Vignettes from the Solstice

View from the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge. If you look closely, near the base of Freedom Tower, you can see a gold sculpture of Audrey Munson on top of the municipal building. Look her up.


Sometimes, New York makes me insane with anger, feeling like everything I do is futile, like I will never have enough time or money or influence to live the life I want. But other days, like yesterday, it is full of all the things I need. Some vignettes for your enjoyment.

Indeed, graffiti artist. Indeed.

In the morning, I walked past an older man on Houston Street. He was white, with mostly-gone grey hair and a round pot belly stretching the fabric of his polo shirt. He had his finger partway up his nose as he watched traffic go by.

I couldn’t help but laugh, glad that behind my sunglasses my eyes were obscured. He didn’t notice me until I was almost past him, jerking his hand away from his face self-consciously, as if he had suddenly realized there were people everywhere.

I get it, man. Sometimes you just gotta do you and zone out. But please wash your hands.

Later, I was buying tank tops for my summer work-out plan—maybe the first-ever successful one—at a big clothing store in SoHo. One of those stores that has a location in every shopping mall in America and many abroad, to boot. A group of elderly Midwestern tourists walked in, safari hats and maps and sunglasses-on-chains and all, and bumped their way slowly from section

Somewhere in Chinatown, nature is taking over.
Somewhere in Chinatown, nature is taking over.

to section, clogging shopping traffic and gawking at the ceiling, commenting on how huge it was.

What on earth, I thought, could inspire people to think that in a city like New York, so full of wonders and one-of-a-kind-ness, that a cheap store selling sweatshop clothes just like the clothes in every other of its thousands of locations would be the place to go? “Get out!” I wanted to yell. “Walk east! Go to Little Italy! Three blocks south is Chinatown, for fuck’s sake! We’re trying to shop here!”


Later, I crooked my fingers through the grid of wire fencing on the Williamsburg Bridge and looked back at Manhattan, making out the golden gleam of the statue of Audrey Munson atop the municipal building. I watched the city humming and marveled at its energy, realizing that whether there were 8 million humans swarming it and shitting in it every day, there would be just as much life here. It would be vegetable and animal energy, surely, and foreign to us and scary. But it would be just as alive as The Big Apple, with all its bustling, busy, over-important humans, its industry, its food, its strife.


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