Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Walking Amsterdam

Just walking the handful of blocks along Amsterdam Avenue between our main subway stop and 69th Street seemed like an urban revelation last night. As we strolled we saw and heard the following: A man sprawled on the ground who seemed to be moaning softly in pain but who also was cradling one of those supersized soft drink containers from McDonald's; a bunch of twenty-somethings out on the town, speaking brashly to each other, and occupying most of the wide sidewalk as they shouted and strutted and backpedaled along; a solitary old man with a chewed off cigar butt in his mouth, hovering by the shop windows so as to give all other activities on the street a wide berth; a woman running precariously in the highest of high heels as she chased after a departing bus; and a couple of late night book hawkers still trying to peddle a few more volumes before heading home.

Whoever first said that there are 8 million stories in the Naked City had it right. Every one of these situations prompts you to wonder what is going on in each of these person's lives. It is a city of countless stories that range from the most awful things imaginable to the most wonderful. The full range of human experience displayed in all its glory and ignominy, right there on Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side. Imagine how many thousands of other stories are being played out in every section of this endlessly diverse and beautiful and unspeakably ugly and diverting and oppressive and absurd and profound and happy and sad metropolis. You want a living, breathing, pulsating microcosm of the human condition? You can't do much better than New York City itself.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, but you have to be willing to see it...
    Not everyone can and many don't want to.