USA: HU$TLED, NYC

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I don’t know what you know about New York, but I realized this weekend that there is a noticeable divide in who is doing the hustling and who is getting hustled. Hard. And there really doesn’t seem to be an in-between.

After living in Philadelphia for five years on and off, I was surprised to still find myself on the side of the hustled.

Everybody who moves to New York moves there with purpose. My friends Peter and Patricia, currently situated in Gowanus, have attempted to explain to me the love-hate relationship most (recent college graduate) New Yorkers have with their residence. There is a certain visibility to everything a person does in this city–in every calculated new phrase, every chosen thread, every location visited and in that visit a hope to be witnessed. There is careful intent in creating a personal brand. And at the same time, it is easy to fade into the quiet spaces if you are not fighting and sweating for it.

And I’ve finally learned the true adaptability of the human spirit because I am actually starting to like this place.

I went with a few friends with the intent of finding our friend Diego, from Oviedo, Spain, where we studied in 2012. He had just landed in NYC from Iceland after hitch-hiking to the Northern Lights, getting stranded, and missing his first flight. And yes, in our circle of friends we would probably call that exciting, though the more I tell that story, the more I realize how unique this appreciation is. Our host, Lucas Alvarado Farrar, is undoubtedly one such example of a New Yorker on his hustle. He is a Harlem-based photographer under the moniker Far Fetched Future, and he gracefully showed us his side of New York. & Best collection of patterned shirts I have ever seen.
His website: http://www.farfetchedlife.com/

This weekend he led us from a few different music events including a CMJ event featuring Purity Ring and Cashmere Cat to the uber sexy King Holiday, which enchanted the crowd into a lustful glassy-eyed trance, which was pretty weird to watch from side stage because I could see the panty dropping better than the actual performance (auditory candy).

For my first visit to Chelsea, I was impressed by the public art exhibitions, many of which took to the streets. It is debatable how strongly starting the evening with pizza and champagne contributed to my starry eyes.

By happy coincidence, we passed a special piece that had been set up that day, a collaboration between Banksy and Os Gemeos as a part of Banksy’s month long residency in New York. Os Gemeos finds its origin in Brazil and is a particular favorite of mine when it comes to public displays. You can follow Banksy’s progress here as he tries to take on wealth inequality, corporate power, and corrupt policing in New York City: http://www.banksyny.com/

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Just past there, the Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea is featuring a photo series titled “Kin” by Pieter Hugo, a very emotional look into the photographer’s eight years in post-apartheid South Africa exploring persistent socioeconomic and racial divides. And of course, the High Line. If Philadelphia intends to use the High Line as a model for its own above ground rail line -> public park transformation, I am excited to see the changes in activity it brings to the dead space between center city and Northern Liberties. Even better, we found Kevin Dudley and Brett Bedevian in Chelsea, who I’ve known since living in the Temple University dorms.

And that aside, we ended the night in the freezer of a Chinese fruit & vegetable wholesaler filled with reggae albums. Other memorable locations: walking across the Williamsburg Bridge, photobombing couples in Times Square at 5 am, roller disco in Central Park, late night metro rides where everyone falls asleep…

Now, a note on being hustled:
When you’re breezy and a bit naive, floating through fresh off a J, it makes it significantly more difficult to pretend you are from the city when you are indeed not from the city.

And so, dear readers, that side of me was gladly welcomed by self-employed street entrepreneurs. Easily moved by street musicians, I parted with most of my singles in a particularly congested and talented metro stop before even meeting up with most of my friends. And then by a football team selling Fruit Roll Ups. I don’t even like Fruit Roll Ups, and I won’t tell you how much I paid. And then a dude at a hot dog stand in Times Square at 5 AM. I don’t even like hot dogs, and I won’t tell you how much I paid. Still laughing about it all.

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