(Aka the Americans)
Aaah, tell me you were waiting for this post; the post where I would have described the wonderful people of the United States. I really don’t like the “American” term they use to describe themselves, I think it’s too much abused and refers to a much bigger population than just US; anyway as we all know American usually refer to themselves also as the best country of the world, the most proud population and etc etc… so the term I think reflects their ego.
You can immediately tell the different about people for New York and people from all over the world, but not from the habits or the colour of the skin, from the way they approach to the town. You see some of the people you meet let’s say they “ride” the town, living it in all its scope of moods and feelings, and appreciating it or not; New Yorkers are part of the rope, let’s say they are a string inside of the big common spirit that is the soul of the town. They behave differently, they don’t refer to the city as something mystical or a separate entity, they just don’t use the city as a comparison, they are the city.
You won’t hear them say that they hate or love the place because they are the place. Once I asked my landlord if he likes to live in New York and he told me that he was born and raised here, that sometimes this city is too big for him, that it’s loud, noisy and he didn’t like the rush that was everywhere in the town. I asked him why he didn’t leave and he told me, showing me a big happy smile with a dip of sadness: “I couldn’t leave; I will miss New York too much. I can’t imagine myself living somewhere else. This town is a patchwork of cultures and feeling, every cross is a town. Once you have been here for as long as I have been you don’t need to see anything else”.
He wasn’t under the effect of mushrooms, I can assure you. But maybe he is right. I have always been fascinated by the American culture, although most of the Italians have some kind of resentment to the US, hating the people and the capitalistic way of life, probably because of the anachronistic political parties that still influence our culture. I worked for the Americans too, now I moved here seeking a new life here. I don’t know what to expect, and I will always keep an eye on my emergency exit; even if I like the country, love the people and people (apparently) love me I just can’t take a look sometimes to my country, to my city and to my family, my friends, and my dog Valentino.
I mean all my life is there, and I will never lose the contact with my roots. I am not planning to stay here forever, I just want to take a shower into American life and come back, bringing some of their culture in Italy. I do believe in patriotism, and maybe this is one of the things I envy most of the US. I think everyone should be proud of what he is and of what he believes in. Any way this is getting to philosophical, let’s just come back to the stupid blog arguments, they are more suitable of this site and this writer.
Friday I got drunk and woke up in Queens sleeping with other 7 people, had a chicken with onions on rice for dinner and a double cheeseburger for breakfast. Interesting.
(Rockefeller Center guys)
(Aka every day is funday)
In my personal opinion New York City is the mecca of any kind of activity that can please the life of a student or of an intern from alla round the world. Every city has its own peculiarities, but I do think that New York most of all is some kind of melting pot of after work leisure times and offers a wide range of things you can do, see, drink or appreciate in almost all of its borough. I live in Manhattan and I do prefer in my opinion to stay in my borough as I do love not to need 40 stops of metro to come back home.
Not only in Manhattan you could find the fun you are looking for; Brooklyn is without any doubt one of the most vital places you could experience hipster life and post-midnight fun, and Queens is my favorite place if we talk about house parties (not parties with house music but party into the house). Anyway Manhattan still holds the top spot in my preferences as you could find literally anything you are looking for and you prefer. Anyone has different ways to have fun, but I will just describe my experiences in this sense, so I will not talk about sordid habits of the underground population as, as I have said before, I consider myself as an average guy with average passions. No drugs and hoes then.
I am not really fond of discos and clubbing, I mean I spent most of my life going to discos in Italy and going out on Saturday night just to close myself again into stinky and sticky dark rooms with repetitive music and strobe lights, which is pretty much like being into Pacman, but I never found a passion in it, and I sincerely admit that If I have to choose among going to discos and spend the evening getting drunk and telling awesome stories and funny facts (yesterday it was my funny facts day) in a pub with my friends I will prefer the latter one without thinking twice.
But I am just a guy my personal preference and I will tell you the other things I like. For example, I like parties held in houses, whatever there is or not alcohol. I’m joking, we always bring beer. Most of them are held in Queens as most of the intern I know live there, and I have to say that even if it’s hard to reach it still can give you some satisfactions because houses are bigger, you can make more noise and the more people the merrier. Here in Manhattan one thing I hate is that I have to remove my shoes every time I get into someone’s house (both because it’s a tradition in some places in Europe, not in Italy thou, and in order to make less noise for the people who lives downstairs).
This time I don’t have specific places to recommend, most of all because when I go there I am usually inebriated by the god’s nectar so I don’t remember the names. Most of the places in Greenwich are nice, and try the Mc Fadden next to UN headquarter for Tuesday and Friday happy hours, very convenient. Also if you go to Brooklyn, Union Pool is famous and full of people. Avoid the Fat Cat, it’s full of hipsters and strange people, booze is expensive (5 dollars and up for a PBR) and too crowdy on Saturday. And in the end trust me, organize a party on a rooftop, yesterday I was at some friends house with some friends and I also had the occasion to meet some nice girls, but I will tell more in another story. Stay tuned guys, there are some voices in the air that want me to be recording a video to describe the Microwave Accident. Gorgeous.
(what the hell is this beer?)
(Aka No More Carnival)
Today the mood in this post seems to be different from the others, and I guess this is the result of recent calls and chat I had with my friends back in Italy. Well I am not saying I am sad, but it’s normal to feel something similar to nostalgia away from home, especially when you know that it’s going to be a very long time. Mainly I am writing this for two things that happened yesterday: first of all, I had throat ache, and this is not a reason for my mood but the beginning of the first story.
I had throat ache and I decided to leave work before because I didn’t really feel well and I decided to go to visit my future university in New York (actually I don’t know if I will be accepted, but it’s always better to plan a visit to the school and to the structures). I had to take a train from Manhattan to Brooklyn to arrive in Metro Tech where the university is and as soon as I stepped outside of the metro I saw a completely different scenario: Brooklyn is a totally different place, maybe it’s not New York anymore, because the people and their behaviour are typical of a different city. I felt like a soul that this place transmitted me, and at the same time some kind of fear for the new place.
I have this feeling every time, the first day, maybe even the first week when I move to a new place I feel like the period I am going to spend there would be endless and I am almost sure that I am going to suffer and feel uncomfortable for months. And those things never happen in real life. I always set up perfectly in every place, I like all the places I have been and I had no problems in Italy, Netherlands and US. But the feeling for the first days remains, and I learnt how to live with it. Brooklyn is a vibrant community, full of characteristic and picturesque scenes that I will learn to appreciate in a future. Even the university at the end was not bad.
But my throat ache was getting worse so it was time to come back home. As soon as I got home I received some FB messages from my friends in Italy, who have just been involved in my town Carnival, the best and most appreciate holiday in my region. Carnival in my town is a religion, I participated to Carnival since I was 14 and every year I tailor my own costume and dance and drink and sing in the streets, with thousands of people with me, drunk as me, happy as me. If you ever come to Civita Castellana (I doubt, but no one can say it for sure) check the schedules for the three Carnival parades, you will be “intoxicated” by the beauty of my city.
My friends were reporting me all the facts and telling me the nothing much happened in the city beside Carnival since I left. The same common answer that your friends usually tell you when you ask what’s going on. Nothing much. Even that sentence unexpectedly started in me a series of feelings that made me realize it was the first Carnival I was not participating to, and at the same time how much I was missing that routine that is typical of my town. At last I realized that more and more in a future I will skip vital points of the life of my city, in order to chase my dreams.
What if I am not going to participate Carnival anymore, like I did for Easter that I am skipping since 2009 and Middle August that I am skipping since 2006? My life will still go on I guess. And I am not sad either; I realize that even this is growing up. Soon big choices will come. Am I going to be mature enough to face them?
(These are the fritteloni, a delicious egg appetizer made in my town. I would kill for a couple of them)
(Aka Throw away your SIM card)
Calling home could be pretty much expensive from the US, especially with some Italian carriers who claims to be magic number. The problem is that if only I picked up my phone to answer a call, I had to pay one Euro instantly, and the 25 cent per minute of received call. The prank of this hilarious phone company is that I can’t see who is calling from the US, and this turns my phone in a music-video-phone-gps-app integrated Russian roulette. What if who calls tries to sell me an extraordinary offer on mattresses? I love to pick up my phone and insult them, but do I want to pay one Euro for that? Hell no. I only tried to answer my mom, but the stake was too high.
I asked a dear friend of mine, the sweet Miss F., to help on this situation. Miss F. is an Italian girl who was as fascinated as me about US and decided to come here before me, she works as a journalist and she is going through the hard life of the endless internships. Miss F. found love in the US and decided to move here to find the fame everyone is looking for and I do support her, and even his boyfriend who is a very nice architect. And he is only the only one that is not Italian and that is actually bringing cash home.
Miss. F. suggested me to go to T-Mobile and check for unlimited plans and the next day I had my SIM card, my unlimited phonedatamessagessmokesignalsflyingpigeons offer and the extra Italian plan, so I could call any land phone for free. Really convenient, 60 bucks and nothing to worry about. I do love unlimited plans because basically I am a planner, and I am really afraid of situations outside of my scheduled plans, that’s why I chose also MTA Metrocard, which is more precious than Willy Wonka golden ticket around here.
Beside the monthly plan and the offer what I want to discuss here is the amount of smartphones around: in Italy we obviously have smartphones and it’s not uncommon to see people of all ages owning a flaming new device, the different thing here is that smartphones are for everyone. It’s not just all a matter of price, it’s carriers behavior and real functions you can get out of it. Yesterday I saw a girl paying for a coffee pointing her phone in front of the bar code scanner, a couple of weeks ago a guy checked in at the airport with a QR code. It’s sci-fi in Italy.
I hate Italian carriers for the way they came into an agreement years ago expecting us to pay way more than every country of the world, and I hate people for getting angry in private. I see people shouting and walking in streets for a university reform that may affect a minor part of the population and not for this, or for gasoline, or for the unbelievable price of food. Sometimes I feel ashamed of speaking about how much I pay for things necessary for living, just because all companies sell them at this price because people are willing to pay this price.
I will discuss later of this, in the meantime what I wanted to say with this post is that in the US you have an almost unlimited source of things you can do with your portable device that justify a price that you are not paying if you decide to subscribe a contract. In Italy monthly plans doesn’t exist, there either two years plans or prepaid card. That’s it. And that’s why people are willing to pay seven hundred Euros for a phone without even using flat internet connection. And, most of all, I have never seen somebody paying for a seventy-nine cents app in Italy. What do you need the fruity phone if you don’t use all the features? Why are you willing to pay that price just to say “I have that phone”? Do you really need it, Italian “bella figura”?
(I’ve found the perfect image today)
(Aka Work ennobles the man)
First day of work, we all knew it was on the way. Especially me who frankly knew almost nothing of what the job would require me to do, and this particular side of the moon was freaking me out a bit. I mean, it’s not the first time I do something without absolutely knowing what to do, see the microwave accident, but this time it was about work and even if you may think differently I do care about acting properly. So I suited up and closed my mouth for a day.
I wanted to do what we call “bella figura”. I also know that “bella figura” in Texas means something different, and I’ve learned this while I was working at the US Embassy in Rome: apparently, for people who came from Texas, the “bella figura” means the attitude and the swag typical of Italian people, the wait the dress, they behave and even how they walk, dress to impress and to excess, they said. Not bad for people who ride horses in 2012 and wear boots. Sometimes also red boots. And that strange lace around the neck that ends with the head of a cow instead of ties. I wouldn’t be surprised to see somebody dressed like that nowadays.
Anyway as I said in other posts I came really early, I was pretty excited and nervous, you know first day, I have to stay six months and I don’t want to be stuck in a place I hate for such a long time. That’s my concern, who will I find? Will I speak English properly? Who the hell is cooking Indian food in the office at 10 am? I just got in, this amazing skyscraper in Midtown, the central part of New York City, instead of the main most famous building which was restructuring on First Avenue. Wonderful. As I got there I tried to call my boss in the hall, and then a man came to me and asked if I needed help: I just answered with the voice a baby has when he gets lost inside of a supermarket and said “it’s my first daaaaay”.
The man was my boss, luckily this time, and made me obtain my daily pass to the building, in order to reach my rainbow cubicle in my office. Here I am, ready to solve world problems once for all, back off Peace Corps we don’t need you anymore. The problem is I didn’t have a pc ready by then so I had to wait the IT guys to fix it, together with my mail account, and still I didn’t know what my real work was about. Pretty challenging like this, uh? My boss explained me almost everything I had to do, he is a nice guy like most of the people in my office, a friend environment I have to say, and I do appreciate this. I even had the change to have a comic speech in front of my whole office two weeks later I got here, clearly stating in front of everybody that the spot of the village idiot was taken.
I also met Mr. A here, he was the first one I met, a really kind person you should meet if you ever decide to be an Intern at UN, he knows everybody, he sees everything. And I also met some people that became my friend now, but I am actually sad as I am the one who came for last, and I will see them all coming back to their countries during these six months. It’s a shame, but I hope we are going to meet again. Maybe in Mr. A mansion in Malibu. Because you don’t know Mr. A, but will love him.
(In Italy we say “all the world is a town”, I don’t know if this make sense in English)
(Aka Lost & Found)
I still don’t want to talk about my job, which in the meantime began at the UN, I will just skip to my first after work happy hour, and I’ll come back to the rock breaking later. During my first day of work I met who became one of my closest friends in NY, Mr. A, that immediately felt my Italian shining and vibrating soul and proposed me to go to a happy hour next to my place (Upper West)(last clue on where I live). I though “why not?” and at 6 we left work for this new adventure.
The bar seemed to be one of these fashionable bars very popular in NY, the rooftops, with nice and panoramic views over the Lincoln Center. Nice location, easy to come back home later. I actually was tired by my work because I got at work more than one hour before the provided indications about the meeting time, as I usually panic when I have a deadline and I prefer to be there 6 hours before than 6 minutes later. But the place was nice and, most of all, there I found what I was expecting to see in NY since I made my first step on this land of opportunities: females.
Don’t judge me, I am Italian, I am young, I am an unpaid 10 hours a day worker, these are my satisfactions. And that day the air was full of opportunities, if you know what I mean. We got there just after six, two metro stops from work, and we hit the open bar that the place was offering for an hour. In fact, NY bars often use this strategy, they let you in with an hour of free vodka drinks and then after this hour you’ll have to pay a price for the other drinks. The surprising fact is that everything in NY is so cheap compared to Italy, even drinks in fancy bars with rooftops. In Rome bartenders take one of your feet in hostage until you don’t pay the bill.
I can’t even imagine what could happen if in Italy there was this “shall I keep your bill open on this card?” thing which I will describe later on. You might as well pay directly by blood transfusions, for what it’s worth. Anyway, speaking about the female homo sapiens at the bar, I was so hot I dropped my jacket, my bag and my upper part of the suit on a couch in the place. Worst decision ever. But, double-edged.
At the end of the evening I picked up all my stuff, except for the upper part of my suit that I was sure was on the couch. I looked everywhere for that damn jacket and it was nowhere to be found, I literally turned the couch upside down. Did somebody steal my jacket? Don’t think so, I am the smallest person in NY, except Mr. A that is smaller than me. Did somebody take it by mistake? Probably. The only thing I know is that people were wondering what I was doing swimming in sport coats and jackets on a couch.
Six, and I say six girls decided to help me looking for the jacket, without even knowing me and when I gave up they supported me morally for my loss. My first day of unpaid work and I already lost four hundred Euros of coat. Lost part. I found out girls actually talk to you in bars. Found part. My faith is stable, “even” I would say. Let’s see if in a future I can work on these to bring the scale by my side.
(Great view in here. Even the city is not bad down there)
(Aka How to meet friends playing soccer)
I have always been interested in any kind of technology, from the portable social life destroyers, to magazines and reviews. I love to watch a new product unboxing or a keynote, in fact I do own more electronic crap than I can count, and I really mean almost everything, Gameboys, mp3 players, I think I may have even a couple of Tamagochi somewhere. The fact is that to be up to date with this stuff, and I can ensure you this is pretty hard for somebody who has something to do in his life, I read a lot of magazines, blog and reports. This summer while I was on my toilet, which from now on will be called “the Studio”, I read about Fubles.
Fubles is a social platform, so damn old story, that permits you to find other people next to you with your same interests. Pretty easy, but more: it can show you the closest soccer fields in your area, who is playing and the location and price of the fields. In Rome, I would never use an app like that, I have real friends, people that I call when I want to play and fields I fight with for 15 extra minutes. But in New York this ain’t easy, as I didn’t know pretty nobody, and I usually play 3-4 times a week so I was feeling a little bit in the mood for a soccer game.
At home alone I remembered about this application, and of the site that came before the app, and I started building my profile. I said, let me try, maybe there is somebody playing: actually, now I know that Fubles was expanding in New York, which was still a little community, but they had a couple of games on. And in one of them I recognized a couple of Italian surnames (it’s not that hard for an Italian, but you always wonder if they are real Italians or Jersey Shore scumbags). I trusted them and signed up, the next day I gifted Niketown 80 bucks for shoes, pants and socks and I was in Roosevelt Island, or, as I like to call it, Raccoon City.
Not raccoon, but Raccoon, the Resident Evil city. I had this feel climbing up my spine when I went out of the subway: no people around me, below a bridge, fog, a construction site that appeared to be there from Jesus Christ’s age. By the way I used my phone to find a way to the sportspark near the subway station and I got there almost one hour before. In New York, I never get subways’ schedules right, when I am late trains hide behind the corner and make fun of me, when I leave my place wisely, they are there waiting for me (and fast as hell).
In the end the match was nice, the site has even marks for the players in order to organize match online with people with your same skills and lets you pay online to trace back who paid and who didn’t. Piece of cake. I always wanted to say piece of cake. I recommend the site, use it if you don’t have 9 friends that like soccer and can play. And from now on let’s say football, not soccer, this is terrible, even more than the feet for distance, the Fahrenheit for the degrees and the teaspoons for food.
(I didn’t know Americans had these soccer fields. Actually, I didn’t know Americans had soccer at all)
(aka Try to set the night on fire)
I couldn’t expect everything to go in the right way, not even food. I mean, I said before that I like American food, and if you don’t want to eat that greasy stuff you can always have yourself some pasta or stuff like that, such as bread. Plain bread, not bagels, which by the way I still don’t know what are, or what they have so special to be hipsters favorite food.
Well I had a small problem at home while getting used to the place; I bought a lot of stuff at Bed, Bath and Beyond, the most expensive shop on the planet, second only to The Food Emporium, that is the most expensive in the universe (it has prices that Bulgari would set to his product if they would sell salami). Coming back to the appliances, I noticed that American metal instruments have tons of buttons on them, each one expressing a single function. The problem is my vocabulary scope doesn’t consider the difference between bake, roast, grill and cook. Cook. Generic.
I was doing some stupid stuff with my pc, I remember clearly it was stupid to prepare my business card on the internet. At least I was trying to make them look as patriotic as possible, with flags, and eagles, and stars everywhere, and they look so cool now. See, I live in a small Nike shoes box in the Upper West, next to Lady Gaga’s parents, and there is not so much space. I don’t know if being more proud or worried for the possibility that she could come someday.
I was stunned by the star spangled banners and at a certain point I could see nothing, dark, fog. After 3 minutes of “baking” what I think was a nuclear fusion took place in my microwave, releasing black smoke and fire everywhere. My doll size studio was a chimney. I had to reach quickly and efficiently, so I took the bread and threw it in the bathtub, while running to switch that devil machine off avoiding the smoke that was filling my body. Shit got damn serious, I could see nothing, couldn’t breathe and I have a flaming piece of bread in the tub taking a shower.
I had to make clean air spread into the shoe box, so I opened the two windows and activated the fans. Situation got better, but I had to wait two hours with the windows opened and the penguins on the emergency stairs to breathe normally again. Not to mention I took four days to clean deeply the smoke and the flavor of Old Chicago from my place. Not to mention again two bottles of Febreeze and two of glade, 19 bucks for a piece of bread. And I also forgot my eggs on. A disaster.
I was still alone by that time, knowing nobody but a couple of funny Italians, so I had nowhere to go and my house was a giant (no, actually a small) sausage. Keep up bro New York will reward you. Come to the new town, they said. You’ll be like one of those Friends guys, they said. The first 2 weeks I was buying food almost every day, now I go to the shop once a week, buying even less stuff, and at midnight. This city changes you, trust me.
(Not my microwave, but fuck it anyway)
(Aka The best burger in NYC everybody ate)
Admit it, if you spent at least a month in New York, you feel like an ancient wise sometimes just because someone told you that the creepy place you ate was the house of the best burger in town. I mean, is there really a way to assess this? Eat all the cows.
I planned to eat all the meat in NYC, every soup, every single appetizer. I am Italian (other clue) and I do love eat. I am not anyway a fat American walking block of butter, I am pretty in shape, and I do even run a couple of days a week. That’s Usain Bolt average compared with American average, or at least New York average. Anyway I ate in many places since I came here one month ago, thai, Chinese, pizza, pasta and damn burgers. I love burgers, they love eating my liver too, but I don’t care.
My quest begins with a chain of burger restaurants (one of those with the brown paper bags, like Five Guys, Five Napkins, Five Whatever..) and my first burger was like biting a cloud. I got harassed by the flavour and slapped by the bacon. But I also remember an episode of HIMYM where Marshall ate his first burger in NY in a kind of mystical place and he carries the memory of that awesome burger for years. In the end, burger was not so good, but it was the sensations and feelings that NYC gave him that spiced that burger. I am pretty convinced I had a similar experience, and I do believe mine wasn’t bacon but brown paper.
I have even been to some other places since then and it seems like I found the actual champion for this month. That Joint Burger is damn toxic, addicting, and just damn good. You should really try those burgers. The place is hidden behind some curtain inside the hall of LeMeridien Hotel, it’s difficult to find, has no sign but will pay the efforts, I swear.
What I am trying to say is that burgers are just part of American culture, as prestigious as anything else. Stop thinking that all Americans are fat asses and they just eat this stuff because once here you will find that the melting pot of cultures that lives here blended with their culture, making streets smelling like curry, rosemary and cheddar cheese. Although I am not making a list of places right now (but I will later) I recommend you to open your mind before your mouth.
Today I tried thai, I decided not to be so brave from now on. Just burgers and some European food. I just don’t like noodles, my Italian soul doesn’t endorse them.
(I’ll just leave the thai to thais)