New York, Yew Nork, You Gotta Choose One


by J.D. Rhoades

Yeah, New York…

It was an
adult portion. It was an adult dose. So it took a couple of trips to get into
it. You just go in the first time and you get your ass kicked and you take off.
As soon as it heals up, you come back and you try it again. Eventually, you
fall right in love with it.

-Levon Helm, The Last

 Well, maybe I’m just lucky. Or I’m a fast learner, although
there are quite a few people, including my wife, who’d dispute that. But I did
not get my ass kicked by New York at Thrillerfest. Nor did I fall right in love with it. What it was more like
was a really awesome first date, and you know you’re going to call for another
one, but there’s a little hesitation because this girl is  different from anyone you’ve dated before.

I’ve been to a number of cities promoting my books: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Omaha, even Boise, and they’ve all
surprised me each in their own way. I’d
never made it to New York,
though. Odd, because that’s where my agent and publisher are. But I confess, I
had engaged in a bit of snobbery regarding the Big Apple. I tended to roll my
eyes whenever someone started waxing lyrical about the place (See “City, Sex in
the”). Oh, please, I thought. It’s too
crowded. It’s dirty. It’s hellishly expensive, and the people are all jerks.

Well, yes. But then again, no. Crowded? Yep. Expensive? Oh
God, yes. Dirty? Well, I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to walking past
garbage bags stacked higher than my head in a pile that runs for twenty
feet down the sidewalk, a sight which I saw many times. But other than that, the place was clean
enough. I’ve seen worse in South Carolina. And the people were very cool, beginning with the guy at the airport
who stopped ranting about his late ride long enough to chat about his
restaurant in Long Island, right through to the people who didn’t bat an eye
when a crowd of laughing lunatics took over half of their tiny karaoke bar at 2
o’clock in the morning. 

Plus,  there’s
something about the place that sucks you in, that draws you out into the street
to see what’s going on. And  there’s
always something going on. I spent a goodly portion of the trip just "gone
walkabout," ambling through the streets, from the historic Flatiron Building to
the Empire State, to the Temple of the Book (aka the amazing New York Public
Library) to the capital of deliriously tacky sensory overload, namely Times
Square. And that wasn’t half of the stuff I wanted to see. 

And let me tell you…if I wasn’t careful, I could
ruin my health in New York in pretty short order. City that doesn’t sleep? It barely slows down. We’re
talking maybe eight hours of sleep total over three days.

So yeah. An adult portion indeed. (And thanks to Chris
Everheart for the quote). I’ll definitely be back. Because the last time I had
a first date that awesome, I married her. 

So, Murderati, Hellions, Thrillerfest Attendees, Friends,
Romans, countrymen…what’s your take on the Big Apple?

14 thoughts on “New York, Yew Nork, You Gotta Choose One

  1. Steven Torres

    NYC is a great city for many things. Not sure I would ever live there again, though. Sounds like you might have missed The Strand on 12th. Pretty awesome used book store.

  2. Bryon Quertermous

    I had a reaction that shocked me a bit when I was back in New York a few months ago after a six year break. I’d lived there for a while when I was 24 and absolutely LOVED the place and expected to feel the same way when I returned.

    Instead, it was like going back to your high school reunion and seeing the woman you were head over heels for. While she’s still hot and you can certainly see why you loved her, things have changed and you’ve grown older and don’t have the same starry eyed love.

    But you know you’ll still probably keep in touch.

  3. Naomi

    Love it. But the last two times I’ve stayed at a B&B in a brownstone in Park Place/Prospect Park. Totally charming neighborhood and close enough to green stuff (Brooklyn Botanic Garden) that I feel pretty balanced. Under two Ben Franklins and only a block away from the subway.

    The only thing that really bothered me this last time around was how polluted the Hudson was. We saw a plastic rubbish bin floating in the water. Sad.

  4. Louise Ure

    Speaking as a person who was robbed four times and mugged twice when I lived in NYC … I’m quite happy that love affair ended.

    Oh hell, I’d probably sleep with him again, but nothing long term anymore.

  5. simon

    New York fit me like a glove. I loved the place. I didn’t think I would, but I did. LA I always feel lost. NYC felt like home.

    And The Strand is pretty ace bookstore.

  6. Karen Olson

    Love New York, and I love that I can take the train in from New Haven for a day. Because going into the city is exhausting. I usually need two days to get back to normal afterward, but while I’m there, it’s so totally great.

    We spend a lot of time in Chinatown since my daughter likes to mingle among “her” people and there’s nothing like dim sum and then walking up Mulberry to get some cannoli.

  7. Stacey Cochran

    I probably raised my profile (not neccessarily in a good way) more at Thrillerfest this year than at any other single convention.

    I mean, come on, photographed with Clive Cussler, James Patterson, Jeffrey Deaver, Heather Graham, Lisa Gardner, and my friggin’ H-E-R-O Lee Child…

    It’s not a successful convention, unless you’re nearly thrown out on your ass, I say.

    See the photos here:

  8. Bill Cameron

    I think of myself as an urban boy. I grew up in the sticks, worked as a teen on a pig farm, and didn’t live in a zip code with more than 10,000 people until I was 17. But then I discovered the joy of urban living in first Cincinnati and then Portland, Oregon. I like being able to walk to the necessities of life, like coffee, groceries, the park. I feel perfectly at ease roaming city blocks. I’m an urban fellow.

    Ha ha. Then I make a visit to New Yawk and I know that I don’t have a clue what urban can really be. Portland is a sleepy backwater in comparison, a somnolent wannabe.

    But every time to hit the Big Apple, my first thought is, “I dunno if I could live here, but I’d love to try.” For now, there are important reasons to stay where I am, but maybe someday. That 24-hour energy has a real allure to me.

  9. JT Ellison

    Dusty — great to hang with you this weekend!

    New York is such a manic place. I’d be broke (sooo many cute clothes in the store windows), but also thin and blistered, because walking everywhere is the only good way to get around.

    Hubby and I thought we’d like to live there the first trip. After the second, we were doubtful. This third trip in six months, we’ve decided no. Great place to visit, but I feel better home in the quiet. There’s too much to do and see in NY, I’d never get any work done because I’d feel guilty not experiencing the city every day.

  10. Joan Conwell

    I will never, ever get NY out of my blood. You can’t really get a full taste with just a weekend mostly spent in a hotel. Let me know before you go next time and I’ll give you a list of things you have to see/do. They’re not in the guide books. 😉


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