My Exciting Memoir

I happen to like New York

Empire State Building

I've been around the horn lately, surfing the tide of where my business takes me - Los Angeles to Las Vegas to LA again - and haven't been back east for almost a month.  I've actually never been away from New York City for quite this long, not for years and years. When I planned this chunk of time, I didn't think it would affect me all that much.

But after a while, I started to feel kind of weird... as if a central part of my persona was melting down... leaving an empty place that nothing rushed in to fill.

I had planned to stay in LA for another couple of days. But sometime on Monday, I realized I was unravelling. It hit me in the evening, when I was shopping for dinner at Trader Joe's. The place was crowded enough; cars battled each other for available space in the parking lot with the same vicious spirit that inhabits your average casting call. In the store, people did that thing you do when you shop by yourself, each individual in their own bubble of concentration. Do I want this? Would I be happy eating that? Is that good for me? Or should I get a vegetable instead? I realized that perhaps 90% of the people in the store were shopping for one. That's what show business is all about.

The week before, I was in Vegas. I think I may have mentioned that to you. I liked it. I won some money. I saw some gizmos. The weight of the loneliness in the casinos was palpable. Maybe it's because business is down, I don't know. But the dealers stood behind their felt barriers like cows in a field, waiting for action. Here and there, the odd slot machine disgorged change to a seemingly disinterested player, who took his winnings in stride and fed them back into its brightly dingdinging maw.  There was plenty of room in the sports book, too.

LA. Vegas. All about the space between people, cars, buildings.

So Tuesday morning, I booked the redeye back to New York for the following night. I'm pretty advanced in my march through life to take redeyes. It takes its toll. It's harder to recover from one. So I guess something was really pushing me to get out of Dodge.  It wasn't completely voluntary is what I'm trying to tell you. I had to go. I had to get back here, to the #1 place on this planet where everybody is in your face all the time.

So a couple of hours ago, I touched down on the 8:10 AM overnight flight from LA. It was snowing. The wind hit me like a hammer as I walked out of the enormous American Airlines terminal at Kennedy. Tiny particles of ice dug into my face. Right now I'm at my desk and the Weatherbug says it's 16 degrees, and tomorrow it's supposed to fall into the single digits. I'm going to go out in a few minutes and have lunch at the place where everybody knows my name, where a relatively small bunch of winners and losers hangs together for warmth in an environment that's tough to take in more ways than one.

Lord it feels good to be back in that cold, hard place.

33 Comments Add Comment

Great piece, Bing!

People do not fear the difficult. They fear the unknown.

So tell us the truth we'll get it done. In fact, we'll even grow comfortable in our discomfort.

The main problem the American people have right now is not our lack of faith in our leaders; it is our leaders' lack of faith in us.

I've always felt that it's those cold, hard places that let you know you're alive. Man is born to struggle, it's what we do. There's only so much hedonistic paradise that any man can stand, and then he has to find another paradise with sharper edges to wake him up.

By the way, Bing, I've noticed that basically all of the comments are coming from men these days. What's up with that? What ever happened to Rebecca from Philly or Jessica (I think) from Minneapolis? Is there really something to this theory that hard times hit women harder, and they're not really feeling up to joining in somewhat sarcastic discussion of the world's foibles? Just curious.

Bing, sorry. I'll stick to my loneliness under a balmy 75 degrees winter here in L.A. I guess it's a "weather thing". Oh! I almost forgot. We do have earthquakes from time to time.

Great post. You know your home when you want to get hammered by wind and snow. You have such lust for New York! Meanwhile, wimps like me will be hanging at the beach.

Las Vegas, LA, and New York, all in such a short time frame! With a red-eye flight, to boot. I cannot imagine the adjustments your body and mind have just experienced.

You earned that lunch. I hope you had a suitable adult beverage with it. Keep warm. Your blood may be thin, after all that sunny, mild weather.

Do you have a view of the Hudson from your office?

No, I'm on a lower floor; but if I go to the nosebleed floors, most certainly, a view of the entire island. I do have a nice view, though, of the life in one of the great avenues of this city.

Stan, thanks for sharing excerpts of your grand tour through the house of blue lights.

New York has been accumulating news of Wall Street and investment banks that will enable you to traverse through the houses of red lights.

Find out what's happening with Madoff, seems that they're trying to get him off the hook.

I imagine you may be experiencing thoughts about the A360 that went surfing on the Hudson--how near, but yet so far.

Sweet dreams, Stan. The revelations of your dreams are interesting.

Yes, it's good to hear nobody died in that splash landing, but way too cold to be standing on a plane wing in the middle of the Hudson waiting for the rescue boats...brrrrr...plus the elevated pucker factor from just falling out of the sky...bless them all!!!

For some reason, my dear wife of 38 years (39 next month), and her closest girlfriends (one of which, the truly sainted and delightful minx Dede, died just this Christmas Day), are drawn to New York in the early spring. As I write this entry my wife is busily perusing her maps of the burroughs, preparing for this year's adventures.

None of them were born there, spent any significant time there, but are attracted to its mythic energy. Jeez...we live about 2,800 miles away. Strangely enough, I am jealous....men just don't do this kind of stuff well. The closest male ritual I can think of would involve wistful remembrances of attending, with my buddies, 'no-panty' Wednesday somewhere in South Dakota on the way to Sturgis Bike Week. Not as soulful, but still deeply spiritual.

They regard these visits as a rite of passage....an opportunity to take their daughters to New York upon graduation from high school, maybe to enjoy the last remnants of their daughters' childhood before college relationships contaminate parental bonds forever. Perhaps it is linked to some salmon-like desire to return to the home waters of every crum-bum Eurotrash ancestor that first made their way to Ellis Island.

A smart man....a clever man, stands clear.

Mike,

How is the fishing on Sasheen, Diamond and Long? Its been decades since I enjoyed those waters.

I've always felt that Eastern Washington and the Pandhandle area are one of the country's frequently overlooked jewels.

And with reference to one of your previous posts about the simple satisfaction of large bore weaponry, I'l take the 1911 over any other handgun I've ever fired.

You guys are just too darn macho for me.

Bing, will you please make sure you closed the door up there? It was 11 degrees when I woke up this morning, and North Carolina isn't normally this cold. Your cold air must be drifting south.

Paul in Miami -

Great insight. As the thought of "sacrifice" has gone away, so too has the arithmetic been blown away on pensions, hip replacements, and government services.

I think we better start thinking of ways to sacrifice.

Well, you made your point Bing and I have to give you credit for that. I can't image Wall Street anywhere else than New York City. Montana? Kansas? New Mexico? Give me a break! Not even the abbreviation of New Mexico Stock Exchange sounds right. N-M-S-E? Awful!

Great article Bing, I agree with you about NY, greatest city in the world, however, right now in the LA area weather has been anywhere between the high 70's to the low 80's during day, sunny,,,not bad

I know. It's all about the weather. And I love good weather. It's the whether I can't stand now and then.

Bing: Lately on your postings you have mentioned several occasions "animals" and "actors".....Either you are in the entertainment business (NBC, CBS, and the other letters of the alphabet) or you are in the zoo business,,,,,,,I'm just trying to reveal your identity to the world

There's no business like zoo business.

As a resident of a colder and harder place a seven hour drive north of New York City I'm planning on exchanging these tiny particles of ice digging into my face for tiny particles of silica digging into my feet. West coast Florida, here I come. In the midst of a January where every molecule of air moisture flees to the trees and transforms them into giant cauliflowers, how I love that warm, granular place.

Whether to the right or to the left?

Whether you're supposed to be anywhere specific or not. Ever.

"Whether you’re supposed to be anywhere specific or not. Ever."

Wouldn't that depend on the notes in a person's agenda?

Otherwise I think we can wander at will as long as we don't break the leash.

Time is a different commodity when you have to drive an hour to get to lunch.

As you drive you might cheer yourself with the contrast of tribesmen who still take spear in hand and have to prowl and hunt for lunch for even longer.

Gotta go, my sandwich is ready.

Thank you, Patrick.

I get the distinct impression that Bing's readers didn't finish near the bottom of any class attended.

Paul,
Bing's going to think he's running a 'Field & Stream' or 'Guns & Ammo' blog by the time I get done with this entry. He may even wonder if I've got a full set of natural teeth. Bear with me Bing....I don't often wander this far off topic....and I've held my innate nastiness in check ever since you gave me a well deserved New York ass-chewing.

I never did fish Diamond much, though as an infant I caught my first brook trout on a fly at Sacheen....on some ancient opening day, with wet snow falling...the old man sitting in the pickup with a cigarette hanging off his lip 'Robert Mitchum' style. God I miss him, gone 35 years now.

Long Lake is now 'Lake Spokane' and while it is very much cleaner than it was during your time here, it's the subject of major pollution battles...the Spokane River recently made the top 10 list if the most imperiled American rivers. Fishing is quite good, but you're not really supposed to eat them ....they contain PCB's, heavy metals, and other nasty chemical by-products of past industrial discharge abuse. You wouldn't know it by looking at the lake or the river....it looks quite pristine (probably much like Bing's or my liver, surface appearances can be deceiving).

As for the 1911; your opinion is dead right. And I guess that's supported by the number of high quality handgun manufacturers still basing their designs on the 1911. Very reliable, accurate, and in the larger calibers, real man-stoppers.

Yesterday I took an old revolver to the range (it belonged to my grandma....my grampa wasn't much for anything but long guns). I've owned it for 40+ years, and I'd never fired it. I was a little worried it would blow a cylinder out or something, until I talked to an 85 year old gunsmith (still working everyday), and he laughed at my concern.

It's a beautiful old military issue 1917 Smith & Wesson 45 ACP (I had a hell of time locating the 'full moon' clips.....which allowed WWI troops to reload very rapidly...without which I would not have been able to eject the spend cartridges...thank god (gore?) for the internet). It shot like a sweetheart...nice tight groups.

I've been looking for a decent 'carry' weapon. I don't know about gun laws for most of the bloggers (I do know New York has very strict gun laws, and nowadays very little crime relative to its population and storied violent past) but in much of the west people have always been, and still are, heavily armed. I don't know how many of you have been to places like Idaho, Eastern Washington, Montana, or Alaska, but there's a very good reason you'll find their inhabitants genrally sporting good manners; you could get shot by the most unlikely parties. Helpful to a fault, but not very tolerant of bad behavior.

Speaking of bad behavior; places like NY scare the hell out of me, so Bing...this isn't macho stuff on my part.....New York macho is ignoring the incessant horn-honking of the non-english speaking taxi driver, blasting through heavy traffic, blissfully reading email traffic on your blackberry.

Hey.... eastern bloggers of distinguished bloodlines could now relate personal misty-eyed remembrances of prep-school years gone by. The mutts out here want to know if the stuff we've been seeing for years in the movies is true. I hope so.....it's always been a goal to create such opportunities for our youngn's,

Bing, you really watch this blog 'real-time' don't you? Doesn't it drive your wife crazy?

Among other things.

Bing, I've been in NYC since 1988, having moved here with two suitcases, a hundred bucks, and knowing two people who lived in the area, and I get the same antsy feeling when I leave.

I travel to LA several times a year for business and if things wrap up early, I'm booking an earlier flight back. My co-worker stays till the last possible moment (I think it's because he's married with three kids and is sneaking in a vacation under the guise of work). It's not that I hate LA, it's that I feel a little unmoored when I'm away from NYC.

There's just something about this city, isn't there? Unless you live here and scrabble to make your way, you can't ever understand it.

In a way, I feel sorry for all the younguns whose parents subsidize their lives here, or who came because of some misplaced "Sex and the City" fantasy, because they're missing out on one of the essential things that forges New Yorkers out of wet-behind-the-ears midwesterners like me.

New York is TOUGH, and it requires a certain toughness in return to keep it vital. You gotta work for it.

Maybe there is a recessionary upside in that some of the parentally-subsidized will now have to start making their own way and we will see the wheat separated from the chaff, and what will be left behind after this economy starts to turn around will be the best and the brightest of the younger generation.

Mike,

Thanks for the update.

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