Saturday, December 1, 2007

You are where you hang

When I lived in D.C., conversation starters, or killers as the case may be, would start with questions like "What candidate do you support?" or "Are you a fan of (name a politician or pundit)?" Here in New York, the questions are more like "what neighborhood do you spend time in?" The area where you spend time defines you, says a lot about your sensibilities, maybe your career, and the kind of people you have in your life.

I don't have an area. I like exploration, mostly because I hate being defined as anything. This explains my eclectic and wonderful collection of career decisions, places I've lived, and people in my life. So in an effort to really get to know my city and not just the 5 square block of my neighborhood, I have been setting out to learn about neighborhoods all over the city.

The first one I visited I am somewhat familiar with though am constantly lost in: The West Village. There are photos on my photoblog. In the West Village, New York City goes off the grid completely with roads making all sorts of weird angle and intersections. Every corner I turned on what cuter than the next. People snuggled up in coffee shops or used bookstores. Writer, photographers, dog lovers. I couldn't help but notice the decidedly artsy feel, the desire for people here to express themselves in their clothing and in their activity.

One thing that I noticed about people here is that the fervent workaholic attitude that plagues many other areas of NYC has been completely shaken off. People value thinking about and reflecting on life. They look to engage in activities of the spirit, and work is just a way to facilitate that personal exploration and discovery. It reminds me of small neighborhoods in Paris that I spent days wandering in. The European overlay of these angled lanes is unmistakable.

Coming soon: why is it that Manhattanites have trouble venturing across the rivers that border it? A look at the Japanese epicenter of the greater New York City area and a stroll along the Promenade.
The photo above, and others from the West Village, can be found at

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