A "Silent" New York State of Mind

Until last week, I had never seen New York City. I mean, I had BEEN to New York City twice before, staying once on Long Island for a day in 2004 and passing through Manhattan to New Jersey in 2006. But I had never experienced the city to the extent that I was truly there. And last week gave me several good reasons:

This dude, director Kevin Smith. The man who wrote about 37 sucked dicks, Snoochie Boochies and ass-to-mouth, but also realizing the value of recognizing and finding intimacy in that one person no matter their gender, making changes in life no matter how uncomfortable they may be, and being open to new experiences and ideas. Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jersey Girl, Clerks II and Zack and Miri Make a Porno: that dude.

He was in New York City — while filming a new movie — to perform (really, to shoot the shit) in a question-and-answer show at Carnegie Hall, “Silent Bob Speaks,” answering audience questions candidly and with humor to boot. Carnegie has seen its share of theater in its decades of existence, and the opportunity to witness the most truthful and bawdy show in the Hall’s history was one I couldn’t turn down.

The fanboy gushing in the previous paragraphs may be as recognizable as a new-form Cylon. Kevin inspired me to expand my writing and my humor, lending me a unique voice to absorb. And in turn, I turned to scriptwriting to flesh out my story-writing itch. The dude made a profound impact on my writing, my sense of humor and how I saw life from then on.

But there were other reasons for my voyage to the Big Apple:

Hanging out with fellow Kevin Smith fans, met through the View Askew online community, was an exciting — and somewhat nerve-wracking experience. Knowing one’s online words take on new light when you meet the people they originate from. And meeting the faces of those words — some met for the first time, others getting reacquainted with — was an intriguing and exciting prospect.

Equally exciting was this:

Times Square, the iconic epicenter of Manhattan. It was too hard not to gawk at the glitz and glamour of the towering skyscrapers and flashing billboards like a farmboy in the big city. My wide-eyed stares were repeated throughout the trek through the throngs of people.

I’ve wanted to visit every Major League Baseball stadium since college, and being in New York gave me a chance to see Yankee Stadium, the grandiose new home of America’s grandiose baseball team. Unfortunately, Mother Nature wanted to postpone the game festivities — with a 4-hour rain delay tempering my hopes for a game. However, the experience was even better: making friends with several folks from the View Askew community at the game was amazing, sharing baseball anecdotes, learning more about their lives and cracking jokes made a potentially miserable and wet experience into a memorable one.

David Cross once made a joke that in New York City, you are often forced to decide between seeing the most beautiful woman in the world or the biggest weirdo you will lay eyes upon. And damn it, is that ever true. Walking the streets of Manhattan and Queens, I was shocked at how many beautiful women were packed into several square miles of land. And I’m not talking about silicone-enhanced, bottle-blond women; women of all ethincities, shapes and sizes that made me go “GOLLY!” repeatedly.

Like that, sort of.

At the same junction, I was then confronted with some of the most interesting characters I’ve ever witnessed:

After I saw a middle-aged man in a dress, wearing a curly, colored wig — and uniquely candy-colored wig hair for a beard — pushing a small dog in a stroller, I thought I had seen everything. Nope. In Central Park, I was faced with a more bizarre sight: a man in a t-shirt and underwear, bent over and staring at his bloodied feet. The story behind his lack of clothes and injured toes would be that for elders to pass down to their young, but I was more worried for my safety than anything else.

That is what made my stay in New York so much fun. I had no idea what excitement, stimulation, beauty or oddity was behind the corner or on a collision course. And it’s not even scratching the surface of the unique people, the sights and sounds, the culture and the history of the five boroughs. I was there for a few reasons, and I loved them.

As for this dude:

Yeah, he was hilarious as always. The show, which was once the centerpiece of my New York adventure, was a footnote on the trip. Topics like celebrity feuds, embarrassing first dates and whether Prince or Bruce Springsteen should be killed or sexed were similarly peculiar and gut-busting. And as I absorbed the affair, I knew that the people I met and the trials shared — before and after — came because of the man known as Silent Bob. Those new ideas and experiences were indeed worth the trip.

Thanks, Kevin.

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