Snapshots of NYC + Philly

Soundtrack: Jazmine Sullivan (Lions and Tigers and Bears), Beyonce (Halo, Disappear, Single Ladies)

Some random snapshots:

– In NY and Philly its not so cold indoors and on public transportation, but people are wearing big coats, fur coats (fine as long as they deboned and ate every other part of the creatures, right?). I have always hated that aspect of winter, layers that give you no temperature flexibility. I love coming out of a warm space into the brisk gray of a city, and I love coming in from the cold to low yellow and red lights, to warmth. But I’m hot. Literally. I understand global warming through a metaphoric experience of my body when I walk, carrying too much, wrapped in too many layers, furnace in faux leather.

– Slipping into the city this way pleases me, like a shadow of my former self. I may look Californian now, I can’t tell. But NY puts a twist and snap into my hips, I stomp through the city listening to fierce women singers, feeling sexy, politically astute and anonymous. There are things that walking the streets of NY can do for your mojo that nothing else can.

– I read too many paparazzi mags when I travel east. Sometimes I find myself holding myself like someone’s taking a picture, caption: “Wannabe Black Marilyn hits the streets sporting her new generic purse…is that a baby bump??”

– I see the urban world overlayed with futuristic spaces – place gardens in small street parks and rooftops, add back and leg support pillows to the subways, add quiet places, temples and shrines and holy gardens and places to meditate all over.

– I wish we had public transportation running up and down. I was a New Yorker during September 11th, I watched the first plane hit the first building, I felt the city stop, and I would be fine never using underground transportation again.

– Speaking of September 11, every time I come to ‘the city’, I look at the sky there at the tip of NY with a kind of experiential melancholy, the way I pass by spaces where I made memories. I remember you, Twin Towers, sushi in that basement, pommes frites on 2nd Ave, my 20-something NY, sunrising rooftops coming down from center of the world parties.

– Two weeks ago I went to a Maxwell concert in Washington Heights where he redefined masculinity as a gentle, fluid, vibrating, square jawed, square hipped, crying sweating dancing grinding amorphous thing. I love NY because of the kind of crowd that will come see that show here, 50 year-old hetero-black couples in their finest, young dykes slow dancing in the aisles, Latino homothugs punching each each other playfully at the most erotic peaks, my best friend and I grabbing the edges of our seats and squealing and grinding like schoolgirls surprised by the first good grope of desire. Yes, he was that good.

– Philly has a lot of Greek columns in the architecture, and kind of feels like being in the Roman empire. Beautiful and too big and unreal, downtown. It’s nice to be here for no reasons of my own, a bit of a work retreat in the middle of lots of cold buildings.

– Experiencing a city through one of its finer hotels is totally cheating. 10 years of couches and guest rooms and passenger seat or public transportation tours has given me a map of struggle in the US. If I had grown up in beds this big and soft, with everything at my fingertips, I wonder if I would have cared to develop analysis. Dipping my toe in a bit, I am more impressed by the wealthy people in my life who genuinely work for change. Luxury is such a particular kind of Achilles heel.

– I am 30 and I still tend to approach good music by finding a song I love, putting it on repeat for 3000 times and completely wearing it out. NY was Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’. I don’t try to reconcile my love of pop-femmes with any other part of my analysis – diva is as diva does, and I want a world that has space for super divas too. Philly is Jazmine Sullivan. Folks ask how can I go the repeat route, doesn’t that ruin it for the future? But the truth is there is so much music out there. I get my fill in the present, and there’s always a next song to overindulge in. I’m also a hyper-observer, I like to fully break down every aspect of the song, hear a beautiful voice, a unique sound. Weird thing is, I can listen to a song 300 times and not learn the words, just the way it’s sung. This has been a good phase for music if you really appreciate pop (in its mainstream, hip-pop, hipster-pop, etc versions)

That’s all for now!