(Photo: Berenice Abbott via Brain Pickings)
Every Thursday is a free writing day, which means I write about anything I want. I try and keep it related to music, but sometimes I include non-music events or topics that I think are worth talking about.
I moved to New York City in early June, and I have been trying to adjust to this city for a little over a month, which is just enough time for any sane person to realize that unless you were born here, or have lived most of your live here, then you can never adjust to New York City.
You can become accustomed, but never adjusted.
Life is now a series of crowded train rides, late night car horns, wondrous skylines, pizza slices, tiny apartments you can’t afford, beautiful women, and the many little victories that get you through the day, like when you eat a crappy New York bagel that equals to a pretty great bagel anywhere else, when you realize that you don’t have to take the G line late at night, and when you finally find your bodega. My life is now constantly on the move, which is exactly what this 22-year-old recent college graduate wants.
But you have to walk fast in New York, or else you’ll get run over.
I’m sure you know that New York City is big (the most densely populated major city in the U.S., over 8 million people living on 305 square miles according to Wikipedia), but when you begin to live here, you actually feel how big this city is. Nearly everywhere you go, there is a heavy, sometimes overbearing, sense of isolation, a sort of weight that brings you down. It’s the feeling, especially if you’re a transplant, that you will never fit in, that this city was not made for you. No matter how many years you’ve live here or how many Susan Sontag or Henry Miller books you’ve read, you will never penetrate the inner circles of the Wall Street bankers, the wealthy residents of West Village and Tribeca, the still-relatively-rich dwellers of the Lower East Side, the Williamsburg yuppies pretending to be hipsters, the Bushwick hipsters pretending to be from Williamsburg, the people of East Brooklyn and Queens battling gentrification, the exotic inhabitants of Staten Island, or the proud people of the Bronx. These are not your people, and this is not your city.
Yes, it smells here, people are not friendly (but, contrary to popular belief, are not assholes), and there are rats everywhere. Right now I’m smelly, tired, and lonely like I’ve never been before.
And I wouldn’t change a thing.
So far living in New York has been exactly what I thought it would be; it is an experience I both salute myself for going for (“Look at me, big shot New Yorker coming through!”) and scorn myself for putting my poor self through (“Why the hell did I move here?”). To live here is to love and hate it equally, but more importantly, to live here is to embrace this strange relationship with a city that is as charismatic, demanding, and complex as any human being. What other city can you describe like a person?
I now understand what F. Scott Fitzgerald was talking about when he wrote in The Great Gatsby that,” the city seen from the Queensboro Bridge, or any bridge, is like seeing the city for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.” It is a city full of dreamers, go-getters, and outsiders like myself whom have watched too many Woody Allen films and romanticize the city all out of proportion and give it too much credit for being a place that, if you just stick it out long enough, will make all your dreams come true. All you need is a quick glance above to find the Empire State Building, the One World Trade Center, or any of the East River bridges to remind yourself why you’re here in the first place; to feel important, to feel larger than life, and to feel like somehow, without much effort on your part, that you’re a part of something special and exclusive.
However, I now also understand, and agree with, what every person who has actually lived in New York has told me; the city smells, your apartment is a closet, and everywhere you go you will encounter people who are more wealthy, better dressed, and more successful, in career, love, or whatever, than you will ever be. This is also a city with such a horribly unbalanced distribution of wealth that your sense of what is normal is skewed to disturbing proportions, and you become desensitized to a kind of poverty that you rarely see in other cities.
But people don’t move to New York for comfort or convenience. E.B. White, who wrote one of the best books about New York City, was right; I came to this city in quest of something. I came to experience New York City, in all its glory and ugliness (whatever that means), and to see if I could somehow stand it.
I’m still in transition, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
With all this said, things have calmed down a little bit, and I’ve started to get into a routine of balancing work and play (on a really tight budget). It’s especially good to get back into writing. With everything around me changing, it’s nice to have one constant in my life where I can lock myself in my room and write.
I’m going to try and keep Thursday a free writing day in which I can write about anything I want. I’m still trying to figure out what a “free writing day” exactly means – whether it’s more of a journal post like this or just another typical post that can stand on its own and be shared all along the social medias. This isn’t really a post that’s going to get me more Twitter followers or is SEO friendly, but then again, this whole website’s lack of effort to get “hits” comes from my focus to take the time and effort to write about what I think is worth writing about. If that means I miss out on sharing all those hot new song that are already on Brooklyn Vegan and all the countless other music blogs, then so be it.
I’ve know I’ve missed a lot of music while I was gone, so to make up for some lost time here’s a Spotify playlist of my favorite songs of 2015 (so far). Go ahead and follow this playlist, since it will be continuously updated throughout the year as I hear more music. Next week I’ll post my specific favorite albums of the year so far, so stay tuned for that.
Since being in New York I’ve also gotten more into photography, specifically taking photos of concerts on an actual camera and not my phone. It’s a work in process, but I enjoy the hard work of getting just the right lighting and angle to snap a great photo.
Here are some concert photos I’ve taken since I’ve been in New York. Follow me on instagram (bradywgerber) to see more photos:
Clearance @ Shea Stadium (6.20.15)
Lost Boy ? @ Shea Stadium (6.20.15)
EZTV @ Baby’s All Right (6.23.15)
No joy @ Baby’s All Right (6.23.15)
Jamie Frey @ The Gutter (6.25.15)
The Brummy Brothers @ Brooklyn Bowl (6.27.15)
Love Canon @ Brooklyn Bowl (6.27.15)
Until next time, and by next time I mean tomorrow’s Week In Review.
Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber