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New York City

If I didn’t love Berlin so much I might be tempted to enter the lottery for a green card. New York, what an incredible place. Dirty, loud, over the top – chic, modern, idyllic. This city has it all.
One thing that fascinates me in particular are American diners. I wasn’t sure what makes this concept so interesting to me. Here is an anecdote and some thoughts that occurred to me yesterday when I went to have breakfast.

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I walk down the street past the NYC-typical brownstones and enter a diner. I sit down at the long counter. About seven people are working. Three quarters of them are Hispanic which I feel I am able to recognise not only by their language but also the frenetic, happy way they „swirl“ around. The rest seem to be born „Noo Yawkers“ with a thick accent. tilmanvogler.com_New-York-Diner_01I get my filtered coffee served in a regular (read: large) cup.

After I’ve ordered my fried eggs with bacon on a bagel I sit and observe. I can hear the plates rattling while the dishwasher throws them in the machine like a juggler. Two elderly men walk in. „Hello Jerry, hello Bobby“, says one of the waitresses. One of the names makes me grin. Being a tourist in a diner in NYC I clearly have to think of Seinfeld. The men sit down a few metres away down the counter.

As they wait for their food I can tell they’re both a bit grumpy. But the waitresses know them oh-so-well and one of them starts small talk with them. They kind of (try to) flirt back but keep their grim expression. Feels like their trying to see how far they can go before she gets angry. But she keeps her cheeriness. At one point it becomes a bit much and she says in her wonderful Puerto Rican accent „Oh I want to hit you and Jerry all together!“

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Shortly after they get their food. Of course Bobby has something to complain about: „I don’t like this oil on the potatoes.“ and imitates a pouring bottle with his hand. She knows what to do. She refills his coffee cup and says „Gotta give Bobby some love.“ (By the way, I admit I would probably agree with his criticism but hey – we’re in America!)

I wish I could stay longer but I have to go. I grab my bill and get up to pay. The waitress must have seen my notebook and says „If you come back tomorrow you’ll get the same show. Right, Jerry and Bobby?“ Jerry says: „No, I won’t be here.“ She: „Oh you will.“ As I walk out two cops enter and get bagels. We have eye contact and say hello to each other.

I think I know what makes diners so fascinating to me. Of course there is the diversity of people: workers, pensioners, parents with kids, or some who simply look like movie-characters. Latinos, Asians, Africans, Caucasians etc. But more importantly there is no pretension. People come as they are. Happy or sad, friendly or rude, quite or loud. But mainly hungry.

Below you find a – rather extensive – selection of photography taken in the past two weeks. For print requests please contact me via the contact form.

(Metro-Jazz, 2.8MB – recorded in Manhattan)

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