I get a lot of, “How could you leave the City? I could never leave New York.” It would seem as if there’s probably a long, complicated answer to that question, but there really isn’t. It’s simple. My New York City is gone.

New York is a city in constant flux – stores open, restaurants close, leases are lost, ever-increasing rents drive out age-old businesses. Only the currently-culturally-relevant survive. New York cannibalizes itself. New York is constantly reinventing its blocks. That’s now-gone downtown Tower Records below – my first NYC job.

towerThe metropolis of Tower Records, Greenwich Village jazz spots and cabarets, theatre district costume shops, and the old lunch counter in the 34th Street Woolworth’s has slowly been transmuted into a city with a Starbucks on every corner, stacks of steel and glass condos, and a theme park version of Times Square. Transmuted so slowly, you wouldn’t have noticed if you were not watching.

Nowadays, when younger folks say things like, “Oh, I love New York! It has so much character,” I sound like a bagel-toting old codger. “Character!? What character? You should have been here in 1990. That was character!” Has it really been twenty years? How time flies.

grand-luncheonetteReally, I came here on a whim. One sunny day in a state far, far away, I thought, “Hmm. Maybe I’d like to go to New York,” and the next Friday, I got on a bus. I arrived in New York City in 1990 with $150 in my pocket and directions to the YMCA. One of the first things I passed was this luncheonette on 42nd Street. Didn’t know a soul. Worked out beautifully though. I’ve had a lot of wonderful jobs, and I’ve been a a poor squatter in an apartment building with no utilities. I’ve hung with fancy folks in Park Avenue penthouses, and I’ve known the scum of the Eighth Avenue XXX district. I’ve dined with Broadway stars, and I’ve produced plays in moldy, damp basements. And I’ve even ended up fairly well adjusted. Ha! So you see, this whole New York City thing seems to have worked out nicely.

Now, it’s time for a new set of adventures. Something along the lines of country-gentleman-without-the-wealth.

I admire folks who decide what they want to do and just do it, whether that’s raising a family, becoming an actor, learning a new profession, or opening a business against all odds. That’s what I try to do. I like to do things that by all rights, should probably be considered impossible. When folks say things like, “I would love to just up and move to Hawaii,” I’m the person that says, “Then, why don’t you?” Usually the person informs me that “there’s just no way I could do that.” I disagree. There’s always a way.

For instance, I’m sure there’s some kid getting off the bus at Port Authority with just $150 in his pocket. My New York City may be gone, but the current version belongs to him. Go get ’em, kid.

See you next month, Adirondacks.



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14 responses to “Ghosts

  1. Congrats on the next half of your adventure in life! I can think of no better place than being out in the country!!

  2. Marilyn

    Funny, reading your post made me even reminisce of my youth in the city…I know I live in Ct. but every weekend we would go down to the ‘Village’…Oh, how I loved it THEN…And that was the 60’s & 70’s…So now I have my youngest going there today to see a ‘Show’…She already knows New York like the back of her hand and Loves it…Not for me any longer, to busy and too much change from what it was like…
    So some Change is Good and I believe your Change suits you now!!! For Every Season…
    Always My Best…Marilyn

  3. Wait – Tower Records is no longer?? I used to go there at 2am when I got out of work. That just stinks.

    State Fair – like, the one in Solvey/Syracuse?

  4. It’s kind of like a form of ennui when one chooses to completely reinvent themselves or their surroundings.

    So different than a refugee experience.

    For those that are not “bored” or forced, change can be inexplicable and threatening.

  5. reneé

    great post my friend!
    now you have left me guessing as to what far away state you are originally from?!?!

  6. I like reading your thoughts on your past-and your future.

  7. We’re shaking out the welcome mat up here…. !

  8. I am so envious. I often wish that I could do this, but alas, we haven’t found “the perfect place” yet. There are many places that we love, but nothing that seems just right.

    Good luck with the move!

  9. That’s how we ended up moving to the Great North Woods region of NH. Hubby and I were looking at a “future” retirement place/weekend camp and thinking “wow, wish we could live here now but we’re not ready to retire.” A friend wisely commented that if we were serious we’d find a way. We’ve never regretted it.

  10. Corin

    very much enjoyed this post. great perspective. we all have memories of the way things used to be…funny, I wonder how long you’ll be “that guy from the city”….good luck with your long list of stuff to do before the big day.

  11. well said. It’s not just NY that goes through changes, either. Two years ago I saw a lot of change come to my quiet rural corner as gas wells were drilled, a couple houses were suddenly added. It made me wonder if I could stay there when the place I loved was slowly disappearing. I’m still hanging on but sometimes I feel like Daniel Boone, waiting for the smoke from other’s fires get too close for comfort.

  12. hideawayhill

    My question would rather be “How could you stay in the city?” Way back when I lived in the “suburbs” of the City, it was like small town living up here. Now the traffic in Plattsburgh even drives me crazy. We (inside the blue line) have the last quiet and peaceful corner of NY.

    When did Tower Records go? Sam Goody?

  13. Yeah, I’m just past it. New York City is a wonderful place, just not for me anymore. Tower Records went out of business a few years ago. Sam Goody is gone to – you reminded me of that one that used to be by 4th Street near Tower.

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