Wednesday, February 07, 2007
As those of you who know me are aware, I still work in news even if I have left CNN's clutches.
What I love about my present place of employment, is that unlike CNN (and most of Manhattan) it is comprised almost exclusively of actual, homegrown New Yorkers. I am one of the few people in my department who was not born and raised here.
I know New York mythology is often created by the misfits who moved here and created a new scene, a new version of New York to suit their fantasies, ala Andy Warhol, Madonna or Truman Capote. I respect this of course, as it gives the city its vibrant sense of reinvention.
But sometimes I feel like the locals are getting shortchanged. In most other cities, the locals are acknowledged as the fabric of the culture. Whereas here, it is these types of enterprising outsiders and their invented scenes that people often point to when describing life in New York City. Not always of course, but often. Too often for my taste.
So for this reason and many others, I'm glad I work with born and bred New Yorkers. Plus I get to hear great stories about each of the five boroughs. Whenever someone walks through the door, they usually have a story ready to spill. You'll hear stuff like:
"Sorry if I stink. I couldn't shower today because Ma was marinating a pig in the bathtub. Block party on Saturday."
It's reassuring too, because I'll hear stories that I had previously thought were just a figment of some Hollywood producer's imagination. Classic stories of uncles playing dominoes outside on a sweltering summer day, kids stealing signs from defunct Brooklyn breweries, grandmothers chasing "little punks" away with a broom.
But the best story I've heard in ages was on Friday. It seems a co-worker of mine was over at a pal's house on Staten Island. They were downstairs in the den area. He goes to use the little bathroom, and notices two metal handles coming out of the ceiling above the toilet.
He says to his friend, "What the fuck are those handles for?"
His friend says, "I had those put in there myself. They're for when you're taking a really big shit and you need to lift yourself up a little, you know? Like when it's a really hard shit. Sometimes you need a little extra help."
Now, I'm not sure why, but it gives me a warm feeling to know that in an undisclosed Staten Island location, there is a home with custom-made shit handles.