by ZZ Claybourne
Some of you will have seen the beginning bits of this on Facebook. You may skip down to N. The rest of you read each and every word and remember it well. If you find yourself in New York for the first time you will thank me. I am the NY rat whisperer.
The first batch of things my first trip to New York taught me:
a) The pigeons roost on buildings and poles as if they're Batman and Gotham needs them.
b) Furiosa would be reduced to tears if forced to drive its roads. More on this later.
c) There is more concrete in one square block of New York than in all the rest of the developed world.
d) Mofos will not, do not, and are probably barred by city charter from going to sleep.
e) It contains the Hellmouth. I haven't seen it but I feel it.
f) The cabbies have their own tonal car horn language.
g) The cabbies do not fear the Hellmouth.
h) The cabbies probably know a way to save you ten minutes on your trip to the Hellmouth.
i) There might be sperm whales living in the sewers. The city's big enough for it.
j) The Javits Center is huge. You may think it's a moon. It's no moon.
k) Milo Jetstream pulling the Hole out of a decrepit building was not fiction; you can feel their little eyes on you at all times.
l) My booth on the con floor was a stone's throw from Alex Ross's booth. Joyce Carol Oates has never been a stone's throw from Alex Ross's booth. In your face, Joyce Carol Oates.
m) "Friends" was a complete lie; there are lots of Black people in New York. Fuck you, Rachel and Chandler.
n) The rudeness of New Yorkers amazes me. A little kid, couldn't have been more than 3, looked momentarily lost on the convention floor. The way a group of NYers immediately formed a wide protective circle around him was shocking! What's worse, for the 3 seconds it took dad to locate the kid one of the protective-ring people actually CALMED AND CONSOLED the kid. The nerve of some people!
o) Cosplayers are so self-centered. I was so enthusiastic about one's outfit that she gleefully came back THE NEXT DAY specifically to share a new and different creation with me in the hopes of making my day. Which she did (as you'll see below). THE NERVE!
p) Comic geeks are so oblivious to the important stuff of the world. Overheard admonishment: "Do you wanna talk politics or do you wannt enjoy some sweet shit?" There was sweet shit everywhere. The friend proceeded to enjoy the hell out of sweet shit. SHOCKING!
q) Spotted out of the car window as we made our way away from the con on the last day: Junot Diaz. Too far away for me to roll the window down and yell his name, plus, y'know, home training. Was that the biggest geek moment the past 3 days? Yes. Yes it was. Lit Geek for Life.
r) Whilst on the subject of things on the street: I understand the need for tourism. I understand that Game of Thrones is hot. I can see how a city might want to synergize off that. So I get that NY is going for GoT-level Walls with its trash bag mounds everywhere. But there's no need to train the rats to push their wee backs (and when I say "wee" I mean terrier-sized) against The Walls and squeak "Hodor!" as people walk past during a nice walk in the evening air after a long con day. And said terrier rats certainly don't need to dart out at the last second hitting first my shoe with considerable mass, then the foot of a companion author who happened to be wearing sandals. If the city really wants to enhance the tourist experience I'd much prefer they simply let the rats ride dragons for added flair. Just saying.
People loved the buttons. One little girl beamed so brightly getting the Afro Puffs one that the huge, perfect puff atop her head nearly ignited. And I imagine there are now more people feeling the call to save the universe one last damn time. I base this on the smiles they wore pinning that button on.
You can't be immersed in 4 days of close-quarter viral and bacterial evolution without the latest strain of Con Crud lodging in your lungs to pop up like Pennywise under a grate. I am practicaly bathing in tea, popping vitamins like an addict, got my 528 hz mega healing vibrational music going, duct-taping my robe closures lest anyone think that sucker's coming off me today, and hoping that if the Greys visit me tonight they have a hypospray or 2 full of a Bones McCoy special.
And now we come to less happy fun times.
I missed seeing Rosario Dawson.
She was in the building. I was in the building. I did not see her, she did not see me, but we both breathed. I breathed in biomatter from Rosario Dawson. I can't medically confirm that but do we really need to sully this with science? I have so little else. (Actually, know what? She might have seen me and I didn't see her. Yeah. Totally claiming that too.)
Enough heartbreak. This was a good con and an excellent experience for me, even though I'm exhausted, cultivating virulent bacteria, and in danger of nodding off so hard I could become a professional Yes man. Let me show my manners and give thanks.
HUGE thanks to Cerece Rennie Murphy for inviting me to be part of the Narazu crew at this wild event. Ostensibly, I was there to be all sell-y serious author person but, like the one friend pointed out to the other about his choice of conversation options, I was there for all the cool bits.
I am thoroughly bummed that schedules didn't allow for the cosmic joining of me with Cam Rob, Sam Schreiber, and the crew of the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers/Kaleidocast but that's just a muffin in the oven for the future. Write on, right on, my sci fi brethren!
Part of the reason we weren't able to connect was New York's traffic situation. Can we talk about that? Because it bears fully fleshing out. So: ON THE SUBJECT OF DRIVING. New York? Goddamn. If I could afford to buy every NY driver a flaming guitarist Doof Warrior bobble head for their dashboards I would. Respect.
Your traffic situation makes me think of images of New York that movie makers show us. Spider-Man would do nothing but slam into buildings if he actually tried swinging through the structural density of New York. Oh, and the whole thing of him dropping onto the roof a car to hitch a quick ride? HA! Rhino would have decimated Trump Tower by the time that car inched along in downtown traffic. Not saying that'd be a bad thing...
Let's stay on this general line for a minute. Pedestrians. I don't care what's coming toward them, how close it is, how big, how small, whether it has wings, or hooves that split the earth--a New York pedestrian with a green light will walk out in front of it without acknowledging it in any way. There's this unflagging assumption of pedestrians/bikers that their lawful right of way is sacrosanct. Trot across the street if the signal's about to change on them? Shee-id. A New York walker does not gauge traffic, they do not hurry across streets, and they damn well don't pause whatever they're doing on their phones for some quaint midwestern "look both ways before you cross" bullshit. Meanwhile, cars cut it so close to them that drivers can appreciate the stitching on everyone's ass pockets.
Ok, enough about traffic. The con itself? About 80 bajillion people. Cosplays of the gods. Cool comic art and figurines. Bruce Campbell glided by my table but he was so quickly ushered along by handlers there was no time to take a pic. Yes, Bruce Campbell glides. Hail to the king. I walked past Jim Steranko doodling, gave the nod to Neal Adams, got to say hi again to Sebastian Jones of Stranger Comics (if you're not familiar with DUSU or Niobe you should be), TOTALLY SPAZZED AT THE AWESOMENESS THAT IS HELALIPOP (see images below) (I'll wait)
...and got to literally swoon over how good the "Mermaid" tasted at Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. Vanilla, key lime curd, and whipped cream should not do the orgasmic things they did inside my mouth. But they did. And I am glad. Better still, I got to swoon over it with the stellar writing team of CSE Cooney and Carlos Hernandez (the stellar comes first, as they are fabulous people; the writing's a bonus)!
But like any ball, it ends. I've done the mad dash back to Laguardia for the late night flight; did the tricorder/keyfob thing to locate my car in the lonely, dark hometown airport lot; drove the bleary streets thinking only of bed and more bed, and knew that today, the Monday after the con's Sunday, I would bond with my bathrobe as if we were soulmates.
I hear it calling to me now. Wear me, it says, Wear me, you weary, sexy beast, and I will carry you off to dreams of wondrous people in bright colors.
I like that.
So thank you, New York. Get some sleep. We'll feel better for it in the morning.
has no special power but at least he learned enough from multiple viewings of The Incredibles not to wear a cape to fake it. Thanks gods he's spared that particular embarrassment.
Life, the universe, and everything creative
Towel Photo credit: EvelynGiggles via Foter.com / CC BY