N​.​Y​.​C​.​E​.​P.

by Kevin P. Gilday

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about

A poetic travelogue. The adventures of a pasty Scotsman in NYC.

credits

released June 9, 2014

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all rights reserved
Track Name: St. Patrick's Sonnet
St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland's shores
So why not from your head?
The grandeur overtook us through the ornate doors
Reduced our limbs to lead
We wandered agog through arches
Housing effigies of faded gold
While outside an army marches
Time inside remains on hold
This city never sleeps, and it barely ever cries
Emotion banished from its famous streets
But you were too exhausted for protest or disguise
Lost, without a god to make us complete
Undeterred we brought a candle into existence
And prayed to whomever to keep their distance
Track Name: Stations
Stations

We took the R to Times Square
Traipsed clumsily amongst the garish lights
Gawped in wonder at the somehow familiar sights
Swept along by waves of humanity
Swerved the contrived crap of the tourist traps
Anathema to those who abandon maps
Turned to spaghetti by the NY singularity

We took the G to Williamsburg
Ground zero of the hipster buzz
Plaid shirts and beards of elongated fuzz
And I felt strangely at home
Orange Juice played sweetly in the cafe bar
Surprised that something I loved could come so far
But you're always you, wherever you roam

We took the Q to Coney Island
Feasted on the faded grandeur
Laid bare our fears with brutal candour
Rode a rollercoaster that refused to die
Won cheap soft toys as complimentary prizes
Carnival games cloaked in traditional guises
A kitsch timewarp gone awry

We took the E to The World Trade Centre
Mass grave rendered as tourist attraction
Scale of death faded into abstraction
As the tourists took their selfies
On the memorial my name appeared again and again
Underlining the mortality of men
Bred to be selfish

We took the ferry to Staten Island
Small town America besieged by metropolis
An eerie quiet bearing down on top of us
And we wondered why anyone would live here
In the shadow of the greatest city in the world
Our incongruity and abuse we hurled
As we set out from the pier

We took the 2 to The Bronx
Lou Reed's prophesy fulfilled
My inner contentment distilled
Such a perfect day at the zoo
Amid the red pandas, tapirs and racoons
Lemurs, marmosets and baboons
A better day I never knew

We took the 7 to Flushing Meadows
Observed the baseball ritual as the rain formed pools
Consumed beer and hotdogs as we struggled to follow the rules
Dull sport transformed into spectacle
We confronted the Unisphere in all its flawed wonder
Forgotten folly of a world torn asunder
Symbol of unity reduced to receptacle

We took the N to Central Park
Collective backyard of all Manhattan
Where everything and nothing simultaneously happens
A sprawling lawn of oasis and calm
Re-appropriated suddenly as concert or rally
Then reclaimed just as quickly by pond or valley
A reminder that we hold nature in our palm

We took the M to the East Village
Where ethnic institutions dance in social flirtation
Character battles against gentrification
And this was why I came here
A constantly changing portrait of a city in flux
Of a community of individuals who do not give a fuck
A forgotten New York that some still hold dear

We took a plane from JFK
And in a haze we floated back to reality
Traversed the sky absent of locality
And I felt no lust to wander
Anywhere but that patchwork city
Where the streets alternate between resplendent and gritty
And we had our whole lives to squander
Track Name: Signs
Signs

1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent
1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent

On the subway trains they advertise
Anything man can desire
One hour express divorce
Only one signature required
Furniture for dream houses
Nutrition for bounding dogs
Adopt a child from Africa
To accompany you on jogs

1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent
1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent

Acne ridden skin can be retrieved
By a registered health practitioner
Perfect hair can be achieved
With an Australian import conditioner
You too can be like the models
With dead eyes and dazzling teeth
Figures of trustworthy salience
With no substance underneath

1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent
1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent
On the 7 train the info exists
To halt your deportation
Just call Saul, or similar
Your saviour there transportation
No money for an apartment?
That need not be a worry
Just disclose account details
To guarantors in a hurry

1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent
1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent

Learn to speak the language
Of this country of opportunity
Volunteer your precious time
Become an asset to your community
Don't get comfortable on the rug
But when it gets swept out from under you
There's always paid financial advice
When the debts of life accrue

1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent
1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent

1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent
1-800-immigration
1-800-innocent
Track Name: Act of Kindness
Act of Kindness

'These people, they're fucking animals'
I'd only came in for a beer
'They have the children then leave'
Something cheap and nasty
'They have no respect'
A can to pass the time before -
'They don't work, they do nothing'
Stepping out again into these streets
'Where are you from?'
As I queued for the counter I noticed
'Scotland?'
A woman struggle
'Ah, Europe'
Shopping in one hand
'That's why you have the class'
Guiding a child with the other
'In Europe you are brought up with respect'
Negotiating the door with a pram
'You don't act like animals, not like in this city'
As anyone would
'You have the manners'
I intervened
'That's why the lady loves you'
Held the door ajar
'Nobody would do that here'
She seemed taken aback
'Nobody would take the time'
Like she was waiting for the catch
'But Europeans, you have the class'
I smiled nervously
'You shouldn't spend too long here'
Attempted to understand
'You'll end up like these animals'
The complex significance
'Get back to civilization'
Of a simple act of kindness
Track Name: The Rain
The Rain

They weren't kidding

When it rains here
It rains

White water rapids threaten the sidewalk
A Hudson in miniature
Sweeping the remnants of a civilization
Out into the sea

The great rain,
As advertised
By deities
And Scorsese movies,
Does not disappoint

New York is overcome -
An industrial Venice
Framed in grey
The shattered corpses of umbrellas
Litter the streets
Sacrifices to the rain god
Duly ignored

Deference is not an option
The big man demands it -
Respect
Maybe this city has existed too long
In materialistic sin
And abject squalor
And now the time has come to wash it away

Not that anyone would notice
Natural disaster is no priority
Just another inconvenience,
The rain falls in vertical strips
Aqua sheets that explode on impact,
But the city ticks on
Oblivious to laden plans
To render that famous skyline
As a future Atlantis

Imagine Williamsburg uncovered
Years from now unearthed
Ancestors attempting to make sense
Of retro arcade machines and Taco trucks
Of ironic t-shirts and skinny jeans
As moustache wax floats to the surface

The rain penetrates the hostel ceiling
Forming weary New Yorker stalactites
Who throw themselves to the ground
Like that Astoria drunk
Or unwanted souvenirs

We surrender ourselves to the storm
No part of our bodies remain untouched
By the sodden hands of this city
The only thing left to do is embrace it
Enjoy this damp grope
This seeping molestation
As a shared experience
As a future story
As an embryonic poem

The midtown streets are augmented
By floods of water
And rivers of people
Jostling to reach shelter
While we stand, alone amongst them
Soaking in every fume
And praying we don't drown
Track Name: A Love Letter to New York (Fuck This City)
A Love Letter To New York (Fuck This City)

Fuck this city
Fuck this city for creating unrealistic expectations
Fuck this city for having everything I could ever want
Fuck this city for making me never want to leave
Fuck this city for not giving a fuck
And fuck this city for not being mine

Everything is different here
The streets have been plucked from my memories
Cross bred with a thousand film references
Infused with my favourite records
Beamed from the TV to my brain to here:
Scorsese's mean streets,
in Woody Allen's Manhattan
With a mumblecore Brooklyn just over the bridge
While a marquee moon hangs in the sky
This is the city I dreamt of

And you didn't even have the manners to disappoint

The centre of the universe
And not self proclaimed like a certain London
But organically sculpted by time
Forged by a million immigrants
With dreams but without a dime
And I won't romanticise
Struggle and suffering
While some still do
But this city was built on the back of working men
And it was from their toil it grew

I want to open myself up to it
Let its polluted air seep into my pores
Let its symphony of noise infiltrate my ears
Let my brain be overcome by a chorus of mores
More
More
More
More than anything else
I want to let it overtake me

Like that old Chinese lady in Queens
Who loved New York so much
The metro lines appeared on her face
Wrinkles mapping the city
Or Ahmed who traded us Bagels daily
Filled with cream cheese
and the entrepreneurial spirit
Which still sustains

And the neighbourhoods
Always the neighbourhoods
A metrocard becomes a passport
Granting access to distinct states
A mere collection of streets
Typified by singular aura and traits -

Park Slope's chilled out lull
LIC's defiant clamour
Greenpoint's small town vibe
Chelsea's grit inflected glamour -

All under a roof of carbon dioxide,
Possibility and stars
New York, I love you
But fuck this city