On Gawker today, on the endless and boorish topic that New York is over. Don't only over the hill people say that about cities? Because New York in the 70s wasn't cooler per se, it was cool to you because you were 20 and everything was interesting to you? And everything is cool when you are 20 and over when you are 50? Including cities? The world wasn't better then, you were just more excited about it! When you stop getting excited about it, you have to start thinking that it's not the world that is so different, but it's you, you who does not stay out until 4 AM, you who does not blow off your job to follow your favorite band, you who are not going on a wild roadtrip with a band of merry pranksters and artists?
Anyway, the article in its entirety, courtesy of Foster Kamer. I was laughing and cringing. Are we really arguing about our cities now?
Oh, hello there, Stephanie Marsh of the Sunday Times. When you write an essay called "New York has lost its edge," and you live here, it's okay. When you're writing from London...
The question presents itself: What the shit do you think you're talking about, lady?
Her two big examples are the John Varvatos store at CBGBs, and the Whole Foods on the Bowery (which is the articles kicker). Great. She mentioned two places within three blocks from one another. Yeah, it sucks that CBGBs is dead, but that place sucked when it was dying and hey, at least Varvatos kept some of the original walls. It could be another Chase Bank, but, whatever.
Here's her thesis:
"The problem for those who would like to see a return in New York to its edgy past is that Manhattan, as more than one New York-based blogger has claimed, is still "a gated community for the rich". The cultural critic Julian Brash has complained that under Bloomberg the citizens of New York have been turned into consumers - it is a place where everything is about what can be bought and what can be sold."
Okay, fine. Manhattan's really expensive, blah blah blah. Bankers run everything, blah blah blah. Everything in New York can be bought. And? This city was built by hyper-capitalists, it's why there's so much goddamn money here. Old hat. Certain things about New York absolutely suck and will always keep sucking worse and worse. And let's get one thing straight: people have been saying things about New York sucking for as long as New York's been around. If you read Monocle magazine, which this essay is basically ripped out of, this is like, every issue. This has long been the party line of travel press types—especially ones from abroad—for at least three years. I mean, if you really want to go back, I believe Rolling Stone called New York the Hot Dead Zone in their inaugural Hot List issue. In 1998. Saying New York is no longer edgy hasn't been edgy in forever.
The sequel to this piece is when she inevitably says that Berlin is starting to get really, really hip these days too. Pretty much anybody who went through Ellis Island and didn't stay probably had some sentiment along the lines of "this place sucks." According to the Daily News, one of our presidents basically told us to stick this city up our collective asses (look where he is, now: dead).
But—and I'm sure others have their reasons—I live here because, quite frankly (A) there's still nowhere else in America like it, and like many other people here, I have some sick/awesome compulsion that makes this grind of living here that much more attractive to me than anywhere else and (B) it's still got better stuff than everywhere else in America. Yeah, fuckin' stuff. Awesome stuff.
Can we quickly go over the reasons London—a nice city, sure—sucks compared to New York? Great:
* Your food sucks. It all tastes like ass until American chefs take two months to do better what you've spent hundreds of years sucking at.
* The service in your restaurants sucks, because you have to instruct people how to tip by putting a mandatory charge on their tab, like many other countries that do this. Which is the wrong way of doing this, which is why every server you will every have in London will probably be an asshole.
* Your theater sucks. War Horse—no, really, War Horse—is the best thing you have up right now. Anything good you have on the West End came from us. And don't bring up fucking Billy Elliot.
* Your nightlife is just stupid. Pubs close at 11, our bars don't close until four. Who goes to bed at 11? Are you serious? So you guys open up clubs that close at 2AM that have two kinds of people in them: the kind who get unceremoniously drunk and piss on everything, or the places Prince Harry goes. And who wants to go there? Also, you only play American music. You think Kings of Leon are the Second Coming of Christ. The Kings of Leon play our bar mitzvahs, goddamnit. By the way: most of those rappers you guys play on repeat (and not even the good ones...50 Cent?!) still live in New York. Our clubs and nightlife might have their issues, but they blow yours out of the water. You guys wouldn't know what to do with The Beatrice Inn if it crawled up your nose in a $100 bill.
* Nobody knows where anything is in London. Seriously. It's like the worst parts of the West Village for an entire city. Everything is higgly-piggly or whatever dumb word you have for it. We live on a grid. A grid. You guys have the dumbest civic planning this side of kids eating Legos.
* OH. Don't get me wrong. Our subways suck, for sure. But at least they're supposed to work after midnight, and don't cost half our income to ride. Also, an Oystercard? That just sounds stupid. Who's running your design schemes, Lewis Carroll? Stupid. Oh, and, you wanna talk about EDGY? How about our D-Trains getting stabby again, edgy? Exactly.
* You guys have never had a nice day of weather in the history of the universe. Seriously. The only person Madonna has to compete with for causing a scene is the fucking sun. It's yellow, it's in the sky, sometimes, it...nevermind. Have you even been here in September? It's like Central Park is trying to get in your pants and get you off, the weather's so goddamned nice.
* Oh, and the pound is stupid-expensive. Like everything else in your city.
* Your tabloid newspapers make the New York Post look like The Paris Review.
* And Whole Foods on the Bowery, sure, Whole Foods sucks. But it's in a pretty great location, and, fuck that, you know what sucks worse? Sainsbury's. Sainsbury's suuuuuuuucks. Which goes back to your food sucking.
* Do you have Brooklyn? Do you even know what a Brooklyn is? No, not David Beckham's son. You're stupid, shut up. [Quiet Moment: The article didn't mention Brooklyn once, but didn't refer to Manhattan exclusively. Go figure.]
* London's celebrities are all on Big Brother and fucking suck. They're mouthbreathing idiots. They make Tinsley Mortimer look like Jackie Kennedy.
* You guys have soccer—yeah, I called it soccer, goddamnit—teams. Multiple ones. Great. We have two baseball teams (including the 2009 World Series Champions), football teams (Including the 2008 Super Bowl Champions), hockey teams (I'm sure they Won Something Great recently), and a basketball team. All of them except for the Knicks could smash every London soccer player. Nothing else, just "smash" them.
* There is one—and only one—good song about Foggy London Town. There are as many songs about New York as there are New Yorkers, and most of them are awesome.
Anything else? Oh, yeah, did Samuel Motherfucking Jackson just buy an apartment next to your boss? No? Exactly.
Shut up. New York is awesome.
Send an email to Foster Kamer, the author of this post, at firstname.lastname@example.org.