Proud and Passionate City

Last Friday, after working in a rather singleminded fashion for days on end, I decided that I had to get some air.  I had been working on developing some story ideas revolving around immigration and being Asian American (heeeeavy), trying to write something thoughtful on the state of architectural criticism, putting together some thoughts on urban renewal projects for a festival in Prague, with a bonus sideshow of talking friends down from their respective ledges.  Fun, interesting, good, but a lot.

After picking up my bike which I had left abandoned with the very nice guys at Waterfront Bike Shop (which is featured on this bike blog, by the way!), I made my way down the Hudson River bike path towards the tip of the island.  I love seeing the river on my bikes and runs, it has this way of very gently realigning perspective. A quiet reminder that we are connected to things much grander than ourselves, and this teeming city is just an island and a small one at that.

Maybe I was feeling introspective, maybe I was just looking for an excuse to pause, but I stopped to really look at the railings along the North Cove Marina, inscribed with a passage from Walt Whitman, and one from Frank O’Hara.  A slightly odd pairing I would think, but right then, Walt Whitman had my ear.

From Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass

City of the world! (for all races are here;

All the lands of the earth make contributions here;)

City of the sea! city of hurried and glittering tides!

City whose gleeful tides continually rush or recede, whirling in and out, with eddies and foam!

City of wharves and stores—city of tall façades of marble and iron!

Proud and passionate city—mettlesome, mad, extravagant city!

Is it cheesy to say that I still feel really lucky to be part of this city?  Because I really, really do.

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