The Mecca of Mayhem: Looking from the Outside In

Fulton Street Fish Market, Manhattan.

By Delbert H. Rhodes

The day is bright almost crystal. The tall buildings are fine artists angling the sunlight into shadowy caricatures. In some places the images form crosses glorifying the view. The tones of traffic crisscrossing the streets avenues, and bridges are as grand orchestras directed by the Maestro. Horn blasts and screeching tires resound creating a chromatic synchrony of sounds.

Engines roar while vehicles of different sizes, and shapes cooperate and even compete for their rightful places on the streets. Pedestrians and bicyclers too share the traverse; the stream never ends as the mother of all cities watches, and wishes her beloved children a safe and uneventful travel. New York is a great place, and none could be better than this mecca of mayhem. Surely, from the skies the scene appears as a giant snake wrapping itself around the island, and its head and tail converging miles away.

Yes, the mecca of mayhem; however, this is not a negative description because in my way of thinking, and looking from the outside in, here, the confusion is a blessing. Everything anyone could ever want, hope, or care for is available. Culture not only lives here; but and seemingly, was and is born here. New York is the sweet mother ever pregnant with new birth, and forever swelling with the dreams of her wonderful, sometimes wrongful and beautifully delightful children. Okay, I cannot claim the coining of the next string, but “I love New York!”

Many have written, sung, and dreamed of this city. As are other great cities, New York is sticky with allure. She is the reason for local, national, and international migration to this part of the country. People venture here for work and needs of family, but mostly for the Arts. Yes, for the glory of “The Great White Way,” embellishing the theatres, songs and dance; moreover, for photography, and sculpture and architecture. A vast metropolis of mega minds flourish in this pool of pleasantry.

Caution; this city has its hot spots; New York is a dangerous place to the unwary. Walking the streets of this sweet lady a person must know her secrets her shadows her deceptions. These prevail in the wake of day and in the neon of nighttime. She is a cruel mother to the careless child. Therefore, BEWARE. Naturally, one has to be vigilant in any city or any town, but this is “our town” so lets have fun. Walking or driving through New York the senses become intoxicated by the sounds the smells the sights.

The eyes and ears adorn with the aromas of various foods, the tall buildings, and glistening signage and oh yes, the music. On the next corner, someone is performing a song, playing makeshift drums, or acting out a pantomime. Let us never forget the street vendors. These days this group has greatly declined, and that is because of a certain city proclamation enacted some years ago; but and thankfully, many remain and are once more populating the streets.

The old arcades were superb. I recall the shooting gallery up in Harlem and on 125th Street. Wow! Those were the days. The vendors are a keystone to the city, and in many ways, and for generations they are the heart and backbone of New York.

Hey, have you ever stayed in one the local hotels? Well if not then you should. Some of the greatest and grandest are within walking distance. New York is a commercial causeway. The many hotels banks museums restaurants libraries line the landscape. To her great misfortune, the city is the infamous site of “Ground Zero,” the strike zone of 911. Soon, the newly reconstructed World Trade Center stands in memory as the renewed, and renowned Ground Zero.

Then there are the parks the Financial District and the South Street Seaport (which includes the former Fulton Fish Market). Simply incredible. If you enjoy shopping for clothing then I suggest strolling over to Delancey Street, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Now here is the skinny, if you care to make purchases at a bargain rate then you must be a haggler. You know, you must be adept at encouraging the vendors to reduce the cost of goods.

Delancey Street, Bowery, Manhattan, New York City.
Delancey Street, Bowery, Manhattan, New York City

Never worry, these guys expect it, and are willing to and even enjoy the haggle. Heck, in many ways they created it. Yeah, various locations in New York sell fine clothing and shoes, but Delancey Street is well-known, historic. People from across town the states and even the country come into the city to shop there. Check it out.

Central Park (The Park as referred to by locals) is the most notable of all the parks. Over in the Village, Washington Square Park is my favorite hangout. Often after a few hours of mingling with folks, I wonder over to The Chess Mart on Sullivan Street. I am not a highly ranked player, but I can sometimes hold my own.

The Chess Mart hosts individuals representing advanced ranking to them ranking closer to my level of beginner. Once, a nine-year old Mated me in about five moves; another guy waiting to play attempts to comfort me. “Don’t feel bad, she’s a Master. See that little girl over there, that’s her little sister, she’s a Master too.” The younger sister was whipping a guy who was much older than me.

For shows on the grass, however, Central Park is the place. Many times, and during the summer and into the early fall, I have enjoyed great live performances. Another site is the Intrepid over on the West Side Highway.

Many years ago, and during the seventies, a friend and I visited the ship to enjoy the songs of a favorite Latin Jazz star, Flora Purim. Flora recorded with many of my old favorites such as Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie and Santana to name a few. Simply sensational. Of course, the many clubs throughout the city, and especially the Village serve to meet and excite the tastes of any palate.

If you savor various tastes in music poetry and storytelling, New York is a huge haven. Back in the day, I recall sitting in one particular club where after a reading finger snapping highlighted approval. Clicking either said “great!” or “not so good.” Today, and possibly, sites of this type remain tucked away behind the stones of the city.

My friends if you enjoy the sciences why not visit the Hayden Planetarium. You will find it on Central Park West. I have wonderful memories as a child in grade school; I loved the star shows. The entire ceiling brilliantly swells with stars and planets. My mind sizzled with mystery.

Would you care to see the latest movie? Venture over to Forty-Second Street and feast your eyes. Theaters along the venue, or those in the surrounding areas offer almost every movie available to the viewing public. In my youth, a weekend rarely bypassed without me strolling, and taking in a show and often all night. These days I see a movie (or a play) occasionally.

Regarding great shows, I highly recommend Madison Square Garden Radio City Music Hall, and for lovers of the Classics, Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts. These (all) are here in town, and reachable by foot or you may choose any of the city’s mass transit systems.

You say that you have a taste for the wild and love animals. Great! Venture out-of-town and into the Bronx, New York. The Bronx Zoo offers both animals and humans the opportunity to have a closer look. The trip and adventure are well worth your time. Manhattan and, every borough of the city offer wonderful opportunities for them residing within the communities and others from out-of-town. New York is not only a great place to live; but possibly, even a greater place to visit.

My friends, duty calls and I must return to the office. I have enjoyed the chat. Be well and enjoy the great City Of New York.


Copyright © 2012-2014 Delbert H. Rhodes

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