My brick and concrete overview of New York City, ignoring parts of Staten Island as one usually does

Here’s my account of New York City, no better or worse than anyone else’s, but I hope you find it helpful. There’s a great variance in temperature, having all four seasons– snowy winters, hot summers, falls full of orange and read leaves, springs full of flowers. There’s no difference from any moderate climate. If you go to the outskirts, you get a peek at the wild life that once occupied the land. In the Bronx Botanical Gardens, you can spot blue jays and cardinals. My girlfriend, who lives in Staten Island, sends me pictures of peacocks, turkeys, and deer. When I was younger and lived in the North Bronx, I’d see the occasional blue jay– but the urban landscape is sadly comprised of a few animals– few of which are well-liked: Rats, cats, dogs, and raccoons. You can also spot Skunks in Baychester. Pigeons and robins are everywhere. I don’t know anything about their current vibrancy as species, but they appear to be resilient and scrappy. I remember observing the birds, as a kid, always impressed by how the cold weather didn’t appear to affect them, how quick and alert they were for food.

You can find people of different kinds here, but you can also go your entire life without associating with people outside of your ethnic group. The city therefore grants people the opportunity to be cosmopolitan, but a person can also remain as backward as anywhere. The internet has democratized things a bit. It was once the case that people were more dependent on this monstrous concrete and brick hulk, focusing their efforts on it, building it, and putting their love into it. Now we don’t focus as much on physical places like New York City. We’re more and more on the internet.

People have continued to live in New York City, in spite of the ebb and flow of its relevance. Something about it is cozy. The word associated most with the locals is “bodega”, the name given to a corner store typically owned by a Dominican or Puerto Rican in most of the Bronx, Northern parts of Manhattan, several places in Brooklyn and Queens I would guess. There are also may Yemeni-owned corner stores, which are pretty good too. I’ve had lots of good sandwiches from those places, usually after having stumbled home drunk from a bar in my late twenties. There are many bars, far too many for me to name. You can find good craft beer places, the types of places I would visit that would normally carry obscurely-named porters and stouts of high alcohol content. But, if I were ever in a tough spot, I would settle for a place that served Belgian Beers like Chimay and Delerium Tremens. On my nights out in the city, I experienced the full range of who people could be. I, who was once sheltered, was at once assaulted with life’s beautiful and darker elements. I saw people at their worst and I saw myself at my worst. Now I’m at a point in which I’ve forgiven others and have also forgiven myself. I don’t drink so much anymore. My greatest pleasure is derived from a cup of coffee, which never has to be fancy. It can be a simple cup of coffee and I would be happy.

I wasn’t allowed to drink coffee as a child, but I think my grand mother made me try some when I was seven and I hated it. Then an Indian lady at Dunkin Donuts shoved a cup of coffee in my hand in my twenties and told me to drink. So I drank. I was hooked on regular coffee ever since. I can already picture the coffee snobs turning their heads in disgust. I drink mine with cream and three sugars. I hope that, no matter where my readers are in the world, they have a place they can sit and drink coffee and chat. I hope the chats are pleasant ones and that they carry meaning without them simply being an exchange of pleasantries. Meaning and pleasure are not opposed, but the empty exchanges on the weather on the outside without us at least addressing our weather in the inside of ourselves will do nothing but increase our dread as we labor through life. Coffee can be had in a number of ways. I like mine in a very simple and straight forward way. The corner stores all have coffee. The few diners that still exist here all serve coffee. None of it tastes as good as coffee I once had in Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo, but, whatever the coffee, it generally does the trick and helps me cope with life. Living in an urban climate, full of grays, with people dressed in black, constantly laboring for the bare minimum– you’re well set up for drudgery. Coffee is right there with you throughout your annoying morning commute on the subway, which has a bunch of guys yelling “Showtime”, flailing about, and sometimes kicking people. There are sometimes homeless people who sleep on the subway trains. They’re normally left alone– but be mindful if you notice that all train cars are full and a single train car is empty.

I think the important thing to note in the time of COVID is that you can get good take out in New York City– take out from all over the world. Sure, you can make your own, but that would take away precious time I can spend typing, eating, Netflixing reality television, wondering how many versions of a British bake off show can be created, watching every single version of British bake off shows. What is a place, really? Frank Sinatra made a song about this place so I guess that’s cool?

2020 Year in review

I’m here to tell you that this was an awful year. I hope that your version of awful was, in a way, less awful than mine– but we’re here, whenever here is. Let’s try to enjoy this moment which is likely to be filled with booze. My particular booze, at the moment, is red wine. I don’t really go out much, these days, with the plague and all. I tend to be surrounded by a couple of glowing laptops with a big screen TV behind it. Whatever the matrix is, I’m sure I’m plugged into it. Be informed of what’s coming. The world is in danger.

The coronavirus killed hundreds of thousands. Some of us have experienced it to a greater extent than others, but most of us have, in one way, experienced it. Some of you are learning what it’s like to work from home and love it while others hate it. Some of you still have to work outside and deal with nasty people who cough all over everything. Whatever your situation, I wish you a speedy recovery from the hellscape that was 2020.

It’s my hope that as people we can learn to be a little kinder towards one another, that whatever philosophy we adopt enable us and encourage us to act compassionately towards one another. Maybe buy your friend a pair of sneakers. Maybe hold a door for someone. Mentor someone. In some way try to balance-out the negative with the positive.

I tend to like religious people, having once been religious– but I’ve never liked the idea that we have to wait until the day of judgement to make things right. “So what if the only world we have goes to hell if God is going to set everything right?”, you say, and I’m disappointed you’re such poor stewards of the world the greater power has given to you. If justice has a sword, look where the sword has gotten us. We’re a mess and it’s because we don’t know how to cooperate.

Even now, after thousands of years of nations and ethnicities fighting one another, we haven’t advanced past the need to use violent means for resources rather than learning to collaborate to ensure there are enough resources for everyone. If aliens ever visited us, we’d be ashamed of the state we’re in. Half the planet’s on fire. Not all of us are clothed and fed and have basic needs met. How pathetic. When I was a kid, I used to fantasize of 2020 being a futuristic year, but we’re sloppy as the human race, not at all worth a damn as a whole.

On a micro-level you find one or two compassionate people in life. Some people say that most people are actually good people. Well, if that’s the case, how do you explain the fact we’re on the edge of destroying ourselves? It’s time to look at ourselves clearly and realize that violence is counterproductive. We must support scientists and we must also advance in technology. We must take to the stars and we must build robots. We can’t continue to be held back by backward thinking.

Let’s finally be serious and ambitious with our advancements, discarding the belief that competition in the pursuit of individual greatness trumps the greatness of humanity as a whole. We’re full of ourselves because we haven’t been confronted by a greater intelligence. We haven’t pushed ourselves to become better overall because of our infighting in spite of the world being more connected than ever.

I write to you now who are thousands of miles away, saying, “I come in peace.”

So I obviously don’t eat people and what I wrote was a work of fiction.

I can’t believe I have to explain this, but I do not like to eat human beings. What I wrote was a work of fiction written from a monster’s point of view. If someone is writing horror, they’re not supposed to write it from a straight forward, wholesome perspective. People write about vampires all the time. They just sound fake. And maybe stop making them goth. I mean, goth vampires are cool, but they don’t all have to be goth. They can be imagined in different ways.