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Enn Why See

So, and here’s the thing: Your Humble Blogger hearts New York. Well, Manhattan. I don’t know much about the rest of it. I don’t actually know much about Manhattan, either. About once a year or so, on average, I get the chance to spend a day, or at least a few hours, in Manhattan, and I walk around the streets thinking about how much I heart this city.

It’s just so— big. So much. So exhilirating, so energetic. The people-watching is so good here, mostly a result of the stigma against public transportation being inoperative for some reason. So everybody walks in Manhattan. The affluent, the impoverished, the aged, the youthful, the youthful aged, the prematurely wizened youth. Tourists and locals, and semi-locals who come in on the train five days a week, and even semi-er locals who have an apartment here and a house fifty miles away. And it’s all so much.

I don’t think it’s anything that is really, objectively, empirically true, but: the flashy young men are flashier, the swank women are swankier, the kooky people are kookier, the ugg boots are ugglier, the little old ladies are, well, they aren’t littler, and they aren’t older, and they aren’t more ladylike, but they are still, somehow, more little-old-lady than they are back home (or anywhere except Boston, where they still wear bombazine and carry umbrellas).

And the signs! You might thing that big, bright changing video signs are no longer a Times Square novelty. After all, there’s a video billboard off 84 in Hartford; not a big deal. But this is one of those cases where a difference in scale makes for a difference in kind. And then there’s the quantity. It’s so— much. And even though I am disappointed in how many neon letters are out in the various signs (I blame the snow) (and the Republican Party) (and I blame the Republican Party for the snow), the old-fashioned neon signs are still part of it, as are the humongous low-tech ads, and even the smaller signs with the names of the hotels and restaurants and theaters. When I am waiting for the light to change, I find myself so mesmerized by all there is to see, I forget to look out for the roundhead so I can cross with the light. Fortunately, I lived in Boston for ten years, so I can cross any damn street in the country against the light, but still.

Mostly, though, it’s that YHB totally buys in to the whole romance of New York City. I don’t even enjoy it ironically. Yesterday I looked up at the sign and saw that I was on Fifty-Second Street, where love beckoned to Ethel Merman in Du Barry was a Lady, and there was 21, where the couples clamor for more. And it was great. I mean, I’m not enough of a sucker to go in and pay fifteen bucks for an old-fashioned, but YHB was grinning like a proverbial. Herald Square, Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue, 42nd St—in the Word-O-Rama category of Famous Streets, are half the streets that anybody enters from this island? And here I am, in the city that never sleeps. Fiorello’s city, where the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down, where the Guys and the Dolls eat at Mindy’s (I had lunch at Lindy’s yesterday, had the cheesecake), dancing down the street in Brendan Behan’s footsteps.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,