I hope you all have enjoyed the posts so far in “Lens”, a series of interviews with interesting people talking about what makes their city unique. This week, I spoke with Waldain, is a teacher, comedian and video editor. When he’s not with schoolkids, he’s working on his YouTube channel “for geeks like myself,” Basement Pretzel. There you’ll find video game-related clips and everyday observances with a twist, pun intended. He is also interested in photography, long walks and dancing.
Thanks Waldain for being part of Lens! What brought you to New York City?
I originally came to NYC because I had family here when my father retired from the military. Prior to that, the military moved us all over, so it was nice to finally stay in one place for once. I didn’t like it at first; I found the people to be a little “tougher” than what I was used to, but I grew into it.
One of my favorite things about New York is how people come and go, but there are chances that you can run into them again, which is good for someone like me who loves catching up with people I knew!
One thing I think everyone would notice about NYC is that it remains active until very late, even in its more suburbanesque neighborhoods. From 24 hour pharmacies, to bodegas, to constant public transit, it honestly does not sleep. Other places you go to, it’s almost as if the entire state has a curfew, a time limit.
What are some unique “New York City” things you’ve done or seen?
I feel something unique to NYC is the transportation experience. From hailing cabs to spotting performances on the subway, the hectic lifestyle is most apparent in these places and I’ve never noticed it like this anywhere else. One of my favorite things of note is how Union Square Park changes throughout the year. As it gets warmer, you will see more people simply lounging there on the steps or skating or playing hackey sack or protesting something or playing chess or walking their dog or being stood up for a date. It all happens there in one location and it’s a funny energy.
What was your most unexpected New York moment?
My most unexpected New York moment has to be a certain unusual time on the subway. I left my friends after a night of partying and boarded the train alone, happily popping in my ear buds to listen to my music, and readying my bottom to sit down. Before I made contact with the seat, the woman in the next seat pointed out that something might have spilled there, but I was fine with that and took care not to touch any spill while still sitting. She took interest in what I was listening to, as I was probably overly happy to be on the train, so it must have been my music. I gave her an ear bud and we both listened to my song (fortunately it was Snarky Puppy, a jazz fusion band, and not something that would have been awkward like the theme song to Power Rangers or something).
We spoke for a bit and I learned that she and her friend were from France and visiting that weekend and asked me what they should do in the city! I started speaking more with my new French friends before noticing across from us sat a popular member of the NYC fighting game community. This guy was a big deal in that circle and had a following, so I was kind of surprised to see him. New York is like a small world! I asked him for a picture and I also took a picture with my French friends. Imagine if I had boarded the train at a different location or different car!
What would you recommend to someone looking for a New York experience?
To experience New York, I’d recommend walking. You experience the world by walking. It passes by too quickly on a bike or in a train. Eat at some place new as often as possible. Give in to any curiosities and just try it!
What should someone know when they come to New York?
For anyone coming to New York, remember it’s a crazy world. Jump in, but hit the ground running.
Subscribe to Basement Pretzel and be ready to laugh!
Read more in the Lens series.