On Tourism in New York...

“No one in this world views it the same,” the voice said. “I believe that is what amazes me the most about it. Each person has his or her own vision of the world, and whatever les outside that worldview becomes invisible.”
-Charles de Lint, “Paperjack” Dreams Underfoot (pg. 389).

As a native New Yorker, I admittedly give tourists a lot of flak. Over the holidays, it almost becomes a game of how many times we can roll our eyes, huff, puff, and wish to blow them down.

Let me explain...

It's not that we dislike those from "elsewhere." How could we? We're  members of an international melting pot, ourselves. But "tourists," especially for those of us who live near Time Square, clog up the arteries (streets) and veins (sidewalks) of our hometown thoroughfares. Whether with their noses to the billboards or eyes in their maps, they never quite understand the New Yorkers code of traffic: center sidewalk means “go” and the curb means “yield” (and occasionally “stop). This principle alone explains why so many feel like roadkill and we locals look like the angry creatures we (generally) are not.

Despite my annual honey badger frustration that starts near Thanksgiving and continues through New Year's Day (when tourists abandon neighborhood haunts), I have to admit: you guys do make us look up. If we're all voyeurs in this modern age, "stalking" friends and family online, taking unnecessary amounts of photos (I’m certainly guilty)...then you are spotlights on the commonplace city of firemen and street performers, theater and holiday decorations, policemen and homelessmen, urban architecture and the subway, the Empire State Building and the stars hung from the Time Warner Center...

At some point we all become desensitized to what’s habitual. What’s important is to introduce new sights while reminding ourselves of what’s present. When I'm forced to stall on the curb, behind a bevy of out-of-towners, I often lift my eyes in the direction of wherever cameras are aimed. Half the time, I still don't understand what all the hubbubs about, but perhaps that's not the point. Perhaps the point is to observe something you wouldn't have normally. And if you're lucky, take from it what you wouldn't have on your own.

That's what quality writers accomplish for me. Perhaps why I get so frustrated reading unashamed imitations of current best-sellers (think: vampires, zombies, or the new angel/demon/human triangle) is that they shine light on the same patch of sidewalk I've examined before. My monkey mind craves novelty. It’s curious to learn something new and consider what I haven’t before.

Over this holiday season, I spent a good chunk of time reading and falling in literary love with author Charles de Lint. He seamlessly weaves fantasy into his fictional reality, making readers question what is true, while also offering up insights and life philosophies. The short story anthology I read was Dreams Underfoot. But I imagine any of his numerous works impart a similar sense of content excitement. This is urban fantasy, mind you, but de Lints unique voice, style, characters, and construction sets it apart from modern parodies. I promise his writing will affect you in profound and novel ways.

For more info on Charles de Lint, check out his author page on GoodReads: Author Charles de Lint