July 18, 2016 – Sun, 90 degrees
Miles Today: 11
Miles to Date: 13,253
States to Date: 33
New York City is packed with people, even in summer. People are polite, if not exactly friendly, but we develop a veneer here, quickly, to give each other space in a place where space is scarce. I don’t approach many people with my question. It seems intrusive.
Still, there is much to glean by rolling through the city at my pace. New York may well be the most diverse place on earth. All ages and identities appear to coexist with more ease than I’ve witnessed elsewhere. The extremes of rich and poor are great, but less glaring than say, San Francisco.
I think about The Green Metropolis, in which David Owen postulates that Manhattan is the most energy efficient place in the United States. That may be true on a per capita consumption basis, but it really doesn’t translate to a sustainable model we should emulate. Yes, New York is efficient because it’s so dense and there are so few cars. But the density pushes human limits and disconnects us from, rather than links us to, the natural world. When you consider all the external energy it takes to make New York work – including major portions of New Jersey and Connecticut – the argument is not convincing.
I spent a leisurely morning in a deli, eating the world’s best bagel and the largest black and white ever. Then I rode over to Riverside Church and had a conversation with Michael Neuss of Orpheus Orchestra, a chamber orchestra that has developed a collective process in which all forty members participate in selection and interpretation. They have no conductor. It is a fascinating example of truly participatory democracy in action.
I got stuck in a torrential downpour along the Hudson River bike path, but fortunately part of it is under the raised West Side Highway, so I just waited it out with other cyclists and then pedaled on to the sunshine, among them a fresh graduate of The Actor’s Studio on the way to his second rehearsal of a new play. Now that guy was excited!
I went by many of the new buildings near the High Line. Am I the only one who thinks the new Whitney is the 21st century version of brute force over elegance just as the original was in the 20th century? I find an unsettling correlation between the new metal monster and its concrete cousin.
And since when did Jersey City have a skyline?
When I reached my host’s in the Lower East Side I was treated to a night in a true tenement – a five floor walk-up with a WC closet and a bathtub in the kitchen. Patrick took me on a two-hour evening walk through his neighborhood. The streets pulsed on the summer’s night breeze.