I…I…I FEEL…I’M HAVING HEART PALPATATIONS!

 

      In a city that boasts more panic attacks than cockroaches, I’m certain those of you who live here don’t need me to advise you on anxiety attack catalysts.  But for the truly calm among you – Namaste, nice yoga mat, LoulouLemon rules –switching it up now and then isn’t a bad idea.   And so, as a service, I’ve taken the liberty of listing the absolutely finest places in New York City to get your panic attack on…

SOHO

      I am one of the few native New Yorkers who remembers SoHo when real read – poor artists lived there among the  factories and the warehouses.  The dopey, trendy stores were few and far between, Spring Street Natural Restaurant was still on Spring Street and there were a few actual bodegas.  But you can’t stop progress, and by the late 80s, the lofts were being bought up by investment bankers who referred to their lofts as “their space,” and rich parents from rich towns in Connecticut and Westchester and Long Island, who purchased them for their trust fund kids, in an effort to fool everyone into thinking that an editorial assistant making $18,000 a year could easily afford a million dollar loft.

            It has devolved further over the decades, becoming a neighborhood occupied by people who could buy Zucotti Park, Mergers and Acquisitions Ivy Leaguers who love to say, “I live in SoHo,” thinking that you’re thinking, “I wonder what kind of painter he is,” or “Gee – he’s like Alan Bates in An Unmarried Woman!”  Attention, investment bankers and hedge fund managers – we know you don’t know the difference between a Manet and a Monet, a Calder mobile and a mobile phone, an impressionist painter and an impressionist.

        SoHo 2014 = outdoors Short Hills mall.  You want an art  gallery?  Go to Chelsea.  You want Warby Parker sunglasses, a new case for your new iPad Air, want to calculate how many years you’ll have to work before you could afford a button at the Chloe Boutique on Greene Street?  This is your place.  It’s like a reverse Calcutta – thousands and thousands of people on the street, moving forward for no apparent reason, wandering aimlessly from block to block, wanting, desperately, to buy anything.  It’s the bald man in his sixties, arm-in-arm with the Swedish model who’s carrying enough high-end shopping bags to stock Rodeo Drive, the group of suburban teenage girls flash-mobbing Victoria’s Secret,  grandparents buying infant onesies from vendors who look like they haven’t bathed since they were in onesies. 

       There are no museums in SoHo.  There are no monuments, cathedrals, landmarks.   Don’t they sell Vuitton in Paris?  Then why are French tourists asking me, “Où est le Louis Vuitton shop?”  Why is there an entire store that sells nothing but Nespresso coffee makers? 

How many people come to SoHo to buy a $500 Espresso maker, made, by the way, not by some Italian coffee dynasty but by Nestle, the same company that makes the Crunch bar and Hot Pockets. I secretly think the coffee stuff is just a front and that they sell pot in the back, because with rent that’s almost $1,000 a square foot, really, how many trays of Hazelino coffee pods can they move in a day? Maui-Wowwie and Acapulco Gold pods – a whole other story…

 

OLD NAVY

      On the other end of the spectrum is Old Navy.  Now kudos for selling cheap crap and pricing it accordingly.  Do I want to spend five bucks on a pair of flip-flops, which is probably 4 bucks more than they cost to make, or must I have Havianas on my feet, which probably cost 2.4 Brazilian reals ($1 USD), and can pretty much look like flip-flops they sell at CVS.   Yes, I know the Havianas are supposed to be better for my feet but I’m not on “Survivor: The Galapagos” – I’m walking from my apartment to the laundry room, a boardwalk to the beach, the laundry room back to my apartment.  

It’s hard to believe that there are so many people who want, for the most part, really icky clothes made from cheap material that seem to come in sizes from “American Girl” to “American Buffalo.” Elastic.  Yay.   I know that it’s cheaper to buy a cartful of turquoise faux-wrap jersey dresses and hideous cap-sleeve chiffon blouses than a sandwich at Dean & DeLuca.  But from the moment you enter and are greeted by the hopped-up employees offering you a parachute-sized sack to stuff your logo-zip hoodies and cropped-drapey Capris into,  to the time you look at the other shoppers and think, “Ewwww – but I know when I wear that stone-washed mini, it will look like it’s from Bergdorf’s,” it’s a sartorial and five-sense invasive nightmare.  Even the name of the store makes me nervous because I don’t know what it means.  “Old Navy”?  Is  there a “new” Navy or a “young” Navy?  Is it the branch of the military or is it the color?  Or maybe it’s the bean.  There’s no “Old” Macy’s.  There’s “Old Spice,” but that’s a cheap after-shave.  Cheap after-shave, cheap crop-tops – see the connection?  Me neither.  Just stay away from the Old Navy 4th of July t-shirts.  They’re pilling.  Already.

UNION SQUARE

     Whether it’s walking through the green market to find, essentially 119 tables selling Empire apples,

(even the Ghandi statue asks, “Why is there not an orange or perhaps a lentil cake?), or a maneuvering through strollers and shopping carts and bicycles peopled by people more interested in Amish blueberry pies and  hard pretzels than whether they’ve just run over your toe or your toddler, this is definitely a green market missing its Ativan stall.   Want a bad oil painting of the Chrysler Building?  How about a bad oil painting of Jimi Hendrix?  Okay – how about a bad oil painting of a bad oil painting?  Chandelier earrings?  Check.  Ugly leather bracelets?  Check.  Stench of patchouli oil stick incense, protesters still marching against the Viet Nam War, grown men on scooters slaloming around senior citizens hanging onto their walkers for dear life? Check, check, double-check.  

     Perhaps this is a “happy” place for some but for others –  it’s the park equivalent of ten pounds of shit in a five-pound bag.  It’s a dog run.  It’s a kid park.  It’s a food court.  It’s a bazaar.  It’s an art show.  It’s a mall.  It’s a green market.   It’s a jewelry store.  It’s a gallery.  It’s a drug den.  It’s a dog run.  It’s harder to find one place to rest your eyes in Union Square than it is on a Where’s Waldo poster. Taxi!

 

NYC SUBWAY

         No, it’s not the crowds that make me anxious.  It’s the individuals.   Oh – I just swiped my MetroCard and you’re going to exit the same turnstile at the precise second my body is attempting to do the same. Excellent.  I am in constant awe of the human sacrifice I see every day on the platform, as I watch people young and old, every race, every religion, of every socio-economic class, play “Chicken” as they lean over the tracks to see if their train is coming. 

No – there are no sadistic nuts in New York who’d push you onto the track as though you were the “cannon ball” and the tracks were an in-ground pool.  Not here.  Not in this city.   Oh – I’m sorry – the psychopath didn’t know you were a Carroll Gardens-condo-owning Dartmouth-grad lawyer, married to another lawyer, dad to “gifted” fraternal twins.  He thinks you’re the pin and he’s the bowling ball.  And I’m not even on the train yet. 

     Am I standing where the door is going to open, or is that bitch with the Henri Bendel shopping bag and Manolos going to, at the very last second, elbow me? How many people getting off the train will make me feel like a Pamplonian bull?  Why is there a stroller the size of a park bench in the subway car?  Is the man sitting with his legs spread so wide I want to make a wish, going to look up from his newspaper long enough to even notice the elderly woman losing bone density by the second,  standing over him?  

 

That woman is eating shrimp in garlic sauce out of a Styrofoam box, here comes an acapello group; the woman sitting across from me is working a WordPuzzle book like it’s the Enigma Project.   There’s an announcement on the P.A. system that’s either full of static or in Belarusian.  We should be moving in a few minutes.  Maybe. 

The man who’s holding the same pole as I am slides his hand down – I can’t tell if it’s uncontrollable sweat or flirting.  I prefer the sweat.  The guy leaning on the door either doesn’t know his headphones don’t work as headphones but as Blaupunkt speakers capable of entertaining a wedding reception of 100 guests, or he does.  Either way, I am looking for the exit sign.  Or the Viennese Table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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