New York City – Life on the Street

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“The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.”

― John Updike

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In 1998, Robert John Burck flew to California to do a photo shoot with Playgirl magazine. He went on the beach in jeans and a flannel shirt. The photographer suggested he go out in just his underwear. “I did it, went out in my underwear and made over $100,” he says.

“I’ve been doing it ever since.”

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Work is the curse of the drinking class.”
–Oscar Wilde

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“For in that city [New York] there is neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistake for energy.”

― Evelyn Waugh

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“I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.”

― Nora Ephron

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“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”

― Tom Wolfe

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“As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world.”

– Pearl S. Buck

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“New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous. But there is one thing about it – once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”

― John Steinbeck, America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction

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“When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough.”

― Fran Lebowitz

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“New York was a city where you could be frozen to death in the midst of a busy street and nobody would notice.”

― Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1

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“I can’t with any conscience argue for New York with anyone. It’s like Calcutta. But I love the city in an emotional, irrational way, like loving your mother or your father even though they’re a drunk or a thief. I’ve loved the city my whole life — to me, it’s like a great woman.”

– Woody Allen

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“There’s something so romantic about being broke in New York. You gotta do it. You have to live there once without any money, and then you have to live there when you have money. Let me tell you, of the two, the latter is far better.”

–  Amy Poehler

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Old New York City is a friendly old town

From Washington Heights to Harlem on down

There’s a-mighty many people all millin’ all around

They’ll kick you when you’re up and knock you when you’re down

It’s hard times in the city

Livin’ down in New York town

– Bob Dylan

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“The faces in New York remind me of people who played a game and lost.”

– Murray Kempton

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“New York is the capital, the national headquarters of homelessness…. No one feels he belongs here.”

– GERALD STANLEY LEE, The House of Twenty Seven Gardens

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“New York! The white prisons, the sidewalks swarming with maggots, the breadlines, the opium joints that are built like palaces, the kikes that are there, the lepers, the thugs, and above all, the ennui, the monotony of faces, streets, legs, houses, skyscrapers, meals, posters, jobs, crimes, loves … A whole city erected over a hollow pit of nothingness.”

-Henry Miller

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“Give me such shows — give me the streets of Manhattan!”

– Walt Whitman

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“I regret profoundly that I was not an American and not born in Greenwich Village. It might be dying, and there might be a lot of dirt in the air you breathe, but this is where it’s happening.”

– John Lennon

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“I love New York, even though it isn’t mine, the way something has to be, a tree or a street or a house, something, anyway, that belongs to me because I belong to it.”

-Truman Capote

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“New York remains what it has always been: a city of ebb and flow, a city of constant shifts of population and economics, a city of virtually no rest. It is harsh, dirty, and dangerous, it is whimsical and fanciful, it is beautiful and soaring – it is not one or another of these things but all of them, all at once, and to fail to accept this paradox is to deny the reality of city existence.”      – Paul Goldberger

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“Each neighbourhood of the city appeared to be made of a different substance, each seemed to have a different air pressure, a different psychic weight: the bright lights and shuttered shops, the housing projects and luxury hotels, the fire escapes and city parks.”

― Teju Cole, Open City

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“Whoever is born in New York is ill-equipped to deal with any other city: all other cities seem, at best, a mistake, and, at worst, a fraud. No other city is so spitefully incoherent.”

– James Baldwin

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“New York now leads the world’s great cities in the number of people around whom you shouldn’t make a sudden move.”

– David Letterman

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“New York has a trip-hammer vitality which drives you insane with restlessness, if you have no inner stabilizer…. In New York I h ave always felt lonely, the loneliness of the caged animal, which brings on crime, sex, alcohol and other madnesses.”

–  Henry Miller

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“The city is an amusement park: Everything is concrete, it’s full of tourists, and food vendors line the sidewalks. It’s like living in a casino: The lights never dim, there’s an incessant din of bells and horns, and there’s always someone, somewhere, crying in a bathroom.”

-Jane Borden 

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New York is a different country. Maybe it ought to have a separate government. Everybody thinks differently, they just don’t know what the hell the rest of the United States is.

– Henry Ford 

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“There is no place like it, no place with an atom of its glory, pride, and exultancy. It lays its hand upon a man’s bowels; he grows drunk with ecstasy; he grows young and full of glory, he feels that he can never die.”

–  Walt Whitman

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“If you live in New York, even if you’re Catholic, you’re Jewish.”

– Lennie Bruce


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