Sunday, July 01, 2007

New York New York

Anyone who knows me, reads my blog, or has seen my gut, knows I love to cook and eat good food. They also know I find a lot of what American culture has become is embarrassing, and the political culture and leadership is beyond embarrassing -- more to the point of reprehensible and abysmal beyond mere partisan differences or varying opinions. The dark side is openly subverting what it means to be an American and what makes this country different, unique and better. No, I'm not offering another full blown anti-Bush rant today, I'm merely setting a premise fo my amazing day yesterday, where we are, and where we could be.

I can't believe we now live in a country that allows this moron's goons to spy on Americans without a warrrant, torture people or ship them off to countries that torture, shove religion down our throats and hire high ranking justice department officials from Pat Robertson's diploma mill law school, hold suspects without charges or access to a lawyer, spend billions to invade a non-threatening country on false pretenses, run up a $9 trillion debt yet cut taxes for rich people while starting that same war, take four days to get water to disaster victims in the Superdome, manage to leave 46 million without health insurance, stonewall Congress, which never investigated or provided oversight on anything for years anyway since the majority was in the same party as the executive branch, fire prosecutors for not trumping up charges against political adversaries, allows the AG to essentially perjure himself by obviously feigning memory loss, allows Dick Cheney to claim he's not even in the Executive branch to avoid Congressional oversight, and allows this administration to do all this without even really getting elected in the first place.

On the general culture front, celebrity gossip culture runs rampant and sickening fast food is about every ten feet -- making us fat and unhealthy. The mad dog consumer culture is equally ubiquitous with Ipods now in vending machines. Being well educated is a liablilty because you're an "elite." Most television programming is incredibly dumb with people eating disgusting things for my entertainment or quiz shows at the fifth grade level. No one really reads anymore, and if they do, it tends to be more celebrity bullshit or whatever Oprah likes. Movies are remakes, sequels or ninety minutes of mindless explosions and violence. Music scarcely requires an instrument and popular songs are also remakes. I feel so disappointed in what we've become that it wears on me. I'm not all that proud to be an American anymore. Yes, I enjoy and appreciate the advantages being an American offers, but I have higher standards for us, and we don't live up to them anymore.

I spent the day yesterday in Manhattan. I'm not from New York, I'm from New Jersey. People from New York tend to look down on New Jersey -- and most everyone. They radiate a "we're better than you" attitude that is unbecoming. With that said, they are kind of right. Manhattan in better. However, New Yorkers should be gracious enough not to act that way. However, New Yorkers aren't unfriendly people. I've always thought that was a misconception. I asked for help on directions and struck up conversations a handful of times and it was always fruitful.

I've been to a lot of big cities: Paris, Rome, Seoul, Osaka, Tokyo, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Bangkok, Manila, Beijing to name some. Manhattan isn't the best city on Earth, as they often claim. I would grant that title to San Francisco, which has everything Manhattan has, and is significantly more beautiful, but Manhattan is an amazing place. I was walking around the city yesterday, and it just offers so much as to be overwhelming. I took a stroll through Central Park, and it is an enormous natural oasis in a sea of concrete and skyscrapers. It is a welcome respite that is civilizing and reminds you that people actually live here, not just work or come in for the day like us Jersey folks.

I roamed the Metropolitan Museum and gazed at amazing Impressionistic paintings, Ancient Greek pottery and armor, the Egyptian Book of the Dead in original papyrus scroll strung across one long corridor, as well as numerous Egyptian sarcophagi. I saw Ancient Roman coins, busts of Caesar Augustus and others, and quite a bit of impressive American art.

I want to a comedy club and heard relative novices spin out witty and wry observations. I ate at a Cuban Restaurant called Sophies that kicked so much ass I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. Simple rice and beans dressed up with their jalapeno sauce staggered beyond belief into a gourmet feast. The Cuban Sandwich I ate with this exploded with exotic peasant flavors, notably because of the flat crusted Cuban bread. After walking around some more, I had a Masala Tea in an Indian take out place, which had a great looking French Restaurant and a Thai Restaurant next door. The food options stagger. The food is great because most everyone is an immigrant here. They bring their global influences to bear.

In Manhattan, I'm not the oddball I am in Saipan and most places. I'm not even the most blunt guy anymore. It has been a long time since that happened. Most everyone there is cynical, edgy, smart, liberal, political, ethnic, comedic, artistic, competitive, ambitious, interested in culture, food and general quality and competence. I love this about New York. They aren't drunk on fear ninnies who never go anywhere, don't know anything and have nothing to say. I hate to say this, but the vast majority of people are boring. They feel little obligation to bring something to the social table beyond common courtesies and trivial small talk. This New York spirit is what is lacking in other places if you ask me. Yesterday, for the first time in a long ass while, I felt like I was surrounded by people like me, kindred spirits galore.

Manhattan restores my faith in America. New York was the principal target of "the terrorists," yet very few people believed in George Bush's bullshit very long, not that many people do anymore, but they were early to that party. John Lennon sang that great line about people being kept doped on religion and sex and tv. New York isn't doped on religion and tv that's for sure, sex probably. New York is different there, too. People stay out late to party, eat, talk, hear jazz, see live theater, go to comedy clubs, shop, have kinky sex, catch a baseball game, whatever. The women that roam the city are gorgeous, stylish and sophisticated. This is not the case in the Jersey suburbs or even most places.

You can walk the streets and everyone is from somewhere else. You can hear French, Italian, German, Arabic and most any language being spoken. I didn't look, but I bet I could find a Chamorro restaurant -- probably the only place in America a person could do that, and no one cares if you are gay, straight, transgendered, existentialist or running dog revisionist. It is a live and let live place, yet it is also blunt and aggressive.

New York is what the Democratic Party should be, but isn't. Smart, edgy, live and let live, yet blunt, direct and bold. Liberals can do this, they just don't, and that is why they lose and the dark side has run amok with Caligulan abandon. It was a good day and one that made me feel better about this country.

4 comments:

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

now if they only had a team that wasn't 11 games out of first place...

Jeff said...

They can still rest comfortably on those 26 trophies.

Rick Vaughn said...

"Simple rice and beans dressed up with their jalapeno sauce staggered beyond belief into a gourmet feast."

That's what I love about Cuban (or Puerto Rican) food, dude....

..............

I'm from Chicago, seems we treat people from Indiana the same way as New Yorkers treat people from New Jersey, but Indiana actually deserves it, they gave us Michael Jackson and the town of Gary....

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

...and Guns n Roses!!!!