Consolation in the Concrete Jungle

Inner Peace in Outer New York City

This city is a (cement and concrete) jungle; an overcrowded, tourist-mobbed, frantic-paced, overpriced, stressed-out behemoth of an American city. Though living here can be extremely exciting and resoundingly rewarding, the need for respite often comes into play.

Smoking weed, given the scarcity of and insulting price, is rarely an option. Bars are packed with assholes, pardon me, actors and aspiring assholes/actors, with a Jack and Coke topping $9, therefore equally unattractive. Solitude, even in one of the many, many parks, is near damn impossible, and talking to attractive strangers is completely unacceptable. Even eye-contact with the unknown is unacceptable. Yoga in the city is an insult comprised of Upper East Side trophy wives and their divorce attorneys.

So how does one find inner peace amidst the seemingly well ordered chaos designed to drive us all insane with to-do lists and new names to remember and endless lovers to chase after?

I’ve come up with a few options:

— Drink Six Beers: Hold in the pee, hold in the pee, hold in the pee. Walk out onto a smaller numbered crosstown street and between parked mini vans, trucks, or the like: Relieve yourself. Ignore pedestrians. This is very very relaxing. When sufficient urine is held long enough, the feeling can be almost orgasmic.

— Wake up at 4:45am Sharp: Thus allowing the last call folks 45 minutes to get home while  just beating the morning rush. For the next 15 minutes run, walk, sit, scream out in dance. In-joy YOUR city, give or take a couple crackheads.
— On cool rainy days–which there will be plenty of in the next couple months–barricade yourself in your apartment. Call in sick, turn off the phone and TV and sit by the window. Fewer people making noise will be outside of the window thanks to said rain and hopefully your roommate/spouse/girlfriend/partner/kids will be at work and school. Stare at the fan. Meditate on the floor. Master-bate on the fan. Mater-bate on the floor. Whatever.

— Do drugs. I try to avoid this one myself as double digit rehab stays were plenty. Though with all due respect to the Central Harlem Crisis Center, it’s slightly nicer dwellings than the name might allude. That said, for many this is a very viable option. Though heroin is harder to find than ever in the history of New York (you’ll need a phone number, the days of baggies thrown en masse out of a Stuy Town window are no more). There’s no more junkies at 109th and Broadway like in Bill Burroughs Junkie days, but the city is full of cocaine as it’s popularity seems to match that of the 80’s. In a city that moves at this pace I see why. Wipe the back of any toilet seat in any bar downtown and see what I mean (just don’t do it). OK, maybe not the 80’s but its definitely back and can be easily found at almost every club/ bar from the Meatpacking District to Williamsburg, BK. As this was written almost a decade ago perhaps by now all the way to the end of the J,M,Z lines. Lines. For heroin one might try the home-bums at the Ave A corner of Tompkins Square Park or the vicinity of the 6 train stop at 116th St. Avoid speed at all costs. This ain’t California.

— Walk down 28th St between 6th and 7th Ave. This is the Flower District. And if its not called that, it should be. Although located right in the middle of Midtown/Chelsea the block smells fantastic and dodging branches instead of people while walking down a New York sidewalk is very refreshing. Buy some plants. Avoid the weekday work hours.

— Several used bookstores dot Greenwich Village. Left Bank Books, Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Books, Strand (this ones a bit of a clusterfuck) etc. Visit them and browse. Talk to the owners, read some books, smoke a joint=they don’t care. They own used book stores and therefore are by definition extraordinarily cool.

— Have sex. If you’re having difficulties finding a partner check the Back Pages or the Village Voice. Or if you’re gay try Christopher Street late late night. It does unfortunately work much much better if you actually like theother person but there is no room for shame is the search for inner-peace.

— Ride the Staten Island Ferry. Given the cost: free, and the views: Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, the Lower Manhattan skyscrapers, the location: water, and the fact I think you can get drunk on it (??) its well worth a try. Employ cannabis where and when appropriate (the top deck).

— MAKE ART: The greatest credo I’ve heard regarding Western Capitalisms tendency to over-eat, is “Create don’t Consume” Write, paint, beat drums, mosaic your kitchen walls, batik the bed sheets, whatever. Theres a reason why so much of the worlds best art (in every imaginable form) comes from–or at least USED to–this city. Likewise, if you find God in church, go there.

— Good coffee shops are few and far between in this city and if New Yorkers would stop putting so much milk and sugar in their coffee they’d notice this. This being said, outstanding espresso does exist. For a sure thing hit what’s left of Little Italy. Try to find a shop that looks established and order an espresso and a canoli. Sit outside. There’s nothing better than Rosario Dawson ask if she can sit with you. Seriously. No. Thing.

— See Live Music: From classical to old wave, Mexican or Scandinavian metal to free-form Jazz, avant-guard accordion to freestyle Emcee battles….. It’s all here, and it’s all happening. Tonight. Whatever night it might be.

— Black Churches. I’m sorry, but nothing is more boring than a Sunday sermon, unless that sermon is held at Black church by a Black preacher with a Black Gospel Choir. You will rejoice, religious or not. You will sing, you will dance. There’s several options from Harlem to Brooklyn and beyond, just look for the words Baptist or Gospel in the name. ((DO NOT ENTER A JEHOVAH’S WITNESS HOUSE OF WORSHIP AT ALL COSTS!! For them the apocalypse is coming before dinner. There is NO singing, nothing to rejoice about, just lots of sitting and standing to a dismal speech of doom and gloom. My friends mother made me go every Saturday for the entire six months I lived with her. In Harlem. No Choir. Can you imagine??))

And finally, the best option and one I employ at least once a month;

— Leave. Within one hour of the city lie many outstanding options for rejuvenating oneself. My friend Kelly runs a horse farm in Jersey. Go riding. Have lunch and go for a hike around New Paltz or a drive out the Palisades. Hang on a private beach in the Hamptons (preferably by people you know). If you can take more than a week, I recommend going much much further. Say.. Mexico. PR. Even Cuba! If it works for New York’s “elite”, it should work for you too.

Hope this helps. Namaste hands. Middle finger in the air.





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