Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oh New York, New York

Anyone who's ever lived in New York City has an "Oh, New York" moment when he or she first moves here. In fact, those moments continue throughout the years--I had a couple this morning myself--but they're never quite as exciting as those first experiences.

For example, have you ever had a seemingly drugged-up (but clearly harmless) Columbia lit student wearing Michael Jackson moonboots and a wide open polo shirt hand you his full wallet, ask to borrow your cell phone to call Eliza Dushku's brother, then follow you around like a sad little puppy dog, tell you he wants to buy you some candy and then pull a whole kiwi out of his boot, offer it to you, and then when you decline, take a big bite out of it like it's an apple?

No? You haven't? Well, I have--August 2005. My first summer living in NYC.

The staffers over at New York Magazine seem to agree that these early moments are by far the most memorable. So much so that they've pulled together a series of essays by 50+ of the city's most famous New Yorkers, including Yogi Berra, Parker Posey, Danny DeVito, Amy Sedaris, Mike Meyers, and more. The book, My First New York, hit shelves in late March from Harpercollins:

A book as effervescent and alive as the city itself.

My First New York features candid accounts of coming to New York by more than fifty of the most remarkable people who have called the city home. Here are true stories of long nights out and wild nights in, of first dates and lost loves, of memorable meals and miserable jobs, of slow walks up Broadway and fast subway rides downtown.

The contributors—a mix of actors, artists, comedians, entrepreneurs, musicians, politicians, sports stars, writers, and others—reflect an enormous variety of experiences: few have arrived with less than filmmaker Jonas Mekas, a concentration-camp survivor on a UN refugee ship; few have swanned in with more than designer Diane von Furstenberg, a princess. And an extraordinary number managed to land in New York just as something historic was happening—the artist Cindy Sherman arrived in the middle of the Summer of Sam; restaurateur Danny Meyer came on the day John Lennon was shot.

Arranged chronologically, these moving and memorable stories combine to form an impressionistic history of New York since the Great Depression. They also provide an accidental encyclopedia of New York hotspots through the ages: from the Cedar Tavern and the Gaslight to Lut├Ęce and Elaine's, from Max's Kansas City and the Mudd Club to the Odeon and Bungalow 8, they're all here, dots on the unbroken line of the Next Next things.

Read more about the book HERE

Thanks to Rebecca for pointing this one out to me--I'm definitely going to check it out!

Now, all you New Yorkers out there, what's YOUR most memorable NYC experience from your early days in the Big Apple?


  1. NY Mag had some excerpts from this a few issues back. I really want to read it.
    Not to mention that my NY inspiration, Nora Ephron, has a piece in it as well :-)

    See my Nora-NY post here.

  2. Danielle, I bought it, though I haven't read it yet. Will lend it to you after I have, if you like.

  3. I would love that--thanks, Michelle!

    Come on peeps, share some crazy stories! :-p

  4. I'm trying to think of some good ones but none are springing to mind.

    I do enjoy the memory of a bunch of my fellow students exploring the city for the first time. We went down into the subway station, got on the wrong subway, realized we were about to head deeper into Brooklyn and all hopped off. All except this one girl from Texas, who didn't make it and whose frightened face pressed up against the windows as the train pulled away from the station and we all laughed and laughed. She eventually found her way back home.

    I also have fond memories of the legless homeless man who lived in the subway stop that was in the lobby of our building (there was a lobby part and then the subway part but he didn't live in the lobby - just the subway area). We called him Clark because it was the Clark St. Subway stop, and I'll never forget when my friend tried to buy him a sandwich and he was SO demanding about what he wanted on it. I guess when you have nothing and you get the option to have whatever you want, you want the thing you crave the most. But because we loved Clark (because we'd made him almost a revered fictional character in our heads) his demands came off as endearing rather than rude.

    Oh Clark. Oh New York.

  5. Most of my weird stories are random celebrity sightings. Like, when I was in grad school, I made plans to see Frank McCourt at the 92nd St Y but then saw him 3 more times in a 2-month period. One of these times I was in class and on a break ran into him in the hall outside my classroom. I had had no idea before this that we had a BookTV/CSpan studio onsight, nor did my professor who went in search of him to no avail.
    I also (literally) almost crashed into Paul Giamatti on Henry St. in Brooklyn, right outside my dorm, a mere week after watching "Sideways". I did a double-take, like "whoa, that guy looks like my husband" (similar hairlines and facial hair at the time, similar height, build), then did a triple take, thinking "whoa, that's Paul Giamatti".
    Also, saw a guy I thought was homeless by Port Authority and realized it was Nick Nolte, looked to my right on the F train and it was "Stiffler" from American Pie. Oh, and followed Ty Pennington with hubby and Meghan because I didn't believe it was him and my husband wanted to prove it.