It’s time for me to make my bi to triannual pilgrimage to NYC, otherwise known as “the city” to people from long island or aspiring dbag transplants wearing leather jackets, too much product in their hair, black stilettos, and an accent (authentically awful, or entertainingly embarrassing in its emulation). I really hate when people call it “the city,” (a designation I prefer stay on throwback golden state warrior jerseys) and whenever people say it, no matter how obvious, I make sure to ask them which city they are asking about…usually ending up in a response along the lines of “oh come on…the CITY…you must not be from the CITY.” I think it is the self congratulation in a statement like that that boils my blood. Like they are giving themselves a pat on the back for making it in the big tough city. I think that’s part of the satisfaction for the all growed up fratastic young professionals dwelling in Murray Hill, or the purposefully awkward crowd of hipsters that have made it their mission to gentrify the entire borough of Brooklyn. But that’s not all of it. Yes, living in New York can be a pain in the ass. It’s hot and muggy in the summer, cold and wet in the winter, and a closet sized studio in Brooklyn costs more than my beach front 2 bedroom with a garage, yard and out door movie theater San Diego apartment. That said, New York does offer things that no other place does. That’s why I keep going back and back and back and ALWAYS have a great time when I visit. So I have no beef with those who choose to live in New York, just don’t call it the CITY. San Francisco is the CITY. If you need a pet name for your adopted home in an attempt to place yourself on an artificial pedestal, call it the Big Apple. Anyway…five things, good and bad, about nyc:
1. Size=Diversity; Island=Accessibility (+) New York City is ginormous. As a result, whatever you’re into, it’s there for you. The two aforementioned “scenes” are stereotypical of the things I used to get into when I was living in NY in college, but seriously almost whatever you want to do, you can do it. In the mood to pop your collar, blow dry your hair, and go listen to “please don’t stop the music” all night on the upper east side, it can happen.
But the great part of New York is, you can start your night there, and due to the small size of the city, end up eating a frito pie at the Levy in Williamsburg, watching a few of the locals go at it by the big buck hunter machine. (again, for the most part, its pretty compressed. further gentrification might have us ending nights in Newark soon enough…but for now, its great.)
Hell, even if you are in to the surf culture thing, which I get overdosed with out here in SD…you can find it in nyc. I used to take the subway to penn station in college and nj transit it to belmar for a day’s worth of surfing, and be back in town to party in the evening. In fact…I think I surfed more when I lived there than I do now, and now I am steps from a far nicer beach with much better surf. Kind of weird how that works out…
2. The bodega and its anti debit card effect (-) This is a big negative for me. I’m known to get some serious munchies from time to time (see number 3), and when I want a big bag of skittles, a quart of ben and jerry’s ice cream, some cheesy poofs (which I admit, are better on the east coast than the west coast), some peanutbutter m and m’s, and potentially something savory that can be crisped in the oven (e.g. starts with h and ends with ot pocket)…I would like to think I could get that all at one store. In California not a problem. Many grocery stores are open 24/7 and 7/11’s are everywhere. In NY, I would reckon it would be particularly difficult to find a place that has it all, and if by some miracle you did…and you’ve transitioned away from cash as I have…you wouldn’t be able to buy it anyway! See…so many places in ny are cash only, making me always have to carry tons of annoying bills, change etc…where in Cali all I need is one piece of plastic. I so prefer this. Not only is the load lighter, but it also doesn’t constantly remind me of how much of the money I don’t have anyway I am blowing through in a super expensive city.
3. The Food (mostly +) -I won’t elaborate here because its already late and I have to wake up at 6 to catch my morning flight, but this is probably one of my favorite reasons to go to nyc. Most of my all time genre favorites are there, burgers, milk shakes, pizza, soup, bagels…the list goes on and on. That is until you get to Mexican. I remain perplexed on this one. Now, I admit, I never knew what good, cheap Mexican food was until I got to California, but now that I am out here, I can’t see how everyone else screws it up SO BAD. It’s not hard to make. The ingredients aren’t expensive. Yet when I want a Carne Asada burrito with some flautas
after a good long night out, it ain’t happening in new york (for one, there are hardly any good late night eats in ny, a frustrating truth that allowed my roommate and I to hone our foreman cookbook, and introduce the grilled peanutbutter and jelly and cholula sandwich). But why? There are Mexicans everywhere there. There are Mexican restaurants everywhere there. Invisible hand Adam Smith, where the fuck are you. In theory, you would think that the Danny Trejo’s of the California Mexican food scene (second tier, underappreciated restaurants that don’t get as much traffic as the big boys) could move their shop to Broadway and become Antonio Fucking Banderas. It’s another example of how the free market in America must be broken.
4. The Subway (mostly -): When you first are in ny, you think the subway is the greatest thing ever. It’s one of a kind…an ancient feat of public transportation that in theory helps contribute to the accessibility quality of new york described in 1 above. Its reasonably priced…for ny anyway. It allows you to get hammered, then embark to wherever the night may happen to take you. In principle, a good thing. However, after living there, I grew to loathe the thing. In the summer, the stations are unbearably hot and smelly. In the winter it’s cold and you end up freezing while waiting sometimes an hour or more for a train to come (especially late at night). Even though I am poor, I have almost given up on the subway completely (unless going to a baseball game), and am pretty much exclusively a cab guy. I think part of it is that I grew up in a third world country with cheap cheap taxis. Once you have someone driving you around to whereever you want to go, particularly in a place where roads take you there quick, it’s hard to go back. I do want to say for the record that without subway stations, the black guy with the lazy eye that sings beatles songs better than the beatles ever dreamed of singing them wouldn’t exist. I haven’t seen him in a few trips, but if anyone knows who I am talking about and sees him, get his contact info. I really want him to play my wedding.
5. The City that Hardly Ever Sleeps (+++)- I appreciate it that nyc respects my decision to end my night whenever I damn please. Granted, shit does close there sometimes (only in vegas does the party never truly end), but usually not until 4. Where I am now, we are getting last call by 1:30 and shoved out before 2. Its only 2 hours, but the hours between 2 and 4 are most often when the magic happens. I miss ny everytime get kicked out of a bar here…at least until I get to the taco shop.
Okay…time to try and sleep. See you ny fools tomorrow.