As much as I enjoy spending time in New York, some things in the city are just plain sad. I'm talking about a segment of humanity you find on the streets: the poor, the lame, the crazies, the drunks, the droolers and the crooks, the shufflers and the stumblers, the homeless, especially the homeless. Let me amend: the homeless who have animals on the street in winter.
A dog with the most beautiful, sad eyes was sitting outside a Walgreens, keeping watch over her master. Her master was a white guy, dread-locked and drunk, who had blankets and cardboard piled high, with a half-written sign in front of the dog: "If you can help in any way...." The dog wore a vest, designating it as a service dog.
I slid a dollar into one of the bags and noticed a big bottle of pink vodka resting at the bottom. I said to the guy, "The dollar goes to the dog, she looks hungry."
Maybe not the most diplomatic thing to say. The guy turned red with rage and marched over to the cart vendor on the corner, yelling, "Tell her, Tony, tell her I'm good to my dog. Tell her— grumble grumble fuck you bitch what do you know grumble— I feed my dog before I feed myself!" He stumbled around getting madder and madder while the cheery vendor tried to make things better with an apologetic smile, "Yes," he said. "He's very good to his dog!"
The dog just stood there, looking out with those sad eyes, wishing she were somewhere warm. I could almost hear her thinking: "Get your shit together, fuckhead! No matter how much you feed me, you're still gonna kill yourself, and then what do I do?"
When it's cold, everyone in New York wears the same coat: A Land's End, black, down, 3/4 length jacket that reaches below the knees. (If you're short it goes to your ankles.)
I personally discovered there's a reason for this— the coat keeps you toasty warm. The hood snaps under the chin, saving that most vulnerable part of your neck from blustery winds; the arms have cuffs around the wrists, like the ones you wore in kindergarten; the down is evenly spaced by impeccable stitching and the pockets can actually make an almost frostbitten hand warm again.
Although everyone wears the same coat, I observed there were no two hats alike. I looked. Sure, I wasn't everywhere in the city, but I covered a lot of ground, from uptown to downtown to Brooklyn, from east to west; I can (almost) confidently state in just one week, I figured out the unspoken rule of NY winter style: same black coat, but never twain hats shall duplicate!