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I went to the NYC-Dublin Portal looking for filth and debauchery. All I got was some tourists and kids.

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The first thing to know about The Portal is that you will feel a strange, overwhelming urge to take out your phone and gaze at it through your phone’s screen. It doesn’t make sense, and you know it doesn’t make sense — what are you trying to capture? A screen of a group of random people? Isn’t it more interesting to try to interact with those people instead of staring at them through your phone?

And yet, you must pull out your phone. Your body is compelled. It feels almost protective — like The Portal is a light so bright you have to view it only through a phone screen, like looking at a solar eclipse through a hole in a cereal box.

Perhaps it’s the awkwardness of standing and facing strangers, staring directly back at them. To actually meet their gaze is too intense, too personal. Like accidentally stumbling into a Marina Abramović performance when you’re just trying to walk to Shake Shack. But instead of creating closeness with these strangers on another continent, it makes you feel even more distant.

I had been dying to see the New York City-to-Dublin video portal in person but hadn’t gotten around to stopping by the Flatiron area in Manhattan. Reports of mayhem and weird behavior were floating around social media — and I love light mayhem and weird behavior.

Unfortunately, it went too far. The Portal was shut down after an OnlyFans creator flashed it, and people on the Dublin side mooned it and held up photos of 9/11. I was crushed, and at the time, I blogged that the cowards who shut The Portal down should reopen it and, in fact, build more Portals around the world to connect humanity.

Well, I guess I sort of take that back now.


NYC Portal

The Dublin Portal had a bigger crowd than the one in NYC.

Katie Notopoulos / Business Insider



Earlier this week, the portals in each city reopened, and I finally got to check it out on Wednesday. The Portal in New York is right on 23rd and Broadway, near some seating and a coffee stand. Its imposing silver circle and massive screen draw you in — and a small crowd was gathered around 10 a.m.

Immediately, I pulled out my phone to take a picture (why? I had seen other photos of it before, and there wasn’t anything particularly interesting happening on the screen).

The other handful of New Yorkers also had their phones out. A group of what appeared to be French tourists seemed to be the most active. One of them went in front of the group of 12 or so New Yorkers to do a little dance for the Dubliners. A little girl on the other side did a cartwheel; he attempted a cartwheel. Eventually, the men wandered off. A little kid waved (were NYC schools not in session?), a few people asked what it was.


The NYC Portal

The NYC side of The Portal had just a handful of people standing around, taking pics.

Katie Notopoulos / Business Insider



No one seemed to stick around for too long. I, too, started to get bored after a few minutes. There were far more people on the Dublin side than in New York — I attribute this to the time difference — it’s five hours ahead in Dublin. Flatiron in New York City is also a fairly staid area; most people seem to be professionals on their way to work. A location like Times Square or Union Square might have attracted a rowdier or younger crowd. And frankly, it was also a hot day, and The Portal is in direct sun.

There were no boobs, no bare buttcheeks, not even a rude taunt mocking some respective national tragedy. It was just … boring. A bunch of people staring at other people on their phones, through their phones. I suppose I failed to uplift the situation, to pull my weight in the project. As the saying goes, sometimes you must be the flasher you wish to see in the world.

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