Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Few Big City Views

Some observances from the New York Branch:
This is the view out the picture window at the elevators
on the 29th floor of ManPlaza.
I am often to be found walking the 6 or so blocks from my digs to the Equity building, to sign up for or to attend one of the big cattle calls which the union requires of many theaters. 

The other day, I was hiking up the street at about 8 AM, and passed the Broadway theatre which is presenting Newsies. There was a long line of teenagers camped out along the street outside the box office lobby. The show, I suppose, offers a certain number of student rush tickets for each performance, and the show is the Big Hit among the teen set (they must think it's brand new, as these kids in line could not have been very old when the film version was released). 
I didn't take much notice of these youngsters, as I was used to the sight of a lengthy queue of teens early in the morning: when Glee's Darren Criss was in How to Succeed...(for about three weeks), the line wrapped around the corner and down another block. So, I took no notice. About half an hour later, having secured an audition slot for later in the day, I was walking back home, and took a slightly different route. I passed another Broadway theatre, where there was one lonely girl sitting outside the box office lobby. Heavyset, with glasses, reading a book, she was the first and only person waiting in line to snag a student rush ticket. 
And the show the theater was hosting? The revival of The Best Man. The girl looked a little forlorn, sitting alone on the ground, with her book and her wool hat. She probably lives a lonely life in high school, in a world where everyone wants to see Newsies, and she prefers a Gore Vidal drama. I know which line I would have been in, had I been a current high school teen.

I've discovered during my time here that the belief that New Yorkers are rude is an absolute fallacy.  Yes, New Yorkers are usually in a hurry, so they look pretty unapproachable on the street.  But in my few months in the City, I have stopped numerous locals to ask directions.  (I am notoriously ignorant regarding any kind of buddy Greg had to inform me that my apt was facing a different direction than I thought, months after I took possession). 
The cruise ships which dock in Manhattan
do so a few blocks from ManPlaza.
I get completely turned around on the subway, so when I emerge from a stop, I am inevitably confused about which way is Uptown or Down.  I flag down a hurrying stranger to ask, and I have always been helped with enthusiasm and kindness.  In elevators, people are friendly and personable, particularly in my own building. 
Each holiday brings a new lobby display at Manhattan Plaza. They are always kid-friendly and non-denominational, so the Easter display offered bunnies rather than crucifixions.
Everyone seems so happy (and lucky) to be living at Manhattan Plaza, they're all in a good mood.  And you know that tradition where neighbors bring a gift of food or something to welcome you to the building/neighborhood?  In my life as an adult, that has never happened,  not in Granada Hills, not in Woodland Hills, not in Silverlake, not in Salt Lake City, not in Atlanta, not in South Carolina, not on Capitol Hill.  I've moved a good bit in my life, and have never had a neighbor show up with a welcome gift.  Until last week in New York, when a neighbor brought me homemade cookies. 

Oh, and speaking of the elevator: 

My building has 45 floors, and is serviced by a bank of 6 elevators. Since so few elevators service 800 apartments, you are rarely alone in one.  When I hop onboard in the lobby, with several of my building mates, I can't help myself;  I always check to see if anyone in the car is living on a higher floor than mine.  I'm on the 29th floor, so there are only 16 floors above mine.  If I am on the highest floor of anyone in the car on that ride, I win. (I don't know what I win, but I win.)

It's an involuntary, juvenile little game I play with myself whenever I am riding up the elevator.  I'm sure there is something psychologically telling about the fact that I like winning that little contest, but I won't be examining that too closely.  Perhaps it's a metaphor for opening this New York Branch of my life: it seems to be a winning decision most of the time, but sometimes does not.