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What is Weird and Wondeful
About New York - New York Cool’s Third Anniversary Essay

Written by Wendy R. Williams
Photographed by the New York Cool Photographers

Opposite Photo of the Information Booth in Times Square
Photo Credit - Melinda Maclean

Times Square Area
Photo Credit Melinda Maclean

Every year they come – company from Texas. They love me; they want to see me; they want to see some shows. And the biggest show they want to see is me – the freak show – their own personal New Yorker - the friend/family member who is so in love with this city that she lives in a dinky dark apartment instead of a nice suburban four bedroom two-and-a-half-bath house like she is supposed to.

“You can’t even pour milk into your cereal in that kitchen.”
“She has to put her make up bag in the sink when she puts on her lipstick!”
“That man was peeing in the subway.”
“I am certain I saw mouse droppings, huge mouse droppings.”

They simply don’t get why I live here and I can’t explain. It's visceral. And like many New Yorkers, it hit me the first time saw the city: I even liked the smell.


Outside Wall of the Rent Cafe in the East Village
Photo Credit Mary Blanco

East Village
Photo Credit Mary
East Village
Photo Credit Mary

Most New Yorkers are self selected; we are the misfits - the round pegs that never quite fit in the square holes of small city life. It is devastating for some minds to exist in an environment where after you turn twenty years old, you will never talk to anyone who disagrees with the party line. The rules are set and everyone knows them (example: President George Bush was elected from the heartland). So we kept looking around the room to find our people -the unicorns and mermaids. We looked for people who had different ideas, belonged to weird churches, danced in the street, did whatever as long as they were passionate about it and did not carry a Dooney and Burke purse. These people simply did not exist in our homelands, so we moved to New York.

And it has ever been thus: Diane Arbus; Quentin Crisp; Emma Goldman; Jackie Kennedy; Eugene O'Neill; Diana Vreeland - they all had to live in New York if they were going to make sense of their lives.

Malcolm the Molecule of Groovehoops Performs at Old Dominion Sugar Factory
Photo Credit Linus Gelber
Green Girl Performs at Old Dominion Sugar Factory
Photo Credit Linus Gelber

Theo Kogan Spins
Photo Credit Krsiztina Fazekas

Living in New York gives a soul incredible freedom. There is a social pecking order here but you are perfectly free to ignore it. In fact you would have to work at it (buy special magazines; haunt patrickmcmullan.com) to even know who was in the upper echelons of society. People are free to simply reinvent themselves; many times over if they so choose. It is not accident that Madonna spent her formative years as an artist in New York. New York gives its residents permission to be just plain weird and then forget how weird they are and just go about their business.


Art in the Park - Howl Festival - Lisa Renko
Photo Credit Evan Sung
Art in the Park
Howl Festival
Photo Credit Evan Sung

And there is so much to look at for inspiration when a New Yorker decides just who to be today: the art on the streets of Soho; the parades and festivals; the boutiques populating the LES; the way people dress on the subways (H & M has done wonders for the way people look on the subway); the paintings in the galleries of the far west twenties; all the way to Saks; Bendels; Bergdorfs. It is a crazy smorgasbord of style; you can paint with hundreds of brushes and a thousand colors.

No Pants Ride on the Subway
Photo Credit Krisztina Fazekas

Backstage at Mal Sirrah
Photo Credit Katherin Wermke

And then there are the clothes: There are incredible fashion designers in New York - everything from the best of haute couture to the apostles of street creed. New Yorkers love fashion; they turns themselves into walking billboards of art and parade down the streets.

Marc Bouwer
Photo Credit Jose S. Vibar
Badgley Mischka
Photo Credit Mary Blanco

Jordi Scott
Photo Credit Krisztina Fazekas
Chrishabana at Gen Art
Photo Credit Evens Lamour

Dancing in the Clubs
Photo Credit Krisztina Fazekas

New York Cool's Kristina Weise Outside Fab 208
Photo Credit Evan Sung

So here’s to you New York City: dirty; smelly; too hot; too cold; too loud; and too expensive - you rock my world.

Waiting for the Subway That Never Comes
Photo Credit Mary Blanco


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