Travel > Adult Disneyland

Adult Disneyland

By GREG MAFFETT
Published: November 1, 2010

The rip on NYC by some of the old timers is that it has turned into an Adult Disneyland. Kind of sad actually that the worst thing you can say about the town is that you can’t get mugged or shot there anymore. Turns out you can actually get stabbed, there was one at the A train station on 207th the week I was there.

But by and large you can walk anywhere you want on the island with very little risk. I covered everything from the southern tip at the Ferry building up to the cloisters and never had a worry.

One thing I did notice over time is that the recession really hit NYC where it counts. On every prior trip there were uptown lasses decked out in the latest and greatest fashions at every corner. This year was eastern european washer woman chic.

The only thing that passed for fashion were the textured leggings. Take a $5 skirt and add $7 dollar textured leggings. Top that with a recycled burlap bag with a few head and arm holes and you were set.

Ok, maybe it wasn't that bad, but it was not the NYC of old where every broker with an 8 figure bonus had a cutie in haute couture out shopping during the day while he was pimping stocks. Now, well, its all gray and brown as we wait for the recovery to come to aid of my ground level visuals. This being the case, I gave up on my usual haunts of the upper west side.

Spent the better part of two days in Harlem, no probs. Was in the Bowery, the East Village, Central Park after dark. Yeah, no worries anywhere really. Still fun though, even if the poor locals who used to know where not to go can’t laugh at tourists who end up in trouble. I guess that is the issue, once the town gets tame, there is no edge to having the edge of being a local.

Ok, small people there, now that I think it out. So lets ignore them and move on to a few random observations about just what I did see and hear. First off, in NYC ink goes on paper. On the subway, over 50 percent of the people are reading something. Books and magazines outnumber the Kindles and iPads that folks are perusing. And by and large I find that people are very territorial about their reading material. Am I really committing a criminal act when reading a magazine article over your shoulder? Based on the reaction, I thought I was about to be cuffed for that. But that I’ve established where ink goes, I can tell you where it doesn’t go. On people. By and large, Manhattan has less tat’s per capita than any city I’ve visited in the last two years. This is, I think a tribute to the business focus of the city. You don’t walk into a business meeting with a tat running up the side of your neck. And nearly everyone in town sees themselves in that mode. That or they are actors and models and the same rules apply. This does make the tattooed masses in other cities look like america’s drop outs.

Central Park is not only a favorite among Americans, it is the tourist mecca of the island. I’d say 30-40% of the people I passed in the park were not natives of America let alone NYC. After a while I started to play my version of “US or not” and found I was well over 85% on calling whether a group approaching me was American or not. At first I couldn’t figure out how I could tell, but after a while I think it was the eyes.

New Yorkers particularly move their eyes differently than Europeans. The locals have eyes that move, focus and move and refocus. They are sizing you up in a fraction and classifying you. The Euro’s…eh they seems to have eyes that meander slowly across the landscape, never in a hurry, barely focusing…perhaps they are doing some type of global intake of the landscape. But on a person to person basis, they don’t seem to get the city. It is the eyes of the locals that makes most of my trip work. Whether they are locking in on me or someone else, they are present in the moment in a way the outsiders never seem to reach. I’ll have 40 or 50 glances a day that tell me more about people than I could get from reading a biography on them. It is telling.

The old city does exist in a few old timers. There are the 100 year olds who are probably only in their 80’s, but look to be over 100. Bent, wizened and I expect doing the exact same thing they did in the 60’s and 70’s and onward…ignoring all the technology and changes in the city and dragging along their 50 year old wheeled cart back and forth to the local grocer.

Then I spy a throwback to the myth of the loud local, a lady in the elevator at macy’s delivering a monologue to another lady who had her purse in the wrong part of her handbag, and who had her bag on the wrong part of her body, and look, she isn’t even listening and this is a free tip she is getting and still her purse is in the wrong place and anyone could grab it don’t youknow. This monologue was delivered with a 12 inch thick Brooklyn accent that was uncuttable.

After this there were the two very large black men in the east village who see a lady delivering flowers to a church. I missed the first guy starting this, but his comment was pretty obvious based on the response

“What do you want flowers for? You ain’t no girl!”

“Well they might open up, look pretty,smell nice.”

“You a man! You don’t get no flowers, stop talking crazy”

Then finally, after 5 days of this rather calm week in ADL, I did find what was left of the seedy part of town. There was one park in the Bowery where the modern version of the 70’s wino’s still resided. Here I did see one of the locals being loaded into a police car in cuffs. But this was not at all a frightening looking guy, nah, it was a rather sedate looking lass in her 20’s. No sign of struggle and no idea on the offense. But that was it for a real live criminal.

Across the street from that there were two guys sitting on a sidewalk outside a bar. It was about noon and they were approached by another rough looking guy who was trying to inspire them. “You guys should work today, you need to some money, I can tell.” No response. He faces the guy on the right and asks “You sober?” The hand gesture was a perfect reply that indicated the owner of that hand was exactly on the knife edge between sober and not…

And I think that is how I’ll leave it.

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