America has a bad reputation. For the most part, it’s perceived as an emotional wasteland; a place of crazy people talking about their insecurities, their canine’s separation anxieties, whilst eating egg-white omelettes, carrot juice and Starbucks extra-hot lattes. And, of course, that’s exactly what it is.
And yet there’s a level of openness here unlike any place I’ve experienced before. Yes, people talk constantly about their feelings and eat insane amounts of kale (the best place for Kale is Jack’s Wife Freda, try it), but they are also hugely receptive to new people. I am always surprised how willing the yanks are to strike up a friendship, even if you’re in the city for one day. They really do care about how you enjoyed your shopping experience at Walmart, today. People don’t hide away from commitment, it’s something they wear like an S Club 7 badge on their primary-school denim jay, unlike us Brits. We’d rather pop iPod headphones in at the first sight of possible human interaction, prefer to sit next to someone eating a vindaloo on the bus than say anything and burn our tongues on a coffee rather than admit it’s too hot – unlike Americans, who stomp around their city, proud of their brash, loudmouth reputation. And, damn, it’s contagious.
I started to question our entire motive for isolationism, living out here. I mean, why should we sit in silence when we can shout about every aspect of our relationship issues at the top of our voices? Why shouldn’t we brag, and moan, and cry and shout in public? Man why are we so damn QUIET.
Because, you know what, American loudness is productive – it’s a means of engaging with your surroundings, with your city, of taking control of the world around you. Ask any New Yorker where their favourite place to eat is, and they’ll get out their iPhone and have a list of 20 places that you.simply.have.to.try. And I love that – it’s a pride and a joy in one’s own city. It’s a way of taking ownership over a place that can seem daunting and overwhelming, so that you can fight getting lost in it. And man, the meatball sub at Parm really is something to tell the world about.
I met Nadia from FrouFrouu recently, and she told me one of her reasons for moving stateside was that she felt creatively stifled in London. When pushed, she explained that in London, the job is the bit you get done – so that you can get down to the pub after work. But in New York, the job is the fun bit, people actually like what they do – after work, bar after bar is crammed full of people in work suits, drinking corona and getting cheap tacos. Socialising is an extension of work – there isn’t a divide, everything is just quite fun.
When I met Timo Weiland earlier this week, he explained to me that his collection was based around the concept of the ‘modern New Yorker’, someone who needs to be able to go from work to business lunch, dinner to bar, bar to club, all in one outfit. His philosophy is based around the habits of modernity – in a place that is cyclical, never-ending and always evolving, you need clothes that can keep up. It was a beautiful ode to the city that never sleeps and I’ve never wanted to own a branded fur coat more.
I cannot say that the hectic New York attitude to consuming all, revealing all, living all, is for everyone. It’s easy to think that’s it’s all simply too much – why do you need 16 handles of frozen yogurt when you could just have plain? I mean, plain’s best after all, isn’t it? We all really love plain? You end up getting toppings that don’t even slightly go together…
But variety and excess are the buzz words of America – physically, mentally, emotionally, there’s so much muchness it’s all a bit much. But we can learn a lot from these crazies because they are owning their world, they are carpe-ing the hell out of their diem and gorging their way through their 16 handles of frozen yogurt. Fuck it, America, I love you.
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