Foodstuff: New York Pizza flow state
In an Aspen “oasis for the drunchies,” time melts away
Something is happening at New York Pizza, substantive enough that I believe it may qualify as a genuine Aspen phenomenon: Take one bite of a cheesy slice, and time melts away.
I call it the New York Pizza flow state, and I have experienced it on nearly every occasion I have ever crawled there in famished pursuit of physical and/or emotional sustenance.
A warm veggie slice is a transcendent experience beyond the confines of day and night or hours and minutes. There is only before pizza, during pizza and after pizza; time moves slowly, then all at once. This is not something that ever happens when I order from Aspen Pie Shop or Aspen Tap.
It’s an experience augmented by the space itself, plastered in stickers and posters memorializing an era when the skiers were more scantily clad and the attitudes toward adventure more audacious. To walk up the stairs is to enter a portal in which time might pass slower, or faster, or not at all, warped by the checkered floor and red walls that seem better suited to “An Extremely Goofy Movie” than to any form of reality that exists in modern Aspen.
Part of it, too, might be that I have never embarked on a New York Pizza endeavor with any sort of a tepid appetite.
A light bite might be just fine at some other establishment, as would a meal consumed at an appropriate pace. But for food that sates the wolfish among us, we have little choice but to devour the offerings at New York Pizza. Hunger plays its own clever tricks on the clock, and it rarely stops fiddling with the hour and minute hands until after it is completely satisfied.
I have good reason to believe I am not the only one who has entered this flow state, nor am I the only one with such an affection for Aspen’s black hole of carbohydrates.
So I crowdsourced, texting a beloved two dozen valley 20-somethings in a group chat called the “Chicken Skinners Guild.” (The name, inspired by a variation on the phrase “winner winner chicken dinner,” was cemented in my mind when one member brought an entire rotisserie chicken to a full moon uphill skin at Tiehack this winter.)
The chickens squawked, though not in unison, nor necessarily in favor of my position.
In response to my request for “a fond thought or word of praise,” Michael wrote that “one time the guy working at the register gave me an extra packet of Newman’s ranch.” (The pizza’s texture warranted some extra moisture.) Nick wrote that he had “lots of thoughts.” He did not elaborate. With palpable sarcasm, from Sophie: “A fine and upscale establishment.”
But, also — and earnestly — “an oasis for the drunchies,” she wrote, referring to those ravenous rumblings that seem to emerge only after several drinks and after all other kitchens have closed for the night. That sentiment seemed to have a resounding consensus from the guild: When it is late, and especially when you are drunk, New York Pizza is the only place to go for sustenance.
(This may in part explain my conception of the phenomenon in question, which I’m realizing has at times been experienced in an already-altered state of being.)
I did find one kindred spirit in Greta, though, who wrote that reading magazine and newspaper clippings there is “like walking into a lil time machine.”
Evidence, I believe, that the New York Pizza flow state goes into full effect from within that second-floor space above the E. Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall. When the world itself is spinning much too fast, a $6 slice in that snug oasis brings everything to a standstill (drunchies recommended but not required).
Kaya Williams is a reporter for The Aspen Times and The Snowmass Sun who enters another dimension every time she orders a veggie slice from NYP. Email her at email@example.com.
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