Monday, October 18, 2010

Spontaneous Combustion...of Fun in New York

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—One thing about living in New York that I'm really enjoying so far is that I find it easier to plan my days—my weekends, especially—in a far more spontaneous manner than I was able to do having to commute back and forth to central New Jersey.

Every time I came into New York on a weekend while still living in East Brunswick, I always felt a need to immaculately plan beforehand: what I was doing, where I needed to go, when I needed to get to certain places, and (perhaps most importantly) when I needed to leave in order to be able to get back home. Sure, there was always a bit of room to maneuver even within such a carefully worked-out schedule...but most of the time I always felt constraints hanging over my head preventing me from being able to fully enjoy everything the city had to offer.

It's a different ballgame for me now as a New York resident...and this weekend was a case in point.

At the beginning of the day, my Friday looked to be a fairly humdrum one: one trip to the movies in the works, but otherwise not much else in the way of friendly gathering or even flat-out partying. But then, that morning, an old friend from East Brunswick posted a status update on Facebook alerting her friends that she would be at a bar in the Meatpacking District to celebrate her (super-belated) 25th birthday, and I decided it would be nice to make some time to reconnect with her there. And later in the day, thanks to a friendship I had struck up recently with someone who works at Brooklyn Academy of Music, I found myself in possession of a free ticket to a performance at BAM that evening of a new opera by composer Evan Ziporyn entitled A House in Bali. If I wasn't living in New York, there was probably no way I could have attended that House in Bali performance on such short notice. (The opera is fascinating musically, a bit less electrifying literally, but overall totally worth my time.)

In short, a quiet, sober Friday night suddenly turned into a far more wide-ranging, adventurous (and fairly drunken) one. Oh, and thanks to the free ticket as well as a couple of people at the birthday party being nice enough to pick up my tab on the drinks I consumed, I ended up spending only about $17 that evening ($7 of which was spent on a ticket to see Olivier Assayas's wonderful 1991 feature Paris at Dawn, also at BAM).

It was a similar story on Saturday. After a thrilling double-bill of Rififi (1955) and Touchez pas au grisbi (1954)—both of which I had never seen before, at least in full—at Film Forum, I met up with a friend at a bar on 28th and 7th, and we ended up going up to Central Park to check out the new Tavern on the Green, now reconfigured as a more modest visitor center and food court. Then, during our dinner, my friend mentioned a place even further uptown that served good dessert, and so we ended up spending some time there as well (I gorged on gelato and a piece of super-chocolate cake). Everything that happened after the two films was planned on-the-fly. And whereas, as a New Jersey resident, I probably would have been careful not to spend so much money on subway fare, now that I finally have a reason to purchase an unlimited MTA fare card, I feel free to explore all over the city with abandon. (I spent a bit more money on food than I had hoped on Saturday, but I think the $6 I spent on that double feature made up for things at least a bit.)

Earlier this year, when I was still deciding whether to take the plunge and finally move to New York, a co-worker of mine said to me, "You of all people need to be here." Boy, how right he was. The possibilities, the convenience, the seemingly endless sense of discovery: Maybe one day, my romance with New York City will end...but for now, we're still in the honeymoon phase, as far as I'm concerned.

P.S. Perhaps later in the week, I will find time to say more about the films I watched this weekend. For now, though...I have a phone interview with legendary documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman to prepare for later today.

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