As I sit in my brother's apartment in the Prospect Park section of Flatbush in Brooklyn, NY I get to reflect on my trip and larger life in this city. Some places just tell stories and we are fortunate enough to add and blend stories with them. Yesterday I shot down the tracks of Q line tunnels, feeling the metal behemoth of a subway car bounce and shake and juke and jive and twist and undulate, eating track and time and space as it barreled into Union Square. Switching to the 4 train to shoot up to 86 and Lex so as to buy my pension of bagels to bring back to California (because lets be frank about it, in comparison Cali bagels suck, end of story) I embarked on my trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I hadn't been to the MET in over ten years and was ecstatic at the chance to walk into those huge, inspiring halls and view one of the most amazing collections of art assembled on this earth. Samurai Armor, Modern Painting, Tanguy, Giacometi, medieval weapons from the Middle East, African Masks, Tibetan Paintings and sculptures from long ago, absolutely amazing.
The show was awesome. Triangle Magic was received really well I thought. The reception was very successful I felt, and the conversations I experienced about the work were informative and really helpful. People dug the work and really felt that it was a good step, one that shows a lot of growth and change and forward movement. It was so good to see everyone who came through. Many generations of people in my life here came and hung out, and one of my NYC family spun great music all night long. The next day lunch with Littlefield owner Julie Kim and my Mom was absolutely awesome, and then a VIP comped trip to the New York City Ballet made for a truly mind blowing experience. Within two days I felt like I had experienced more life than I do in months on end sometimes. Life is good.
I lived in New York city for a long long time. I lived here as a child in the mid to late eighties and then from 1998-2006. There is something to be said for the ways in which this city communicates, the speed and agility with which the people negotiate every second with each other, the amount of activity and productivity that occurs, and the general attitude of "you tell me no, then you watch me make it happen". This place was a major hand in raising me. I learned how to the navigate the world from the 8 years of living here I embarked on at age 18. I went through hell and heaven here, and it was in fact a very, very different place when I resided here, but all the elements of how to navigate the hustle are still here and are not going anywhere. In short, New York will be here. To quote Kareem Bunton "New York ain't goin' no where Felix."
Now at 33, 7 years of living in the Bay Area, every time I come back to New York I can't help but feel that it is much more "home" than anywhere else in a lot of ways. I don't mean to come off sounding like one of those people who moves here and three years later says "I'm from New York." That drives me crazy. When asked where I am from it is hard to explain because I lived half my life here until the age of 26 so it is rather complex saga of growth and evolution. But it does still feel like home. When you spend your formative years in a place for a long time, it carries a sense of home with it. I learned how to think on my feet here, how to love, how to fight, how battle the world, how to negotiate, how find the good in bad situations, how to be hopefully, how to be realistic but remain optimistic out of necessity, how to accept, how to multi task, how to deal with life at a speed and an intensity that to many is unfathomable here. I was taught the ropes by some greats like Nature Boy Jim Kelly and Kareem Bunton. I had lovers, some rather older than me that taught me so much about love and life. And I was surrounded by a thriving art and creative culture that was specific to its place in time and what New York City was when I was here. I just don't see it in its full glory anymore when I come back, but I know it is there just below the surface and always (I hope) will be.
The one consistent thing about New York City is that it is always changing. That is what New York is, change. I left my jaded, grudge heavy, disdain for what the L.E.S., or Williamsburg, or the East Village "was and had become" behind a while ago. And so it is amazing to see my friends and family that live here, which are deep and expansive, getting married, moving into adulthood, all growing together, becoming important parts of the city itself. Who knows I may move back at some point.
Every time I come back here the salsa music blasting from the bodega, the Jamaican accents and voices overpowering all other sounds on the sidewalk, the rush of perfection in taste and texture from a slice of pizza, cars driving by booming the latest hit on Hot 97, the hipster fashion show that is Havemeyer on a Friday night, the sound of tattoo machines at Flyrite Tattoo, the old worldly sound of Hassidic conversations and singing walking down Willoughby Ave, the greetings from the staff at real deal Izakaya spot Yakitori Taisho, bring me back into a dialogue that I have been a part of since 1986. I love this city, I love many cities, but this city is forever woven into the fabric of my being. In addition it is a beautiful thing to see and know all these years later that I am woven in the fabric of its beings, that things I have been a part of and done here have had an effect on its history and its evolution. The generation of creatives that I am a part of from here has done a lot to shape and change the landscape of this place. Every time I come back as soon as I stop and smell the air, smell the burnt electricity of the subway and the smell of Gyro stands and the perfume of a fine ass woman passing by, I thank god for home.