Volume Six: Atlas posed.
tl;dr: Allusions of Grandeur, Opinions Ayn Rand Wouldn't Like and Four Equally Average Adulations
Pull up a chair and stay awhile…
Hey! Hey you.
Writing this email feels like reaching out to someone years late, terrified that if they haven’t forgotten your name they’ve surely forgotten their affection for you. I’m banking on you remembering both, but it’s been awhile. Whether you proceed with affection or amnesia, let’s get on with it.
This sentence pair from A Separate Peace by John Knowles got under my skin ten years ago and has lived there since—
“As I said, this was my sarcastic summer. It was only long after that I recognized sarcasm as the protest of people who are weak.”
Knowles made me notice a piece of myself that I hadn’t known to be flawed but immediately recognized as immovable.
Through an acute failing of my General Personality And Tone, I recently learned that at least two friends of mine thought that It’ll Be Nice To Meet You Tomorrow never existed at all. I do understand how it happened.
Through the course of my eternal sarcastic summer, I’ve spent months living the following conversation—
“Oh, I’m going to put that in my neuesletter,” said with an eye roll in place of a period.
The sentence receiver would laugh. I’d laugh.
I’d trail off, “Subscribe…”
I’d emerge feeling accomplished. They’d emerge thinking that I’d been laddering up a bit that made fun of a Brooklyn writing trope who has bathed in smoggy pretension for so long that her fingers and toes have begun to wrinkle, waterlogged.
My fingers might be damp, as my trope demands, but here we are. Earnestly continuing onward. Today we’re talking about the unpretentious, unbridled kind of joy. Here are some moments that made me remember to appreciate fulfilled promises, mass-acknowledged value and the joy of loved things freely shared.
Oh, and this time, we’re putting it to music.
Taking time for the square (not pictured).
Recently, I went to the Times Square bowling alley on a Sunday at 2 p.m.
I’d wanted to go bowling since early 2020.
Gadi had a Groupon for Bowlero Times Square.
We played three games. He won three games, efficiently and with a blessed lack of remorse. I got gutter balls with such frequency that it felt like artistic intention. The one strike I did get wanted for intention on my part so acutely that there was an afterglow of miracle. The fries tasted like hometown birthday parties. There were as many lights as you’d expect. They were exactly as dazzling as you’d expect.
We walked out of the Times Square bowling alley. The city was around and with and beside us just like we were around and with and beside ourselves, and I somehow felt like I could talk to you again.
It was strange because no one is supposed to be happy in Midtown.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about ego through the lens of my eager (and competitive) participation in the marketplace for the niche. Newsletters like Perfectly Imperfect (persona-based recommendations), Rachel Tashjian’s invitation-only Opulent Tips (fashion community intel; am subscribed, am bragging about it), Brock Colyar’s, are u coming? (nightlife that occasionally involves early 00s stars like Aly & AJ) both assuage and intensify the anxiety that comes with an ego rooted in seeking out things that are endorsed enough to be valuable and scarce enough to be cool. It’s a taste-based fight against being seen as being part of a collective even while voluntarily joining—and finding safety in—several.
Related, from J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey—
“I’m just sick of ego, ego, ego. My own and everybody else’s. I’m sick of everybody that wants to get somewhere, do something distinguished and all, be somebody interesting. It’s disgusting.”
Escaping the echoing self is complicated. Some people find churches. Baseball fans find stadiums. I find shows that I can comfortably go to alone when I don’t want to hear myself think anymore. The idea of being a small part of one bigger thing—the self being drowned out by the choir, the hot dog incense, a song that is just so, so loud, a joke that is so, so funny—is occasionally much more comfortable than feeling so important and needing to have an opinion that is both interesting and correct all the damn time.
You yell when the home team’s fanbase says to yell. It’s nice when things are as easy as that.
After all, sometimes a shoe is mass comfortable. Sometimes a recipe is mass good. Sometimes you go bowling because there’s nothing quite like the sound of wood slapping polyester at the end of the lane. Sometimes you find yourself impressed by Times Square, even though you hate being in crowds with strangers walking slow, talking loud and touching you in between. It’s bright, loud, evocative, there. Just as you expected.
I suppose that some things deserve to be beloved because they fulfill the promise they made to you, every single time. It’s incredible how rare that is.
The hills are alive with the sound of It’ll be Nice To Meet You Tomorrow. So, go stream it.
Speaking of the niche, friend of the neuesletter Vivid Fever Dreams composed A THEME SONG that you’ll find at the top of every issue of It’ll Be Nice To Meet You Tomorrow moving forward. Did you spot it already? I knew you would, you eagle-eyed rascal.
Give it a listen to set the scene before you read each issue because… this is a neuesletter with a g*ddamn theme song now! And that fact should be enough. (Can I legally claim that this is The Only Neuesletter With A Theme Song? LMK.)
Stream it, like it, follow VFD and listen to their other music on loop so Spotify throws them some fractions of lucky pennies. (One feverish recommendation? Their cover of Blue Monday.) I’m so late sending this neuesletter, and Daniel (VFD himself) has been through so very much.
I sat at a table next to a coffee cart. A woman stood nearby. For me, it was a place I had ended up. For her, it was a place she had pilgrimaged post-Uniqlo. Difference in intent aside, we both found ourselves behind the Atlas statue at Rockefeller Center on a Saturday afternoon.
“Hey! Hey you. Come over here. Stand here. No stand here. This is the best picture in New York.”
She directed her establishing sentence to a group of people I assumed were her tourists. They weren’t. It didn’t matter. She delivered her line anyway, and the previously directionless souls she’d identified were left with a snapshot of the cathedral with Atlas’ sculpted assets interrupting its curtain call.
Then, she did it again to a different unsuspecting group. I watched as she ambushed their eyes with her own like the kids I knew growing up caught lizards in their sweaty fists.
Soon, she recognized that my eyes had been willingly caught, and her voice wandered over to me. You see, she was left with a free space in her afternoon agenda between shopping and an early Easter lunch with her nephew. She rolled her eyes every time she mentioned the lunch.
Not one for idleness, the woman decided to park herself behind the Atlas statue to shepherd tourists who were taking photos of St. Patrick's Cathedral toward something a little less pious.
In between her divine interventions, she told me that she moved here 40 years ago with her ex-husband. They split. He split. She moved into a small apartment somewhere uptown and never left.
“Well, if I could make it here, why would I go back to Indianapolis?”
She quietly observed the metropolitan doctrine that names don’t always matter, so we never exchanged them. The nameless woman was glad to know that I’m young and moved to New York. She worries that young people won’t move to New York anymore.
She told me to get a New York State driver’s license for the discounts. When she got hers, years ago, an NBC anchor she knew came along to shake hands and kiss laminate (or whichever administrative pleasantries were trending at the time), so she wouldn’t have to take the test. She didn’t have to take the test.
Her makeup matched her opinions—impressive in its precise application. She recommends the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in the spring and the Staten Island ferry in the summer. She told her family that she will not host house guests under the age of 10—small uptown apartments are too small for the personalities and proclivities of great-nieces.
But she will, in her free time, make sure that as many tourists as possible take the photo that she cares about the most.
My guess is that she delights in other people holding something that she loves—giving legitimacy to it, finding joy in it—long after they forget who gave it to them. I might think that that’s the purest form of art.
Her earnest pursuit of things mindfully claimed and kept extends beyond Atlas’ ass.
“When I travel I just go to the places where famous photographers went. Then, I take the pictures myself.”
We said goodbye quickly—one can never make a nephew wait, after all.
If we’re being earnest, this is everyone’s favorite section.
You made it this far… now for the fun stuff. Here are four things loved sans subtext:
Something old: I have thought this piece about Ernest Hemingway’s shorts is funny since 2018. Please adjust your pending summer style accordingly.
Something neue: Hahahahahahahahaha there’s no way I couldn’t push this again. Have you met me? Stream the IT’LL BE NICE TO MEET YOU TOMORROW THEME SONG. I’ve also been into Hungarian music lately. Stream Hegedű, Bor, Pálinka by Bohemian Betyars (“a fiddler band with a purpose to spread the feeling of bitter revelry”) as a chaser to Nice2MeetYou. The lyrics (according to Google Translate) start with, “Violin, wine, brandy. I fell into the ditch. Violin, wine, brandy. I fell into the ditch,” and it gets better from there.
Something borrowed: Hypocrite that I am, I’ve been whining about glam rock band The Struts letting the song, “Could Have Been Me,” appear in the cartoon musical Sing 2 to everyone who will listen because, despite my previous adulations about coasting with the collective, I’m naturally grabby about music that I like. In honor of artists getting compensated for their work, however, here’s animated Arctic-gray wolf Halsey singing it too…
Something worth a view: I love the book of short stories Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (creator of BoJack Horseman—whatever that means to you). R. B-W shared a NYU student’s short film adaptation of one of the stories in it called, “Missed Connection,” about longing and a very, very, very, very long train ride. Watch it here.
Well that’s it! A band-aid ripped off, an email finally sent.
As always, it’ll be nice to meet you tomorrow,
--N. Graney I
P.S. Lucky penny for your thoughts? I’ve been thinking about whether turning a very long hallway in my apartment into a hall of mirrors would be creepy or kind of fun. I have collected five mirrors so far. In the meantime, send me whatever your brain’s been occupied with, and I’ll give you a cent for your two cents.
P.S. x2: If I interviewed you for an upcoming issue of this neuesletter about a rather *unhinged* topic, your efforts weren’t wasted— I’m still sifting through it all.
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Last time, I made fun of my friend Mike for not subscribing to this tome in a very… abrasive way. Instead of saying, “We’re not friends anymore,” he subscribed and created this playlist just to convince you to do the same. Listen to it!
Thanks for reading It'll Be Nice To Meet You Tomorrow! If you were forwarded this and want to hang out again… Be like Mike.
Are you not new here? Here’s a Björkwatch update.
Last time, I told a story about an East Williamsburg bar that Björk allegedly takes dates to. I’m proud to report that a secondary source who works at the bar has confirmed that this was indeed true. She hasn’t been spotted since pre-COVID though. Forward this to a friend if you want me to continue the quest…