New Yorkers by Craig Taylor — Now in paperback
A City and Its People in Our Time
|Christian Ladewig | Unsplash|
The plan was to spend the summer there, interning for a fashion company. It was my first solo trip, and I was spending it in the city I had always dreamed about. I had built up this image of New York in my mind from watching shows and movies, and reading about the city in every travel guide, magazine, and book I could get my teenage hands on.
Alicia Keys' Empire State of Mind was playing on repeat as my plane landed, and I felt like there was electricity running through my body, I was so excited. I still feel like that every time I arrive in New York, it's impossible to replicate that feeling anywhere else in the world.
I'll never forget what it felt like to come above ground from Port Authority Bus Terminal after taking transportation from Newark Airport, and seeing the city up close for the first time. I felt like I was home.
I really resonated with Antwon Shavers' story from the book. He says, “Every time I wake up in the morning, I always say to myself, “Wow, I’m actually here in New York.” That's how I felt every day that summer.
|Colton Duke | Unsplash|
One of the first people we meet is Joy Kang, a doctor who grew up in Queens, but doesn’t see herself as a true New Yorker. She found out about a quiz called ‘Am I a New Yorker?’ with a “little online survey” which she did with her friend.
Joy might have meant this BuzzFeed survey, which I also took while reading. According to the quiz, I’m 54% New Yorker, meaning:
You're in the sweet spot between an expert New Yorker who's already seen everything and someone who still gets to explore awesome new sights with friends. The world is your oyster.
In a section called ‘Building Stories’, we meet Steve Rosenthal, the former owner of the Magic Shop, a recording studio on Crosby Street.
It took him about six months to build the studio, and at the beginning it was hard to get people in there. It took almost two years, but like a true New Yorker he persevered and things turned around for Rosenthal. One day, by surprise, David Bowie showed up at the Magic Shop, and that’s where he recorded The Next Day.
|Courtesy of the Magic Shop's Facebook|
I once had to have a multi-million dollar painting fork-lifted out of a loft window in Soho. I had a few hundred dollars stuffed into the pocket of my jeans, just in case I needed to pay anyone off. It was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.
I arranged for the painting to be put into a crate and shipped off to Europe later that month — just another item on my to-do list. One of many crazy things I did on that trip to New York.
One of my favourite parts of the book was meeting Scott Wiener, a pizza guide. “I just always liked pizza,” he says. The self-proclaimed planet’s biggest pizza nerd and owner of Scott’s Pizza Tours, shares a wealth of knowledge with Craig in the book, and I’ve made a note to take one of his tours on my next trip.
|Scott after his COVID-19 vaccine / courtesy of his Instagram|
This chapter manages to capture the horrors of the pandemic with such accuracy as the cases continued to spike in New York and around the world. It was a reminder of how much we owe the front line workers for their services rendered during these traumatic times.
It’s easy to forget now, looking back, that at the beginning of the pandemic the hospitals were struggling severely to get a hold of PPE, so the medical staff really were putting themselves at risk daily. And at this point, we also didn’t know the full extent of what the virus was capable of.
|Edwin Hooper / Unsplash|
Towards the end of New Yorkers, we encounter Edmée Reit, who discusses her passion for the arts “I can’t really imagine living in another American city. I have sixty-eight tickets for concerts and ballet between now and May. In February, they’re having a great bunch of things over at Carnegie Hall,” she continues, “Look what we have. Look what we have every night. I mean aren’t you stunned by what there is available?”
New Yorkers includes people from every walk of life. One of the most multicultural cities in the world, with over 200 languages spoken, and 40 percent of the NYC population born outside of the United States, this book manages to capture the cultural diversity that lives and breathes there.
The individual stories might not be revolutionary. But together, they are remarkable.
Revisiting Taylor's book again this year brought so many magical memories of New York to the surface for me. I felt a longing to be in the city again. It's been two and a half years since I was last there — the pandemic has kept me from the city I love most in the world. I always planned to move to New York, and maybe one day I will.
For now, I know I can open Craig Taylor's book, and he'll take me there. I should also mention that the accompanying audiobook for this is incredibly special.
Sharing my interview with the author from last year below.
IN CONVERSATION WITH
|Linpaul Rodney | Unsplash|