 'character.'

Seriously, walking home I saw: a woman wearing a surgical mask and gloves pulling a wheelie suitcase, a muscled-up young Jew with 'Israel' tattooed in Hebrew on his biceps, three different homeless people with increasingly sadder dogs and an old black woman with a canary yellow dress laughing hysterically to herself in the middle of the street. This was all within about three blocks on Broadway. The craziest thing you'd find in Washington is a tourist NOT wearing Merrell sneakers and ill-fitting capri pants.

I know that none of this is news to anyone who lives in New York, but try being away for the better part of three years in a polite-ass deserted transient town and then taking a jaunt up Broadway in the middle of the afternoon. It's a bit of a culture shock, to say the least.

So maybe New York isn't alive, per se, but the people who live here and work here and walk around here give it a sense of movement. Cram the three million or so people who live in Manhattan into DC and you'd get three million people standing in the street yelling that all the bagels suck and there's no where to park. Send the 50 people who actually live in the white part of DC to Manhattan and you'd have 50 cases of whiplash from acute staring-at-crazy-people.

It's gonna take a few weeks to get readjusted. And just wait till I go downtown.

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