I lie here, cosily tucked away within the faded Art deco glamour of my big-city hideaway. My mind floats off to eras gone by as I imagine the years, the lives, the energy that this city breathed in and breathed out, each breath marking the start of a new wave in the relentless ebb and flow of metropolitan vogue.
From war rations to new fashions; Times Square with its battle of the brands: each billboard whispering in consumers’ ears to loosen the clammy grip around their wallets as they let their hard-earned money fall into the hands of the lucky profiteers; the colossal emperors and gateholders of the American Dream.
‘Everybody can be somebody in this city’they say. But isn’t somebody just another body as the hundreds march the sidewalk or the lunchtime rush subsumes the masses in the hustle and bustle, whirl and burl; the faceless swirl, soulless intersection – perhaps the odd two second connection. Exchanges are but brief sparks in the footfall: ‘how’s it going’; ‘what a fast city we need to slow down!’ or ‘why did that muppet win the election?’
This is a world bazaar: a melting pot of art, food, fashion and snacks-at-street-corners. In one day I can see Picasso at the Met, browse Stella McCartney on Madison Avenue and eat Quesadilla, eggs over-easy and a Reese’s peanut butter cup milkshake float. ‘Hey lady! You want pretzels?’. Marching fuel keeps me going from one street corner to the next. ‘Tacos till I get to the best restaurant this side of Fifth Avenue else I might be hungry on the way?’. You don’t say. I’m not losing weight this way.
Press a button and up up up 86 floors into the sky. It’s high but my head doesn’t spin. I take some facebook selfies with my cheesiest grin just to show the folks at home I’m a somebody in this town of somebodies who are nobodies. Riding high on the American Dream. Self-esteem. A necessary commodity (but one with a big dollar subsidy).
No dollar. Blue collar. Service sector. The invisible glue of this city. Chamber maids. Bell boys. Waiters. Newspaper sellers. Burger flippers. Immigration is what holds up this nation. Capitalism on steroids; an uncontrolled pyramid scheme promising a dream of freedom that they might have in the future some day. Who’s to say? A cruel promise or a fair contest? An unequal system which doesn’t evoke protest. For everyone a winner in this game of chance and romance.
The American dream. The reality or the fantasy on which this city survives? Any gripe is silenced by the illusion of one day we’ll make it big; make it big like the collosal greats of yesteryear and today; the billionaires and heroes who have gone before. Or there is always the lottery, we say. That hope is just a palliative to that fifteen-hour day.
Copyright Fizzy Wisdom 2018