Tag Archives: Providence

East Coast Trippin’ Day 9: Heightened Sensations

3 Jun

“I’m going back to New York City I do believe I had enough”

~Bob Dylan

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I never thought a city with so many universities could be so whack. The minute I got on that 4:45 Megabus for New York I fell asleep in relief. It was getting muggy and my head was pounding. Outside of my time spent at the MET (a really awesome organization that helps youth find alternatives to regular high school), I didn’t do much smiling. I found the locals to be either stuffy, or sketchy. Imagine a town like Topeka, Kansas suddenly having a couple of universities built downtown. That is what Providence is like. The buildings and architecture were neat, but the people themselves??? No thank you.

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I had a roommate in Oakland who attended Brown university and he said that he hated the east coast and had no desire to return. Now I can understand why. 4 years in a place like that would ruin my perspective forever. That being said, I had two random strangers (one a Peruvian woman, the other a bald early forties, white man) offer me rides to my hotel and my campus tour. Which proves to me that even in hostile environments, a positive attitude will attract the right kinds of people.

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After my meeting and lunch, I took advantage of my remaining free time and did some busking along the canal on Rhode Island School of Design campus. Then I jumped on the bus to New York, thus fulfilling the last leg of the David Byrne east coast swing.

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Our bus driver was a professional and he got us into the Bronx in 3 hours, when it was supposed to be a 4.5 hour drive. The bus dropped us off on 7th Ave and 28th st. I deftly navigated the Times Square traffic and found my subway train without any problems (I only had to ask one cop for directions to the Flushing train).

Can you believe it was only 20 years ago, when the Rangers and and Knicks were both in the Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals?
I was looking around at all the lights, tourists, billboards, and hockey jerseys, and happened to pass Madison Square Garden. I was 15 years old when Adam Graves and Mark Messier (who has the same birthday as me–no wonder he was my favorite hockey player of all time) hoisted the cup. That was the summer of OJ Simpson and the white Bronco, the Beastie Boys’Sabotage video, and my mother getting free Pay Per View.

I spent that summer alternating between watching “A Perfect World”, “Dazed and Confused”, and taping every single lesbian scene I could stay awake for on the Spice and Playboy Channels. I had yet to venture outside of Texas, and at that time never dreamed of visiting New York (or traveling anywhere outside the state to be honest). Now I’m in the NYC–a place where the senses are heightened ten-fold.

This has already been the best US vacation I’ve ever taken. The Stanley Cup Finals (which the NY Rangers are back for), the NBA Finals ( GO Spurs! GO!) and the World Cup (Cameroon anyone?) all kick off in within days of each other this week. There is also something being held out on Randall’s Island called the Governor’s Ball. I’m only going to Friday night’s festivities featuring Outkast, Damon Albarn, and Phoenix among other acts (kind of wanna see Washed Out). I can’t think of a better place to end up during the first week of June. This is a going to be a really good summer–been pretty kick ass so far. I fucking love this place.


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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