To be honest, I didn't know what New York City’s nickname meant before. Big Apple. I just thought they named a big city of our world after another big thing, like a big apple, cause why not.
Lately though, as my mind was once again wandering in the depths of its own goo, I came to realize that there’s a reason why.
If you spend a decent amount of time in NYC, you'll figure that every-fuckin-body there is hungry for something. Money, power, success, love, self-realization. Especially among people who moved to the city. From anywhere. Another country, another state, a random suburb in Long Island. Pretty much everybody. Now, a common belief says that the resources and means of those millions individual quests shall be provided by the city itself. Food for your mind, drink for your soul. NYC calling the shots baby.
So all this leads to the mere conclusion that, of that big apple, everybody wants to take a bite.
And the bigger the bite, the harder the hustle.
Cause New Yorkers are hustlers. Their hustle, not to say struggle, is obvious, almost displayed. Just take a look at people's faces in the train. They're so blatantly tired, washed out, they'd make you feel guilty for the energy you still have. Bums, creatives, executives. There's not one of them you couldn't find passed out on a bench. Ludicrous kind of rest.
This city breeds a special kind of martyrs. Modern and paradoxically easy to satisfy martyrs. It only takes one light, one moment of glory in a year (perhaps a couple week-ends uptate too), for a New Yorker to give up on that lingering "I'm leaving this city" thought.
The more NYC mistreats you, the more likely you are to fall in love with it. Over and over again.
Now if you want a seat (i.e. anything like a friend, a job, a place), you gotta earn it. You gotta work for it. You gotta pay the price (plus taxes).
Forget about the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. The real emblem and metaphor of New York City are its delis.
Open 24/7, selling all type of shit. Symbol of that relentless and mutual need that slowly settles between you and the city.
You crave old dill pickles, candy, beer. New York craves your life force, your time, your money. Any time of the day or night.
My roommate Michael taught me two things. I don't know if those are official sayings but they're too accurate not to be shared.
1.Living in NYC is like being in an abusive relationship. You're being mistreated but you stay.
2.You're not a New Yorker until you cry in the street. (My visual experience can confirm it. I've seen people crying in the most public and outspoken fashion. As if instead of being a source of shame, crying was a matter of pride. Like "Hey I'm devastated but that's what it takes to be here, ain't it?")
Let me clear something up though. This whole crazy proactive fast-paced thing mostly describes Manhattan. And technically Manhattan is one part of New York City. 1 borough among 5. Now you'll easily meet people who are convinced that the city is only "the city", meaning Manhattan.
But don't get it twisted, it IS NOT only Manhattan. And even in Manhattan you'll find an incredible diversity of environments. Can't compare Inwood and Soho. Neither can you compare that bougie botox-filled lime-stoney Upper East Side with the fiery and musical Spanish Harlem.
Enough said, me and my camera we wandered a lot in New York City. In all its 5 boroughs. Cause Staten Island, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, they all partake in that crazy giant mess NYC happens to be. I tried my best to read the streets and its people. And if anything, NYC baby made it easy. Not surprised the best street photographers of this world all cut their teeth there. Diane Arbus, Bruce Gilden, James Van der Zee, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, all of them delivering a personal but accurate vision of the city.
One last thing. About the title. NYCist.
Wanna know why?
Well, it is because I hate NYC. I can’t fathom most of the shit, crazy shit happening in that city. It is too much to take. Because of that, it's quite easy to become an NYCist.
But you know what ? More than I can hate it, I actually love it. And I hate to love New York since I love to hate it. And this makes me wanna cry and laugh at the same time. And … just look at the pictures.