A New York state of mind

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New York is one of a handful of cities across the globe where you can go back again and again, and both feel immediately at home and discover something new around every corner. (The Hudson river, between Tribeca and Soho; “Noy Joysey” across the water). (To my NJ friends: no offense meant, I just love accents)

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I lived in New York for a few months after Grad School. Looking for a job. Every morning I would go to the bank across from the Public Library, change a few bucks for a handful of dimes, then go to the phone booths inside the Library and start calling to get an interview. “No, Mr. So-and-so is not available, please send your résumé by mail…” Post. No e-mail then. “Certainly. Who should I send it to?” Why the phone booths inside the library? Warm. Quiet. No traffic noise, a wooden bench to sit down. Comfy. I felt like I had an office in Mid-town Manhattan. Now, in these days of E-verything, the booths were still there last time I went to the Library.

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Alexander McQueen, somewhere on 5th.

I crashed at friends’ flats, uptown, midtown, east, west, upstate New York, New Jersey. As I got further and further away from the centre of the world, I would commute in the morning, land at Grand Central, go to the bank, get my dimes, walk to my “office” at the Public Library, and start calling and calling and calling. 🙂

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The High Line (above and below)

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got to learn the City inside out. Even went with a bunch of Brit friends to a Bob Marley concert wayyy up town, around 135th street. “Babylon by car”. One the most fabulous concerts I’ve ever attended. 🙂 New York is to-day’s Babylon. Not the Bible’s Babylon of harlots, just to-day’s greatest city on Earth, as Babylon was in its time.

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A Brooklyn squirrel, not an endangered species.

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Near Bryant Park

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Above and below: the Brooklyn Bridge.

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I eventually ran our of money. 🙂 I confess I didn’t think about waiting on tables. Silly me. (I should have taken the optional course “How to survive in New York 501”)

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So I went back home to Frogland. Knowing that at least there would be food on the table while I eventually found a job over there. No harm done.

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Times Square. Back in the days of Chairman Mao, Xin-Hua was the official Chinese press agency fighting capitalism in every article, now it has a shining ad on Times Square… 🙂

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The Strand.

I have gone back to New York countless times. For fun or work. And every time it is the same thrill, like coming home. And I always remember – with a smile – the first rule of survival in New York: “Mind your own business” (Get outta my way!) and the second rule: Enjoy… 🙂

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“Occupy Wall street!” Bryant Park.

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Same, same…

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The defense rests your Honor. Ain’t no other city like New York.

The usual (c).

Enjoy the rest of your week.

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65 thoughts on “A New York state of mind

      • Indeed, it is fantastic, I posted some pics of the Empire State Building that I took while there under “What she saw”, 🙂

      • Haha! One of a handful. Paris IS the most beautiful city. Prague is charming. Rome I find uneven, borderline disappointing. Florence? A jewel. London… is London. I keep wondering why the Brits name some of their landmarks after defeats: Waterloo staion, Trafalgar square… 😉 Brussels, I always enjoy… Berlin? Ça me fait un peu froid dans le dos… New York? Everything is big, excessive, but yes, I would say the greatest. Dans tous ses excés 🙂

      • Hahaha! Je vois par ton clin d’oeil que tu m’as bien compris.
        Londres est aussi une ville où j’aimerais bien vivre. Au moins plusieurs mois.
        J’y allais souvent autrefois pour affaires, travaillant dans un groupe anglais.
        J’aime beaucoup.
        Bonne fin de semaine.

      • Expat burnout? Ça arrive à tout le monde. N’importe où. Même quand on adore un endroit, on finit par se fatiguer. Toutes les petites différences s’additionnent. Le meilleur remède? Prends-toi qqs jours à Paris. Et quand tu en auras marre de te faire engueuler par les garçons de café, it will mean you’re ready to go back to London. 😉
        (En plus, là c’est Pâques)

  1. Well of course I love your memories and gorgeous shots of NY but jumping out of my seat at the OWS Bryant Park rally shots – I was there! May 1st? Who knows, we might have shots of each other! Lovely shots Brian and I know that if I were viewing them as an ex-citizen of NYC, well, I’d be crying!

    • Wow! May 1st? Yes, I think so. 🙂 We certainly passed real close to each other. I always think the world is much smaller than we believe. My daughter was a banker at the time, working in a building right in front. We were waiting for her (lunchtime maybe?) and I saw the protest gathering slowly, very “bon-enfant”. NYPD cars and cops everywhere, but peaceful. Loved it. We will meet again. Maybe in that diner? take care. Brian.

    • Thank you Elisa. (I will save the word “essay” for another occasion. I’m flattered) And even if they’re a bit crazy, who doesn’t love New York? (I like crazy) Take care now.

  2. Oh I love this post! You totally gave justice to the spirit of NYC. I only visited a couple of times (so far) but I felt it exactly the same way: energetic, creative,speed, with this feeling of “if you want you can”.
    I spent a few days in the Big Apple 10 years ago. I had just returned from a humanitarian mission in burning and dusty Sudan, where I had spent a year on rice, dressed like a man. I really needed a fix of 1rst world, of colours, of arts. So the first thing I did after my debriefing was to book a ticket to NYC for me and my awesome little brother. We were so hyper, and being totally jet lagged for days was the best excuse to get out and take pictures any hour of the day..,

    What an inspiring post and your pictures are just beautiful. You made me want to visit again! X

      • Donc il y aura forcement un autre Pot Pourri NYC, pour notre plus grand plaisir ?;)
        Oui, mes 3 freres sont en France et ma soeur aussi pour l’heure .. Et les tiens?

      • Vous êtes cinq? Super? Je n’ai plus que deux frères, l’un à Paris, l’autre près de Montélimar. On se voit toujours avec plaisir. 🙂
        Quant à un autre pot-pourri new-yorkais, chais pas, je me suis rendu compte que bcp de mes photos sont mauvaises. Pixelées. On dirait qu’elles sont voilées, ce qui n’est pas normal en digital. Je vais vérifier d’autres “back-ups”. 😦

      • J’espere que tu pourras sauver les photos! On est 5 du meme pere, mais on a interdit le prefixe “demi” depuis que mon petit frere est un jour rentre de l ecole en pleurant parce qu une maitresse stupide lui avait dit que j etais sa demi soeur, pas sa soeur. Et lui insistant que “non, c est pas vrai, ma grande soeur elle est toute entiere “;)

      • Il y a vraiment des gens c…, stupides. Mais c’est une phrase charmante. J’adore quand les enfants se défendent ainsi. “Elle est toute entière…” 😉

      • Ma premiere mission avec la Croix Rouge Internationale, dans le sud du pays.. Une experience incroyable, au milieu des dinka et autres tribus , des enfants qui ne regardaient comme si tombais de la lune parce qu ils ne comprenaient pas si j etais une femme (cheveux longs) ou un homme (pantalon), On vivait dans un petit tukul, et mon boulot de l epoque etait de reunir les enfants des camps de refugies avec leur famille restee au pays.. De grands moments!
        Je suis rentree en France avec la malaria et des vers dans les poumons, mais tres heureuse d avoir pu faire un peu et d’avoir pu vivre cette experience unique. Des trucs de jeunes celibataires 😉

      • Heureusement qu’il y a des gens comme toi. 🙂 J’espère que les vers dans les poumons sont… partis. Ma fille a passé trois mois au Tchad puis six mois dans le nord du Kenya avec MSF, elle disait que les enfants (qui n’avaient pratiquement jamais vu de blancs) l’appelaient “Muzungu” (blanc) et Rafiki (ami) 🙂
        (On s’envoyait des mails en swahili) 🙂

      • Je veux bien le croire.. MSF est la creme de la creme des ONG pour moi. Tout l oppose du CICR, aussi vocale que (j allais ecrire nous) le CICR est discret. Mais du travail et un engagement top top niveau!

      • Pour la Croix-Rouge, j’imagine, mais ce que j’ai vu de MSF… Chapeau. Commitment, scope, efficiency, une capacité logistique impressionante. 🙂

      • Too bad those protests were just wasted time. Cpt. James T. Kirk used to say humanity got rid of money sometime around 24-th century. I wish that 1966 prophecy would come true much earlier but I’m afraid it wouldn’t happen the way I imagine it because there already is the damn credit card which does not eliminate the idea of evaluating, pricing and conditioning. Humanity still has a very long way to go and I’m not even sure they’re capable of enlightenment on a mass scale.

      • Sadly true. Who and why is keeping us from realising we could become better persons if only we had the chance to both understand the world as a whole and each individual in part.

  3. GREAT photos! Yes New York is great have not been there in a very long time even though it is only 2 hours up the turnpike. One minor correction….. Southern Jerseans pronounce it Norf Jersey….lol

  4. Couldn’t agree more and NYC always has such piercing blue skies in my memory (and in the pics) – except for the bitter winters. Nice write-up. Wouldn’t mind hearing more about the Marley concert too at some point.

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