An unceremonious return.

My college buddies and I just got back from Rio de Janiero, and we are all depressed. Rio might be my favorite city. On our return, I half-joked: “New York sucks. It’s cold, its wet, and everyone here is fucking ugly.” Don’t get me wrong, I love New York. But sometimes, it feels a little….stale. You see the same people, and there is a real hostility, a real hatred, between people. I think New York really lacks a sense of community, so people can be and are horrible to each other here. While in the midst of being on the receiving end, I actually feel sad for the other person. But much later, I’m not just sad for that person, I’m disconsolate for the city that made that person. Traveling reminds me that not every place is like that. And Rio, like Costa Rica, and Iceland (the last few places I’ve been), is filled with warm, generous people.

Without really knowing it, I started to watch a movie about New York. The movie takes place right during the Great Blackout of 2003. Of course, everyone has their own Blackout story, and maybe another day I’ll tell mine. But everyone will tell you that it was one of those few days that you really felt any sense of community here. So in a way, it was one of the best things to ever happen in Manhattan. But back to the movie.

Now Shortbus is one seriously fucked up movie. But some moments are beautifully and brilliantly written. Some lines really resonated with me. Like: “9-11. It’s the only thing real that’s ever happened to them.” In a perfect arc, the movie begins with a recollection of an event that brought New Yorkers together for what felt like the first time ever, and ends with another event which had a similar effect. 9-11 was the day we mourned together, but the Blackout was the day we rejoiced together.

However, the part of the movie that had the most gravitas was the soliloquy by the ex-Mayor (played magnificently by Alan Mandell). I’ll excerpt it here:

But you know what’s the most wonderful thing about New York?…New Yorkers are…permeable…Therefore we’re sane. Consequently, we’re the target of the impermeable. And the insane. And of course, New York is where everyone comes to be forgiven. What have you done wrong? Tell me, how have you sinned? I’m sure it’s nothing serious.

How would you know?

Well, I’m– I’m sure you did your best. Imagine if you grew up here like I did. Home can be very unforgiving.

On that note, here are some of my favorite pictures from Rio. From the angle, it looks like he is hovering in the clouds. Click to open them.

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