There is a long and beautiful monologue in Colson Whitehead’s The Colossus of New York in which the author expounds upon the peculiar way in which the city lives, and the way that its inhabitants own everything in it, including the continuous and unstoppable state of change. The city, the reasoning goes, is always as you saw it when you first set foot there, and you become a New Yorker once you see an old place you once loved subducted and recycled to be something new. Your city lives in memory; the real city defies sentiment, swallows things whole.
I heard the author recite that passage during a film fundraiser. [...]
A beautiful piece from a June 1998 issue of the New Yorker:
Every window in New York was open, and on the streets venders manning little carts chopped ice and sprinkled colored sugar over mounds of it for a couple of pennies. We kids would jump onto the back steps of the slow-moving, horse-drawn ice wagons and steal a chip or two; the ice smelled vaguely of manure but cooled palm and tongue.
People on West 110th Street, where I lived, were a little too bourgeois to sit out on their fire escapes, but around the corner on 111th and farther uptown mattresses were put out as night [...]
You probably know and love the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, whether you’ve woven your way shamelessly and toplessly down its Brooklyn streets, leaving a trail of glitter and fish scales in your wake, or just admired it the way Gatsby watches that green light across the water. But it’s been there, glowing, since 1983, filling the streets of Coney Island with mermaids for one gorgeous and solstice-y Saturday every summer. And whether or not you’ve built a mansion to woo it, the Mermaid Parade is now in danger, due to the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, and needs your help. Otherwise it might be cancelled, leaving tens of thousands of mermaids [...]