New York City: Love, Life and All That Jazz

 

New York, New York… the city like no other in the whole wide world, has seduced most of us in at least one phase of our life… the city of art, glamour, love, fame, success and failure, a city to chew you up and swallow you whole without you even noticing, but, most important of it all, the Capital of the World.

I remember the line at the baggage claim and a seemingly long shuttle ride from Newark to a small room on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street, which greeted me with an unmade single bed and clean sheets, a writing desk beneath a small window and a view on a city corner. Little I knew then that this tiny studio was a luxury in this city that has a life of its own.

Who was I then?

University student just turned twenty-four, with vivid dreams and a broken heart, I flew over the Atlantic to seek peace in the city that never sleeps, to create dreams fresh and new, to start over again and build the new me. Manhattan was the only place impersonal and great enough to provide me with anonymity which, back then, meant a whole life for me… Manhattan, a place of life more real than anyplace else, the story of invention and survival. I remember walking down the Avenue of the Americas, cutting across Broadway and chilling in Battery Park… long walks only my experienced shoes endured for it was my shoes only I wanted to walk in, despite the previous failure and disappointment. I was beginning anew, I was the new me and noone was either better or worse than I was. That feeling alone was relieving.

Not that I managed to publish my stories too frivolous to attract serious attention, yet what I managed to do was heal and reinvent myself – which was, back then, something I needed most. And, as a poet once said, it is not that we get what we want, but what we need that counts the most.

I did get what I needed. Freedom.

New York City, Urban Jungle, was a temporary home to many… beautifully assembled in a collection of essays on loving and leaving New YorkGoodbye to All That edited by Sari Botton – inspired by a same named story by  Joan Didion. She herself muses…

‘I want to explain to you, and in the process perhaps to myself, why I no longer live in New York. It is often said that New York is a city for only the very rich and the very poor. It is less often said that New York is also, at least for those of us who came there from somewhere else, a city only for the very young.’

The explanation is necessary, especially since Didion, in her own words…

‘It would be a long while because, quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again.’

Not only love, but youth, inexperience, zest for life and endless dreams, are all depicted in a seductive musing…

‘Of course it might have been some other city, had circumstances been different and the time been different and had I been different, might have been Paris or Chicago or even San Francisco, but because I am talking about myself I am talking here about New York. That first night I opened my window on the bus into town and watched for the skyline, but all I could see were the wastes of Queens and big signs that said MIDTOWN TUNNEL THIS LANE and then a flood of summer rain (even that seemed remarkable and exotic, for I had come out of the West where there was no summer rain), and for the next three days I sat wrapped in blankets in a hotel room air conditioned to 35 degrees and tried to get over a cold and a high fever. It did not occur to me to call a doctor, because I knew none, and although it did occur to me to call the desk and ask that the air conditioner be turned off, I never called, because I did not know how much to tip whoever might come—was anyone ever so young? I am here to tell you that someone was. All I could do during those years was talk long-distance to the boy I already knew I would never marry in the spring. I would stay in New York, I told him, just six months, and I could see the Brooklyn Bridge from my window. As it turned out the bridge was the Triborough, and I stayed eight years.’

More elusive but not less real, as a part of her A Love Letter to New York City, is a musing by Dani Shapiro, when she describes her love affair with the Big Apple…

‘I was trying, flailing, failing, in an attempt to chisel myself into a woman who existed only as a fantasy, airbrushed, photoshopped, as lost as that high school sophomore who wandered in a fugue state past the strip joints of Times Square. I was a girl who hadn’t gotten the memo about not taking candy from strangers—and New York was full of those strangers. A girl who was playing a part she was wrong for, whose own gifts were elusive and strange to her, contraband, brought home from a foreign country and best stored out of reach.’

She further continues, as if trying to show how you can leave the city, but the City never leaves you…

‘It has been ten years since we left the city. A decade—long enough for our friends to stop taking bets on how long it would take us to come to our senses and return to New York. What do you do up there? Whom do you see? What’s it like? They drive up to visit us in their Zip cars or rental SUVs, bearing urban bounty: shopping bags from Citarella filled with pungent Epoisses and chorizo tortellini; boxes of linzer cookies from Sarabeth’s; delicate, pastel Laduree macarons. In turn, we take our houseguests on hikes or to lakeside beaches or to quaint village streets lined with shops selling cashmere and tweed. But we aren’t hearty country folk. I don’t own muck boots or a Barbour coat. We don’t ski or own horses or build bonfires in our backyard. I spend most of my days alone in my writing study, with a midday yoga break in the next room. My husband now writes and directs films, and the closest he gets to an outdoor activity is when he takes his chainsaw out into our woods to clear brush. Our son, like us, is an indoor dreamer. We are urban Jews, descended from the shtetl, pale and neurasthenic. Living in our heads.’

Times change, and so do cities. We have to consider that Didion wrote her essay back in 1967, when New York indeed was unique, still untouched and unburdened by corporations – quite a different picture then it is today. To quote a native New Yorker, Rebecca Wolff, in her essay, ‘So Long, Suckers’,

‘New York City manifests itself now shame-facedly as a chump-factory, a chump-house. It’s Chumptown. Artists who live there are living dangerously, close to extinction, dangerously close to the source of their art’s diminishment, an outerboros of economic exigency.’

According to Wolff, New York holds no magic at all anymore, not even if you’ve just freshly arrived. She continues,

‘There’s this thing that happens, where I speak to a twenty-something or thirty-something sweetheart, a Joan Didion who’s moved to New York recently, and I realize at a certain point that their expectations are very low, compared to my own, because they cannot possibly imagine what it used to be like, the New York of the recent past, of the late 1970s, 1980s, 1990s.’

We might be closest to the truth upon reading cruel statement by Meghan Daum that appeared in The New Yorker in 1999.

‘I have not made a life for myself in New York City. I have purchased a life for myself.’

It might be true that New York City is no longer a city not for the young and ambitious, but for the middle-aged and rich, but this will never stop aspiring youth of coming here to, at least, take a bite off Big Apple. Because, after all, we must admit, there is an uncanny Magic in New York City – Magic no city in this world holds.

Perhaps Love, Life and Leaving of this fabulous city is best depicted in eternal

 

Love Gina Wings

Coco Chanel on Character: Kick-Ass Advice From the Queen of Elegance

Coco Chanel, the fashion icon of modern age and a role model for a contemporary woman did not ignite only fashion revolution, but a switch in role of a woman in society. Fabulous and unique, her path was not always the easiest one, but thanks to her stubborn persistence and dedication, she has greatly contributed to women being glorified, independent and proud.

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”

Coco persisted in her vision to create fashion for women instead of creating fashion women should obey to, as if fashion was her weapon to show the world how women are free to choose and create the life to best suit them. And she did it with style – clearly depicted in her famous quotes:

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”

“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.”

It was beginning of a century and beginning of a new era: in the uneasy midst of war women got their right to vote and left safety of their homes to work in factories. No longer they were dependent on marriages and support of their men. With this newly established freedom, Coco gave them the right attire, stripping off the rigid corsets and dressing them up in comfortable dresses to follow the natural beauty of a woman clearly defined in her simple saying:

“No one is young after forty, but one can be irresistible at any age.”

This was not welcome at the time at all, but Coco stubbornly refused to act as a conformist and has conquered the rules in the end. And she did it like no one else could.

“I wanted to escape, and to become the center of a universe of my own creation, instead of remaining on the margins or even becoming part of other people’s universe.”

 “For a woman betrayal has no sense – one cannot betray one’s passions.”

Coco understand the time, understood women, and knew their power.

“If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack. Men hate women who weep.”

It is not by chance that it was her business, maybe the only big business, that survived the Second World War, and continued to flourish further. Coco used style and gave women elements of seduction, and by doing this, she was encouraging them to feel free as they were, aware of their real powers neglected for so long.

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

By refusing to match the norms she has become the building block of the modern world, for the first time allowing women to be both comfortable and fashionable. Indeed, through her creations she was creating new dreams for women, dreams of freedom and equality, bringing entirely new way of thinking.

“Adornment, what a science! Beauty, what a weapon! Modesty, what elegance!”

Importantly, she pointed out to a crucial direction which makes women’s life easier and utterly exciting…

“I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”

In addition, her perception of beauty and allure is everlasting…

“You can be gorgeous at thirty, charming at forty, and irresistible for the rest of your life.”

She was a creator her entire life. We lost her in January 1980. of natural causes, while she was working on a new collection for the upcoming fashion show. By providing encouragement, individualism and hope to women,Coco indeed lived as a queen, and died as a legend.

“It’s probably not just by chance that I’m alone. It would be very hard for a man to live with me, unless he’s terribly strong. And if he’s stronger than I, I’m the one who can’t live with him. … I’m neither smart nor stupid, but I don’t think I’m a run-of-the-mill person. I’ve been in business without being a businesswoman, I’ve loved without being a woman made only for love. The two men I’ve loved, I think, will remember me, on earth or in heaven, because men always remember a woman who caused them concern and uneasiness. I’ve done my best, in regard to people and to life, without precepts, but with a taste for justice.”

 

Coco… really was one of a kind. She lived up to her saying, created an empire and continues to live in the beauty of her creation.

“You live but once; you might as well be amusing.”

Quite.

 

Love Gina Wings

 

 

Good morning, Starshine

… the Earth says ‘Hello!’

It is a beautiful day and we are alive while the Universe has conspired to serve us the best Life there is…

This is how I wish you felt, and maybe this can help…

 

I wish to live simply. I wish to enjoy the moment, the Present, because Present is all there is.

We can be easily misguided to think how easy it was some fifty years ago to enjoy the moment while high on acid, but the world has changed.

It has. And it has not.

For all of you who have not seen the movie Hair – I strongly suggest you do – the folks in the video are in the emotional turmoil facing everyday fear of being drafted. And that is just a part of their problems. Yet, they are happy.

Not because they do not have problems, but because they are not trying to change things they cannot affect.

We have achieved so much. We have everything: not only can we buy fancy cars and beautiful houses, we are buying health, ordering beauty and are putting ourselves on happiness wait list.

Why is it then, that anxiety and depression are on the increase? Have we learned nothing?

Not so long ago, we wanted things. We used to wait for them. We had to put effort into obtaining them.

No wonder we felt great happiness and joy once our wishes came true.

Today, everything seems attainable, instantly. No wonder we are failing at experiencing true joy and happiness.

Just think of it: how happy would you feel if you had to work (and wait) a whole month to be able to purchase that fancy gadget?

Make yourself wait for things you want…

Try, and see what happens.

Love Gina Wings