what new york looks like

shakahislop

Well-known member
as a man of letters and an intellectual, who has also listened to a podcast about D&G, and who has spent a huge amount of pandemic time with not much to do except wander around nyc, i've ended up thinking a lot about what is going on in terms of what broadly you could call the visual culture of the city.

think that there is something unique about it visually and that this is part of what resonates with people. it is a bit weird that what is in many ways such an unpleasant, inhuman, inhospitable place (tough, hostile, incredibly expensive, unaccommodating) latches onto peoples brains and makes them want to live here, come and visit here, go back home and tell all their friends about how much they love it. i'm not saying its the only thing that's going on but think that part of what is going on here, maybe in all cities but to a greater extent here, is that nyc has a density of symbols and meaning that people for one reason or another get really into.
 

Leo

Well-known member
& the food, its like an oasis for fancy cuisine, and the sheeshy lifestyle that goes along with it?

some of the best food here is inexpensive, what some call peasant food, from various cultures around the world who have settled here. low-key neighborhood places that don't get written about or featured on IG. yes, there are plenty of silly restaurants and pretentious foodies, but there's so much more to enjoy.
 

blissblogger

Well-known member
It's a feast of semiosis for sure (as is any big city, but NYC is unusually packed, and unusually various in its population and subculture tribes)

But it's also a barrage of things you can't read - things or actions or sounds that arrest the eye and ear but aren't immediately identifiable as what they are - either because you've not got the code, or you are going on your way and can't stop to really really look - or simply because they are asignifying - just weird random shit

this show How To With.... John Wilson is good for this kind of stuff, it's almost entirely shot in NYC area and although there are themes to each episode - How To Get Rid of Your Old Batteries, How To Make Small Talk - a lot of is just odd things he's captured as he goes about filming - nonstop, seemingly. It's a bit like the documentary equivalent of a Facebook group like Shit London, except suffused with affection and amusement. He'll have a shot of an interesting stain on the sidewalk or a mysterious bit of refuse, or people caught in odd postures or altercations, or doing an activity that is hard to immediately decipher.
 

entertainment

Well-known member
i'm very intrigued by the look of new york, mostly the older apartment buildings. what strikes me as poignantly different from Copenhagen in a good way is the abundance of little nooks of the city, little corners and alleys and shaded off-street quarters that I imagine exist as a necessary product of the city's logic, some structurally integral counterwheight to the grandiosity of big steel and glass.

it's these little corners that I imagine allow the city to retain an essential residue of the history of life that has flown through it, nooks and crannies to accumulate the temporal sediment.

I also have this fantasy about living in one of those apartment buildings they have in New York where they have many apartments per floor, like a hotel. Like the building in Rosemary's Baby (except the satanic presence). In Copenhagen all our apartment buildings have just two apartments per floor. There are no hallways, there is just the staircase and then a platform at each floow with a door to the right and the left. it's so boring and lifeless compared to those New York buildings where it seems there's always something going on.
 

luka

Well-known member
ive never been to New York and i doubt i ever will but this is a good film for making new york look fun
 

luka

Well-known member
some of the best food here is inexpensive, what some call peasant food, from various cultures around the world who have settled here. low-key neighborhood places that don't get written about or featured on IG.
This is what London lacks
 

suspended

Well-known member
When I visited Toko's future home, Oxford, I was struck by the way the entire town had been colonized by gift shops selling Oxford merch, Harry Potter chess sets, memorabilia of famous Oxfordians, etc. And of course Midtown NYC is the same way, every street has a gift shop selling Statue of Liberty magnets, I <3 NY postcards, snowglobes with the Empire State Building, button pins with Banksy reproductions. Every city's tourism economy acts as the propaganda engine for its host, but the overtness & saturation & self-consciousness of the branding undermines that brand (and the authenticity of the entire city) for its local denizens.

That's the "overbrand" which is consumed unironically by cruise ship boomers, middle-aged Midwesterners, people who call it "the Big Apple" without hint of irony. There is also the "underbrand" which is what you seem more to be referencing—the water tanks above all the brick buildings; the brownstones; the dirty subway system. The grimy parts of New York that artists romanticize, that makes you think of Pati Smith and Basquiat.

London has really bad "overbrand" cultural icons btw—the Tube logo, Ol' Britannia LARPing, the red double-decker buses, Big Ben, it's all so dumb-looking. It makes even the flag seem cartoonish and silly—the "Union Jack," even the name feels corny, it's hard to believe this was once an empire that ruled over significant portions of the world. Unbridled power to pure camp in a hundred years flat.
 

luka

Well-known member
do people still sell drugs on the street in New York? That never really caught on here.
 

luka

Well-known member
Standing outside in all weathers. Making a nuisance of yourself in front of the 'bodega'.
 

suspended

Well-known member
I did like that Lily Allen song I'd never heard it before, I was in Londy at the worst time of year, frigid November 0C windtunnels dark skies, but I thought, "OK, I could imagine this city being enjoyable in the summer"
 

suspended

Well-known member
It could still happen I'm sure it does, but it's also hard to distinguish dealing from general loitering. In East New York area, there's often just groups hanging outside bodegas all hours, drinking beer in paper bags, hitting on women who walk past, they'll set up speakers and have a lil party, the Lebanese bodega owner will yell at them, they'll yell back a bit, they've got a dynamic going
 

luka

Well-known member
We don't do loitering much here either, that's probably what makes New York seem more alive than London.
 

suspended

Well-known member
It's a feast of semiosis for sure (as is any big city, but NYC is unusually packed, and unusually various in its population and subculture tribes)

But it's also a barrage of things you can't read - things or actions or sounds that arrest the eye and ear but aren't immediately identifiable as what they are - either because you've not got the code, or you are going on your way and can't stop to really really look - or simply because they are asignifying - just weird random shit

this show How To With.... John Wilson is good for this kind of stuff, it's almost entirely shot in NYC area and although there are themes to each episode - How To Get Rid of Your Old Batteries, How To Make Small Talk - a lot of is just odd things he's captured as he goes about filming - nonstop, seemingly. It's a bit like the documentary equivalent of a Facebook group like Shit London, except suffused with affection and amusement. He'll have a shot of an interesting stain on the sidewalk or a mysterious bit of refuse, or people caught in odd postures or altercations, or doing an activity that is hard to immediately decipher.
This was another thing I noticed about Oxford, and probably most older cities/towns by extension. The lack of text pollution is wild. In New York especially, there's a thousand literal signs and messages on every city block all trying to get your attention, all screaming out to you. In Oxford there were just quiet stone building facades, decorative sometimes but the text kept to a bare minimum—maybe an engraved plaque here or there, a building name etched in stone above the entrance, but you could walk a hundred yards with little else to read. NYC has the same cluttered text aesthetic (and the same anarchist mishmash of aesthetics, styles, design visions) that the web has.
 
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