Messages The City Wants Us To Hear
Some excerpts from Timothy “Speed” Levitch’s Speedology (2002)
1. The Fastest Way to Adventure is to Stand Still
Boredom is an illusion. Boredom is the continuous state of not noticing that the unexpected is constantly arriving while the anticipated is never showing up. Boredom is anti-cruise propaganda.
2. The City as Autobiography
We are not visitors, tourists, nor inhabitants of New York City; we are New York City. The city is our moving self-portrait and a living art installation carved out on an island of rock, even the cracks of the sidewalk are crying out on the topic of our lives. The city is a profound opportunity to understand ourselves.
3. This is No Time for Historical Accuracy
Nothing I say can possibly be defended. I am not interested in being right or wrong; my priority is to be joyous.
As a tour guide, I approach history the same way Charlie Parker would approach a jazz standard. I am not here to recapitulate the notes exactly as they were composed but to find myself within the notes and collaborate with what has been before me to chase after everything I could ever be. My study of history is mostly an attempt to impress women.
4. Fear is Joy Paralyzed
Society— the greatest self-hatred the earth has ever witnessed— is a mediocre improv comedy piece we’re all living despite ourselves, one that would be impossible without fear effectively taking on ingenious disguises throughout the adventure of each and every day […] We do not have agendas, agendas have us.
5. Gregariousness is Great
New York City is a summoning of souls and a tribal ceremony of collected ancient agonies and conflicts brought to a new landscape for healing. A New Yorker is someone who runs wild with healing.
6. The Soul is the Only Landmark
Salvation is seeing everything as it already is.
7. Being Alive is Sexy
The world is an involuntary orgy.
8. What is Created is Destroyed
Many decry the destruction of Pennsylvania Station, the great beaux arts railroad terminal that was knocked down and replaced by the fourth Madison Square Garden. They ask, “If the city is a great teacher, why would it destroy a great building and put a lousy one in its place?” the answer: Pennsylvania station was too beautiful. The anecdote may be a catastrophe from a preservationist’s point of view, but it is a masterpiece from a dramatist’s. It’s just the way Tennessee Williams would have written it. Many will then ask, “Why is the city issuing forth these dramas?” The answer: the city wants to entertain us.
9. The Most Significant Thing About Suffering is That We’re All Doing It
10. Our True Selves Are the Greatest Parties Ever Thrown
You are a better party than you have ever been to. […] To live in a city is to realize that life is a procession of different versions of ourselves that we meet over time. Evolving is the meeting between who you were and who you just became.
11. Having Faith in Humanity is Supposed to be Fun
Fun is active faith. Faith is the celebration of “I don’t know.” The city is a bravely unfolding movie entertaining us so effectively we are hypnotized by it. The movie is a comedy about mammals in a movie taking the movie seriously and deciding it is a tragedy.
12. I Am Not Getting Laid
I want to make it clear, from the beginning, that I am not currently getting laid as I write this and this fact colors everything I say. It’s the one statement that makes perfect sense of Nietzsche’s work.
Bennett Miller’s 1998 documentary, The Cruise is one of the greatest films ever made about New York City.