A Return to the Streets of New York City
Part one of a three part essay series. read to the end to see a version of the shining where the ending and the beginning start at exactly the same time. It's surreal.
Every time I travel out of Estes, there is a storm brewing. This held as I woke at 3:30 am to be on time for my flight out of Denver heading to New York City. I got lucky that I was able to navigate the storm that was scheduled to hit later that night. But, instead descended right as I was warming up my beat-up old Subaru and heading down the 36 canyon corridors. The storm seemed to pitter out once I hit Pinewood Springs and things were smooth sailing for the rest of the driving portion of my trip.
Once I had made it to the Broomfield stretch of Highway 36, alerts began coming in from the New York Times, telling of the national chaos unfolding with the crash of a significant safety computer system with the Federal Aviation Administration. I braced for the worst, expecting to drive back home through the storm I had just outrun. But I got lucky. My flight had been untouched by the computer crash that had grounded thousands of flights across the US.
I arrived at JFK International airport a little earlier than scheduled. I decided to take a cab to my room at the Jewel Hotel. I had returned to NYC for the first time since I was a teenager last summer in the days after my testimony to congress. It was a whirlwind trip that didn’t let me experience the city again. NYC was a place that resided in my childhood memories, I grew up in my earlier life before moving to Colorado, not far from the city, so my memory is peppered with visits to the sights and scenes that most locals visit.
The trip during the summer consisted of being driven from where I was staying with family in northern Jersey to CNN Studios and MSNBC Studios, where I was interviewed in the studio for Don Lemon’s now-defunct primetime evening show and Morning Joe. They sent a driver to pick me up in shiny black cars, ushered me to the studio side doors, waited for my spots to finish, and then took me back again.
An experience that left me longing to reconnect with the city that held so many memories.
The skies were grey and wet as the taxi driver began the drive from JFK to midtown. I saw vines framing graffiti along the trash-littered urban corridors on the trip. I wondered which grew faster, the vines or the street art.
I had time to waste. I had been flown out and put up at the jewel to film an upcoming movie interview that I can’t tell you the name of due to an embargo agreement. But I can say it deals with the rise of extremism in America and will most likely land on PBS.
I was to be driven to the Connecticut suburban countryside the next day to film. The rest of the time was mine to do what I wanted with it.
Earlier in the week, I had been invited to be a guest on Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN to comment on the Proud Boys’ prosecution, and I had agreed to appear via Zoom. But as often with these interviews, the date kept getting pushed back. So when it was delayed to the point that I had flown into NYC, I let the booking producer know that the only way I could make the show would be to be in person, as I hadn’t brought my laptop with me. (I try to travel as light as possible these days—it’s easier all around.) They were happy to have me back on, and this time in the studio.
The last time I had been on Anderson Cooper’s show was the day of my testimony. I was exhausted, spooked, and overwhelmed. They sent out a studio van. It is a van with a chair like you would find on a fishing boat, a robotic camera, and a light-up tv screen that the person sits in front of. In my opinion, it is cramped, uncomfortable, and not conducive to good conversations.
I went and got checked into my room which had a view of four walls of mostly unused office space. The room was nice enough, small, and its design ascetic reminded me of the 90’s sci-fi movie starring Keanu Reeves based on a William Gibson short story titled Johnny Mnemonic. I loved the retro feel of the place.
The location, however, couldn’t be beaten. I immediately recognized the side entrance to the MSNBC Studios that I had been ushered into the summer before just down the street. There across the street from the hotel entrance, was the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the sunken ice-skating rink I remembered from my childhood memories. It seemed so much bigger back then.
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