And you may ask yourself, Well, how did I get here? …
And you may tell yourself,
This is not my beautiful house.
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife.
As you can see I am all prepared now and there is nothing to do but to post strange 80’s pop videos. I currently live in a beautiful house in Chelsea, Manhattan. It is not my beautiful house, it is my Godmother’s.
I have lived here for a year and a half now and I am no nearer to having a beautiful wife.
I often forget what a strange vivid place Manhattan is. A distillation of humanity in 34 sq miles – all the good and the bad that American civilisation has to offer in walking distance. Walking across town tonight I found beauty in the hideous, normality in the strange. It was 97° today, hot enough to squeeze the city and push it’s inhabitants into a lulling stupor. Manhattan is a visceral place most of the time but through the haze of extreme heat it somehow shimmys into focus. Everyone becomes more of a New Yorker, as though by surviving in this concrete heat everybody deserves further ownership over their surroundings, that only if you experience Manhattan in the heat can you really say that you love and hate New York.
I say all this with a beautiful house in an air conditioned nightmare to return to. Whilst air conditioning is an appreciable temptation it distorts and distances you from the city. I don’t want to be a grumpy old man but much of what Henry Miller writes in The Air Conditioned Nightmare resonates.
“The earth is not a lair, neither is it a prison. The earth is a Paradise, the only one we’ll ever know. We will realize it the moment we open our eyes. We don’t have to make it a Paradise-it is one. We have only to make ourselves fit to inhabit it. The man with the gun, the man with murder in his heart, cannot possibly recognize Paradise even when he is shown it.”
Another Miller – this time Arthur – writes beautifully about what New York was like pre-air conditioning. Although it slightly dismisses my view that heat creates a camaraderie it shows a city of refreshing strength. http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1998/06/22/1998_06_22_144_TNY_LIBRY_000015831?currentPage=1