Inevitably the newbie conversation with long time New Yorkers turns to the topic of our perceptions of the city. "You know what they say", the conversation goes, "people either love New York City or they hate it." Of course, these conversations are always with New Yorkers in the love it category. They can go on and on about all the great things the city has to offer. But I've noticed something really interesting about many of these New York City boosters, especially people my age – they're not full time-residents of the city anymore. Some have moved to the burbs while others spend every weekend at a country house but that abiding love for "The City" still burns.
For me, it's a little of both leavened with lots of middling feelings. I love our easy access to Riverside Park but, gee, wouldn't it be nice if the experience wasn't always accompanied by the roar of vehicles on the Henry Hudson Parkway? A 24-hour city is fantastic unless you're a 16-hour person which means that you're still noticing that darn restaurant exhaust fan humming along at 2a.m., three hours after you've gone to bed.
New York likes to think of itself as the world's great city of innovation. I've been following one particularly interesting innovation that the MTA (transit authority) is experimenting with. To tackle the litter problem in subway stations, which I HATE, the MTA is removing all trash receptacles from a few stations on a trial basis!! I guess the reasoning is……. Ah, let's see, what would the reasoning be? Anyway, soon after the announcement of this experiment, I observed a couple of fellow subway passengers obviously attempting to do their part to support the MTA. After eating a hearty lunch of roast chicken on the subway, they carefully discarded the chicken bones under the seat of the train – surely as way of letting the MTA know that they're onboard, so to speak.
After eight months of riding the subway (oddly, it has no colloquial name like the T, or the Max, or Metro), I've begun to recognize some of the drivers/announcers – the courtly guy who starts every sentence with "Ladies and ginamin…….." and the grumpy female driver who gets so exasperated when we, her charges, just can't seem to get our collective butts inside the cars. She almost yells, "puleeeeeeze stand clear of the closing doors."
I had a great victory at work the other day. The City Planning Department added Sanitation Department street sweeping sections to the city map at my request. Okay, so you're thinking, "Big deal. Anybody could do that." But not so fast. It was common knowledge in my office that the Sanitation Department did not want its cleaning sections on that map. Without Sanitation's okay, City Planning would not publish the information despite its public nature. As the litter counting guru for the city, I wanted those cleaning districts available to the public. So, I simply informed the Sanitation Department that I intended to instruct City Planning to publish the maps. Lo and behold, the cleaning "chief" at Sanitation applauded the idea, informing me that he was a big fan of maps. My new mantra – Don't ask, tell.
CBS recently announced a new New York City cop show debuting next Sunday evening. I think that leaves Saturday as the only night of the week when the country isn't exposed to a prime time network TV show featuring murder and other forms of mayhem in New York. It's no wonder so many people outside the city think it's such a scary place.
Discovery of the month – The New York Botanical Garden. Okay, so maybe not such a big secret but it's in Queens which for people who live in Manhattan is pretty much a blank slate. Note it's called the New York Botanical Gardens. I'm guessing that's because no one from Manhattan, including tourists, would ever think of trying to find the Queens Botanical Gardens. Anyway, it's very cool and, when we were there, loaded with orchids exhibited on fantastic walls of greenery. Of course we were accompanied by a gazillion people (See photo.) but great nonetheless.
A few of you noted that my last missive wasn't exactly jolly. "The bloom seems to have gone off the rose," observed a couple of friends. Just for the record, the rose is still in bloom. New York certainly takes some getting used to but I'm loving, er, really enjoying every minute of it.