There are so many odd things that occur in New York, none more so than the things you encounter simply walking down the street. Several years ago I came across the filming of staged murder scene from Law and Order while walking in the East Village; a few dozen blocks later, the real murder crime scene I encountered seemed less sinister as a result.
Then there was the time a friend and I headed to The Cake Shop to dance, only for the DJ to stop spinning so his father could put on a psychic magic show for the dwindling crowd. “Only in New York,” someone said, and everyone nodded.
Indeed, it may be half cliché, half tired aphorism, but it’s also the sort of thing upon which both tourists and locals can agree: there are, indeed, plenty of experiences that surely only happen in New York (and I’m not talking about the Naked Cowboy or the other tourist attractions in Times Square but, rather, the oddities and obscurities you find when you aren’t even quite looking).
Today, running late to work because (no surprise) I was up late working on a freelance project and kept hitting the “snooze” button, I was taking my usual stroll down Desbrosses St. to grab coffee at Fika when I noticed a cluster of young women with colorful umbrellas moving together in an almost-choreographed motion. A woman on the sidewalk was on the phone, occasionally looking up toward a balcony, and then giving halted orders to the umbrella holders to move a tiny bit this way or that.
So there they were, a half dozen twentysomethings, in the middle of a cobblestone street in Tribeca, with their colored umbrellas, taking hesitant steps in one direction or another, waiting another half-second to find out where to go next, before heeding more instructions, umbrellas quivering for (I presume) an invisible camera a few stories above. (What else could it be but for a photo shoot?)
I only saw it all from the street, as do most New Yorkers. But it was enough to make me smile on my way to work and think to myself, “Yes, indeed: Only in New York.”