I have mixed feelings about being back in New York. I am here for a week to play my New Years gig, which is a gig that pays enough to make it worth my while to fly out.
The best part of being here is staying with my best friend, and occasional guest-blogger, Jeff Mazzei. We get a chance to catch up on life, as well as watch sports with impunity. This year we will get to experience the final Sunday of the NFL, which will feature much more meaningful games than usual, with the Giants v Cowboys topping the list.
To me New York represents my past, and with it, the unrealized dreams and potential of my youth. It’s difficult to pass a street without its associated memory and I find this both fascinating and disconcerting. I am proud that I was able to thrive in this hyper-competitive city, but always regret that I was not able to accomplish more. I’m sad to call myself a former New Yorker, and sheepish about being back.
I spent two months here this past summer and I find it amusing that the earth has managed to travel halfway around our solar system in my absence. When last I was here the temperature was in the high 90s with humidity. Now, with the trees bare of leaves, the temperature is a comfortable and unseasonably warm 45 degrees.
Manhattan is rotten with tourists, and much to my chagrin and consternation, I am one of them. The city smells like fear to me. There are cops on every corner — who knows, perhaps we went to crimson-red on the terror color scheme — and midtown seems tense and joyless.
I was verbally assaulted by a security guard at the big library on 5th avenue and 42nd st. She took me for an out-of-town rube and to that end forced me to open my backpack, delaying my exit. When I glared at her, asking if she would like to look at my [Daily] News, she raised the ante, screaming at me to get out and advising me not to have a happy new year.
I remember this New York. In the old days I thrived on such confrontations. These days I’m out of practice — they not only feel annoying to this re-transplanted Californian, but unnecessary. I know — I should have my head examined for walking around midtown on December 30th. Maybe I am a rube…
The best part of New York is the Italian food. (not the Italians!) On two consecutive evenings, in the Bronx and the Village respectively, I have had spectacular linguine, first with red clam sauce, and then with white, along with my favorite vegetable, brocoli rabe. You can’t get that in California.
Not to mention the music. I heard a great piano trio last night, and after my gig tonight I will end up at my favorite jazz club, Small’s. In the end there is no denying the greatness of this town.
Being here in the Christmas season is no bonus.