This weekend I’ll be at the MoCCA Art Festival in New York! It’s likely my only appearance in New York this year, so I’m very excited. Growing up in California, I’d gotten a pretty good dose of New York from just, you know, the culture — TV, movies, people I met, and so on. But until a few years ago I’d never been, never had reason to visit.
There even came a point when I got tired of hearing about it. “Everyone says New York is so great,” I thought. “I bet it’s not. I bet it’s just dirty and loud and gross and everything’s expensive and everybody’s rude and it’s just a pain in the rear.” Once I even declared I was “sick of New York City as the default American cultural referent.” I was a man with a bachelor’s degree! I had Opinions.
Then I went to New York, for MoCCA in fact, in 2006. And I realized — yes, it is all those things, dirty and loud and gross and so on. But it’s also super great.
I’ve definitely had some miserable trips; on several occasions it was a million degrees and I hated it. I mean, I still loved it. It was New York, and I got to be a part of it for a little while. But I was okay with coming home too. It’s not all roses and cream, or peaches in butter.
But another time I was walking down the street and then I stopped and watched a man climb right up the side of the New York Times building. Everybody was stopped on the sidewalk, just watching him go. A Sikh gentleman with what appeared to be a lacquered beard asked me what everyone was looking at. “That guy’s climbing the building,” I said.
I bet that kind of stuff happens every day here in L.A., but there’s no way I would have been on the street at the time. That, to me, is the fundamental appeal of New York. In New York, you are right there on the street when that happens.
I will be bringing Death Prediction Cards! They will be free for the asking!
There will be about a half-dozen Machine of Death contributors there who can sign your books, if you bring them — or, you will be able to buy one from me! I will have those too, along with the regular complement of Wondermark goods, or some useful subset.
It will be a good time, and if you do not come, I will fight you. I am not afraid. You cannot be afraid, in New York.
Do you have a place you finally visited, and realized you were wrong about? Besides New York, I’ll add Toronto to my own list (which I love, having now been several times, but which I had no frame to understand before I went).
Leave a comment and tell your own story!