Friday, August 14, 2009

new york city giveth, and taketh away

New York years, a wise young chef recently observed in conversation, are like dog years, in the way they rapidly pass. This is an outstanding city to love and live in, but is in a perpetual state of metamorphosis, without mercy for our memories.

image from James and Karla Murray (click.)

That sweet aching nostalgia was already coloring my week when I wrote this piece (click) for Dossier. By far, the best part of the rooftop exhibition, aside from the view of downtown, was Jim and Karla Murray's collection of photographs of New York City storefronts. (Take a minute to breath in the smell of flour and espresso in its dark corridor of the bygone Vesuvio Bakery.)

image from Ivory Serra/The New York Times

Then, earlier this week, I received the really sad news from Moose that we--and by "we" I mean this city, lost the perpetually young Andy Kessler, who suffered an allergic reaction to a wasp sting in Montauk. Andy appeared in my midst a few years ago, at a moment when I was questioning my commitment to New York. He could have stayed a stranger, but instead became one of those people I relished running into. Aside from being damn cute, he just grinned in a way that seemed like he knew what you were going through; and in spite of serious status in the skateboarding world, I got the feeling his capacity for compassion dwarfed his sizeable street cred. Maybe that was just what I needed then, but for whatever reason, Andy Kessler, then hopping around crutches, became somewhat of a New York City angel to me, appearing at opportune moments.

Knowing that someone like him called this crazy place home made it a more rewarding place to live. Now, learning more about his life I realize that might be because he bled and sweated for this city, and like that young chef, was reckless and relentless in his commitment to his craft, which made him an integral part of this creature called New York.

Bret Anthony Johnston said it beautifully on The New York Times' website today.

He’ll be remembered as a man who understood the abiding and cathartic power of resilience. You don’t give in. You take every run — on the ramp, with recovery, at City Hall. It has everything and nothing to do with skateboarding which, at its essence, is the act of focusing so intensely on the body that you feel liberated from your physical form. Think not of swimming in a pool, but of becoming the ocean itself. Think not of flying, but of floating in a place where the ground or gravity has never existed — a place where, at long last, there is no irony, no pain or struggle, where there’s no such thing as falling.

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