You want to know what my beef is? My beef is this:
It’s the L train. It’s the packed hipster masses. It’s the crowds. It’s not a hop in my step, it’s a limp. It’s never walking in a straight line. It’s like one big perpetual zig-zag. A careful crisscross of everyday obstructions. Of scaffolding, new and old. Of people, new and old. Of heels and luggage and cones and pot holes and grates and strollers and shopping bags and wheelchairs. It’s a cough on the train followed by a nose wipe and a snotty hand placed on the railing above. It’s an elbow in your face and a knee in your ass. It’s a conglomeration-a herd of cattle-that amasses at the bottom of the Union Square stairwell and ascends, step by step, in a disheveled but collective unison.
It’s every man for himself. Except if an elderly, disabled or pregnant person is nearby. In such instances, everyone’s on their best behavior. But when those folks aren’t present, shit can get crazy. Everything and everyone is fair game. Feisty aggressors become pushers and shovers. These people are not assholes. Nope, not in this bio-dome. These people are fittest, and as such, will survive the beast that harbors us. The meek, though…the meek get nowhere. These guys are swallowed up whole by the pushers, and left to rot. Or forced to fall behind and, consequently, arrive tardy to their brunch date.
It’s the demanding, hyperactive surge of the senses. Where your mind and body are always alert, and perpetually on. But actually, it’s the contradictions which cause me the greatest unease. Like the queue of impatient, expensive spandex-clad whom wait outside their local, donation-based yoga studio. Or the parade of homeless adults, picnicking in the park with beer. With so much grandness, and so much contradiction, it’s no wonder the city makes me feel totally, wholeheartedly, insane.
It’s a city where not everyone is rude. In fact, many people are quite nice! The problem lies in the size. It’s a number’s game, and there’s too many goddamned people on too small a fucking island.
A guy asked me on the subway why I was talking to myself. He found it “weird.” I told him that I found his scarf made of cat weird, but hadn’t thought to tell him so. He continued to press me on the issue and finally I relented. “You want to know why I talk to myself?”
“You see” I say, calmly, to Guy and his boisterous shadow, “I talk to myself because I fear that if I talk to others, to the masses, my words will not form. The timidity, which presupposes all consonants, will suffocate under the weight of each impending vowel. Unsurprisingly, it will be this very act that culminates in one fantastic vocal forfeit. Unsure of my own voice, and distrusting of my own vernacular, I’ll become capable of only garble. Intelligible by none other than babies, themselves.”
He looked at me, face void of expression but eyes filled with light. “Interesting,” he says, tears forming beneath his eyelids.
Guy isn’t the only one who finds me…how do I put this? A little off.
A friend of mine questions why I videotape myself all the time. He mistakenly assumes that the creativity behind each video is a result of the city’s inspiration And honestly, he’s wrong. I want to tell him that I think he misunderstands. That my inspiration for ‘home video’ derives not from the city and its fantastic claims at fueling curiosity. In fact, hell no! These cinematographic performances are merely naked depictions of my wit’s end.
Rather than punish the city for its constant torment, I have chosen to fight back with an even greater malice. The videos, in their own way, are attempts to sequester what would otherwise be an impulsive and violent reaction. They’re my very own way of saying, “Hey, New York! Go fuck yourself!”