A Guide to New York City in the Summertime

By Zach

Hey there, Gator acolytes. I’m sorry to have abandoned you for these summer months, but I am not without valid reasons. Foremost on a list that includes items like “drank beer in bed and watched Batman instead of writing” lies a legitimate excuse: I live in New York. Look past the cooking street garbage and knife-wielding psychopaths — it’s the center of world urbanity! There are things to do here.

Let’s go over seven of them.

1) Go to Prospect Park and watch the sports players

Prospect Park on a nice Saturday is more littered with wholesome family goodness than an episode of the Cosby Show. Young parents holding hands, puppies cuddling with toddlers in strollers, all that shit. But it also serves as a venue for sports games played by people who enjoy playing sports.

Volleyball is one of my favorites. It’s played by two subsets of people, the first being guys who played volleyball in high school and the second being friends of that guy who he coaxed off of their picnic blankets. It is the least egalitarian of pickup sports – lots of people have played basketball and soccer before, so you generally see more parity on New York’s asphalt courts and turf fields. By contrast, volleyball draws a mix of Kerri Walsh wannabes and overweight, ponderous 5’8″ men. Lots of mismatches lead to lots of misplaced intensity on one side of the net and lots of apathy on the other. Trust me, very entertaining.

Cricket is also fun if only for its exoticism. I wasn’t exactly sprinting out to recess in elementary school to bowl a few wickets, and I’ve never played it or watched it on TV, but I enjoy watching the West Indians (?) play in the park. There are a number of older guys, probably in their 60s at least, who join in. Either West Indians aren’t ageist, or they’re just trying to emulate the Knicks.

2) Drink on a roof

My mountain-climbing, wood-chopping, forest-dwelling 2009 self pities the 2012 me that gets excited to receive a text containing the words “roof party in Crown Heights.”

3) Hang out with the mole people

Recently, my friend and I were sitting on a bench in Cooper Square, deservedly one of Manhattan’s less-known public plazas, when we noticed some hubbub to our left.

Now, as a good journalist, I’m always on the lookout for hubbub. I swiftly investigated. The commotion came from a drum circle comprising several hobos, a number of trash bags filled with their belongings, what looked like a campfire, and a sleeping, possibly dead dog. (RIP Union Square pit bull.)

I’ve lived in New York long enough to know my grades of hobo. First you have your basic homeless people, not yet indoctrinated on street decorum. They’re on the streets because they’re down on their luck and don’t have a support system (Democratic view) or because they’re lazy food stamp-pilfering drug addicts (Republican view).

Then you have the bums – hobos who just don’t care. They’ll poop on a subway platform during rush hour, for all you and your horrified children care.

Finally, you have your mole people, who literally live in the sewers. I strongly suspect that in Cooper Square, we were watching such persons. And that brings me to my disgusting sub-anecdote: three of them were leaving and stopped right near the bench where my friend and I sat. One forgot something and put his bag down a couple feet from ours while he ran to fetch whatever it was. Another bent down to pick up the bag, and the third mole person cautioned: “Don’t touch that. He’s got body lice.”


4) Play soccer in a park

New York’s soccer subculture is shockingly resilient throughout the winter months, but everyone comes out to play in the summer. Beware several dangers, though: one, there’s a Hispanic family barbecuing right behind the goalmouth; two, there’s a plump man in a wife-beater who’s kicking everybody; and three, turf-induced staph infections.

Note also that with field space at a premium, New York is not the most welcoming city when it comes to pickup soccer. New people and late arrivals are treated like Mitt Romney at a rap concert. Expect plenty of staring followed by awkward avoidance of eye contact.

5) See a movie

New York, while not legendary for its cinematic tradition, offers what my pig-farming uncle might say is a shit-ton of movie theaters. Yeah, prices aren’t cheap, but I’d opine that Christian Bale raspily barking “Justice” is worth 14 dollars alone. Same goes for Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones pretending to masturbate a chapstick tube.

6) Go buy new suits

Guys, it’s hot out there. There’s no reason to sit at home, crank the A/C and rack up your electricity bill when you can just go rack up someone else’s.

If you’re not in the movie mood, and/or you’d like something tangible to show for your money, why not go buy new suits? I don’t know about you, but it’s the only thing that gets me more excited than buying an orange mocha frappuccino. So that’s what I did yesterday.

What I discovered: Suits are expensive. You have to drop at least four or five hundred dollars if you don’t want the other wedding guests congratulating you on your successful parole hearing. There’s lots of options, too – cummerbund or no cummerbund is the greatest style question of our time. Then you have to decide on your vest style, measure your calves to ensure the ideal fit for your garters, and determine the appropriate level of garishness for your pocket square. Decisions decisions.

I didn’t buy a new suit. But I’m still planning on it once that shifty Men’s Wearhouse salesman guarantees me that his product will make me look the way I’ve long suspected it will.

7) Go to a German beer hall

A German beer hall just opened on the end of my block in Brooklyn. Alcoholism awaits.

Disappointingly, the bartenders aren’t German, nor are the barmaids particularly busty. And they do not seem to appreciate wiener schnitzel jokes or fake German accents to quite the same degree that I do. Those sad creatures.

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