New York, theoretically, is full of stuff to do.
There is “a lot going on”.
A veritable “feast of delights”.
The party “never stops”.
Cause it’s the city that “never sleeps”.
Well, at least that’s pretty much what you think about when you’re sitting alone in bed in your apartment for the third night in a row, mechanically smearing an entire tub of bacon filled cheese onto an entire pack of bacon and cheese filled crackers and shoving them into your gaping maw, wondering what the hell is going on in NYC.
To be fair, there are four major limitations on the whole “doing stuff” process in New York, and they’re pretty standard really.
1) Going out is expensive. I literally cannot go outside my front door in NYC without spending at least $40. It makes it kind of difficult to legitimise spending $40 on tickets to something when you know they $40 is just the tip of the iceberg.
2) Going out takes research and planning. I mean, a LOT of research and planning. You can check the blogs or agree to go to things with friends, but it takes a serious amount of forethought and a constant state of awareness of what day of the month it is and where you’re gonna be on any given day.
3) Going out requires compatriots. Doing anything solo in NYC, a city of 14 million people, seems a bit hard to legitimise. Especially in the face of people’s constant interest in not being alone.
4) Going out takes a lot of effort, at least compared to the alternative of self-aimed porcine cheese insertion. The strange thing about New York is that it’s simultaneously totally energising while at the same time being fucking tiring. It’s incredibly easy to live a life of minimal effort in New York, because you’re constantly feeling pushed and pulled into doing things that you may or may not be into. It’s stressful, and as a result, it’s easy to resolutely opt out, stamping your feet like an overtired three year old. DEMANDING that you be left alone to your cheesy hole of snuggly warm self hatred.
So, occasionally you miss out. Well, that’s not true, you CONSTANTLY miss out, but sometimes it’s actually self-inflicted. And I have to say, I’m glad that last week, I didn’t miss out on seeing the live version of “The Moth”, because it’s exactly the kind of thing I came to New York to see.
Basically, it’s a very simple idea. Interesting people telling an interesting story in 10 minutes or less. There are famous people, regular people who went through one of their open-mic qualification rounds and people you’ve never heard of that were invited due to their insane story. The key element is that they have no notes, they have to tell their story using their own ability to speak, their own ability to connect with the audience. It’s literally them, a microphone, a thousand people and a voice. And weirdly, it’s one of the most insanely intimate things I’ve ever experienced on a stage.* You really feel that the person is trying to be honest, and trying to connect with every person in the room, to tell a story. And it’s supremely cathartic, cause the majority of issues become non-issues when they become common issues.
It’s basically group therapy on a massive level.
From a story about a gay West Village hairdresser who grew up having to go deer hunting with his father in the South to a story about SNL comedienne Rachel Dratch’s mission to find a non-insane, non-alcoholic boyfriend in New York City, you get real moments of humanity and it’s so incredibly compelling as to be kind of addictive. It’s exactly the kind of sedate yet intellectually provocative and emotionally stimulating evening I hoped I would have in New York. I’m glad I left the Cheese at home.
Give it a go:
*And that includes the time my Drama teacher tried to introduce me to the concept of a truly “Platonic” relationship.