As disappointed as I am in the degrading nightlife New York has to offer, it’s still true that New York has a certain mojo that you won’t find in most other cities. At base, the desire to be in NYC is the same as any other city-it’s about close proximity, about access and contact. Above and beyond, NY is a bastion of culture only rivaled by some Greeks and Romans who wore togas and thought all day. It’s sincerely dope in its potential to inspire a life to be LIFE,to connect future somebodies at any Saturday night shindig and to make retrospect more than pleasant...envious!
Back when I was still an awkward teenager I was at a house party where, Jonas, an infinitely cooler friend of mine called me over. A PYT (pretty young thing, sing it!) was sitting on his lap, seeming very comfortable there. She was cute, nice eyes, great lips. Hot, one might even say. He goes “ I want you meet a friend of mine. This is Scarlett.” I shook her hand politely and moved on while they exchanged some flirtatious nothings. A decade later and I see that same PYT (now a SYT- sexy young thing) all the time. I see her in magazines, in ads, in movies on TV and the big screen. But now I know her by her full name. Scarlett Johansen.
I went to college in Connecticut, but spent one of my semesters living in the city learning how to plan events and spend all my money on shoes and clothes. I made fast friends with this Michigan-bred guy named Chris, whose girlfriend, Bo, was a fabulous-type ofNew Yorker. On a random Friday night, Chris invited me to see Bo’s best friend play at a bar in the West Village, like every other upstart music artist or band. Stephanie was dope. She was something between Ani Difranco, Madonna and something I’d never seen before. She was hot, could sing and play the crap out of the piano. After that night, I saw her again at Chris’ bday dinner, and another time at a casual hang out. Today, while shes’s blowing up like a helium balloon, I like to tell the story of how I had dinner with Lady GaGa- ‘cuz it’s true!
Besides trying to siphon some coolness from my pre-celebrity celebrity run ins, my point is really about the effectiveness of New York. I guess it’s also about the productiveness of being a "socialite" and of extending your social circle, not just because you stand to have much more fun that way, but because that’s how you get places in New York. Harvard graduates shouldn’t move to New York under the auspices (big word, take that!) that the city will reward their brains. Sorry jack, this aint’ no meritocracy (big word number 2, take that Ivy Leagues!). Before the internet, when word of mouth was the fastest method of information transfer, Basquiat met Warhol. No Myspace necessary. This is the city of lights, of conversations, of “here, take my card” and “let’s get drinks sometime.” In this city, everyone, who’s anybody, got somewhere by knowing someone, who knew someone who was somebody.
The internet has provided a challenge to New York’s role as star maker. Every new week brings a new Myspace breakout star. Lovers meet on Match.com and writers get their material from someone else’s blog. The thing about this reality is that it’s virtual. A facet of the creative webspehre is that it simulates what New York has that others do not have the geographical access to. And as it's always been, it's much more attractive to be able to grab a drink with an artist/photographer/poet/entrepreneur/bum/person/lover than try to track them down and communicate on Myspace. Sociology buffs know these kind of people as "weak ties", people you know, but not that well, or that you know of, but don't really know. People who, essentially broaden your social circle, by bringing theirs along with them. Stars of the past, across discipline, have made their way to subjective success by working these weak ties, and although myspace and the internet are providing a new threat to the old ways, New York still wins. Macs are still better than PCs.
So what does this mean? It means get out there fools! While the recession grows and New York shrinks, retain your rate of socializing with a new mix of legitimate concern. A few weeks ago, I went out with a friend, Amaris, who intro’d me to her writer/filmmaker/director friend named Candice Vernon. Currently I know her as Candice Vernon, but in a few years (or tomorrow), she could be Candice Vernon! Some friends of mine play in a band called Security Theater and another friend paints her emotions instead of speaking them.
Will Johnson (he knew Scarlett also) makes music. Really good music. He collaborates with other musicians, from the jazz field to straight up hip-hop heads, on an intellectual level. In a few years (or tomorrow), people who know enough will be talking about Will and I’ll still know him.
Will Johnson Myspace (I know, I know...gotta promote the homey though!)
I found these links from a blog called Caught in the Web, managed by young scholar Sam Han. Sam graduated in 2006 and wrote this book. I know Sam, who coincidentally knows Will, who knows Jonas, who knows Scarlett, who knows Justin, who knows Beyonce. Less than 6 degrees of separation!