Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

4/14/2010

Elwyn's (and my) New York

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I wasn't always a fan of New York City, but the past two years have changed that. It's the city I first explored with my now-fiance. It's also the city that taught me that things aren't always as daunting as your mind makes it out to be.

I remember sitting in a subway car one fine day (lost as always) and looking up. What greeted me, aside from the ads, was a string of words that was signed E.B. White, best known for being the White in Strunk and White's "Elements of Style".

I can't for the life of me remember which words were written on the mini-posting, but I thought, "Wow. That was beautiful."

It turns out, I wasn't the only one who thought that. The lines I read to myself were from E.B. White's classic "Here is New York."

The slim book is only 56 pages long and makes for perfect afternoon reading. Here, White certainly takes to heart his own sage advice to "omit needless words" and "make every word tell."

Reading the book, I felt my New York and E.B. White's converging and diverging almost like a camera lens that came in and out of focus. It was a trip down some else's memory lane. While I couldn't follow each homage to Gotham's neighborhoods, I can certainly imagine the few bits of the city I've experienced for myself. "Here is New York" is a must-read for those who have a hankering for the Big Apple or who are already hopelessly lost under its spell.

Here are my favorite quotes:
  • No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.
  • New York is the concentrate of art and commerce and sport and religion and entertainment and finance, bringing to a single compact arena the gladiator, the evangelist, the promoter, the actor, the trader and the merchant. It carries on its lapel the unexpungeable odor of the long past, so that no matter where you sit in New York you feel the vibrations of great times and tall deeds, of queer people and events and undertakings.
  • Although New York often imparts a feeling of great forlornless or forsakeness, it seldom means dead or unresourceful; and you always feel that either by shifting your location ten blocks or by reducing your fortune by five dollars you can experience rejuvination.
  • To a New Yorker the city is both changeless and changing.
  • By comparison with other less hectic days, the city is uncomfortable and inconvenient; but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience--if they did they would live elsewhere.
Photo credit: Hilary Gardner

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