New York according to Kamila Slawinska

The article below is the english translation of the Polish interview. Please see the original interview at (link)

“There is no other place in the world that would attract so many varieties of the human experience. Kids come here, who are too wise and too talented to be able to communicate with their peers in Utah and Nebraska . European aristocrats and wealthy Asians, too bored with a comfortable life do not fear a fall to the bottom . Criminals too bold to steal a couple of bucks from the local box store; drag queens , who in small towns were pelted with stones ; artists too brave to find audiences elsewhere ; immigrants too poor to have something to lose. There are no people too bizarre for New York. The most mismatched might find a place for themselves, if only they have enough strength to dream boldly, because only the biggest dreams are fulfilled here. The city will suck the last drop of blood from them, the very last spark of energy, but it will allow them to live at a frantic pace , never slowing down, never looking back .”

Kamila Sławińska ” New York. Impractical Guide ”
(the book is currently available only in Polish)

Kamila Sławińska is perceptive, intelligent, with a very nice sense of humor, and at the same time friendly and straightforward. After a few minutes of conversation, you get the feeling that you have known her forever. Her book, ” New York. Impractical Guide ” is breathtaking.

Kamila, who knows New York City like no one else , has agreed to answer some questions for my new series of interviews with journalists , photographers , writers , and other interesting people who live in New York.

Q: How would you describe New York to someone who was not here ?

Kamila: The World in Miniature, and a large condensation . A museum of huge contrasts. Reserved for freaks and millionaires. A laboratory of ideas and trends. A city of great opportunities and equally great disasters. A place where you should expect the unexpected. In fact, every name that anyone can invent, in a way, will contain a grain of truth – it seems to me that New York is so complex and variable a town that whatever you say about it is not far from the truth . The only thing I’ve never heard , and I do not expect to hear is that someone here is bored.

Q: Your favorite spot?

Kamila: Just opposite the famous Carnegie Deli on Seventh Avenue , which serves monumental sandwiches with a pound of pastrami in the middle, there is an inconspicuous entrance, leading into a dark hall in the most beautiful building of gray stone . There sits a listless porter and asks, what you want and you say you are going to the rehearsal studio . There are no marks on the wall or nameplates with the name of any company, but there is the music coming out of the every door. Different music: the most common sound is the piano, because this strange shop – if you can call it shop – specializes in hiring and selling pianos. In each of the many rooms, belonging to this bizarre institution, are at least a few instruments , and musicians sit with them and play . But you do not need to be a professional musician : if you ask Jerry and Judith , the owners and the great connoisseurs of music, will let you sit and play privately, behind closed doors. But the coolest spot in this tabernacle is the vocal room, the door of which is plastered with cards describing the names of Italian operas. Behind this door singers practice. Sometimes they sing classical , sometimes show tunes, but it is always worth it to sit in a corner and listen.

Q: What dish should try in New York and where?

Kamila: To make it democratic, cheap , multicultural and useful at the same time – perhaps the best thing to eat is a bagel ( an everything bagel ) with lox and cream cheese . That is the classic New York breakfast – just right for the start of a long day exploring New York . Bagels are ubiquitous. You can buy them in any coffee shop or deli. One of the best is Murray’s Bagels Chelsea at Eighth Avenue in Manhattan (their bagels are so fresh, they do not require toasting but any smaller and larger neighborhood has its own bakery , its own traditions and its own devoted clientele .

Q: The perfect New York day is …

Kamila: Wednesday or Thursday , because you miss the week-end crowd and the best time of year is the end of September or October. You have bright light , but no heat, and the first changing leaves on the trees. You get up in the morning , go to the market at Union Square and buy apples or ripe plums , pack them in a bag , and head out for a walk . Walking may be the HighLine , the streets of Brooklyn or Central Park. Look at some pretty exhibition. Eat something in a bar downtown. Listen to street musicians playing saxophones . Give a dollar to kids dancing in the subway. Read the New Yorker on a park bench. In the evening go to a concert at Le Poisson Rouge , or to Lincoln Center during their annual film festival. And then go out in the evening darkness and wander into some small pub for a glass of wine and sip it with friends, talking late about what you have seen on this day .

Q: What advice would you give for the “new ” New Yorkers ?

Kamila: Do not be content with little. Have big dreams. Respect all , because there is a no person from whom something can not be learned. Oh, and do not play in three card monte in Times Square!

Q: You work out with Palissimo –  an experimental dance theater . When and where can we see the show?

Kamila:  In New York, probably not until the autumn. You can check out their Facebook ( ) for information about their performance schedule.

Q: If not New York , you would live in ….

Kamila: I do not know where. It would be really hard to find another place to be myself. In the world there are many beautiful cities – urban girl I am – but none has the energy and diversity of what New York. Not to mention that almost all my friends are here, and they all , like me , are hopelessly in love with this our city … and without them it would not have been the same.

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