Articles

Fake It ‘till You Make It: Lust, Language, and Talking to Turn You On

Introduction

All too often does the media portray the female orgasm¹ as an instantaneous and infallible occurrence. A thrust here, a flick there, a couple of “oooh’s” and “ahhh’s,” and you’re off. However, as most women can attest, that method comes with a trialed and failed track record that leaves little to be desired.

A study in the Journal of Sex Research showed that the majority (up to 70%) of women do not reach orgasm during intercourse² (Salisbury & Fisher, 2014), while another study showed that between 53-65% of women “fake it” during sex (Kershnar, 2012) – often employing the method described above. In addition, the inundation of false advertising in entertainment media and pornographic presentations lead us to believe that intercourse is an absolute means for accomplishing orgasm.

While I would argue the most common cause of this occurrence is lack of anatomical education on the male’s part, the reasons for faking it are vast, differed, and are normally due to a lack of assertion from the female to articulate what she desires.

However, there is hope for us yet. While failure to orgasm is a common occurrence, other studies have suggested that in some cases, “faking it” and the linguistic practices, in the form of “dirty talk,”employed during creation of climax, can lead to more stimulating and successful arousal (Cooper, Fenigstein & Fauber, 2013, Bland & Barrett, 2009).

In the Media

While I’m sure practiced by our predecessors, the act of “faking it” was brought to our attention – and surely widened the eyes of men everywhere – when Sally Albright (played by actress Meg Ryan), proving a point to her male counterpart, Harry Burns (played by Billy Crystal), “got off” all on her own at Katz’s Delicatessen, in the 1989 film, “When Harry Met Sally.” 

The subject was then mentioned again, in the popular HBO series “Sex and the City,” when Miranda Hobbs (M) and Charlotte York (C) debated over the concept³, arguing how important a “real” orgasm is in a relationship:

-Carrie: Who’s that?
-M: An ophthalmologist I once faked orgasms with….I only slept with him twice. The first time I faked it because it was never gonna happen. The second time I had to fake it because I did the first time….I didn’t wanna fake it again, so I just forgot to return his last call.
-C: You broke up with an ophthalmologist over that?
-M: Orgasm, major thing in a relationship?
-C: But not the only thing. Orgasms don’t send you Valentine’s cards and don’t hold your hand in a sad movie.
-M: You’re seriously advocating faking?
-C: No, but if you really like the guy, what’s one little moment of ooh, ahh, versus spending the whole night in bed alone?

With these and the numerous other portrayals of orgasm in media today, the topic of faking it is gaining more and more attention. However, even still the myths to attain an orgasm greatly outweigh the more accurate suggestions.

Men (and most women), have been conditioned to believe that there is a formula for reaching climax. While it is true that certain sexual positions or components of foreplay⁴ can increase stimulation, every woman is different and there is no exact science. In addition there is the overwhelming fact that an estimated 10-15% percent of women have never experienced an orgasm at all (Dr. Phil, n.d.), and might not be able to.

This issue is only heightened by the lack of knowledge of both parties (women knowing what they want, and men knowing how to give it to them) during intercourse. An article on Cosmopolitan.com stated “until the conversation about sex shifts from what men like to what women like, a lot of women aren’t going to know how to ask for — and get — what they want in bed” (Breslaw, 2013).

A 2013 research study reported the six main reasons women are likely to fake an orgasm are: “(1) Altruistic Deceit – concern for a partner’s feelings; (2) Fear and Insecurity – to avoid negative emotions associated with the sexual experience; (3) Elevated Arousal –  to increase her own arousal through faking orgasm; (4) Sexual Adjournment – to end sex; (5) Insecure Avoidance – to avoid feelings of insecurity and; (6) Fear of Dysfunction – to cope with concerns of being abnormal,” all of which are equally employed (Cooper, Fenigstein & Fauber, 2013). Number (3), “Elevated Arousal,” carries along with it the linguistic aspects of how we verbally articulate climax and how by doing so we could potentially increase stimulation.

Talk Dirty to Me

According to a study published in the International Journal of Applied Philosophy, vocal and verbal acknowledgement make up for 79% of how fictitious “orgasming” is communicated⁵. Vocal indications involve moaning, screaming, and other sounds of pleasure, while verbal communication includes explicitly saying the orgasm is happening (Kershnar, 2012). With this idea one could argue that the linguistic practices during intercourse are equal to or even surpass the importance of the act itself.

However, what does this say about the female role in heterosexual intercourse? Firstly, it implies the “passive” or “submissive” role women play during sex, demonstrating how the genitalia used for intercourse equates to their dictionary definitions. In most dictionary entries⁶ the ‘vagina’ or ‘clitoris’ are defined by their location where as the male equivalent ‘penis’ is defined by its function (Braun & Kitzinger, 2001) – thus insinuating women are merely the places men play on. In this vain, that same passive attitude is expressed when women don’t actively assert what it is they want the man to do during intercourse, consequently making the experience about fulfilling the males needs and desires.

In an article that analyzes five books on sex, titled “Teaching Women to Talk Dirty,” the authors, Isa Bland and Rusty Barrett, assert that some of the authors of the books consider “dirty talk” a “means of arousal” (Bland & Barrett, 2009). This is to say that by “talking dirty” a woman can heighten her level of pleasure. Likewise, in the act of faking orgasms, sometimes women are turned on by the thought of the reality they are expressing and therefore stimulate themselves to climax.

Secondly, it encourages women to perform a task equivalent to a sex phone operator, whose sole purpose is to “ooh” and “ahh” for male satisfaction (Hall, 1995). This demotion of women – from human to Bop It! (“twist it,” “pull it,” “spin it,” “bop it”), an object whose success depends on quick and abrupt manipulations – allows men to think of women as toys to play with, who need nothing in return.

Tell It Like It Is

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Although “faking it ‘till you make it” or “talking to turn you on” are two individual options women have to achieve climax, another way successful satisfaction can be met is through articulating ones desires (a la Mila Kunis in Friends With Benefits) – this of course comes with the additional complication of having the male counterpart a) listen and b) know how (and want) to follow the directions. If this method of communication is employed, the awkward but all too familiar scenarios of:

(1)
Male: Did you come?
Female: Yeah… *sigh*

(2)
Male: Oh my god, that was amazing!⁷
Female: mmhm…

(3)
Male: I want you to come!
Female (in head): Yeah…I’d like that also
Female (in reality) …5 seconds later: Ahh, I’m coming! I’m coming!

are luckily and likely to be avoided.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, the practice of “faking it” is more common than not among women who engage in sexual intercourse. The many reasons, which range from fear of disappointing your partner to the fear of feeling abnormal are generously utilized in intimate settings. Acquiring an orgasm has become an expected result for both men and women during intercourse, so when it doesn’t happen we have been conditioned to believe there is something wrong with us.

However, because accomplishing climax is an intricate task, and all too easy to impersonate, it is often overlooked and under-discussed. Furthermore, education on arousal will not become any more informative if the media continues to leave men – and women – with the impression that kiss-kiss-bang-bang is all a woman needs to climax.

Perhaps more technical conversations of where and what a woman wants, between her and her partner could lead to more successful satisfaction. Likewise, maybe including verbal cues, suggestions, and “dirty talk,” could lead her to her tipping point. However, if all else fails, as it turns out, faking it might be just what you need to actually make it happen.

_____________________________________________________________

Notes

¹ the ”female orgasm” described is one attained from heterosexual, penetrative intercourse

² “intercourse” defined as penile-vaginal penetration

³ “Sex and The City” Season 2, Episode 4: They Shoot Single People, Don’t They?”

⁴ common suggested examples include the woman getting on top or engaging in oral sex prior to penetration

⁵ simultaneously 55% of fake orgasm are articulated through body expression, i.e.: breathing faster or harder, clenching or pausing breath, facial indications, and pulling partner closer (Kershnar, 2012)

⁶ in English Language Dictionaries (Braun & Kitzinger, 2001)

⁷or any variation of male success, including but not limited to screaming, cheering, thrusting a fist up in the air, or feeling the need to announce to you that he just “rocked your world”

Bibliography

Bland, I., & Barrett, R. (2009). “Stick your (adj.) (noun) in my (adj.) (noun)!”: Teaching women to “talk dirty.”

Braun, V., & Kitzinger, C. (2001). Telling it straight? Dictionary definitions of women’s genitals. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 5/2, 214-232.

Breslaw, A. (2013, November). 7 Sad But True Reasons Women Fake Orgasms. Cosmopolitan. Retrieved from www.cosmopolitan.com.

Cooper, E. B., Fenigstein, A., & Fauber, R. L. (2013). The Faking Orgasm Scale for Women: Psychometric Properties. Arch Sex Behav (2014) 43:423–435.

Hall, K. (1995). Lip Service in the Fantasy Lines. Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed  Self. New York. Routledge. 183-216.

Kershnar, S. (2012). The Morality of Faking Orgasms: Deception in a Dishonest World. International Journal of Applied Philosophy. 26:1. 85-104.

Salisbury, C. M. A., & Fisher, W. A. (2014). ‘‘Did You Come?’’ A Qualitative Exploration of Gender Differences in Beliefs, Experiences, and Concerns Regarding Female Orgasm Occurrence During Heterosexual Sexual Interactions. Journal of Sex Research. 51(6), 616-631.

Star, D. (1999). They Shoot Single People, Don’t They [Television series episode]. In Sex and the City.HBO.

Health. The Female Orgasm. Dr. Phil. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/371.

When Harry Met Sally [Motion picture]. (1989). USA: Warner Bros.

Bitch, I’m in the 212

“Green” Party

In the midst of the midterm elections, Americans are beginning to speak up about their opinion on the youth of today, where the country is headed, and their hopes to legalize marijuana use, according to a recent poll.

The results of the poll, conducted by students at the New York University Arthur Carter Journalism Institute suggest that regardless of political affiliation, those surveyed are unanimously in favor of the legalization of marijuana use throughout the nation.

Although opinions differ on whether or not it should be legalized for medical purposes as well as for recreational use, many people polled compared the use of marijuana to that of cigarettes and alcohol, suggesting that there is little difference in harm among the three. “I think it should be legalized because I think it creates even less harmful behavior than alcohol,” said Richard Saunders, 24, a musician from Connecticut.

Similarly, Elliott Skinner, 20, a New York City based jazz musician questioned how marijuana is any different than cigarettes: “What is the benefit of cigarettes being legal?” he asked, “The only reason they’re legal is because people are making money off of it. They’re terrible for you, everyone knows it, no one’s denying it, yet we have this thriving business based on this thing that’s terrible for you and it’s kind of the opposite with marijuana…as far as  it being harmful, there are so much more harmful things than weed. The amount of things we put in our food, the amount of things that we eat and drink and put into our bodies already, one more drug is not going to make any difference” he said.

Claudia Ornelas, 58, a court interpreter from Mexico agreed that the use of marijuana should be legalized medically, and then proposed that recreational smoking should be contained in designated areas, suggesting that by doing this, crime rates would decrease.

In addition, some people like Madeline Wall, 18, a student from Santa Barbara, CA, explained how they thought it would help the financial climate of the country. “I think it should be legalized. I think, first of all you can tax it, and that would bring money in, and second of all it’s just already so prevalent in the country so you might as well just legalize it at this point, and stop just trying to halt something that’s already there.”

Of the people polled many were unimpressed by President Barack Obamas performance in office thus far, and were skeptical about where the country was headed. “I think we’re heading down,” said Raz, 42, a musician living on the Lower East Side. “Look at our economy. Look at the unemployment rate. Look at welfare, welfare where it is is at an all time high right now. The middle class is almost, if not, non existent. You’re either rich or you’re poor – you’re working to keep up paying your bills or you don’t have to work at all” he said.

Others, like Megan L, 21, questioned the country’s international affairs. “Domestically I think we’re doing okay, but in terms of our international efforts and our standing in war and things like that, I think that we could do better,” she said.

The majority of the people polled also had a negative opinion on the outlook of the youth of today. “I feel sorry for them,” said Peter Laverne, a freelance writer living in New York. “The economy has serious problems, we have perpetual planned wars that never end, and on and on…But then you know, it’s good to be young, so it’s all balanced out” he chuckled.

Even members of the millennial era were worried about the direction and legacy of their own generation. JT Neal, 20, a Texas born actor living in California, was one of those polled. “The youth of today… it’s pretty awful. I feel like they don’t respect their elders, I feel like they don’t respect the country that they live in, they don’t appreciate what they’ve been given, they all feel very entitled. And I feel like they’re more of a social breed as opposed to a thoughtful breed, they kind of just do whatever the crowd says is cool, and they don’t really consider the options, they kind of just jump in head first, and I think that’s pretty dangerous,” he said.

One of the greatest issues found from the results of the poll, is that even with the problems many have with the government, our economy, and the direction of the country, very few voted in the midterm elections. A stunning 80 percent of those polled said that they did not vote in the midterm elections all for various reasons.

So, although a stunning 100 percent of those surveyed agree on the legalization of marijuana, in different levels of availability, very few have invested in the more pressing and abstract issues.

With Colorado being the first state to legalize marijuana in 2012, and both Alaska and Oregon recently getting on board, the country is working to be on its way to nationwide legalization, however, helping the direction of our country and the youth of today, is still lacking committed citizens.

Here is New York: Now

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”

-Thomas Wolfe

 

It has been 66 years since E.B. White sat in a sweltering New York City hotel room and crafted the exceptionally witty, perceptive, and charming love letter to the city; Here is New York. In just 39 short but expertly crafted pages of prose, White walked his readers through an unforgettable journey through the varied, charismatic, and effortless city that is New York.

Since the books conception, billions of people have travelled to and from, visited, departed, and newly arrived on this small island, and of the many, a select few like myself, have pledged their allegiance to the city and taken on the daunting task of succeeding in this highly competitive, irrationally expensive, dreamed and sought after place.

In so many ways, New York City is exactly the same place White left all those years ago. Taxis are just as hard if not harder to hail in the rain, walk ins are just as unlikely to be seated at Balthazar’s on a Friday night, and while the inception of restaurant week has made it slightly more feasible, tasting the luscious lightness of a chocolate soufflé at La Bernadin is mostly an unattainable dream.

However today, the city has changed and evolved to be an even more elite and storied place. New niches have been formed, cultural hot spots have impacted the flow,  and if nothing else, New York City, its appearance itself has in fact been drastically altered. Lower Manhattan is no longer defined by two strong and distinguished towers, but rather by one infallible building that represents New York’s tenacity and resilience. Similarly, Midtown is no longer marked solely by the Empire State Building, but by both the Chrysler Building and The New York Times offices as well.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote “the only thing constant is change” and in New York City that could not be more true. As White said “to a New Yorker the city is both changeless and changing” (48), and as I work to make my mark on this willful city, I am learning how to conform to its ever changing ways, while still striving to make it my own.

Here is New York: Now.

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As I write this, I am sitting on the grass near the steps of Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, a drastically different image than White sweating in an overheated midtown hotel room. It is mid-October and aside from the light breeze it is unseasonably warm, hot even for this time of year. But the open air invites a pleasant counter, to those, like myself, who are over dressed for the heated temperatures. Around me clicking cameras, talking tourists, and the washing water of Bethesda Fountain combine in a cacophonous symphony, creating an almost harmonious sound of silence. Suddenly the soundless noise is broken by a jazzy trumpet players variation on Dave Brubeck’s “Take 5,” flooding the sound waves with swank and sophistication.

On my little blanket on the grass, I have secured myself a small space on this coveted island. I am secluded from the cities vibrations, yet feel the presence of the others that surround me, suddenly reminding me that I am a part of something greater. As White claimed you are never more than 18 inches away from some event in the city, and as I look around I notice tiny pockets of interaction occurring. To my right, on the hill across the path, three people bounce with agitation before starting a thai chi session. To my left, a man races up and down the stairs testing his endurance, while multiple photographers shoot pictures of their friends, loved ones, and customers on the steps beside him. So far, there have been three couples that have come to the fountain to take wedding photos and one professional ballerina posing under the arches. At the top of the steps, screaming and cheering bystanders encourage street performers to take on another show. Meanwhile along The Mall, vendors try to sell replicas of current and past celebrities and overprinted signs. All this occurs a mere 18 inches or so away, begging me to join, yet I remain affixed on my patch of grass. As White explains, “New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation” (22), an experience many New Yorkers engage in every day.

As if serendipity reigns in this metropolis I discover in my wallet a slightly faded five dollar bill. As someone who rarely carries cash in her wallet at all, I took this discovery as an order to understand what E.B. White described: “you always feel that either by shifting your location ten blocks or by reducing your fortune by five dollars you can experience rejuvenation” (25) he said. As I exited to the east side of the park I did in fact experience a rejuvenation of sorts. I was no longer a bystander, casually strewn amongst the trees, but an active participant, dodging cars, bikes, and pedestrians. The easy laid back energy of the park dwellers morphed into an electric and anticipatory buzz. And as I walked down Madison Avenue the glistening storefronts of legendary labels winked at me through the sparkling glass windows.

This is the beauty of New York. Its chameleon like tendencies allow you to go from the leafy canopies in Central Park to the steely chaotic city streets, and even as far as the shore lined sands of the Atlantic Ocean, by simply taking a few steps or a short subway ride. It is safe to say that no other city in the world provides this vast an experience in such a close and well organized proximity. “New York must hold a steady, irresistible charm” (54) White wrote, and that charm is evident in the city’s continuous efforts to reawaken the souls of its citizens.

In today’s New York, it is common for every New Yorker to have their place of solace. For some it’s Yoga for the People on St. Marks Place in the East Village or a trip to SoulCycle. For those residing in lower manhattan it might be a short bike ride along the pier, while for those uptown it could be a quiet lunch on the bench outside of Bakersfield Market or coffee at The Hungarian Pastry Shop. Whatever it is, every New Yorker has their place, their “thing” that they do to regain equilibrium. It is one of the great joys of a New Yorker to have a moment to regain stability and revisit their place of sanctuary. This process of rejuvenation, rebalance, and resilience is what New York and it’s inhabitants run on. In a place that is constantly reconstructing itself it can be easy to lose your sense of identity making it vital to acquire a place of refuge.

IMG_1221Many New Yorkers identify themselves by their neighborhood, and the construction of the city allows each neighborhood to take on its own identity and practice it’s own beliefs. “Each area is a city within a city within a city….” White wrote, “so complete is each neighborhood, and so strong the sense of neighborhood, that many a New Yorker spends a lifetime within the confines of an area smaller than a country village” (35-36). Although the demographics in each neighborhood have somewhat changed since White’s time, the tradition of each district having a distinct reputation remains the same. Aspiring actors work in the chic eateries of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea and then retire to their homes in Brooklyn or Alphabet City. Brioni clad business men taxi down to the Financial District and return each night to their manicured homes on the Upper East Side. While the Chinese in Chinatown have expanded their borders since White’s time, they are still a close knit community and are friendly neighbors to the Italians in Little Italy. And of course, the unavoidable chaos of Times Square and the Theatre District remains one of the most cliché and loathsome stereotypes of all Manhattan neighborhoods. Each niche harvests a distinct demographic, making the city as a whole a melting pot of diversity, innovation, and opportunity.

However, what’s more than the difference between citizens of each neighborhood is the distinction between what White describes as “the three New Yorks.” For White there is “the New York of the man or woman who was born here,” “the New York of the commuter,” and most importantly “the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.” “Of these three trembling cities,” White writes, “the greatest is the last- the city of final destination, the city that is a goal” (26).

I am a member of the third New York and can attest to the assertion of New York City being the end game, the goal met, the dream come true. For those who were born here, the privilege of New York was simply a birthright, the benefit of chance. For the commuter, their experience is something more akin to that of a tourist. New York to them is a place to visit, a nice place for a good meal or a quick show at the theatre, but far too busy, far too energetic to live in. But for me, and for my fellow dreamers and doers, New York City is the symbol of success. Being a “New Yorker” is a label we take willingly, an identity we display proudly, a sign we wear that says “I made it!”

One of the most interesting paradoxes of the city is that each member of the third New York came with the expectation of gaining what New York was, however, with each new person the experience of the city changes. We are the reason New York evolves, we infiltrate the alterations. As White exclaims; “the city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive” (29).

New York City allows a gentleman to walk into his favourite French bistro on Avenue B and talk to the waiter in his native tongue, acting as if he is at his own kitchen table. New York allows families to sell frogs and exotic fish in Chinatown making residents feel as though they are at a market in Shanghai. New York allows Eastern Europeans to fill themselves with perogies and borsch in the East Village and Mexicans to eat freshly fried churros in Morningside Heights. “The collision and intermingling of these millions of foreign-born people representing so many races and creeds make New York a permanent exhibit of the phenomenon of one world” (47), White said, and it is that weaving of cultures that have made New York such an intricate and elaborately fabricated metropolis.

Many have said that New York can barely keep up with itself. But one of the beauties of the city is its ever evolving composition that allows for each person to have their own unique, cosmopolitan experience. Being a member of the third New York is like getting an invitation to an elite and secret society. It shows you have done something to prove you’re worthy of being here. And members of this exclusive group choose to stay no matter how hard, lonely, or uncomfortable it becomes. “…the city is uncomfortable and inconvenient;” White said, “but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience- if they did they would live somewhere else” (53).

New York City offers its residents a daily test of tenacity. It constantly challenges your abilities, your strength, and your desire to succeed in such an impossible place. Back in 1999, Roger Angell wrote an introduction for E.B. White’s 100th birthday printing of “Here is New York” and in it he wrote; “this is a city that still calls to its “young worshipful beginners”…. it has never been more difficult or expensive for them to hang on here but they would not be anywhere else, not for the world” (15). Today, with both the competition and fluctuating economy of the 21st century, that difficulty could not be more relevant. However, the grit of those “young worshipful beginners” (38) is an everlasting wick, that would take the exhale of a dragon to blow out. New York is a choice we make. As John Updike explains; “ the true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.”

In the popular HBO drama “Sex and the City” the protagonist, Carrie Bradshaw, once said; “when I first moved to New York and was totally broke, sometimes I’d buy Vogue instead of dinner. I felt it fed me more.” That is the reality of the third New York and the New Yorker who will stop at nothing to obtain experiences and immerse him/herself within Manhattan. The need not for nourishment, but for fulfillment. As White describes it, “New York hardly gave me a living…but it sustained me” (38). New York allows you to simultaneously fall in love for the first time and the last. By providing you with samples of varying unexpected experiences you are constantly introduced to new love, while at the same time, the legacy and tradition of the city sustains your initial infatuation.

There is still a longing for the “old” New York, White’s New York, but the beauty of the city is that through the years remnants of times before remain. Today, Fifth Avenue is littered with commercial storefronts, but as you make your way to the corner of 57th Street you are reminded of the bountiful bustle of Holly Golightly peering gracefully in the window of Tiffany’s. So many aspects of the bygone city remain, that by walking down just one street you can be placed within three different decades at once. As White describes, “[New York] carries on its lapel the unexpungable odor of the long past, so that no matter where you sit in New York you feel the vibrations of great times and tall deeds, of queer people and events and undertakings” (19). A trip to the Upper East Side (Lexington Candy Shop, 83rd and Lexington Avenue) will take you through a time capsule to an old style diner, where you can have handcrafted milkshakes and syrup malted sodas. A little further down you can have a single malt on the rocks and feel the tensions of prohibition and the seduction of speakeasies in The Oak Room at The Plaza Hotel. And in the villages downtown, you are constantly reminded of history. On the east side, a step into the sticker covered and dimmed 315 Bowery reminds you of the vibrations of the rock and roll era. Even though this building has been converted into a clothing store, the energies of the old music venue, CBGB’s, remains. Likewise, a trip to the west side can take you on an experimental journey to the bygone era of apothecary’s at C.O. Bigelow.

New York is a conglomerate so equally segregated, by old and new, race, culture, and tradition that no one thing stands out, or in a different light gets lost among the crowd. White exclaimed, “New York is not a capital city- it’s not a national capital or a state capital. But it is by way of becoming the capital of the world” (55), and since his time the prominence of New York City has generated even more impact. White’s assertion was especially apparent after the tragedies of 9/11. During those events, New York proved itself to be the most resilient, united, and determined city in the world, and since then has become an even more desirable destination. While some, White included, thought that the interruption of planes could end the island, it fought in deterrence of making that statement true, and won the heady battle.

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Every New Yorker comes to the city with eager anticipation, expectation, and a thirst for adventure. Discovering New York is like unwrapping your presents on Christmas morning. Within this city, there is an energy unparalleled by any other contemporary metropolis. Paris, London, Los Angeles, and Toronto are all wonderful cities in their own right, but none quite live up to the enigmatic vivacity of New York. There is no simpler metaphor for New York nowadays than falling in love. With such eloquence, White showed us New York by both complementing and criticizing it, engaging us in his complicated relationship with the city. Like any sustainable alliance, every New Yorker has it’s ups and downs, but they continue to hold on. We are not being pushed away so much as we are being constantly asked if we want to stay. Even through all the pitfalls and indiscretions this city throws at us, we choose to hold on, to work harder, and if we’re crazy enough to dream bigger. This is the magnificence of Manhattan.

Within this concrete jungle, lambs are challenged to become lions, while at the same time are constantly given the tools to be inspired and aspire to rise up again and again. For White, the city symbolizes “a steady reaching for the sun” (56). New York is an unsolvable riddle with an irresistible rhyme. It preys on the weak, captures the willing, and intrigues the curious, unfailing in its efforts to provide an incomparable experience. Although this city can feel daunting at times, it sustains eager minds, fulfills arduous aims, and fills you in on the secrets of its well oiled enterprise.

In an ancient love letter, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote to his beloved, “Ever mine. Ever thine. Ever ours,” a scripture so relevant to today’s New Yorker. New York City cannot be experienced without the experiences of others. You are a part of a cosmopolitan conglomerate of characters all trying to make Manhattan their own. But the beauty of New York is that it allows you to own a piece of it. It readily shares itself to those of us, crazy enough, to believe we deserve to take it. New York City, it’s the dream come true.

 

Bibliography

White, E.B. Here is New York. New York: The Little Bookroom, 1999. Print.

“The Real Me.” By Michael Patrick King. Dir. Michael Patrick King. Sex and the City. HBO. New York, 3 June 2011. Television. 18 Oct. 2014. DVD.

Street Performer, perf. “Take 5.” By Dave Brubeck. Time Out. 1959. 17 Oct. 2014.

Black and White and Re(a)d All Over

There is a notion that the newsroom is a chaotic environment, littered with caffeinated reporters furiously typing and fedora topped editors barking into the phone. Though frantic it’s a romantic image but is far from reality.

Take away those ringing phone sand the crunching clamor of keys, lay to rest the floating newspaper clippings, and in their place, put stylistically engineered workspaces, pigmented with accents of red for today’s quintessential newsroom. This is The New York Times newsroom.

Screen shot 2014-10-16 at 9.41.05 PM

The New York Times Newsroom

The building, located in the midst of frenzied Midtown, stands, a seemingly pores vessel, waiting to receive information.

Its floor to ceiling windows lend insiders a view of the stirring city, while its interior windows allow staffers to peer into a lush serenity garden.

In fact, the windows, like the writers, too have a story. They are the company’s symbol of transparency. A literal image, writers can see out and onlookers can see in, as well as a promise for  journalistic integrity.

The Pulitzer Prize Wall

The Pulitzer Prize Wall

Although located in the one of the busiest Manhattan neighborhoods, the Times seems to have found a way to distance itself from the fray. A glance outside does not halt you with a brick wall, like most city windows do, but instead holds a careful distance from the masses surrounding it.

It floats among the other structures, and at its center, the newsroom captures a sense of quiet and calm.

So while visions of that frantic newsroom may not materialize, an air of romanticism remains. The energy is neither black nor white, but rather a productive and harmonious gray; a structure ready to produce “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

Sign Language

In New York City, sign language has a whole new meaning as citizens try to bring awareness to climate change and other environmental issues through expressive signage at the People’s Climate March.

On Saturday, September 21st, over 100 world leaders and tens of thousands of global citizens gathered together in New York City to march in advocation of climate change. Among them were an array of colourful, creative, and provocative signs, adding insight to the record breaking event.

Mother, Samantha Lobis, and her son at the People's Climate March 2014

Mother, Samantha Lobis, and her son at the People’s Climate March 2014

“There is No Planet B” one sign read, held by a modest gentleman who was walking towards the crowd, eager to join the fray. A young boy had an artistically crafted sign which simply read “Let’s Save Our Planet,” hanging from his neck as he and his mother waited on the sidewalk. The creator of the sign, Samantha Lobis, mother and marcher in the People’s Climate March event said “It’s important for me to take my son so he can start a movement of being an activist and it’s important for me, for him to learn that if you find that something is important that you need to take a stand.”

Among the assemblage of marchers, a great range of generations and demographics were in attendance. However, a prominent demographic, and a popular sign holder, were not the many pro-active parents, but rather their aspiring activist children. Another young boy, proudly sat on his fathers shoulders holding a sign that read “No Big Factories, Except for the Lego Factory.”

It was interesting to see how many of the signs, like the aforementioned Lego one, or another which read “We Are Groot,” an allusion to the Marvel Comics superhero, tailored towards children. After all, it is their world the marchers are fighting for.

One Columbia student, who asked not to be named, said that she, like many of the adults there, was marching for the youth and the next generation. “I mean, they’re too young to realize the impact of climate change, so hopefully they’ll learn from this, and know that on this day, we made history,” she said.

Alongside the youth oriented messages, were also an array of signs which catered to the current generation of aspiring world leaders. Young adults, familiar with pop culture and social media, held up signs which read “YOLO,” one of the O’s displayed as a globe, “earth needs more likes,” in reference to Facebook, “Sequel to Frozen: Melted!” an ode to the popular Disney movie, and “Mermaids Oppose to Offshore Drilling,” speaking to the “mermaids are real” phenomenon.

Marcher at People's Climate March 2014

Marcher at People’s Climate March 2014

Jessica Shohfi, a volunteer at the march, was handing out some of the organizations designed signs, which read “People’s Climate March” on one side and “I’m marching for…” on the other, giving marchers the ability to write who or what they were advocating for. “I think it is a universal problem and it’s probably going to overshadow every other social problem in the next 10 to 20 years” Shohfi stated.

Many celebrities were also in attendance adding stardom to the signage. Derek Blasberg, editor at large at Harper’s Bazaar, wrote an article on the weekends events, as well as posted pictures on his instagram account, one with the caption “Global Warming is not hot” and another with models Cameron Russell, Andreea Diddy, and Jessica Hart who all wore “Walk With Me” stickers.

The People’s Climate March organization whose website promotes “Action. Not Words.” were rewarded with both, as citizens from around the world gathered together making both a visual and historical impact through their actions, words, and signs.

The Table of Silence Project: Remembering 9/11

There is beauty in tragedy, and devastating events can inspire works of art. Any form of art has the power to bring people together, whether in conversation or conflict. However, more times than not it serves as a healing mechanism and a common language that people share and understand together.

I attended The Table of Silence Project 9/11 held around the Revson Fountain in Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center on Thursday, September 11th, 2014. The performance, featuring over 100 dancers from various schools and companies, three vocalists, two percussionists, and three flutists, was brought into production by Buglisi Dance Theatre in partnership with Dance/NYC, The September Concert, and Rossella Vasta. The show began at 8:15 a.m. and concluded with a moment of silence at 8:46, the time when the first plane hit the North Tower, followed by a procession outwards as the dancers exited the plaza. Spectators viewed this performance circled around the fountain, as well as from the balcony above, for those who work at Lincoln Center and had access from the inside. The performance began with the dancers, dressed in white leggings, creme and white blouson tops, bare feet, and streaks of white paint on their faces, circled around the fountain, then progressed with them moving sporadically outwards and down the steps at Lincoln Center, until finally, they regrouped into concentric circles around the fountain. While NYPD officers stand at the bottom of the stairs, Lincoln Center security guards are stationed at the pillars around Lincoln Center, as well as at key points between the dancers and the spectators, manning pathways for the dancers to pass through. In many ways, both in character and in mission they are apart of the performance. In character they seem to play a role in helping the crowd remember the many officers who worked and lost their lives on 9/11, while in mission they serve as vital parts of the performance, making sure it runs smoothly, efficiently, and uninhibited by spectators. After the first circle begins to disperse the dancers glide onto the stairs freely, spontaneously pausing in five distinct positions; In one they stand perfectly erect with their arms crossed over their chest and their palms toughing each shoulder. In the next the same erect position is held except this time their gaze is directed upwards and their arms are lifted up in a V formation. In the third the dancers are in a lunge with one hand pressed out and behind them, and the other covering one of their eyes, their bodies twisted towards their outstretched arm. In another the dancers hold their hands clasped in front of them, in a praying position, and in the last, the dancers lowers down to the ground as if having fallen, their heads towards the floor, knees bent, and arms in a lowered push up stance as if having broken their fall. These five positions are repeated numerous times and in a different order by each dancer as he or she makes their way to the steps. At 8:46, during the moment of silence, the three vocalists each sing a resonating note creating a harmony that vibrates through the crowd and onto the streets. Each dances nobles leaves the grounds and descends down the stairs at the side of Lincoln Center. The crowd doesn’t waver until the last dancer has exited.

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When asked where he was on 9/11/01 and what this tribute means to him: “I was in third grade, and I didn’t really know what was going on, but I remember she was my favourite teacher in the world and she just cried her eyes out. I was a dancer in it for two years, and this was my first time getting to actually see it. I think it’s a really beautiful statement of what art and dance can do to bring people together. I mean I cried. People probably have work at 9 a.m., I mean like people probably have work in 10 minutes, yet they are standing here watching this ritual to the very end.” – Corey Snide, 20, spectator, former dancer.

When asked where she was on 9/11/01 and what brought her here: “Umm…I came here because um my friends father is dancing in it, and um, I was 11, I was in the city, I was 11 when it happened, and I was at school, and my dad came and picked me up, and I didn’t know what happened till he came. And then we got back to Queens somehow, I don’t remember, um, we got here late, so I didn’t get to see the beginning of it, but…. um… just now watching someone react to it, was very intense, cause I realize this is uh, like a visual for people who are still grieving, people they lost over a decade ago but that never goes away.” – Ali, 24, spectator.

When asked what it meant to be apart of this performance: “Whatever else happens, this is the most important thing I will do today. It has been such a privilege to be out here with my fellow New Yorkers and to give us all an opportunity to remember, to feel, to come together, to take a moment of silence with ourselves, with each other, and with the world.” – Helga Davis, performer.

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As I walk up the steps to the crowd at Lincoln Center I look at the busy street behind me and notice that on this one day, occupied commuters take a minute and pause, look up, and notice the memorial being performed. It is almost as if New Yorkers awarenesses are heightened on this day. I am curious to know if it out of fear and self protection, or out of respect and thoughtful remembrance. The silence resonates through the crowd. It is so hauntingly quiet that even the usual chaos of the city is tuned out by the reverberating sound waves echoing from the vocalists. The interrupting sound of a dogs single bark is sharp and piercing. Some commuters seem to divert their daily path as they pass by Lincoln Center, questioning at first if this is a worthwhile interruption on their journey, many of them deciding it is. A woman dressed in all black removes her sunglasses and dabs her mascara. She stands a minute more then slowly walks away from the performance. In some cases this performance seems to have become less about remembrance and more about a spectacle in a way. Spectators almost miss the beauty and presence of the show as they hide behind smart phones and cameras recording and picturing the event. However, you can see in the security guards faces, and in a select few viewers that this tribute is a very real memorial, something to bask in rather than capture. Though very few people leave their place, as some remove themselves from the crowd, the remaining spectators mosey into their spots, respectfully trying to get a better view. An older woman that is apart of the performance cries at 8:46. Before the moment of silence she claps castanets creating a noise which reverberates through the crowd. A man holds his Yankees cap, in his hands which are crossed at his waist. Three students walk by in clamorous chatter, with Starbucks in their hands, oblivious to the ceremony. Not one of them break their conversation to look up and notice the tribute. Spectators are interrupted and many look over at the teenagers, seemingly surprised at their ignorance. At 8:45 stage manager stationed by the drums give vocalists a one minute warning. She nods ten seconds before 8:46. At 8:46:50 she counts down alerting the vocalists of the time they have until breaking the note. A woman arrives in an I (heart) NY shirt, the phrase written on top of a hear shaped American flag. Her outfit seems intentionally selected for this day. For an outdoor performance, I found it very interesting how the crowd stood, unwavering until the last dancer descends down the stairs. Even after the performance is over, a stillness holds the crowd in place before they continue on to their daily journey. A couple, one performer, one spectator, stands in a long lasting hug, at the fountain after the performance. After the performance, dancers emerge from all openings of Lincoln Center in their pedestrian garb, once again blending in with the spectators.