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New York: people are awesome here

Posted on October 4th, 2007 after 8177 miles by Dean Croshere.

A couple days ago I drove into Manhattan, New York. A friend of a friend offered to host me at her apartment on 1st ave and 2nd st aka downtown aka the village. She is a film student at NYU.

I noticed that drivers coming into New York drive like they are trying to intentionally make traffic worse. If they want to change lanes, they will change lanes. If this lane change will cause three other cars to slam on the brakes, screw ‘em, that lane will be changed. Since brakes are the cause of traffic, these impatient Yankees Never mind the fact that with the slightest bit of patience, those lane changes could be made with minimal traffic interference. Outside of the city, patience isn’t a virtue New Yorkers seem to possess. I expected this to be the case inside the city, but I found this to be untrue, by and large. There will be more on that later.

Soon after arriving and greeting my host, her roommate, and her boyfriend (also a film major), we headed to get some Chinese food in China town. This place was utterly delicious and cheap. I tried a bunch of stuff I had never had before and was quite satisfied.

Unfortunately, my host got sick right after we got back to her apartment. Since they were still in school, the other two got back to doing some work. It was really interesting talking to someone who came from an entirely different film program. NYU is rated as one of the top 5 film schools in the nation. I’m pretty sure Pacific is unrated. A few differences I noticed:

1. They shoot film. For nearly every little project they do, they shoot 16mm film. I never shot a frame of film in school, or anywhere else for that matter.

2. They are not nearly as good with Final Cut Pro as we were. This could be seen as the natural progression of the first. Nearly everything we shot (digitally, on tapes we had to pay for), we edited on Final Cut.

3. Their professors sound like uninvolved pricks. Maybe it was just the complaining side of things I got, but I will take the issues I had with my professors over the ones she seemed to have with hers.

4. It seems like we got a far more technical education whereas they got a more practical one.

I noticed something else hanging out with the NYU film students. I had never hung out with film students before. I didn’t get along with my department in school. We just had different ideas of fun, and we certainly didn’t look at film the same way.

In the small kitchen of the Manhattan apartment, there were three Intel Macs set up. Intel Macs have an IR sensor so they can be controlled like a DVD player. A fun little thing with this is that one remote can control as many machines as it can reach.

We spent until literally 5 in the morning (remember, they had class to go to a few hours after that) messing around with the music. We set the three computers to random, and, with the press of a button, we could change the song in perfect synchronicity. After a while we added in my phone’s little built in speaker and an iPod hooked up to a larger speaker system. Then we got more scientific. We started carefully selecting songs that were heavy in different types of noise. For example, we found that using a recorded speech, a light instrumental song, classical, and techno simultaneously turned out the best results.

In the morning, I did my tour with Boxer. I wanted to get some pictures with the dog so I wouldn’t have to worry about it after that. I drove to Central Park first. I really enjoyed the drive, which was doubly surprising since I had expected it to be horrible.

I quickly picked up on the method of driving in the city. The lines on the road are guidelines. Go where you need to go. Everyone drives terribly and they will expect you to drive terribly. There is only one thing that is predictable, people want to get from here to there and don’t want to get in an accident along the way.

Usually when someone gets caught behind a stopped vehicle that has to be driven around, the car in the very back of the line has the most space and is thus able to pull out and step on the gas. This forces the line of cars to invert as people wait for the car behind them to turn out faster than they can and cut them off.

In New York, people are calmly gracious enough to let you pull out and change lanes, likely because they know you are going to pull out anyway and cutting you off will likely lead to an accident, which prevents them from moving forward. This is the exact sort of foresight that is entirely lost on people as they drive into the city on the freeways.

After Central Park, I headed to ground zero. I’m not exactly sure what I expected to find here. There was mostly a bunch of suits walking around between various other buildings in the area. There was a lot of activity going on at the site. They’re building the memorial and starting on the Freedom Tower. While I’m not such a fan of the Freedom tower, I do like the ideas they have for the memorials.

Finally, I planned to take the free Staten Island Ferry to snap some pictures of the Statue of Liberty. This was tough. I wasn’t willing to put Boxer on the railing of the boat and it was otherwise impossible to get pictures taken. I got a nearby passenger to hold the dog up as I snapped some pictures. They aren’t ideal, but I suppose the point gets across.

The next day I left Boxer and my car in a free gravel lot hidden behind a police station that my hosts told me about (it’s on 9th between C and D, if anyone is headed to NY and wants some free safe parking). I headed down to Times Square and wandered about 5th ave. After a while I went and took a nap in central Park listening to a guy playing his sax for money.

I also decided that New York was the place to get my hair cut. It has been a long time since I’ve liked my hair and I figured this was the city to find someone who could remedy that. I like what she did, though I’m not confident it is the best I could have. In any case, she told me about a bar I had to see.

She was right. The 230 5th avenue 22nd floor rooftop bar is right under the Empire State Building. One hell of a view to enjoy while sipping drinks that are roughly double the cost of those anywhere else in the city. I left after one drink, after all, my net worth isn’t describable in terms of net worth. At least, not like the ABC executives that were having a party in a corner of the roof.

I walked back to reasonable prices and hit up some normal people bars. I chilled at “acoustic night” at some bar with some passable solo artists, one of which was distinctly not acoustic. I also hit the bar across the street where I discovered the easiest way to start a conversation in a Manhattan bar. (In retrospect, I should have called rule 8)

“So I’ve noticed that New York beers taste like ass.” I said.

To my defense, they do. Coney Island and… I can’t remember the other one, are terrible beers. I solidly regretted picking them up.

Three guys turned their attention to me after I voiced my opinion. Luckily they were all really cool and no one wanted to kick my ass for the slight against New York. Instead we spent a couple of hours discussing good beers from different places in the country and the good times had in those places drinking the local beers.

In fact, this was my experience everywhere. People love to chat, have a good time and give advice to anyone that will take it. I had more awesome random conversations in New York than anywhere else. My host mentioned that it was likely because people in New York are so used to meeting people that they have lost nearly all fear of making a fool of themselves.

I’m now in Brooklyn staying with a frat brother. I will try to stay a little more on top of these posts.

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