East Coast Trippin’ Days 4-8: Hitting the Reset Button

2 Jun

Leaving behind the old humid stomping grounds of John Waters, Frank Zappa, and David Byrne was not as easy as I originally imagined. I left last week with the intentions of going back to the following Tuesday, but I write this post in Providence, Rhode Island of all places.

“Why Providence?” You ask. Why not? How does the saying go? “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.”

Well I bought the ticket and the ride led me here. “What on earth is in Providence?” Well from the looks of it, lots of ex convicts, and future residents of the Rhode Island Penal System. A friend of a friend set up a meeting with someone in this agency called the MET (Big Picture Learning). With my background in working with at-risk youth, and my passion in education, it seemed wise to take advantage of a chance to personally find out more about this agency and program.

Very rarely do I regret the decisions that I make, but stepping off the Greyhound bus to witness what looked like a massive drug trafficking party, made me wonder…..

and wonder I did…..lugging a day pack and my guitar, I was clearly the new Mark in town, and so I found the least expensive hotel outside of downtown I could find and stayed there. I left my room twice, once to get coffee, and complimentary breakfast, and the other to grab a fast food chain dinner. On the bright side, if I ever want to become the next Walter White, Providence, Rhode Island may be the place to start my empire.

Holing up in a hotel room has allowed me to catch up on rest. New York City is an extremely stimulating place. I caught up with various friends and explored the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods, learning the various demographics and histories of the areas.
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Coming to New York always feels like the first time I paid a visit there 14 years ago. There is the initial rush and shock of entering the city; an overwhelming sensation brought about by the sheer number of cars, people and buildings. But once I am able to put all my belongings away and not feel like a tourist, I get used to the pace.
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Its a different place than the one I first visited. I had a healthy fear of visiting Brooklyn and Queens, for all the talk about how rough NYC was in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, I was shocked to find how chill the neighborhoods were. I ventured through some streets almost hoping to see something dangerous. Has New York City lost its edge? Some people think so.
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I’m not a native, but lots of New Yorkers are upset at the influx of wealthy people moving into these historically multi-ethnic neighborhoods and not embracing (or respecting) the cultures that were already there. There were times where just by looking at the people around, it was hard to tell if I was in Brooklyn or the lower east side of Manhattan.
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One cabbie (best cab driver of all time–all we talked about were hitting the trees, Spurs basketball, and traveling–his voice sounded just like the GZA from the Wu-tang Clan) said that it wasn’t all bad, he said the new Brooklynites were pretty chill, and tipped well–no static at all.
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I used to fantasize about being a 50 year old divorcee living in New York City and dating some hot young Latin woman, and going to punk shows at art galleries. The fantasy ebbs and flows. I’m in love with the diversity there, and the rhythm of the city as it moves around, beneath, and within me.
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I try not wear my ear buds while I’m walking around, so I can soak up the sounds, the beats, the people on the streets, the tire squeals, the gears of the trains, the grinding on the tracks, the music, the beeps, and any drastic change to the subway station’s train schedules. I don’t want to miss any of it.

In the words of Thom Yorke, “We ride tonight.”

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