I LOVE NEW YORK, THE BIG APPLE or THE ROTTEN APPLE as some have affectionately coined it. I love the food, the busyness of the people, the diversity, the adversity and most of the things that go on in a city like New York. I even like to see the yellow cabs racing to pick up fares throughout the city although its still challenging for black males like myself to catch one. 

After several failed attempts I finally got lucky. I told the cab driver, “thank you for picking me up sir.” He replied back, “of course I'll pick you up, I am a cab, I am supposed to do that.” I then reminded him of the inbred and the systematic racism and prejudice that is endured by many minorities and people of color. He begin to explain why cabs are afraid to pick up young black men and in his words, most are simply afraid of being robbed, hurt or even killed. Thats understandable but I still found this prejudging a bit misplaced considering the fact I was with my girlfriend and my teenage son. 

Living in New York one can become accustomed to the most biased practices. He was attempting to make sense of the senseless. I am not saying it is senseless to be afraid to work as a public servant. People put their lives on the lines in all sorts of professions. NYPD works very hard at what they do. There are some bad apples for sure but I don't condemn the entire institution based on a few incidents that showcase disdain and brutality toward minorities and African Americans especially.

Don’t forget the FDNY. These people are superheroes. They literally run into danger to save lives as do our EMS and ambulance workers. Even jobs like cashier or store clerk can be very dangerous but it doesn’t make sense to judge or be afraid of every individual that comes into your establishment or to think every young black male is going rob or assault you. If fear compromises your duties then maybe you need to consider another occupation.

Anywhere there is a disproportionate amount of impoverished people there will be heightened levels of drugs and crime. There are some very scary places in New York as there are some frightening people as well but I try not to allow my wisdom and personal experience to dictate my actions toward people. We all have a little bit of prejudice and bias within us. I once heard a young African American girl say “black people cannot be racist.” Although I understand this concept, I don’t totally agree, but thats a matter of opinion in dialogue and could result in a long lasting debate. 

We don’t always have to be right at the sake of someone else being wrong all the time. There is a balance or imbalance within us all. I try to focus on the balance more but they often come as a package deal. At times I catch myself complaining about everything from the rude people, crowded subways, slow drivers, fast drivers, bikers, people who play their phone like we all want to hear what they are listening to, slow service, you name it. 

For the past month or so I have been waking up to demolition. There are 3 construction sites directly across the street from me and dozens of cranes elevated throughout the neighborhood. They call it gentrification. What disturbs me the most is the noise. I’m getting old, lol. I enjoy peace and quiet although my profession is far from that concept. I work around loud music, loud people you name it, lights, cameras and constant action so sometimesI like to meditate and decompress. No phone, no computers, email, social media, etc. just nature. Turn off, turn down, reboot and get my mind ready for the next mission. While constantly being reminded of the phrase, “turn down for what?”

I woke up yesterday very angry and didn’t know why. After analyzing my situation I had to assess that it was due to lack of sleep or lack of peaceful rest. I couldn’t concentrate due to the noise not to mention the construction was literally shaking the foundation of my building. I couldn’t stand being in my own house with all the noise. I got into a few arguments with friends, I lost me appetitethen I started to drink alcohol, my entire mood was disorientated. I decided to go to the park which I enjoyed until I got tired of undercover cops driving by looking at me as if I was peddling drugs or something. It was uncomfortable so I decided to go back home and deal with it.

When I woke up this morning it sounded like the world was ending. Of course I don’t know what that sounds like but if I had to imagine, it would sound exactly like what I had to endure. The banging, the drilling, jackhammers, saws,  traffic on the block due to congestion, car horns blaring, a drunk and a crackhead trading obscenities, fire trucks, cop cars and ambulances whizzing by sirens screaming. I can’t forget to mention the neighbor who likes to play music which seems like all day long or the one who likes to blast tunes from his horribly disturbing sound system. 

Once in awhile they would play a good tune but when you add that on top of everything else, it’s just noise. Not to mention some of that stuff is just sounds like crap. I felt like I was going crazy this morning. My focus was off. My meditation was disrupted. Lets just say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed for the last 30 days or so. 

What is it about us New Yorkers that we are able to coexist in organized chaos?  What is it about the drama that magnetizes, mobilizes and oddly at times stabilizes us? What is that resilience? That drive…NY

Although there are several places to go in New York where you can relax and chill, it still has this hint of anxious energy. New York keeps New Yorkers on the move at times oblivious or unsympathetic to anything else around them in a state of tunnel vision or maybe they're just texting while walking. Especially when you walk thru Midtown and witness the hustle and bustle on Wall St. If you don’tknow how to walk you may very well get trampled. 

New Yorkers and tourist alike enjoy the noisy, busyness of this great city. It seems what makes this city bad, are many of the same things that give the city its color and character. The song says “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”  Thank the Chairman, Old Blue Eyes for that. I like the Jay Z version Too lol. He couldn’t have been more accurate. This is a tough place to live but its a beautiful place to live as well. Although I get overwhelmed at times by the chaos it also makes me who I am. Strong, proud, confident, resilient, crazy, loud and boisterous New York. I am a part of this city and it is a part of me. So in the name of the legendary Chuck D, "BRING THE NOISE." 

by General Steele