Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck gettin dirty and gritty
Summer in New York is the season of garbage. Hot, wet garbage. The city radiates the unmistakable eau de toilette of humans living too close for comfort and at too high a cost to get to jobs they really don’t like all that much. The aroma begins on your morning walk as the shopkeepers and hotel doormen turn the hoses on the sidewalk to begin the daily ritual of washing their bridgehead clean of Gotham’s musk. With monkish diligence they drive a foamy wave of schmutz into the street or onto their neighbor’s sidewalk. This sisyphean task reaches little end, save for imbuing the ambient air with a mouth-feel that is less sauna and more steam room. This is not the wetness of a dewy meadow, but rather it is the wetness of newspaper forgotten in the driveway long after the bag yielded to the rain.
The steaming thoroughfares serve only as a prelude to Gotham’s true vault of odiferous injury: the subway. The subway is hot enough on any day where the mercury tops 60 degrees. Your ass will be swampy in minutes, which is convenient because the When summer gets it act together, subway temps will soar into the triple digits before you’ve swiped your MetroCard 13 times in utter exasperation. And why did it take a baker’s dozen tries to get through? Because you’re holding it wrong. Because you are from Iowa. Or Michigan. Or, heaven forbid, Wisconsin. And yet you’re here.
Because this...is B1G country
This, the land of over-sold bagels, Duane Reade, and wholly implausible Central Park movie scenes, is now a vital part of the B1G empire. Delany has willed it so, and the recent canning of the Big Ten Network outside “Big Ten states” by America’s largest cable provider in no way controverts that brilliant strategy. This is Big Ten Country™ and you will smile about it.
Thus, in accordance with the prophecy, the B1G faithful arrive in droves. Nay, herds. Sweaty, befuddled packs headed by a chieftain in calf-length socks who “still doesn’t understand why we couldn’t stay in Secaucus and take the train because so much goddam cheaper.” Since you’re bound to get here eventually anyway, what follows is a taxonomical visitors guide to ease your journey into the steamy, fetid fringe of Delany’s promised land. This is based on extensive research—and no small amount of chuckling—as your faithful reporter transits the city for work and pleasure, encountering every flavor of B1G citizen. Every flavor except Rutgers, that is. No one cops to being a Rutgers fan, and you can smell the place from here.
Where to Go for Where You’re From
Iowa - The Oculus. This architectural masterpiece offers a real two-fer for Hawkeyes. Not only can you see trains that do not primarily haul pigs, but the soaring glass ceiling provides the perfect reason to gaze skyward. What better venue in which to obviously walk into a chair (or busy New Yorker) and exclaim “Ope! Didn’t see ya there!”
Michigan - The Apple Store on 6th Ave. A temple to an institution that thinks too much of itself, complete with a cult of personality around a turtleneck-clad loon. If you’re a Sparty type, the Soho location is for you...because it’s similar, but definitely not the flagship. Either way, you can buy your Air Pods there and tell everyone they’re “from New York” instead from the Walmart where they got theirs.
Indiana - Visit Queens—the Gary, Indiana of New York. Or just...I dunno, stand two abreast and motionless like every other midwesterner whose legs become pillars of salt the moment they board an escalator.
Illinois - FAO Schwarz isn’t the same and Kevin McAllister isn’t real, so go to Gray’s Papaya on Broadway. You can see what a hotdog actually looks like when someone doesn’t throw a warm salad from a pizza place on top. Alternatively, take a boat cruise up the river past Sing Sing and note how many governors aren’t in there. See Fordham. Realize you would likely lose to them as well.
Pennsylvania - Hudson Yards. Just so you can see what it looks like when the major city in a state doesn’t give up on development in 1960. Be sure to have someone help you with the subway. No tokens here. If you have extra time, head downtown to NYU and marvel at a college not set in a made up town.
Maryland - Lincoln Tunnel. Or Holland Tunnel. Or the upper level of the George Washington. Basically any place where you can gripe about the traffic and give your significant other the chance to opine about how much worse DC traffic is—as though you don’t just hang out in exclusively in Rockville and send your kids to some Montessori school down the street.
Nebraska - Guy Fieri’s defunct Times Square restaurant. Nebraska fans love food of unnatural colors and the glory-days-gone-by almost as much as they love dressing like imbeciles. This will be like the New York version of visiting Marilyn Monroe’s grave. Ope! I think we just found your next vacation.
Ohio - TGI Friday’s in FiDi. Like Cleveland, FiDi is just tumbleweeds after 6 PM and you’re sure to meet someone else in OSU athletic wear. Shout “O-H” loudly and act amazed to see one another, like you both made it here by wagon and God’s grace in 1855. Gripe about the heat and muse about running into “a few of those Wall Street occupiers.” Ask for your waitress for “just a little cup of mayonnaise on the side, if ya could.”
Wisconsin - World Trade Center. But exclusively refer to it as the Freedom Tower. Get off the E at Chambers St and go via surface streets, because the Oculus is full of Iowans in matching family T-shirts staring upward. Then head over to Ellis Island, being sure to tell everyone on the boat your entire German family history. Be inspired by the Statue of Liberty. Tell your entire history again, emphasizing how your ancestors came here the right way. Roll your eyes when your wife leans across you three times to make sure people know that she’s “actually Swedish on her mother’s side.”
Minnesota - Uff da! Head to Penn Station to watch the buskers. They sing and dance almost as well as PJ Fleck, but they do it for pennies on the dollar. Or just do whatever the Wisconsin people do, but notably less successfully.
New Jersey - Right there in New Jersey where you fucking belong. You think long and hard about what you’ve done.