Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: New York

My Love Affair With New York City

The Empire City, The City That Never Sleeps, The Big Apple, Gotham City and the Concrete Jungle. All nicknames for the greatest city in the world, New York. They say if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. And why not? New York city is tough. It moves at a pace that overwhelms and demands your very best all the time. We love our heroes, but are just as quick to boo as we are to cheat, if we don’t think we’re getting their best effort. The streets aren’t paved with gold, but not unlike a rainbow each street may lead you to a pot of that shiny coin. I’ve been in love with this city of dream makers and dream takers since I first breathed it’s air in 1979.

I was born in Brooklyn. My fondest childhood memories almost always have a New York City connection. Learning to ride a bike, watching the Mets beat the Sox in the ’86 World Series, the Bronx Zoo, laying on my back at The Museum of Natural History and wondering how they got that big blue whale in there, our version of a beach, drinking quarter water, eating real pizza from L&B, sitting on the stoop outside my grandparent’s house with my cousins in the Summer or chasing down the ice cream truck still stick out today, fresh in my mind as the day they happened. Keep in mind all of this happened before I was 7.

As I grew older, my romance with “the city” grew stronger. After we moved to New Jersey, I lamented not being able to walk, bike or take a train to my desired destination. I missed the diversity of sounds and would gladly have traded my sky full of stars for the neon and bright city street lights. Many weekends, during my adolescence, were spent in New York. Even today I remember the excitement I had when we’d start crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. It meant we were almost there.

In college, my parents would ship me real New York food, over night and packed in dry ice so that I could enjoy a little bit of home. Bagels, pizza, pastrami, cheese cake and rainbow cookies were just a few of the reoccurring deliveries. The wide eyes and big smiles of my friends as they sampled the goods still make me smirk.

Come this time next year, I will have lived in Chicago longer than I ever lived in New York. My time spent living in the Midwest is more than twice as long as my time spent living in the concrete jungle. Yet, despite that imbalance of time, I’ve never considered myself anything other than a NEW YAWKAHR. It’s become quite the excuse for why I am who I am and why I act like I do. I think fast, I move fast, I eat on the go, my patience for lines caused by people’s indecisiveness is non existent, I cross the street when there are no cars…not when the light says walk, I speak my mind even if what I say will sting and of course I believe anything is possible.

I love bringing people to New York. Even if it’s not their first time visiting, the experience is usually memorable. Because to see the Big Apple through the eyes of a real New Yorker is to see the city like it aches to be viewed…with a slice in one hand. Last year one of my best friends, a true Midwest girl, who now lives in New York City, showed me my city through her eyes. What a treat. I visited places I’d never been to, ate food I’d never enjoyed and experienced the city like an explorer. Honestly, that trip was one of my best trips back “home.”

The city and I have a love affair like I’ve never had with any person. Ironic, since the city served as a backdrop for falling in love with young lady…once upon a time, as we strolled through the village, stopping to steal a kiss in the park. Like a Woody Allen or Scorsese film, if you took away the city, the story would still be there, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as emotionally riveting.

True story, I know that it’s more of a “woman” thing to dream about your wedding day.  But, I’ve always imagined  getting married in the city I’ve always loved.  On the famous Bow Bridge, during the fall as the leaves burst with shades of red, orange and yellow was where I always envisioned it would happen.  Why the Bow Bridge?  For starters it’s located near the center of Central Park…the heart beat of the city…geography-wise.  The bridge has a limit for the number of people who can be on it during the service.  By design, this forces you to choose only the people who matter most.  In a city of millions, you’d be sharing one of the most important moments of your life with only a handful.  There’s something beautiful about that juxtaposition.

Traveling the world is great. London, Paris, Rome; I know these places. I walked the cobblestone of Paris, alone the Senne, while eating a warm baguette…it is no substitute for a warm bagel and the pavement running through Central Park. The same goes for the gelato I ate in Rome while strolling amidst monuments and buildings that were born during the great Caesar’s rule. For a moment these places capture your interest. But, they never capture your heart like New York City will.

New York is the only real city-city. Whether you believe it’s the heart of the universe or not, there’s no denying that New York has an unparalleled pulse, an excitement that’s contagious.

Those were the brilliant and eloquent words of Truman Capote. He said in 2 sentences what I’ve been rambling on about for the past 8 paragraphs.

I think the only thing I’d add to Truman’s sentiment is that after you’ve experienced the greatest city in the world your perception of every other city will change…nothing will ever live up to New York City and all that it has waiting for you to see, feel, touch, taste and remember.

A Prayer For A Child

Earlier this month I took a trip to New York City. On the recommendation of my very good friend Ashley, I popped into the Animazing Gallery in SOHO to check out their collection of Dr. Seuss prints. The gallery was typical SOHO…small, simple and breathtaking. Initially, I was enamored with a print called “Incidental Music For A New Year’s Eve Party.”

I was actually ready to pull the trigger on this print when the gallery curator stopped by to ask me if I had any questions. I asked her about the print. She explained some of the history and then offered to show me some other prints that weren’t on the wall. 10 minutes into the exploration I fell in love with a print called “A Prayer For A Child.” It was full of color and wonder. I connected with it. The print conveys the idea of dreaming. A child’s mind and imagination are precious. They are full of hope and the audacity to question the norm. There is no impossible. It’s ok to go big, because if you don’t go big, then you might as well go home. I love that idea. It’s how I try to live personally and professionally.

If you don’t like my description, here’s the official information from Dr. Seuss:

The painting, A Prayer for a Child, stunning in its vibrant colors and captivating in its galactic point of view, has been painted from the perspective of one child’s small place in the universe. The prayer, spoken in first person on behalf of that child, makes the connection between their cozy home and the heavens.

The history of the print as told by Seusville is fascinating.

Dr. Seuss tinkered with Christmas images and ideas for years, but it wasn’t until 1955 when he wrote, “A Prayer for a Child” that he put into words his thoughts about the true meaning of the holiday. In this poem, his one wish was not for material gain, but for peace on earth. His ideas continued to ripen and take shape and, in 1957, Random House published How the Grinch Stole Christmas! — the first holiday picture book ever to go beyond elves and reindeer and sugarplums to touch upon the deeper meaning of Christmas. Christmas isn’t just about giving gifts. Christmas is about coming together as a community, a message that is as resonant today as it was then.

The poem being referenced was:

From here on earth,
From my small place
I ask of You
Way out in space:
Please tell all men
In every land
What You and I
Both understand . . .

Please tell all men
That Peace is Good.
That’s all
That need be understood
In every world
In Your great sky.

(We understand.
Both You and I.)

I have to be honest with you. I don’t see the message of peace on earth in the visuals. I see the dreamer. But, maybe the idea of peace on Earth is a dream and the only way to make it happen is to be a hopeless dreamer…like a child.

Here’s what It looks like hung in my place in Chicago.

I have to give some serious thanks to the folks at Supreme Frame And Art here in the West Loop of Chicago. Inside of a day they framed the print, the accompanying poem and the certificate of authenticity. The work was speedy and professional, and the staff helpful and knowledgable. I highly recommend them.

A Tourist In My Own City

I spent some time in New York this week. I’m a New Yorker. Born. Raised. And, still in love with the city that never sleeps. For years, I always thought I’d eventually want to move back to New York. A few months ago I was in New York and I was stuck by the realization that I have no burning desire to get back to New York. I’ve outgrown it. I think when we’re young we have the energy to live in New York, but not the financial means, and when we’re older we have the financial means, but not the energy. I’m ok with that realization.

I still love the city. It’s the best city in the world for more reasons than I can write. But, the one I want to call out is that the city is never the same. It’s a living, breathing organism that’s constantly changing. The other day, I spent an amazing night out in the Big Apple. I hit up several new places for me: The Ace Hotel, The Breslin, Crif’s, Schiller’s and Please Don’t Tell.

Please Don’t Tell (a place I’ve never been to before, but can’t believe I hadn’t) was the last stop of the night. At roughly 1:30 AM, I stepped out, looked up, saw ACTUAL STARS, and had the realization that I’d become a tourist in my own city…and the person leading me around was the real deal New Yorker. The irony was not only was she a transplant, but had only been living in the city for the last 10 months. Just too damn funny.

A Meal Fit For A King

I had lunch today at Lugo Caffe.  It was outstanding. Seriously, amazingly good. I had the Crispy Lugo Pork Shank, which was larger than I thought it would be and one of the best food experiences I’ve ever had.  Great recommendation from a great friend.

A Historical Sign Of The Times

Snapped this at the New York City Transit Museum.  Considering all the bailouts we’ve been handing out lately, this seemed insanely appropriate.  The irony of course, is that Gerald Ford never actually said the words, “drop dead.”