There's no better way to travel than on your own. Not that I would really know the feeling otherwise, but I find it meditative. I enjoy the freedom and the opportunity for introspection.
Over the last five days, a carefully curated catalogue of New York themed music has been rotating through my iPhone headset: Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation", Leonard Cohen's "New Skin for the Old Ceremony", Talking Heads "Speaking in Tongues", and Velvet Underground's "Loaded", to name a few.
I wanted the music to act as my guide and companion throughout this vast city. I wanted to walk down the same streets that people like Lou Reed did when he wrote Walk on the Wild Side, or when Cohen penned Chelsea Hotel.
What was it that Joni saw when she wrote Chelsea Morning?
What did Paul Simon mean when he referred to himself as "The Only Living Boy in New York"?
And, in the wake of the recent events, I vividly began to see what Woody Guthrie was so passionately proclaiming when he wrote "This Land is Your Land".
These streets and buildings are all so familiar. And even though I’ve never travelled to New York, I feel like I’ve been here before.
New York City has a certain rhythm to it. One that still resonates with me even as I'm sitting back at home in Abbotsford.
I took a walk through Greenwich Village on my way to the Whitney Musem, a neighbourhood that's dodgy enough where it's considered to have "character" as opposed to being a ghetto.
I wanted to see the same brick walls that Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring famously spray painted (and in Harings case, was arrested for multiple times), walls that would now be considered iconic landmarks.
What was Basquiat trying to tell us with pieces like this? How does his "ghetto" hieroglyphics look comparatively from 1982 to 2016? Has much changed?
I think the most fitting musical choice, certainly for the day but also for the trip, was Pink Floyd's "The Wall" album. An album that Roger Waters wrote nearly 40 years ago for a day like today. Proof.
There were too many unforgettable events to name one specific highlight. It just seemed like everything happened for a reason. Meeting Jeff Ament, Ai Weiwei, watching a Canucks victory (on the road, no less). The key to my success, or rather, luck, was saying "yes" more than "no".
Cities are changed by the people that go there. But then, the people are also changed by the city.