Sunday, June 22, 2014

NYC-Made, NYC-Necessary: 8 Superpowers New York Demands of You

Over the past week or so, I've read three separate articles about possessing superpowers in New York. I don't know why it's a trend, but there it is. I'm hopping on to it for two reasons: I found most of them to be generic and ill-fitting to New York City. All three of them listed "Flight" as a superpower, as if that would improve our quality of life immensely. I get that it would, and I'm all for stretching the imagination to its limits, but "Flight" would help in other areas. And that's the second reason: The logic behind them was rather flimsy, only loosely associating them with New York.
Now, it can be supposed that many specific powers can be advantageous to many big cities around the world. But I wanted to see if I could get as specific as possible, and also bring the powers to a more believable level. Like, we could eventually achieve powers like this, if we really worked at it, whether psychologically or more likely, technologically.

Anyway, enjoy 8 Superpowers Required to Live in New York City

Instant Adrenaline
Look, New Yorkers drink.
You drank too much and have to be up early in the morning because you have work.
There's a lot to worry about here.
My biggest problem when I do that is just falling asleep on the subway, missing my stop.
You might wake up hungover, meaning you're going to work that way, and it's going to be a miserable eight hours, for you and everyone. But mostly you.
You might be late for work. Or running late. Or you'll be just barely on that cusp, you're cutting it close, but there's a good chance you can make this all work out.
But you've got to pull your shit together.
And that should be a superpower. Instant hyper-awareness, instant fight-response, and all cylinders instantly engaged. Even if you nap a second while on the A-Train, your awareness remains engaged, and you can feel the train slow, you hear the announcement, and your body can instantly tell you it's another 5 minutes. Imagine waking up from that 5 minute nap both engaged and at ease.
The adrenaline also outlasts your hangover, it outlasts all your drowsiness and tiredness.
You can push it too, until you get a reasonable chance to recharge (well, it's New York, let's be honest, you might not get that chance). But turning it off is like Bruce Banner reverting from The Hulk. You might be a little dazed and it's necessary to have some alone time.
Yeah, yeah, get over it, guys. Most superpowers are curses.

Subway Senses
Speaking of the subways though, you know what feels amazing? Walking down the stairs at your subway stop just as the train is pulling in to the station. It's even better when every train on your route does the same thing. I once grabbed a downtown Q, ascended the stairs at Canal St. just in time to take the J into Brooklyn, and the M shuttle was just about to leave when we got to Myrtle-Broadway. I didn't do anything, but it felt like I'd just accomplished everything.
Why wouldn't you want that feeling all the time!?
Subway Senses will allow you to be an Empath to trains. (Charmed? Anyone? No one.)
You'll know if they're delayed, you'll know if they're slow, and you'll know exactly when they pull into the station.
How about just for good measure, it can also tell you exactly where to stand so you will get a seat.

Subways are just a necessary part of life here in New York, and there are myriad apps attempting to make the system as accessible and accommodating as possible. But most of the apps that tout accurate subways times, even accounting for delays (I use one that's shooting at about 80% accuracy), are a ways off from being totally reliable. Even if they were, it's hard to check them underground, because there's no signal for vast stretches of the system. But that wouldn't be a problem for...

Self-Generating WiFi
What if your body just had an organ dedicated to making your body its own personal HotSpot? (Is the appendix doing anything?)
WiFi is becoming more and more accessible, and even the subway system is too, at the stations at least, and a lot of places are set up for it too.
But a lot of places aren't, or require passwords, or even paying for it.
I'm a big advocate of the free and open internet, and by free, I also believe it should be accessible to everyone and anyone.
But we're headed in this direction anyway, why not just be our own router. No spotty patches, no loss of signal, constant communication to the surface world, and no burdening other's bandwidths.
Imagine being the WiFi your music and pictures get sent back and forth from one of your electronic devices to another.
Ooooooooooooo...The Future!

Immune System Efficiency
This power is two-fold.
First of all, while still on the subject of subways, I feel like I'd stress out a lot less if I didn't have to worry about every pole and banister I have to touch throughout the day.
I successfully avoid most interactions with our metallic lessers, but not entirely. If I can't get a seat at rush hour (you don't get a seat at rush hour) but the standing room is also pretty full, I usually end up in No Man's Land, not against anything I can lean on, and nothing to grab onto. You're Charlie Bucket, floating up toward that giant on Fizzy Lifting Drinks. You gotta grab onto something.
Eventually, you're going to touch something that one million other people have touched. And 200,000 of those were kids who are the dirtiest little shits on Earth, and at least 100,000 of them were homeless people who most likely used their own hands to wipe their ass if they bothered to wipe at all.
New York's a damn dirty city. I feel gross if all I have to do is squeeze by someone on the stairs, and my bare arm scrapes the wall. I'm convinced most of those stains on the wall are blood, laminated by ejaculate.
Like I said, I try my best to avoid it.
If I can avoid it, I use my hip (subway turnstiles), I lean (on the subway), I sit on the edges of things and I don't put my hand down on it first (though I do a visual to avoid...moisture of any kind).
If I have to touch something with my hand, I use my sleeve.
If I do touch something with my bare hand, I make sure not to touch anything with that hand again until I wash them.
Like I said, I would feel much more at ease if I never worried about getting sick from anything.
Unfortunately, this power wouldn't keep you from touching shit. It just would prevent you from getting Hep-C from touching that shit.

The second part?
New York is a wonderful city of good food. Culturally diverse, you have literally thousands of options for any flavor you crave.
That being said, sometimes quality is a little sub-par. Sometimes, ingredients are not so fresh. Sometimes, something wonderful entering your body becomes a hellspawn upon its exit.
But what if you just had invincible stomach acids? Just perfect prevention of indigestion, food poisoning, and other graphic unmentionables?
Maybe I wouldn't default to pizza. (The pizza sometimes tries to kill you too.)
Yeah, I'd like the Wolverine of stomachs.

Accent Equalizer
One of the articles I talked about actually listed the power basically of a Universal Translator. That would be pretty fantastic, actually. One of the ones I definitely agreed with.
Personally though, I've found that most everyone speaks English, and pretty fluently. We've all settled on a single language, but unfortunately, not a single accent. And some are really hard to navigate.
Not so with this power. You hear everyone clearly, perfectly.
Maybe everyone understands you too, without having to do overly exaggerated hand gestures.

Hammerspace Bag
Hammerspace is the terms for where Bugs Bunny and other cartoon misfits pull hammers and other needed objects from seemingly nowhere.
They gave the space a name.
We need access to this dimension.
You know what I do miss about San Diego?
Having everything I would ever need in my car?
Too cold? Sweatshirt in the car.
Too warm? Shorts in the car.
Shoes get rained on, too wet? Sandals in the car.
Random snack break? Can of Peanuts in the car.
I didn't have to carry everything around on my back like an effing turtle.
I drove everything around in my car, like a much bigger turtle.
But if I could just have all that I could need in a day on hand when I needed, without having to carry everything, that would be amazing.
Imagine the weather turning around in an instant (it's not hard to imagine, it happens) and having whatever you need to change into instantly.
Imagine having the shoes you need. Or the keys you forgot. Or the ATM card you need. Or whatever. I don't need to keep naming examples, you understood how awesome this was when I said the word Hammerspace.

Odor Alteration
Another one that came from one of the articles I read had to do with odor elimination. We can't eliminate it. New York smells like garbage, because garbage lines the streets 3 out of the 7 days of the week, usually more. In the summer, it smells like 8 million unwashed people, sweating through their 12 hour days. Everything's gross. And it puts us in even worse moods than when we started.
I personally used to discreetly spray cans of Axe at odors of people that were displeasing.
And holding your breath is difficult when you're simultaneously gagging.
I think a more idealized version of odor elimination or shutting off your sense of smell, is basically aversion therapy.
If our brains were somehow wired to convert terrible smells into lovely ones, making every trip up 7th Ave like a walk down the Febreze aisle at Walgreens.
What's that, garbage? No, chocolate chip cookies.
Did someone take a shit in this planter? Nah, they just left behind some fresh spring rain.
Is that the raised armpit of a man who long ago walked away from deodorant? Nope. Linen.

Perfect Spatial Awareness
And finally, it's bound to happen.
At some point or another, you are going to have to traverse Times Square at some god-awful hour (all of them) and weave through the impenetrable traffic of quite literally everyone from Midwestern America.
"Ooh! Look, honey! The ground! Take a picture!"
People stopping, changing direction, walking in inappropriate formations, breaking flow of traffic, veering off indeterminately...the situation is harrowing. And you're late for work.
But imagine that scene in The Matrix, when Neo finally understands, he sees all the code. He can bend it to his will. Imagine being Sherlock Holmes (the Robert Downey Jr. version) and mapping out and anticipating an entire situation down to the letter.
And then imagine bobbing and weaving flawlessly through the sea of tourists, ducking errant gesturing arms, sidestepping wayward children, leapfrogging old people... right to your destination.
That shit would be awesome.