Monday, December 1, 2008

“New York: the only city where people make radio requests like 'This is for Tina - I'm sorry I stabbed you'"

Someone made a comment to me the other day that went something like this: for a blog that sports the Manhattan skyline as its header, I don't talk much about New York unless it's to say something negative. I'd like to say this is untrue. But looking back at previous posts wherein I mention The Big Apple, I'm not very kind to it. What can I say? I guess the badge of being a true New Yorker is talking shit about it.

Seriously though, I took that comment to heart. I tried to sit down and write a list of things I love about New York. I thought back to all those summers I spent in Europe and tried to remember what I missed most about the en-why-C. I even thought back to when I was in San Diego (GASP!) and tried to recall if there was anything I missed. Here's what I came up with:

Five-dollar manicures. I got a mani-pedi in SD and it cost me $30. I nearly choked on my Arrowhead water. The little salon in my neighborhood charges $15 for both, $13 if you come Monday-Thursday. I've never been to another city where it's that cheap.

Food. Not so much the food itself, but the variety and selection of it. If I left my house this very second and drove 15 minutes to Astoria (the heart of Queens, in my opinion) I could have my choice of Greek, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Mexican, Cuban, bar-and-grill, Turkish, Indian (northern and southern), Croatian, Bosnian, Irish, Indonesian, Vietnamese, German, BBQ, and a place that serves 100 different kinds of crepes.

The subway system. Yes it's crowed and dirty and sometimes filled with crotch-grabbers. But it's efficient and uncomplicated. You can get to pretty much anywhere by train and/or bus, and you can hop in a taxi for all those other places. Not to say it's perfect, though--you still can't get from Queens to Brooklyn or the Bronx without going through Manhattan.

You'll notice I didn't mention Central Park or the Empire State Building or the museums or Broadway. Yes, all those things are wonderful. But I've traveled a lot. I've seen a lot of museums in my day, most WAY cooler than the ones in NY. I've been to parks that have live volcanoes and flying monkeys. I've been to the tops of church towers and gazed down at cities with red roofs and old forts. I've taken boat rides around islands with private beaches and 400-year old churches. I've watched performances in theaters that royalty built. I've toured castles and shopped at open-air markets where people sell live pigs and handmade garden tools. After all that, the Statue of Liberty seems...well, boring.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not impressed by New York. I recognize its coolness, its urbane air and metropolitan feel. I love the diversity and how everyone seems to find their niche here. But the novelty has worn off. New York used to be a place where artists and musicians gathered to create art. It was a place where radicals and forward-thinkers sat in cafes, smoked cigarettes and discussed the war. It was a place where ideas were born and anything went. Now it's filled with trust fund babies living in million-dollar apartments and a Starbucks on every corner. Those radical thinkers have been replaced by hipsters, and the only ideas coming out of the city are how to get rich. Throw in an enormous sense of entitlement and a "fuck you" attitude, and that's how Manhattan welcomes you.

There you have it. My New York. I rarely miss it when I'm gone or love it when I'm there. (Except maybe when I'm eating sushi with a side of chicken tika masala.)

Mombar Restaurant, Steinway Street, Astoria

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