"Monday 5 Things" with D. Paul Graham

Monday 5 Things…..Of Vagabond Shoes, Little Town Blues, and A City That Never Sleeps…..

Ah New York… how I’ve missed you. Late night walks and early morning starts – with camera in hand – a few days of meetings and having my batteries recharged last week, this awesome city was good for this scribe’s head and heart. Eight million people live in this city – one in every 40 people in the US call this home. Say what you will about the brashness of “New Yawkers”, I have had a love affair with this city and the people there since I first visited many years ago. I could have easily made this a Monday Hundreds, but alas shall limit this missive to the usual five. Today’s M5T considers what makes this city so special.

1.  The Skyline

If there is one city that will make me crane my neck from my aisle seat to see the skyline on final approach, its Manhattan. I’m like a little kid flying into LGA or JFK. I never get tired of seeing Lady Liberty in the harbor. To this day I wonder what new immigrants must have felt seeing her as they sailed into the bay. I then find great pleasure on each flight in finding the iconic Empire State building; the art deco design of the Chrysler Building, the architectural simplicity of the Seagram building, 30 Rock, the sixty stories of stacked boxes of 56 Leonard and the Brooklyn Bridge. I count each new tower being built. My heart still feels heavy not seeing the twin towers, but I marvel at the splendor of One World Trade Center that stands tall and proud, a testament of American tenacity, at the south end of the island.

2.  The Pace

New York can be like a shot of adrenaline to kick start your heart. The speed that everyone and everything moves at can be dizzying. Supermarkets, pharmacies and the subway are open 24 hours. Bars are open until 4 am, or later. The sport of finding a cab at rush hour (even though Uber and Lyft have taken away some of the fun) by stepping out into traffic to hail a yellow taxi. It truly is a city that never sleeps. What other city do you know that actually has a “nightlife Mayor” that has been officially appointed by the mayor’s office? True story, look it up. Despite the frantic nature of the city, areas of respite can be found if you know where to look. Designated “quiet zones” in Central Park, the green grounds of Flushing Meadows, the peace of Prospect Park, the Bronx Zoo, the beaches in Queens, a simple stroll along the Hudson, or taking solace from the hectic side of Wall Street by finding some quiet time in Battery Park. Near monsoon rains this Saturday forced me to abandon walking outdoors, but I managed to snag a cab up to the New York Public Library. I spent hours wandering the storied halls of architectural magnificence and the literary treasure trove. A bonus was finding an exhibit of photo books produced by women called “How We See.” Solitude and peace were mine for hours despite the chaos of sirens and horns blaring outside at 42nd and 5th.

3.  The Food

A guilty pleasure of mine is the “street meat” found in virtually every corner in the city. Whether it’s a “dollar dog” or some variation of sausage or gyros (you decide how to pronounce it)… I can’t resist. Add to that, the ubiquitous pizza joints. Pizza connoisseurs know that if you don’t perfectly fold and hold a slice, the most exquisite tasting oil will drip down your arm, ruining a well-tailored French cuff shirt. Not that I have ever had that happened to me mind you. New Yorkers know how to make a perfect bagel. For the refined palate in all of us, fine dining is a function of your credit card limit. Steak houses abound along with virtually any other type of food from any culture around the world. Be bold, experiment, walk off the beaten path. Some of the most incredible meals I’ve had in New York have been in little holes in the walls of side streets. Try something that you’ve never had before. It’s part of the experience.

4.  The Uniqueness

Where else can you find stores that only sell buttons? Or just ribbon? There is an actual Superhero Supply Company, if you find yourself in need a cape or x-ray vision goggles. “Story” is retail company that shuts down every month or so and completely changes what and how they sell products. Need to check your email on the subway? The NY Transit Authority has Wi-Fi. One of world’s most contemporary examples of modern architecture, The Oculus – on Church Street at the 9-11 site, is right across the street from St. Paul’s Chapel that was built in 1766. Macy’s still has 100-year-old wooden escalators. I defy anyone to ride these and not smile while thinking of Chris Kringle and the Miracle on 34th Street. Independent book stores are popping up and are experiencing a resurgence – their content can be as eclectic as their owners. Not to be outdone, Amazon, yes that Amazon, actually has two book stores on 34th and on Columbus Circle. Jazz can be found at midnight with syncopations into the wee hours of the morning. Free concerts abound – just Google to see what and who is playing were. Want to rock climb at 3:00 am? There are some climbing walls open all night. Virtually anything you want, need, or desire can be found in this city.

5.  The Resilience 

I arrived in New York last week when the bombs were discovered. Thankfully no one was hurt. In talking with some of the fine LEO’s in the city those couple of days, their commitment to making their city safe was inspiring. New Yorkers I spoke with were resolute in not letting this crazy person change their way of life. I spent Sunday morning walking around the 9-11 site. It was the first time I had a chance to visit since its completion. Rain the night prior left the memorial of names covered in wet drops. The most humbling moment of my morning came when I watched a security guard slowly making his way around the north memorial wiping water from names. I lifted my camera but for some reason stopped, and walked up to him asking him why he was drying certain names. He said they were his friends and colleagues that died that fateful day and he wanted to make sure their names were dry. He told me that he had the day off on September 11th. I couldn't’t take his picture. “Right through the heart of it, New York, New York.”

Here’s to being in a New York state of mind.

© 2018 D. Paul Graham, all rights reserved.

D. Paul Graham is passionate about people, culture, photography and business. He has embraced his wanderlust with his travels around the globe and is at peace with his need for spirited drives in all things automotive.

You can find M5T each Monday here on www.southmag.com and by friending D. Paul Graham on Facebook. Paul is also a contributing photographer to South Magazine. His photographic work can be found on Instagram @dpgraham and at www.imageGRAHAM.com . Your feedback is always welcome. Email Paul at dpg@imagegraham.com