One Belongs to New York Instantly

Thomas Wolfe said that. This is an account of Wynne & Alison's journey in the Concrete Jungle. And Alicia Keys said that. Follow us along as we attend NYU, work, and live in the big city. Funny things happen to us in Indiana, imagine the funny things that will happen to us where dreams are made of...
Contact us: NewYorkInstant@gmail.com

A Piece of Santa’s Real Suit

On Monday afternoon I went to the Lower East Side to volunteer for an art project with elementary school children. 
We were making holiday cards for hospitalized children. Strictly NO words or slogans like, “Get well soon!” or “Feel better!” 
"Some of these children are terminally ill," an after school instructor whispered to us with serious eyes, "They’re not going to feel better. We don’t want the kids reminding them of that." 
The rest of us volunteers nodded solemnly. Right. We watched her tape these instructions to the greenish-blue institution tiles of the cafeteria wall. There were three tables set out, and I chose one on the end after watching all the other volunteers cluster close to the front. 


The kids we were making cards with were second graders.
It’s been awhile since I was a second grader, but I hadn’t recalled just how still-kids-but-kind-of-not they are. They couldn’t spell for shit, and they all had that kid handwriting where any letter with a stick and D’s and B’s are a total free for all. But they were also talking to me like little mini-people, telling me what they’d learned in class and giving more than enough information about Captain America to last me a life time. 

I was working with two boys and two girls. One of the boys, let’s call him Boy A, was rambunctious and talked a lot. The other little boy had round cheeks and barely said a word, though he had impeccable coloring skills. 
The girls were both loud and proud. They volleyed for my attention, and huffed at one another as I often saw in high school when you couldn’t BELIEVE that girl just said that. 
This was my first volunteer session for this agency, but having had experience with kids and temperamental females before, I felt fairly prepared for the interaction that occurred next.

Since we were making holiday cards, a natural holiday topic was Santa Claus. Girl A and Girl B had very differing takes on whether the Big Man Himself truly exists. All of said views reflected heavily on what they had certainly been fed by parents. 
Girl B was a believer, and shortly became aghast that Girl A and Boy A were not. 
"If it’s not Santa, then who is it?" Girl B asked.
"It’s the moms and the dads!" Girl A said, standing from her bench and leaning with relish into Girl B’s face. Crap, I thought. Was I witnessing the moment of Girl B’s belief having been ripped from under her? 
Girl B was not ready to give up. “No, everyone knows that Santa gives two presents to all the kids.”
Hm, I thought to myself. That’s right, two presents.
Girl A just leaned farther over the table and said, “He’s not REAL.” I was shocked by just how teenage her sarcastic drawl sounded peeling from her mouth.
"Then how come every time I go to the mall he’s there?" Girl B countered.
Girl A and Boy A reared both their heads back and laughed. At this point I had to stop coloring, and lean forward as Girl B jumped off her bench in order to retaliate. Our volunteer leader had heard the commotion and was hovering over me, waiting to see if I could handle the problem.

"First off," I said, giving the eye to Girl A since she was my instigator, "we’re not yelling. If you guys want to talk you’re going to have to quiet down." Girl A paused for a moment to allow this stranger to tell her to can it. "You can believe whatever you want to believe, and so can she." This worked for about thirty seconds before they were at it again. I had to reach my hand across to separate them. A paraprofessional saved me by calling Girl A by name and telling her she’d have to move if she didn’t calm down.

I felt terrible. Not only had a failed to calm down the argument in a more meaningful way, I wondered if Girl B hadn’t just lost a bit of her childhood right in front of me.

I told Alison and my dad about the incident after I left, and most of our stories, no matter how many generations and families apart, were the same. I’d had friends from college tell me the same too. 
They found gifts in their parents closets that later came from Santa. A sibling had spilled the beans. A peer had revealed something their mother had told them about Santa.
But for me I couldn’t remember the exact moment I stopped believing in Santa. Like so many other things in life, there was the before and the after but no in between.
I could vaguely remember a conversation at the fourth grade lunch table about when we’d all learned Santa was fake, and feeling both a little embarrassed and a little sad that for me it hadn’t been that long ago. 

Perhaps more importantly, it was my memories of believing that I always remembered. 
Growing up I had a non-traditional Christmas tree. It was made of grapevines and twisted into a cone shape. We sat it on top of a snow covered side table that usually lived in the formal living room. All the decorations had to be miniature since the tree was smaller. My parents had collected them over the years. There were fake feathered birds that sat around the top, including two yellow ones my mother’s cat had mistakenly taken for real and chewed the heads off of. There was a white orb covered entirely in googly eyes given to me in childhood by a friend of my father’s. My mother hated it, so I took great pleasure in hanging it every year. There was a wooden mermaid that I had chosen on my first trip to Greece as six year old. It was only painted on one side, so my father had colored the other side in detailed and beautiful crayon. If you pulled a string down by her fins her tail swayed. 


Despite all of my friends having big evergreen firs, I never envied them. I loved our tree and the way it lit the room through the curly branches. I used to peer inside of it, looking at all the lights and decorations from the inside out.
My aunt Julie had sent me a Christmas decoration that sat around the base of the tree next to the frankincense and mir. It was a piece of red felt with a tag that read, “A piece of Santa’s real suit” in teenie tiny script. I used to sit on the couch next to the tree petting the felt between my fingers. I would hold my breath with the immensity of the thought: this was from Santa’s suit. This had SEEN Santa. 


Another year, my childhood stuffed rabbit, Bunny, needed a new vest from Santa. Given to me by my other aunt, Holly, Bunny was/is a well loved toy whose neck began to give out early. My parents suggested I ask Santa for a vest or something of the like to protect Bunny’s neck from tearing or falling apart. This was a great idea, I mused to myself, wondering how my parents always had such helpful suggestions when it came to Bunny.
On Christmas Eve, my father reminded me that I would have to leave Bunny downstairs. Wait. This had not been a part of the deal. It took my dad a couple minutes to convince me that I would have to leave Bunny downstairs if I wanted his vest to fit right. I was skeptical. Wasn’t Santa kind of intuitive about this stuff? But whatever, my dad had yet to be wrong about things so I supposed I’d better trust him.
Once the anxiety wore off about spending a night sans-Bunny, the jealousy sank in. Bunny was going to SEE Santa himself. Not only that, Santa was going to pick him up and fit him with a vest.
I helped my parents set Bunny next to the grates of the fire place. He was next to the plate of homemade donuts, a carrot for the reindeer and one of my mother’s juice glasses full of milk. 
When I came down in the morning, most of the treats were eaten, the milk was gone and Bunny sat propped up on the fireplace bricks with a new sheepskin vest around his fragile neck.

Once the yelling had died down, I went back to my coloring and looked over at Girl B. She didn’t seem distressed, but I couldn’t hear what was going on in her head. Was she questioning what until now had been one of her favorite things about Christmas?
Childhood is such a strange thing. It goes by so fast, and when you look back upon it it’s often as if it happened to someone else. You said and did things so uncharacteristic of your adult self, that’s it’s often the moments of Santa-skepticism and embarrassment we remember most clearly. But those are adult emotions, so no wonder those come to us the easiest.
Children walk around the house naked, they sing at the top of their lungs, they get entirely filthy and they reject eating food that doesn’t appeal to them. It’s only as adults that we become embarrassed of our nudity, whether we can sing in key, how much it costs to have something dry cleaned and going on our next diet. 

I’ve always thought Beatrix Potter’s idea that animals can speak on Christmas Eve (as featured in her story “the Tailor of Gloucester,”) was wonderful. I remember wondering if our dogs in high school would lay in their kennel on Christmas Eve chatting, the one night a year they could use their words. What a fantastical concept.
And what a wonderful thing to believe so purely in the idea of Santa Claus. It’s lauded on television and in that Virginia story every year, but I’d never seen it in person. Or been forced to reflect on it.
Here we were not allowed to discuss illness with sick kids, and made watch as a child much to young to have had her belief refuted yelled about it. Both examples of adults condemning a child’s innocent sense that something could get better soon. 

Long after I stopped “believing” in Santa, my Mom still left my bigger gifts out on the floor unwrapped from Santa. Both my Dad and stepmom still leave gifts under the tree to my stepsisters and me from Santa. (We also get gifts from their cats). 
It was of course an allusion back to our younger years, but I like to think it’s my family’s sense of belief lingering just under the surface. 
I decided on the Lower East Side on Monday afternoon, that I will be an adult who believes in Santa. Of course I acknowledge the unlikelihood of such a phenomenon. But if I were to look up on Christmas Eve and see something in the sky, or strange footprints on a rooftop, I’m going to be easily swayed that it really was Santa after all. And who knows? Maybe late on Christmas Eve Fezziwig will tell me he saw something unusual out the window.

Girl B and I colored next to each other in silence for a minute. Then I leaned over and whispered to her, “I believe in Santa.”
"You do?" She asked.
I nodded, “Yea.”

You’re Too Old to Enjoy That and Other Lies

I had planned on starting this off with something a little more mature, but honestly, I can’t think of a better way to put what I’m about to say. 

You’re never to old to laugh at farts.

That isn’t a lie. You’re never to old to use your manners, but to think that a fart is funny: nope. You’re never to old.
I’ve seen a lot of posts (and written one myself) about following your dreams in your youth, because when else are you going to have such passionate dreams and the physical body to do them in?

I’m forced to swallow what has come to be a bitter 20-something pill when I remember that the reason so many twenty-somethings don’t go off and move to Paris, or write their first novel or fall in love with wreckless abandon is because there’s a lot of obstacles. Paris ain’t no cake walk for your bank account, and it’s hard to write a full novel after a 12 hour entry level shift and quite frankly the last person you were dating scraped your heart out of your chest with a melon baller thank you very much self righteous blog.

Anyways, that being said, I’d have to say there are things that many twenty-somethings judge themselves for. I’ve touched on this in earlier posts, but let’s just consider this the “it’s okay” blog post for the twenty-something who can’t move to Paris but wish they could.

1. Food Is Meant to Be Enjoyed
It’s true that you get what you put in. And if you’re always putting in beans, cheesy rice and a margarita on the rocks don’t forget the salt, you’re going to get…well…you know. But this is the perfect opportunity to bank on your physicality. Sure you’re 22, 24, 26, etc. You are physically able to run around your block or go to the gym. Whether or not you do those things is up to you, but because you’re able and your metabolism is the best its going to be (not counting how slim and trim you were at 18), you might as well just ENJOY that steak dinner or McDonald’s 20 piece, however your boat floats.

2. Harry Styles is Hot
So whether or not you’re a Harry Styles fan really doesn’t matter. If you’ve shared a breath with me in the past six months than you know I definitely am. And while those close to me might question that I’ve ever hidden this fact, I can assure you, I did. He’s SO YOUNG, he’s in A BOY BAND and I’M LIKE, KIND OF OLD. But I realized that it all boils down to one thing: He makes me happy. Stalking his life on Tumblr because I can makes me happy. Talking to Jason about whether Harry or Niall is cuter (obvi Harry, but I love Niall too), MAKES ME HAPPY DAMMIT and it’s okay to enjoy it. Just because I’m a professional now who worries about things like health insurance doesn’t mean I can’t like someone who’s in a boy band. I mean, maybe if I liked killing people because that made me happy then people could convince me that it wasn’t the best choice. But until then, I think I’ll feast my eyes…

3. Turn Up Cops Please
So reality television is kind of like Harry Styles. I know it doesn’t enrich my life, but I still enjoy it. I’ve been feeling guilt about watching reality television for most of my “adult” life (so maybe 3 years?) It has taken me that long to realize those shows are marketed to people my age and various other members of my family (I’m sure my stepmother has nursed a Real Housewives addiction for some time now). Not every interest that we have is going to pass the cool test that society likes to give everything. That stack of manga by your bed? Cool test says nerdy. Competitive Scrabble online? You guessed it, nerdy again. And kind of weird. Sewing your own outfit for prom? Risky and you might look like a sack of potatoes, but the cutest potato sack I’ve ever seen. Not every hobby is going to make you look like a rock star, but that’s not something you should spend any time worrying about. Turn up cops, bee tee dub.

4. Suzy Homemaker Thinks You’re a Failure
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a great cook. I can whip something up from virtually nothing, and tend to do better without a recipe. Among other recipes, Alison can make a good quiche. I mean, most people alive can’t make a good quiche because IT’S QUICHE. So in that department, Suzy H. is loud and proud. That’s not to say I’m in the kitchen every night slaving away. Our interior decor skills grow a little every year, but I’m jealous of just about everyone else’s skills. I often times find myself comparing to girlfriends whose homes look so put together that the Pottery Barn catalogue on their side table is crying. I wish my home looked like that. I wish my kitchen made things that tasted like that. And sometimes it does look and taste that way, and most of the time it doesn’t. Whatever side you find yourself on, whether your curtains are pressed or your curtains are old bath towels you take down when your mom comes over, you still have curtains. We can all agree that the important thing is no one can see your ass out the window when you’re changing.

5. You Like Being Single…and the Benefits That Come From That
To say that there’s major social and personal pressure to get married when you’re a twenty-something is like saying the Civil War kind of took place in the United States. People are pairing off left and right, and more often than not with the first thing they’ve tried off the buffet. Many loving and historical couples have begun this way, so no knocking those that have found true love. 
But I see many of the rest of us wandering around wondering if we haven’t done something wrong. If maybe we haven’t come off the production line with all our parts in tact because we haven’t found someone yet. But let me tell it to you straight: this isn’t weird. Trying more than one thing off the Person Buffet allows you to not only learn what you want in a partner but learn what you want in yourself. This can only create good things. I’m not the same person I was at 22, and I’m only 24 now. I can only imagine what will be important to me at 26 and 28. Hopefully we find partners early that grow and change with us, rather than apart from us. But for those of us who haven’t entered into wedded bliss, that’s okay. We’re still learning about ourselves and our lives.
It’s okay to ENJOY being single! So many people gasp at this statement. But I know men and women who enjoy the physical aspects of being single just as much as meeting new people to have new discussions with. That feeling of not being tied down and being free to explore yourself and your interests is a great thing that singledom encourages. It’s okay to like every part of that. Eventually someone will love that you’ve taken the time to care about yourself in that way.
In the mean time did you see the goods on that cowboy….

 

Dog Dayz

If you’ve shared air space with Alison or me in the past two months than you know that the little honey bear caught snuggling up there is our scottish terrier, Fezziwig.

Since becoming same sex parents, Alison and I have been indoctrinated into the “dog culture” of New York City. A club that is heavily populated but whose intricacies are rarely discussed. We’ve also learned more about the city itself. New York is like an indecent lady, always hiking her skirts up just a little higher to reveal a little more leg. Despite yourself, you peep through your fingers and yup, there it is. Too much information. 
Having a dog has been kind of like that.

1. Chicken Bones
Who knew New Yorkers were eating so much chicken? That they were sucking down all this chicken and just happened to drop a bone or two on the ground? In our old neighborhood we even stumbled across an entire BREAST BONE—ribs and all. Could this disgusting remnants of a guilty pleasure dinner not have made it into a trash can? Alison and I were both forced to pry Fezziwig’s jaws off the breast bone more than once. The scary thing is that these bones can’t actually be digested by dogs but are literal grease magnets to their sense of smell. So next time you’re polishing off a chicken wing, do New York’s dog population a favor and throw your bone in the bin.

2. No Shame
When a dog’s got to go, it’s got to go. He does not care if you haven’t showered, much less put a bra on, and the supers that work on your block have seen you in that stained sorority shirt twice this week. He also doesn’t care if he just evacuated his bowels in front of a trendy Upper West Side restaurant or that a Columbia graduate student resembling Adonis in the flesh just heard you shriek, “Fez, potty!” three times.
And we’ve found that in time, we don’t care either. Taking the dog out has become such second nature that now it’s New York who has to suffer through our sorry appearances and our dog’s temperamental GI tract. So take THAT Manhattan!  

3. Motherhood
Just when I thought I couldn’t have a mothering bone in my body, I adopted a dog with my same sex roommate.  
Now I’m planning playdates; (“Yea Kim, just bring Buddy right over! We can walk them together.”) I lie stationary on the couch while he slumbers on my chest and sometimes I’ll occasionally coo, “Such a good boy.” When we leave the house with him in tow, I carry my purse, stocked with dog water bottle, treats for good potties, a snack (for him), napkins should there be an emergency BM that gets out of hand, his dog bag slung over my shoulder—and I even stop on the sidewalk to put on my sunglasses and tug on his leash to say, “Fezzie wait, Mommy isn’t ready yet.” 
WHO AM I?! Parenting Magazine would like to know!

4. Mysterious Hot-ness of Dog Trainers
It’s no great mystery why women are drawn to men who are assertive and commanding, it shows a masculine, albeit [gently] domineering side that is sexy! (Did I say that right?)
But Alison and I were not prepared for the unusual sexiness of animal trainers. Since animals don’t speak English, communicating with them is, naturally, a little bit more of a challenge. So in walks this calm, cool, collected male specimen who can GASP! basically tell us what our dog is thinking. And all Alison and I really want in this world is for Fezziwig to express to us in vocal form how much he loves us. Alas, that dream is far from realized, so here is this trainer man who can like, basically do that?
Turn up the sex appeal. Rawr. Pun intended.

5. Lassy is to dogs what Victoria’s Secret Models are to Womankind
You’ll never be that good so stop trying.
Sit Fezziwig. Fez, sit. Sit. Sit Fez. = Waistline shrink. Shrink, waist. Waist. Listen to me waist, shrink. 

6. A Renewed Respect for the Literary
When someone doesn’t recognize our dog’s name origin, I momentarily judge them. Don’t worry friends reading this who didn’t get it at first, it’s okay. I still respect and like you, I just probably judged you for a second. Or two.
As someone who has also grown up with a unique name I sympathize with Fezziwig’s plight, and repeating his name to the echoes of “Huh??” comes quite naturally. 
And if you thought this was going to end with me telling you where the name comes from, you are sadly mistaken. Read a frickin’ book for once.

7. A Renewed Respect for Babies 
If you know me at all, you know I am not a baby person. Dirty nappies and shrieking aren’t really my cup of tea. 
But wiping liquid shit off your dog’s ass at Chelsea Pier and quieting his yips inside his doggie travel bag while on the train will humble a girl. We’ve had a slight taste of what parents deal with every day. Every time someone is thinking, “Who does that girl think she is dragging her poor dog onto the train in that stupid purse?” (For the record, our bag is a DOG BAG with a petting zipper and plenty of airholes, NOT a purse, but I digress…) I have with guilt, realized that I have been that person begging in my mind for parents to silence their bratty little kid screaming in their stroller. (I’ve never felt this way on airplanes, I’m too busy dying inside for the parents who are probably already dead, so I suppose I earned a few karmic points). 
Dogs are a lot like babies in that they don’t care whether you’re ready for them to explode in their pants, or cry, or not listen to you, or get a piercing without your permission. Ultimately, Alison and I still lucked out, because the biggest difference between dogs and babies is that dogs can be left at home when you get sick of them.

But would anyone really get sick of this face??

the Five Points

The place that is pictured above, was at one point in history, one of the most dangerous, diseased and over crowded places in the Western world (other than pockets of London’s East End). The pale grey line extending into the sky is Freedom Tower, an interesting addition to the former Five Points skyline.

At the corner of Mott and Mosco, looking ahead at Columbus Park is all that is left of New York City’s Five Points. Of the original streets that made up the Five Points, only two really remain. Worth St. (formerly Anthony,) and Baxter (formerly Orange; pictured below in 2013). 

For those of you unfamiliar, the Five Points was a slum of Civil War-era Manhattan, and the criminal culture of said slum eventually gave way to organizations and gangsters that are a regular part of our vocabulary, including Lucky Luciano and Al Capone (more on that later).
Even more importantly, the Five Points was inhabited by immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Africa and eventually China (the former Five Points is now Chinatown), and represented all that America had been built on in it’s short life. 
Former Dutch settlers created a fresh water pond called the Collect that they used to do Dutch settler stuff like hunt, grow crops, trade and bring things in to port. (If you’re really interested in why they built the Collect, head to another blog). Needless to say, the Collect didn’t take as Manhattan grew to be an industrial and overpopulated city, and was covered up and built over. Long story short, the cesspool created by said cover up was smelly, and made for a poor foundation. Buildings built over the old Collect sank into the ground, releasing rank odors that the Five Points would later be known for. 

The Five Points was inhabited by poor immigrants, and was mostly ignored by the rich businessmen and women who lived uptown. Forcing the plight of the Five Points into well to do living rooms was journalist Jacob Riis, who took photographs and published them in a book entitled “How the Other Half Lives.” (The book is easily purchased today and some of his photos are shown below).

Children in NYC’s Five Points by J. Riis
Of course rich New Yorkers were shocked that just a few miles away from their comfy brownstones, children slept in filth, whores were murdered on the street and immigrant families slept 8 to a single room in tenement housing. 
Another to bring attention to the Five Points was journalist Herbert Asbury, who put himself in the thick of the Points’ criminal culture to write “Gangs of New York.” (His work would later be the loose inspiration for Scorsese’s film of the same name.) Asbury found plenty to write about, since gang activity in Five Points was essentially the area’s (also known as it’s political region, the Sixth Ward) only form of governance. Gangs like the Bowery Boys (anti-immigrant and anti-black), the Dead Rabbits (the Irish gang, the name’s origin is interesting in and of itself), the Eastman Gang (Jewish and led by Monk Eastman), the Whyos and even weirder ones like the Roaches and the Plug Uglies. (Daniel Day-Lewis’ character is loosely based on the Bowery Boy’s leader, William Poole, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s father is loosely based on Priest Vallon, the first leader of the Dead Rabbits.) Due to the heavy gang activity and constant turf wars, it was safe to say that the Five Points rarely saw a moment’s peace.
Alleyways in particular were especially dangerous, below is Bottle Alley:
J. Riis
Bottle Alley and it’s equally dangerous twin Bandit’s Roost, are now home to modern day Columbus Park.
Leader of the Five Points gang, Paul Kelly, an Italian whose criminal mind brought him to the forefront of gang activity in New York (he would hire Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Johnny Torio before their prime) had a headquarters that still stands on Great Jones Street in NoHo. The location of this building has been verified by the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation. What is now a Japanese cafe, and around the corner from B Bar (an outdoor bar and restaurant I’ve frequented despite heckling), used to be the headquarters of Manhattan’s most notorious gangster. See below.
For those of you less interested in gang history, and more into art history, Andy Warhol and John Michel Basquiat both owned or lived in this building (separately) up until 1988.
What is perhaps most intriguing about my recent interest in New York City’s history, is the fact that so much of the old historical bits are still reflected in their modern day locations.
The Five Points is now Chinatown, an area built entirely on immigrant foundations and frequented daily by tourists from around the world. An neighborhood that essentially created the concept of a “melting pot” is still very much one to this day. 
The chaos of New York in the 1860s is still reflected in the bustling streets of Chinatown. Street vendors accost you from all sides, fruit and vegetable stands line the brick buildings and the pervasive smells of seafood and chicken shops threatens to overwhelm you.
Men and women speak to one another in different languages, mothers shriek at their children. Said children stall in front of you like little greasy urchins, threatening to knock your bubble tea out of your hands. Columbus Park is full of throngs of Asian Americans, traditional Chinese music played out of old velvet cases while homeless men sleep on benches and young men laugh and needle each other.
I’m not sure whether to applaud Manhattan for allowing these cultural landmarks to go unnoticed. One has to know that they exist and search them out on foot the way I did today. There are no markers, save the one in Columbus Park, that might indicate the importance of the ground on which you stand. Part of me thinks perhaps the land deserves some sort of recognition, other than the sensation that if you closed your eyes you might hear the clopping of horses hooves over cobble stone.
The first tenement house still exists in Chinatown at 65 Mott Street. It is, sadly, a tacky tourist shop next to Big Wong’s. (I shudder at the realization, but have a photo for your viewing pleasure). But in 1824, the seven story Mott Street tenement was a big kahuna next to it’s two story neighbors. Researchers have estimated that 32 to 36 two-room apartments were squeezed into the 2450 sq ft building. With the knowledge that a typical family housed 6-8 people in one apartment (sometimes more with boarders), that gives you an idea of what the Mott St. tenement may have been like back in the day. Landlord’s avoided building maintenance as it was costly and often deemed a waste in the Five Points neighborhood, and buildings were stifling in the summer, freezing in the winter without ventilation or running water. 
65 Mott Street, with the blue awning.
History, right next to Big Wong’s. 
This may be modern day Mulberry Bend, a street that led from the rest of the city into the Five Points. Not only did I suspect this was Mulberry Bend from the uhm, bend, but by walking down it, I was able to find Mosco and Mott from what I recognized in photographs. 
This last photo is taken at the end of the remaining Five Points intersection, at the entrance to Columbus Park on the Mott side. I took it because I recognized the dip in the asphalt from my online research. It’s said that the sinking in foundation caused by the Collect hundreds of years ago has endured, causing parts of Chinatown to sit higher than others. 
As I walked down the alleyway, feeling satisfied with both the city and the Earth, I turned once more to look back up at Mott. And I saw this. A small downhill slope leading to the park. It was as if I could hear the city’s heartbeat beneath my feet, faint though it was.
For more on the Five Points, and for the info I provided here, see the following:
"How the Other Half Lives" by Jacob Riis
"Gangs of New York" by Herbert Asbury
Anthropology in Practice: the Five Points Then and Now http://www.anthropologyinpractice.com/2010/04/five-points-then-and-now-landmarks.html
"Gangsters and Artists on Great Jones Street" from the GVSHP
http://gvshp.org/blog/2012/01/05/gansters-and-artists-on-great-jones-street/ 
And for fun…”The Alienist” by Caleb Carr

A Final Homage

The time has come the walrus said….

That quote has more meaning to us now than ever. Today I spent the morning ordering moving boxes, calling the local library about donations, and changing the address on the nearly six magazines I am subscribed to (much to Alison’s chagrin). 
Now I am sitting at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on 83rd and 3rd next to a European tourist at the same table, having just purchased our moving boxes and Yelp-d a potential moving company (don’t nobody use Prestige!)

The summer is bearing down on us already. The high today is nearly 92 degrees, the humidity sticking to the back of your neck. In fact, it reminds me of the weekend we moved to New York nearly two years ago. It was in the nineties then too, and we hadn’t the where with all to Yelp our movers, who came barreling up our stairs, sweating on all our stuff and left with nearly $600 in cash after refusing to give me a receipt. 
I can remember praying that they didn’t show up tomorrow claiming that we hadn’t paid them, sitting in our un-air conditioned fifth floor apartment amongst all our worldly possessions thinking: What do we do now? 

This time around, the move proves to be a little smoother. 
Condensing, donating and throwing away have an entirely new meaning. More stuff means paying the movers for more hours, the online company for more boxes, yourself for more time, and berating your apartment for not being quite big enough for this shit you really should’ve gotten rid of by now.
We used recommended movers (that this time have a business card) and are having the boxes shipped to us same day for 70% off. The Yorkville branch of the NYPL will be the lucky recipient of many YA and other novels that I have read the past two years (if you’re interested, get up there fast) and for some somewhat fashionable duds, get thee to the Goodwill on 89th and 2nd, as many of our former favorites will be there as well. (I won’t tell anyone you’re wearing my sweater).

But more than that, it’s saying goodbye to our neighborhood. The Upper East Side was hawked to us originally as a place for old people, not trendy, not somewhere two 22 year olds would want to live (I’m dating us a little here). 
But we soon found this wasn’t the case.
It was nice to be swarmed by the trendy hip-ness of the Lower East Side, and then go home to the Upper East where the vomit and B-rated falafel stands couldn’t follow us. The restaurants were nice, the park was close, the water was close, everything seemed within arms reach.
And the important things, that any person would want within arms reach: Chipotle, Urban Outfitters, Crumbs, the Stumble Inn, McDonald’s, two movie theaters. Sandwiched between the park and the East River, what more could one ask for?

Apartment 5A has likely seen better days structurally. But that didn’t prevent me from having stress dreams in the months leading up to this move involving us having left our only New York home for a new one I’d never seen before, or that resembled a warehouse.
It has been our only home in New York.
The scruffy shiz tzu up the street. The European hotel smell from the luxury building on the 3rd Ave. corner. Two Starbucks and a Coffee Bean. The hill at the E79th entrance to the park that’s perfect for laying out with your face in the shade and your body in the sun. Beygolu for the best Greek salad and hummus in New York. The B rated Burger King next to our movie theater without a single window and with shitty service that we still went to way to often. 

I’m sad to leave these strange oddities, the things that make a place your home. 
But we’re ready to make new ones.

And just before you worried for us too much, there’s a Chipotle and American Apparel across the street. Like I said: arms length. 

The 20-Something Midlife Crisis


Like most mental health crisis, I’d thought I was the only one afflicted.
Unique to my situation, I also thought that New York City was playing a heavy hand in it, and only some people people in my circumstances wouldn’t understand the city’s influence.
 
In both ways I was wrong.
It started in two ways: one because I was waking up in the morning feeling constricted and two because I began to read a lot of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
I didn’t read Hem and Fitz BECAUSE I felt myself loosening, I realized I was loosening because of the literature. I felt the Green Light of my ambition and career goals-my ultimate fulfillment-in the distance. But like Gatsby on the other side, I wasn’t sure how to achieve it. I was throwing around these temporary solutions like he was throwing grand parties, and ultimately, Daisy wasn’t walking through the door.
 
On one hand, I felt very sure of myself in regards to my chosen profession. I’m lucky that I feel fulfilled by social work, because it’s one of the only things I’m innately good at. If I felt like I might be fulfilled by being a surgeon I’d be screwed: that kind of thing would be lost on me. And raise your hand if you’d want me operating on you in the future (yea, I didn’t think so).
On the other hand, I didn’t feel fulfilled by what I was doing. I was tired, more tired than I’d been in a long time. That thrill and challenge I was used to feeling with my clients, and have written about here, was gone. I was going out less during the week, and going out too much on the weekends. I wasn’t producing creatively. It was as if I was stitched up at the sides, and those threads were loosening, allowing everything important inside to spill out.
If I was sure about my career path, than what was happening to me?
When I read the works aforementioned, I read about people who made choices because they FELT like it, because they WANTED to. Even if they didn’t have enough money, even if they didn’t know what might happen if they made a certain choice. There was a definite allure emerging in the idea of doing things based on urges or desire. How long had it been since I’d done something like that? Made a big decision, or really any decision at all, just because I wanted to? (Buying that box of Oreos at Gristedes and texting my ex not withstanding).
Speaking of which, my personal life also left some to be desired. Here in 1920s literature were examples of couples loving fiercely and hard. Neither party contemplating what it might be like to divorce, or worrying about financial stability or whether or not their friends liked either of them. Here I was barely able to digest the anxiety caused by online dating, and marking yet another tally for the side of my scoreboard that read “Relationship Ended In Me Feeling Like Shit,” while the boards labeled “Satisfying/Successful” or “Just Fizzled/Not Successful” were left relatively blank.
 
Alison encouraged me to remember that the grass is always greener. Which, I had been doing my best to remind myself. While none would doubt the romantic ASPECTS of Zelda and Scott, Ernest and Hadley, one might admit they wouldn’t want to be a PERSON in either of those relationships. The Fitzgerald’s spent most of their time as broke alcoholics, and Hemingway had failed marriage after failed marriage until he ended his own life after lifetime bouts with depression. Sure, both couples lived in Paris during the Jazz Age (in shitty, low rent apartments). Sure, both women were married to literary geniuses and are now immortal figures (but who cares if their mortal lives, the ones they experienced, were miserable due to ill treatment by their so-called partners?)
 
So there were definite cons to just acting on a whim. But something had to give. I couldn’t stand at the end of this dock anymore pretending I wasn’t interested on what was on the other side.
I tentatively expressed my feelings to friends all around the country. I expected to be reminded of how alone I was in my dissatisfaction. I was surprised to see a pattern emerging, so much so that when I shared it with my aunt she agreed as if she’d known all along.
 
The Twenty-Something Life Crisis has been going on for years. Possibly even centuries.
 
There’s a tug and pull between what your body and your newness can provide, and what your life knowledge allows you. It is a cruel truth, I’m learning, that while us twenty-somethings are at our physical and mental prime, we’re also the least prepared for what we’re engaging in. Hence the reason we so often feel like we’re “playing” adult: because we are.
What do I really know about filing taxes, holding a professional job or maintaining an on-going relationship? (So far, call dad, show up on time and choose someone different than before). Everything we’ve learned is like training wheels, especially for those of us in college. College is a mile stone because it is life with training wheels. It gives you some exposure, but you can’t ride a two-wheeler until the training wheels are removed and then, shit, what now? You’d felt so sure on four wheels, and now that you’re on two you realize what you’ve learned isn’t keeping you from riding down the street all wobbly.
 
I often worry that I’ll be in my 30s and 40s and look back at my 20s thinking, “What a waste.” I had the best body, the best and freshest opportunities, I was physically fit, at the height of my life’s education, but because I was still learning life lessons; not able to enjoy a minute of it.
I am constantly plagued by insecurities: Mostly related to my physical appearance, failed relationships and career.
Constantly I wonder whether or not I look or feel fat, whether anyone on the train can tell I haven’t washed my hair in two days, whether or not that boy/man finds me attractive. Constantly I wonder if I’m destined to die alone, if I shouldn’t just relax and give in to that nice guy, why I let that one guy get me down for as long as he did, forgetting how able and smart I am and let the guy with the “Bad Boy” resume take me out, torturing myself when it doesn’t work out. Constantly I wonder if I’m making enough money, as much money as my friends, enough money to pay my bills in the most expensive city in the world, if this is what I want to do, if I’m any good at it, if maybe someone else would do it better, if I’ll ever feel like an expert in my field.
 
My father and aunt (along with most objective third parties) tell me to JUST RELAX. I know that years from now, I will have wished I’d done that more. But that’s part of the Twenty Something Crisis: you can’t. Without years lived, I have fewer chances to rely on past experiences that have worked out. When everything seems out of my control, how can I just relax and be sure that if it’s going to work out, it will?
I was surprised to learn that nearly all of my friends in their twenties felt the same way. Their futures were unsure as well, in nearly all the ways that mine are. It manifested itself in different ways, one friend was questioning her entire field of work, another felt drowned by future insecurity, another unsure of an on-going relationship failing to fall in tandem with her successful career.
A unique female trait is that we also tend to doubt ourselves: maybe it’s US. We’re not good enough, we don’t work hard enough, love hard enough, take good enough care of our bodies.
 
I wish that I could end this with a hunky-dory How To about what steps I took to come through my Crisis, but I still feel very much in the midst of it.
I’m still reading Fitz and Hem too, and I still feel the same way about gut decisions now as I did last year when I started reading.
But there were a few things that I was able to remind myself that have helped, so I’ll share them in hopes that maybe another Twenty Something can add them to their arsenal.
 
1. If You’re Not Happy, Find Out What Makes You Happy
This is certainly easier said than done. Maybe you think you know, but you aren’t sure. I found it helped me to think about my unhappy moments in order to determine when I was happy.
For me I knew that I didn’t like filling out government paperwork or direct service provision as much as I liked one-on-one counseling or crisis work (ironic, right?) For me, this allowed me to learn that counseling and crisis work, something I’d once thought wasn’t a career goal, really was. That’s what makes me happy/professional-personally fulfilled.
Also, writing makes me happy. Thing Number Two that I’ve been born innately good at. (Don’t get jealous, the list is only two things long). I was writing less. I assumed because I was so emotionally drained in other areas. My ability to create was being stifled.
If you’re not sure what makes you happy, don’t stress. Most people take lots of time to determine this, and being happy isn’t something that’s sustained, it’s something you have to work at. Just take note of the moments you feel happy, and keep track. Journaling, I hear, is a good way of giving yourself a personal record of your Happy Journey.
 
2. Once You Know What Makes You Happy, Pursue It.
Since the hard part of deciding what makes me happy was over, I knew that I needed to take active steps to be that way.
Of course there’s a level of Realism applied to this stage.
It would make me happy to live in a loft in SOHO with an all black Range Rover. But I can’t afford those things, nor are they as important as some other immediate goals.
My mental health was first, as were reaching my career goals.
So I made the decision to actively persue my social work licensure. Being licensed would give me the ability to counsel one-on-one again. I also enrolled in writing courses in the city, giving myself a concentrated time to be creative again.
If you’re not sure what to do with your happiness kernel, do some reasearch. If you’ve considered going back to school in a particular area, reach out to friends and family that have done that. Then research programs. How much does it cost? Can you work through a program? What doors does it open? Where do you want to be and ultimately what do you want to do? Research may give you some further insight into your next steps.
 
3. Eat Healthy and Exercise
This one is so much easier said than done. For me, it is a daily struggle. I love how I feel after I work out, and eating healthy (thankfully) has been instilled in me my whole life. But I live in New York, where gym memberships are hundreds of dollars a month, the parks are rape grounds after dark, and it’s easier to get something delivered than it is to count to ten.
I’ve found however, that when I do these things, I worry less about what I look like. Negative thought processes about my body, and the changes its gone through as I’ve gotten older are a never ending battle. Surrounding myself with positive people has also helped me work through that (Alison reminds me almost every other day that for the hundredth time, it’s not normal to be the same weight you were senior year of high school so shut up). Those people also can commiserate that yes, that model does look pretty and skinny (so you know you’re not crazy) before they go on to the aforementioned snapoutofit.
When you know you’re taking care of your body the best you can, the rest of it you can chalk up to genes, God’s graces, and let it go.
 
4. Feed Your Mind/Soul
For me, I’ve always been a creative person. In the most literal sense: I love to write, take photos, paint, etc. Seeing movies, attending concerts and listening to music are also important to me. Unfortunately I don’t do these things everyday, and even less often when I’m feeling down in the dumps or overwhelmed. Which seems strange, considering these things tend to keep me so centered, it’s when I feel LEAST centered that I let them fall away.
Being creative and having an outlet is something you have to work for. My aunt has always told me that if you REALLY want something, you’ll have it: you’ll make time, you’ll save money, you’ll learn, etc. If you don’t do those things, then you really don’t want it as bad as you think. Most of the time I think this is true.
If you want a creative outlet, you need to work for it. It’s probably something you’re already interested in/good at, so it’s really just a matter of finding time.
You can do what I did and create a formal time (attending a class, going to a concert, etc.) or you can just give yourself personal goals (For example: this week I will work on my screenplay for 30 mins). You REALLY don’t have 30 mins? If you’re anything like me, my guess is you definitely would if you turned off the TV/computer, and tuned into yourself. I often write while I watch TV….(is that cheating?)
 
5. Remind Yourself Of What’s Good
Twenty Somethings have to remind themselves that this is an on-going exercise. You’ll probably never stop doing it, which is a good thing. It’s a life lesson we learn from a young age: Be thankful for what you have.
But that saying has new meaning when you live as an adult for the first time in your twenties, because the reality is that you really just don’t have much. Especially for my fellow TwentySomethings who live in a city where it’s a million dollars to breathe the air.
It’s so easy to count the things that are the Big Suck: the plaster hole in our bathroom ceiling (for two years running), our boyfriend-less existence (make that healthy relationship-less existence), our lack of perfect bodies (less visible if we suck in like this), lack of furry companion (possible impulse pet buy coming up).
Yet I’m lucky to have many opportunities through out the week that help remind me how lucky I truly am. Just yesterday as I trudged up the dirty stairs of our building wondering why it always looks so shoddy, I knew how lucky we really are to live in Manhattan at all. So many people only dream of being a part of NYC, and we’re a part of it every day. I don’t have to worry where my rent money is coming from, or that I’ll have a place to sleep at night. That’s much more than other people can say, and for that I am thankful.
 
When I run along the reservoir and can see the skyline lit up by the water, the trees in Spring green, making shh-ing sounds in the wind: I live in New York City. It fills me like a deep breath, the realization that despite it all I know I am happy where I’m at. That’s something too: most twenty somethings are saving money to be where they want to be, or only dreaming about it. Alison and I are lucky to have that crossed off the list already at such a young age. People (and some I know personally) sell their soul to live in Manhattan. There’s so much that sucks about living in a big city, but I still feel like it lives up to all the hype.
 
I have a career path I’m sure of (even though I’m not sure how I’ll get there), I have a family that supports me, I have friends that love me, I have an open heart and a hopeful soul (anticipating there is a man that one day will want to love me), I have my health (something I’ve learned through painful lessons is always a good thing), and a hopeful future: because (oh yeah) I’m only twenty-four.
That’s a lot of good for one person.
 
I’m hopeful that my Crisis will be averted naturally as I leave my twenties and enter the more practiced zone of Thirty-Something. Luckily I’ll have some old geezer friends to prep me for whether or not this is true.
In the mean time, I say, much like a Twenty Something Optimus Prime: You are not alone, we’re out there. Meaning: you’re not the only floundering twenty something.
And—you have to trust in the knowledge you’ll gain. It’s going to come, and if it doesn’t, you’ll search it out. If your present in your life, we have to be half way there right? Lean on your team members, who ever they are. Even if you shoot a basket on the wrong side of the court you’re still playing the game.
 
Don’t let this keep you from Fitzgerald and Hemingway, either. Those books will make you feel young in a good way. It is so very good to be young after all.
(By the way, that photo is of my friend Val and I in Paris, Val, I want to note, is not having a midlife crisis, neither of us is enjoying the Cafe Creme.)

5A’s (NY Mag) Year in Culture

This week, New York Magazine’s “Year in Culture” hit news stands. As culturally diverse women, Alison and I of Apartment 5A believe it is our duty as NYC bloggers to respond to the article, which broke up culture into (somewhat) distinct categories: Music, Movies, Art, Theatre, and TV. 

We know about that shit. 

So here’s what we had to say about each category, including a wish list of things we have yet to see and experience. An Agree means we agreed with NYMag’s assessment, and a Disagree means, well, you get it…
Without a Ag/Dis means we’ve just decided to add it, or the category entirely.
It helps to have the magazine article handy, but we’re pretty sure you’re going to enjoy our list no matter what… 

MOVIES

BEST OF THE YEAR

Friends with Kids 
AGREE
Written by Jennifer Westfeldt (Jon Hamm’s real life wifey), this movie tells the story of two adult friends who decide to have a child together. The story is laugh out loud and it also breaks your heart, but mostly it’s delightfully real. A good choice for a date movie you’ll both actually enjoy.

Perks of Being a Wallflower
More on this book in a little. Even though the trailer is nauseatingly “You’re so unique! Go for your dreams!” the movie itself is a grand exploration of what it’s like to be young when your life is being impacted by situations out of your control. The story tackles serious issues from domestic abuse to sexual molestation, but it never for a moment feels contrived or preachy. The three leading stars are likely to thank for that, as well as the book’s author writing the screen play.  

Most Honorable Failures

Anna Karenina
Disagree
Sure, Alison slept through the last 40 minutes (maybe an hour, but who’s counting?) but the movie itself was still good for two reasons. One, it’s shot on a stage, literally. The actors and actresses move from room to room while the sets are being removed behind them, and emotions are conveyed through stage lighting. The concept works, and it looks amazing. (Well, the whole movie looks amazing. The costuming and set design will likely see Oscar nods). And as much as we here in 5A are on the fence about Keira Knightley, we have to give her props for choosing challenging roles and giving them her all. She’s a good choice for Anna, and does the part justice.

The Campaign
Agree
This shit was mean spirited and not funny. Devastating considering its potential. 

Best Channing Tatum Movie of 2012
Agree

"21 Jump Street" It was funny, even NY Mag readers laughed. 

Two Movies with Matthew McConaughey That Are Horribly Violent and Horribly Interesting

Killer Joe
When Emile Hirsch’s character owes money to a few small town thugs, he devises an ill conceived plan with his stepfather to have a family member murdered by Killer Joe, Matthew M. in a role that is pure brute force. When Hirsch can’t come through with payment, Killer Joe takes possession of his young Lolita-ish sister. The whole movie will make you cringe, but nothing quite like the final scene. The man behind me in the ticket line tried to warn me, and I brushed him off. But trust me, you’ve never seen violence done quite this way.

The Paperboy
A role that will finally set Zac Efron apart from his sugary romantic past. Efron is reporter who falls in love with Nicole Kidman’s Southern train wreck of a character, who is helping research her incarcerated fiance’s crime.  John Cusack plays the fiance, and he alone is a chilling figure. Add Matthew M. who plays Efron’s sexually closeted brother taking the case by storm and you have a strange story that will stay with you long after the credits roll. Oh and there’s plenty of anal rape and murder to satisfy every freak in the audience.

TELEVISION

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Girls
NY Mag had a whole article dedicated to the “Undulating Curve of Lena Dunham.” It outlines the back lash and back from back lash “Girls” received in its ground breaking first season. Sure, most of the starring cast has famous parents. The characters are “spoon fed brats.”
Whatever.
Here’s five simple reasons why “Girls” is easily a top three show in 5A:

1. It’s real in the ways that matter. The girls are fat. The girls are broke. The girls live in Brooklyn.
2. The girl’s relationships are shit.
3. Adam.
4. Pregnancy scares are no joke. When you’re friend calls you and says, “Holy Shit” you drop everything and schedule her abortion. You don’t wax poetic about what it might be like to be a mom with your bestest pals. Looking at you Carrie…
5. Getting a job is hard and your parents just don’t understand.

Best quote to summarize the show’s similarity to real twenty-something’s lives? “Oh you’re embarrassed by this? Well that’s because it’s really embarrassing.” 

NY Mag’s Kids 5A’s Girls of the Year

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Cara Delevingne
Sure she’s the skinniest bitch on the block. But she’s got the fiercest eyebrows, two of our favorite designer’s campaigns under her belt (ahem Burberry ahem Chanel) and she seems like she wants to laugh. We want to laugh all the time. 

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Jennifer Lawrence
She grew up in Kentucky. We’re from Indiana. Through six degrees of (actually pretty legit) separation we basically already know her. Sometimes she’s a little bit too tomboy for our taste, but if you ask Alison sometimes I’m that way too. Oh yea, she chooses good roles.

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Rhianna
Sure her Instagram is a train wreck. But we LOVE to hate this girl, and we (not so secretly) love her fearlessness. There has to be respect for a woman who has no qualms about baring her breasts, her formerly abusive boyfriend and her tattoos in memory of her grandmother (wait, ironic?) for the whole world to see. You Go RiRi.

Emma Watson
Her style and her short hair make us wish we were her. Her English accent makes us wish we were her. Her performance in “Perks” made us wish we were her. Sometimes we imagine we are her.

Demi Lovato
Someone give this woman an award for bouncing back from her lowest point to have a legit career spurred on by her legit talent. When Lindsay Lohan goes crazy everyone just rolls their eyes and wishes she’d go to jail. When Demi announced she was back, everyone heard her fierce new singles and saw her rocking pink blonde hair and thought, wait she was even gone? 

MUSIC

We each chose 5 songs together that we’ve been loving in 2012. 

W:

"Big Blue Wave" by Hey Ocean! 
Best Line: No I don’t want to fuss or fight, and I’m not one to give advice…sing until you float away, our love is like a big blue wave

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"The Zone" by the Weeknd 
Best Line: (even though it’s in Drake’s solo) Sit your sexy ass on that couch, wipe that lip stick off your mouth, let’s take it slow


"Break the Day Open" by Benjamin Francis Leftwich
This Brit is about the get the recognition he deserves after getting a shout out from Ed Sheeran the other day. His EP boasts soft melodies and subtly smart lyrics.


"Take Care" cover by Conor Maynard
His debut album “Contrast” came out this year (and I met him in September), but this newly 20 year old star has a brilliant voice that shines best on his cover of Drake and RiRi’s “Take Care.” 


"Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons
Best Line: I’m waking up to action dust, I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust, I’m breathing in the chemicals.

A:

"Don’t Let it Break Your Heart" by Coldplay
Best line: When you’re tired of aiming your arrows, still you never hit the mark, even in your rain and shadows, still we’re never going to part

"Home" by Phillip Phillips
Finally, an American Idol winner whose music you can download without the attached guilt. Not to mention a double name..?

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"As Long As You Love Me" by Justin Bieber
Sure, laugh. But this song marks Justin’s official transition from boyhood to enduring pop phenomenon, much the way Britney did (more on that later). The bomb ass video is just an added bonus.

"Warzone" by the Wanted
Definitely a guilty pleasure in 5A this summer. But lets call a spade a spade (as Alison likes to say) and admit this is the only boy band on the market right now singing about ADULT topics and blasting at the club. 

Song of the Year

"Everything is Embarrassing" by Sky Ferreira
Agree
Any song that makes you want to dance like Carlton has our vote. Not to mention, NY Mag takes a paragraph to artfully explain the following: it has just enough pop to be catchy, and just enough emo to make you still feel cool listening to it. 

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Pop Music’s Good and Bad
TOTALLY Disagree
(NY Mag had these listed under the opposite categories).

The Good

Most Enduring Pop Phenomenon: Lana Del Rey
Lana’s voice isn’t supposed to bring down the opera house. I’m pretty sure after all this time we can conclude that her raspy monotone is MEANT to sound that way. Sure she sounded like shit on SNL, but her music is still interesting, her look is still fresh and let’s not point the finger about sounding poor live (look below).

Most Deserving Pop Blockbuster: Mumford and Sons
When bands that play musical instruments, write their own material and have lead singers with strong vocals emerge, everyone runs around stating the obvious—how good they are. But that’s the point. We should be celebrating groups with that level of talent, and Mumford has it. (Plus he’s married to Carey Mulligan and we love her.)

The Bad

Least Enduring Pop Phenomenon: Taylor Swift
Here in Apt 5A we are pro-woman, which is why we hate TSwift. When you have a series of failed relationships, you look inward at the only consistency: YOURSELF. Taylor has yet to realize this, and doesn’t help generations of young women idolizing her to do that either. Besides, no female is that nice. Besides she is dating Harry Styles. Besides she doesn’t sound that great live either.

Least Deserving Pop Blockbuster: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”
Find one person who says they legit like this song and I’ll show you a liar. Do you want to be 28 years old making music like this? Scratch that, do you want to be making music like this? (Your answer better be no). 

NY Mags Best Music Combacks Best Move with the Music Times

Good
Britney Spears
Britney knows that she is not a great singer. So she does the smart thing and makes music that fits into the moment’s popular mold. (Right now that’s pop-y dubstep, hence “Scream and Shout.”)  When you make music that’s going to get played, you’re going to be a successful artist. (Notice I didn’t say musician, but that’s not the point). Britney knows what she has to work with, and she’s a great performer. She reads the trends and interprets them in a way that makes me dance at the club. What else can we ask for?

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Bad
Christina Aguilera
It pains us here in 5A to say this, but the truth must be spoken aloud. Christina knows that she’s a great singer, so she makes absolutely no effort to mold her voice to the popular trends because they don’t do her voice any justice. The problem with that is there’s no longer any niche for her sound. Which is a shame, because XTina paved the way for RiRi/Lana D. and (dare I say it) Gaga. Christina was the first to wear assless chaps and shock the world with her brazen attitude and song lyrics. But now she refuses to adapt and we know what happens to the animals that don’t adapt. They go extinct. 

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ART

Apt 5A’s favorite exhibits on display in NYC in 2012, neither of which were featured in NY Mag.

Prada and Schiaparelli: Impossible Conversations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
 
Simply beautiful designs made easily digestible in an elegantly designed space. 

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Yayoi Kusama at the Whitney
Kusama’s return to the artworld was marked by this striking and nearly fifty year spanning exhibit at the Whitney, as well as her designs for Louis Vuitton.

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Books (None of which are featured in NY Mag)

Best of the Year (Even if they aren’t 2012 titles)

Bright Lights Big City by Jay McInerney 
A young male professional in NYC is disillusioned with his life, and just before the story seems like you’ve been there, read that, it reminds you what we’re all really looking for when our lives seem meaningless.
Wettest County in the World (now published as Lawless) by Matthew Bondurant
A true story of three bootlegging brothers that is so painstakingly researched to ensure its real-ness it practically gets up and walks around the room. One of the most gruesome scenes I’ve ever read in a book, and it has nothing to do with humans, but rather the birth of a deformed cow.
Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Brought back to light in 2012 with the release of the movies, you can’t help but deny that this shit is good.

Most Overrated of 2012 (and Brought Back in ‘12)

Turn of the Mind by Alice LaPlante
Don’t you hate when the culprit in a murder mystery turns out to be the red herring? Don’t worry, I didn’t ruin it, I just saved you time and money

 Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky
It’s rare that a movie is better than the book that created it. But here’s an instance where the translation to screen eliminated what didn’t work in print. 

Most Underrated Book of 2012

Nowhere But Up by Patti Mallette
I didn’t throw up AND I’d recommend it to a client. Seems like it wasn’t all bad… 

Best Magazines of 2012 (How did NY Mag forget mags?!)
Vogue
People SAY they read Vogue, but they don’t. That’s because you haven’t reached a point where you care about fashion and journalism as equal art forms. When you do, how delicious Vogue truly is…

Nylon
It’s easy to love a magazine that has equal parts fashion, unique-ness and graphic design well covered (and none of them makes you gag).

WISH LIST (Things NY Mag listed that we just haven’t got our paws on yet!)

Zero Dark Thirty
Listed as best movie of the year. Def has the potential, since director of the Hurt Locker, Jessica Chastain and an intriguiging plot are all playing for the same team. 

Once
The indie musical that NY Mag calls “twee and pulls it off” is on Alison’s Must-See list.

Death of a Salesman
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the lead in this classic tale of human desire/worth/whatever other adjectives make you feel like we respect the material.  On Wynne’s Must-See list.

Kendrick Lamar’s, Good Kid, m.A.A.d City
If a rap album is revered by NY Mag it MUST be good.  

So there you have it, culture as interpreted by 5A and inspired by NY Mag! 
What moments of 2012 culture do you think we forgot? Which were your favorites? Let us know at NewYorkInstant@gmail.com