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I Used to Love Her, But I Had to Flee Her: On Leaving New York
July 8, 2012 10:09 AM   Subscribe


 
I would buy to-go margaritas from a little place in the Lower East Side

Why name drop all those other places and not El Sombrero? It has to be El Sombrero right?
posted by nathancaswell at 10:16 AM on July 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's weird. I know that I'm the target audience for these sorts of pieces, and that someday I will probably write one of my own that I can only hope is published by some gawker-esque media outlet.

And yet I can only get like three sentences into these sorts of articles before I go all, "Oh, really? You once drank in a weird bar? Oh. Wow. You're so special and important," and then my eyes glaze over and I click away.
posted by Sara C. at 10:21 AM on July 8, 2012 [20 favorites]


I♥NYfilter
posted by Legomancer at 10:23 AM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Leaving was never his proud...
posted by steinsaltz at 10:26 AM on July 8, 2012


"Oh, really? You once drank in a weird bar? Oh. Wow. You're so special and important"

Totally agree. For some reason, NY brings this out in writers and it's painful. What they don't realize is that young 20-somethings without responsibilities feel this way wherever they are.

You can be 22 and struggling in Peoria and be convinced you and your friends are on the verge of something great and that nobody understands how much that one bar means to you and you once got a tattoo and the cops and blah blah. Seriously. Why does it matter that it's a Polish bar in Williamsburg and not a TGIF in Oklahoma City? These pieces all are actually about a specific type of non-monetary privilege that allows people to be poor and learn how to live as an adult (without needing to take care of family members or being in jail, etc). The pieces are not about New York.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:30 AM on July 8, 2012 [21 favorites]


I loved New York, and I had to leave her. I left her a year before this guy did, in late 2008. I still go back whenever I can. I was happier and felt more at home in the six-and-a-half years I lived there (yeah, in Williamsburg, sorry) than at any other time in my life. It didn't make me feel important, like this guy. It made me feel happy.

Goddamn your goddamned immigration laws, America.
posted by Decani at 10:31 AM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


As someone who has lived on and off in NYC for close to twelve years now, these conversations are just so...goddamn...tired.

So many people stay in NY when they have other places to go. I've heard analog arguments from rich Texans or Spanish people...how they are just so over it, and they have to prove it to you. They are going to live in Madrid for the summer...blah blah blah...this author might not be one of thsoe people, but the motivations for both viewpoints are the same.

No working class NYer will give a shit if you leave and come back. Only people obsessed with glamour, fame, fashion and bullshit need to hear your reasons why you just *had* to move to LA...Just go. Come back if you like. We don't need to hear why.
posted by lslelel at 10:31 AM on July 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


allen.spaulding, I would actually read the same cloying piece if it was about the TGIF in Oklahoma City.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 10:32 AM on July 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


I would buy to-go margaritas from a little place in the Lower East Side

could be the san loco on ludlow and stanton.
posted by elizardbits at 10:38 AM on July 8, 2012


I live in New York because my life is here. My husband, our cats, and the fact that we don't mind spending $950ish a month for a 650 square foot apartment.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:41 AM on July 8, 2012


> Sometimes I was so broke that a $3 falafel from Oasis on North 6th was all I'd eat for a day...At night I'd meet other people scrounging for work, and we'd all commiserate and buy rounds and promise to meet up for lunch. The next morning I'd have forgotten all their names and be mad at myself for running up such a high tab.

"...if you call your Dad he could stop it all."
posted by DJ 3000 at 10:46 AM on July 8, 2012 [19 favorites]


On the other hand, I don't get all the class hate, either.

I did the thing that Cord Jefferson did. I moved to New York as a broke young person and struggled and skipped meals and did stupid shit.

And, no, I couldn't "just go somewhere else". No, I couldn't just call daddy and have it all fixed in an instant.

Not everyone who moves to New York and has this kind of experience is a spoiled rich kid with a ton of resources. Why do we make that assumption?

(Then again, his name is Cord, which is the Gen X/Millenial version of being named Thurston Howell III.)
posted by Sara C. at 10:52 AM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think the prevalence of pieces like this is mostly a numbers game. True that everyone can feel this way as a twenty-something but if you're going to put it in a specific place, choosing the biggest city makes since to get people to identify with you.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:54 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


You got 8 million people and I don't have a single friend
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:55 AM on July 8, 2012


I think my New York self would have cringed at the thought of rubbing shoulders with aging porn actors in a musty storeroom in the Valley

And rightly so.

Yeah, you could fill an anthology with this stuff going back a century. Islelel has it: move where you want. Don't write navel-gazing essays about it. If you can't tell a good story about a place without taking yourself out of it, you probably don't have a good story about a place. You might not even have a good story about yourself.
posted by Miko at 10:58 AM on July 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


I lived in New York in 1987, rode the F train, hung out in Wash Square, ate falafels. bought shit in St. Marks and sweat like a mother-fucker in the summer.

What do I win?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:05 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


You got 8 million people and I don't have a single friend

"New York is the only place I can be alone." -- Greta Garbo
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:06 AM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've yet to see my thesis on New York disproven, to wit: It's almost entirely a place where people congratulate themselves on being in New York.
posted by fatbird at 11:11 AM on July 8, 2012 [17 favorites]


There's also the pizza.
posted by jonmc at 11:21 AM on July 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


Not everyone who moves to New York and has this kind of experience is a spoiled rich kid with a ton of resources. Why do we make that assumption?

I think there's two things going on here. One is the experience people have had with "trustafarians" - people who have no real risk of failure and are slumming it. Hence the quote from Common People. As far as I can tell, Cord may not have tons of cash in offshore accounts, but he's written about his father being a prominent attorney - so there was zero chance of things going too far south.

The second one is not about money as much as it is about obligation and risk. This is what I referred to as non-monetary privilege. People who may have solidly middle class upbringings can still be privileged if they are able to take their 20s lightly - as a time to "discover themselves" and accumulate stories when they're older (or in pieces like this). This is the lingering suspicion that people will end up going to grad school three years after moving to Williamsburg and that this experimentation is not necessarily in good faith. To re-write Pulp, it'd go like this:

But still you'll never get it right / 'cos when you're laid in bed at night / Watching roaches climb the wall / If you include this in your professional school application it will make you seem different than all the other English majors from top universities

This is a different form of slumming it (and one that is increasingly open only to men, as women feel pressure to start careers earlier if they want to have it all, as talked about in the Anne Marie Slaughter piece). In this sense, Cord's privilege comes from the fact that he's play-acting at being a starving artist and if it works out and he can make a living from it, great. And if not, like many other people who went to his top liberal arts college, he can end up going to grad school and living a perfectly respectable bourgeois life. I went to law school with plenty of kids like this.

And I don't begrudge people the ability to take risks and to try to figure themselves out and wish more people felt less pressure early on in their lives. And you're right. There are many people in Brooklyn who don't have gold-plated educations and who want to make it as an artist and if they fail they may not have an easy path into the middle class. It's a mistake to think all starving artists have an out. It's also a mistake for Cord to not recognize what distinguishes him from others.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:28 AM on July 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


At some point last year I looked at all my friends in their late 30s and realized that almost all of them had roommates. And I hate having roommates, especially when you have to pay $900 for a tiny roach infested room an hour from my work in Manhattan and also have three roommates, at least two of whom are guaranteed to be slobs. At first my brain was like "but it's worth it, because there are such awesome things here." And then it finally dawned on me that I never did much because of my two-hour commute and the fact that rent engulfed a massive percentage of my income. And that other cities have cool fun things too. Long story short, I live in Chicago now, in my own apartment that is very very affordable and has no roaches. The food scene here is great and no matter what happens, my quality of life here is so much better.

Don't get me wrong- for some people the costs of NYC living in terms of both price and enduring certain things, are worth it. But I feel like a lot of people are literally trapped there because they can't admit that other cities have more to offer them as individuals even if holistically NYC has more of everything.
posted by melissam at 11:30 AM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was happier and felt more at home in the six-and-a-half years I lived there (yeah, in Williamsburg, sorry)

Didn't we find out that a radically disproportionate number of Mefites all lives or worked on the same block in the mid 00s?
posted by The Whelk at 11:31 AM on July 8, 2012


It's always a good time to reread the classic of the "my romantic attachment to New York City can no longer disguise the fact that New York City is a bad place for me, personally, to live" genre, Meghan Daum's essay My Misspent Youth. (Daum now lives in LA, too, though her immediate next stop after NYC was Lincoln, NE.)
posted by escabeche at 11:46 AM on July 8, 2012


When I finally left Brooklyn, in late 2009, it was for a job writing about politics in Washington, D.C.

Of all the details in this piece, the idea that one actually can make a living writing for Wonkette was the biggest revelation to me.

move where you want. Don't write navel-gazing essays about it.

Seriously, shame on everyone who reacts this way. Miko, I think you're very often right about a hell of a lot of things, but I don't get why anybody would say "Don't write about your experiences" to anyone, let alone a professional writer. So he was able to parley his first-person narrative into a post on a well-known blog instead of leaving it in his diary? Ignore and move on. It speaks to someone, even if not to you.

This is also, to me, not about slumming or play-poverty or having enough money to go running home at the end of the day, it's about the ways that different cities self-identify and the asymmetrical rivalries they build up. (As a northern Californian myself, I've witnessed plenty of the "scorn LA" attitude repaid by blank indifference that describes our own intra-state push-pull.) Yes, there's mention of budgeting and expenditures, but that was part of his experience and adds some shading to the narrative.
posted by psoas at 11:55 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having never lived there, but spent quite a lot of time there, I assume I'm allowed to say this: Ungh. This guy.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:06 PM on July 8, 2012


Seriously, shame on everyone who reacts this way. Miko, I think you're very often right about a hell of a lot of things, but I don't get why anybody would say "Don't write about your experiences" to anyone, let alone a professional writer.

It's just such a hackneyed topic. I stand unshamed!

Everyone's certainly welcome to write about their experiences, but that doesn't make them worth reading. This piece isn't much revealing of "the ways that different cities self-identify and the asymmetrical rivalries they build up;" that's an interesting topic, but this is too self-referential to speak to this question with broad perspective that would interest more than a few. I don't get the sense that he is even aware of the memoiristic tradition of NYC or has read any of it in order to avoid revisiting tired tropes and employing cliches. That kind of research and perspective would have improved a piece of these aims.

Again, write what you will, everyone certainly can, but this road has been trod, and trod, and trod for such a long time. I read this hoping for something new, but in vain, so I personally feel my time was wasted.
posted by Miko at 12:08 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


$950 for 650 sq feet for two people? Where's that?
posted by Salamandrous at 12:13 PM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Obligatory.
posted by ericb at 12:20 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in
Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft." *
Oh, and ... "wear sunscreen."
posted by ericb at 12:22 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Reading this piece made me consider changing my twitter bio to 'I'm 30, I live in Brooklyn, and I'm NOT a freelance writer.'

Seriously. This guy. Good riddance.
posted by whitneyarner at 12:34 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Didn't we find out that a radically disproportionate number of Mefites all lives or worked on the same block in the mid 00s?

Yeah. Decani and I lived on the same block around the time you and I worked down the block from one another.
posted by griphus at 12:50 PM on July 8, 2012


I also think I was hanging out a lot with a friend who lived on the Brooklyn block and LAYERS WITHIN LAYERS
posted by The Whelk at 12:51 PM on July 8, 2012


South 4th and Hewes, represent (apparently.)
posted by griphus at 12:53 PM on July 8, 2012


(resulting sense memory of being caked in glitter at Galapagos causes me to lie down for a while)
posted by The Whelk at 12:54 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


It didn't make me feel important, like this guy. It made me feel happy.

I left New York last December for Southern California suburbia after living there for a measly four years. There isn't a single day I don't wonder if I made a horrible mistake. As I told a friend the other day, I miss it like an amputated limb. I don't know why I miss it so much, though I dwell on it quite a bit. One thing is certain - I'm sure as shit not going to write about the city and the impact it has on people, because some of the greatest minds in the planet have done so already, and I don't think my little snowflake of a situation will add anything to the discourse.
posted by falameufilho at 1:10 PM on July 8, 2012


Oh, and that glitter passes along like a virus affecting everyone on the dance floor. Memories of dancing with friends and dumping a small bag of glitter over the head of the "birthday boy." That glitter would show up in strange crevices and places on the body for days.
posted by ericb at 1:13 PM on July 8, 2012


Glitter is the herpes of the craft world.
posted by The Whelk at 1:15 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've yet to see my thesis on New York disproven, to wit: It's almost entirely a place where people congratulate themselves on being in New York.

That’s 2/3 of Los Angeles, the other half being people who hate it and are just there for the money. It’s tiring.
posted by bongo_x at 1:38 PM on July 8, 2012


Guy who overly identifies with where he lives moves elsewhere and continues to overly identify with where he lives. There, now you don't have to read it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:39 PM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


I've yet to see my thesis on New York disproven, to wit: It's almost entirely a place where people congratulate themselves on being in New York.

Oh please. This kind of reverse snobbery is so obnoxious and ignorant.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:40 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I lived in Long Island City, and later Clinton Hill, but there's a strong chance that you guys's glitter dripped on me.

Actually, there's a strong chance that glitter-herpes was mine.

Sorry.

I blame my friend Ian's bathtub absinthe.
posted by Sara C. at 2:03 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I am so sad to see this get re-posted and to have this person/writer think that this piece of writing was decent...or meaningful.

The best part of the article was the comment in the form of a quote via Joan Didion (which is also what's so sad about those sites screwing up the commenting process). Which I now can't find. But it was something like "It's not a New York problem, it's a money problem...if you have money, New York keeps getting better and better". Which is probably very true...I certainly would love to find out.
posted by bquarters at 2:07 PM on July 8, 2012


I think I hit this moment the other night. I was at the East Village bar Cabin Down Below. It was a bit pretentious, and the drinks were too expensive, so I suggested to my friends that we go to our "old-school" hang out and dance to terrible music in the basement of Niagara, a bar right next door.

The bartender told me that Cabin Down Below is the basement below Niagara.

"No, I mean you go to Niagara, and take the stairs in the back room down to the small bar and dancefloor."

"Yes, that is Cabin Down Below"

"No, I mean next door at Niagara."

"Cabin Down Below is the old basement of Niagara."

At this point my brain literally froze up and I started scanning around the room trying to make sense of this. Where would the stairs come down? Are the walls the same? Where the F am I? When did this happen? It is like that moment in a time travel thriller type movie where the main character starts spinning around as he realizes where the...when the F he or she is before passing out.

"How long ago did that change? Is that recent?"

"Uhhh, a few years ago."

Ugh. These aren't even good bars. I can't even think of recommendations to people visiting here anymore. I think I can kind of see the odd dilemma the writer is poking at -- at some point you realize that maybe all those things you love about New York aren't really there, or maybe were never there in the first place, or have packed up and moved to a different place and you didn't get the message.

And honestly, I just can't afford to live here anymore.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 2:31 PM on July 8, 2012


I liked the piece. It captured some of what I felt both when I moved to New York and when I left it many years ago. It made me reminisce. Who cares how many times it's been written about? Everyone has a right to share their story. You don't like it, move on. Thanks, Reenum.
posted by PigAlien at 2:49 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can be 22 and struggling in Peoria and be convinced you and your friends are on the verge of something great and that nobody understands how much that one bar means to you and you once got a tattoo and the cops and blah blah.
*Winces* I find myself doing this sometimes still (I'm 24). Like I was the first person ever to go to this coffeehouse or find that quiet chair in the library or....whatever. Later I end up kicking myself repeatedly and wondering wtf I was trying to do.

So thanks for this. I might need to print this on a business card and carry it around.
posted by DisreputableDog at 2:57 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good riddance.
posted by borges at 3:09 PM on July 8, 2012


OK, while we're talking about people being on the same block, and New York places, and the like.

So yesterday I was day drinking against the heat at this kind of pretentious Italian restaurant on Myrtle Ave which makes good weird Italian cocktails (negroni? aperol spritz? weird things with campari? sign me up). I picked up my phone to look at facebook for a second, and the "Hey By The Way There Is Wifi" box popped up.

One of the wifi networks in the vicinity was called TATERS.

Fess up. Now.
posted by Sara C. at 3:15 PM on July 8, 2012


I live in New York because my life is here. My husband, our cats, and the fact that we don't mind spending $950ish a month for a 650 square foot apartment.

In what part of New York is the rent this cheap? I've never found anything this good that wasn't a tiny tiny basement in the ass end of Queens or the Bronx.
posted by inertia at 3:22 PM on July 8, 2012


So yesterday I was day drinking against the heat at this kind of pretentious Italian restaurant on Myrtle Ave which makes good weird Italian cocktails (negroni? aperol spritz? weird things with campari? sign me up). I picked up my phone to look at facebook for a second, and the "Hey By The Way There Is Wifi" box popped up

Myrtle Ave???? Really??? That was "Murder Ave" when I was in college at Pratt in 1992 :(

Yes, you took your life in your hands if you went drinking backi in those days!
posted by swooz at 4:15 PM on July 8, 2012


Myrtle is a loooooooooooooooooong avenue and some of it is still not so great.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:16 PM on July 8, 2012


Haha! I'm in Williamsburg / Greenpoint (on the border) now!
Rent Stabilization Baby!
1997: You live in BROOOOKLYYYYN?!?!?!?!!
2012: You can afford to live in WIIIIIIILLIIIIAAAAAMMMSSBURG?!?!?!?!?!?!!!
posted by swooz at 4:24 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ditto the young rope-rider, but it's also worth noting that Pratt is at the heart of the gentrification of Myrtle Ave. They just opened a new building to the north of the Associated supermarket (around, um, Hall Street, I think? My concept of the cross streets between Washington and Classon is shaky), and it wouldn't surprise me to find out that the university owned the very block this restaurant is on. The bartender making my negroni was a Pratt student.

It wasn't much better than "Murder Ave" when I first moved to the neighborhood in 2005. I remember buying dusty expired macaroni & cheese (which had mold in it! In the cheesey powder packet!) from the bodega which is now Putnam's, once upon a time. In fact it's really only in the last couple years that a shortish stretch of Myrtle Ave around the Pratt campus and Steiner Studios has transitioned from "you're not going to die" to "cute new restaurants!"
posted by Sara C. at 4:26 PM on July 8, 2012


I lived on Myrtle and Taaffe starting in 2002. Myrtle was definitely more sketch at that time, but even then you could see that it was coming up in a huge way. I left in 2009 but going back there now is still jarring when you see how different it is.
posted by josher71 at 4:34 PM on July 8, 2012


Decani and I lived on the same block around the time you and I worked down the block from one another.

And me and my ridiculous dog on S2nd and Havemeyer.
posted by elizardbits at 4:43 PM on July 8, 2012


And yet no wacky adventures ensued
posted by The Whelk at 4:46 PM on July 8, 2012


It wasn't that long ago, really, that a young artist could afford to live in New York while working part-time in a non-soul-destroying trade. But that time is gone. The romance of New York as a destination and forge for the creative class survives, even though most of the things and most of the peer group that made the city attractive for young artists are just not there anymore.

Ask yourself, how many of the important New York artists and writers and musicians of the pre-1980 era were college graduates from upper middle class homes? That demographic might as well just go straight to grad school. Or move to London, Berlin, Portland, Detroit.
posted by Scram at 5:15 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hate to repeat a cliché, but New York (sp. Manhattan/Brooklyn) felt like the most Disneyfied place I've ever been. Besides, if whiling away your days in weird bars is what you want, there are better places to do it than the most expensive city on earth. I drank shitty beer at a weird bar populated by Polish people in Chicago, and they bought me shots. Midwest FTW.
posted by deathpanels at 5:22 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


As someone who has lived on and off in NYC for close to twelve years now, these conversations are just so...goddamn...tired.

So many people stay in NY when they have other places to go. I've heard analog arguments from rich Texans or Spanish people...how they are just so over it, and they have to prove it to you. They are going to live in Madrid for the summer...blah blah blah...this author might not be one of thsoe people, but the motivations for both viewpoints are the same.

No working class NYer will give a shit if you leave and come back. Only people obsessed with glamour, fame, fashion and bullshit need to hear your reasons why you just *had* to move to LA...Just go. Come back if you like. We don't need to hear why.


It seems like some people view the place they live as the "set" (like movie set) for their lives. Others just go (or stay) where they want. So for people who think like that, it is a big, dramatic deal to change one's setting.

I just came back from a visit to NYC, and was surprised at myself in that I found myself realizing that I had a more pleasant time in NYC than I do at home (in Chicago). Street parking is cheaper, the subway appears to be cheaper, people on the streets were friendlier. That's the one that killed me- it was more pleasant to wander around NYC than it is Chicago. Maybe friendly isn't the word, but less-unfriendly perhaps. I wonder whether Chicago has changed, NYC has changed or I have changed. Considering that it's a $350 fine to honk your horn in NYC now, I'm betting it is NYC that has changed.
posted by gjc at 5:41 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]



You can be 22 and struggling in Peoria and be convinced you and your friends are on the verge of something great and that nobody understands how much that one bar means to you and you once got a tattoo and the cops and blah blah. Seriously.


QFT. Who knows, maybe they will do something great. Most of Steppenwolf Theater's founding members met in Illinois State University's drama program, downstate in Normal, and one of them--John Malkovich, I think--said that they had to be creative because there wasn't a lot else to do there. Cord Jefferson goes to NYC, gets drunk a lot and also bro tattoos, and in the end he's still Cord Jefferson (scroll down to the end of the article for his subject's response).
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:59 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Salamandrous, we live on the Upper West Side, rent control.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:31 PM on July 8, 2012


ANGELES > ANGELENOS. JESUS FUCK PEOPLE.
posted by dame at 6:36 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh also s2 btw union and hewes 02-05.
posted by dame at 6:49 PM on July 8, 2012


gjc: "I just came back from a visit to NYC, and was surprised at myself in that I found myself realizing that I had a more pleasant time in NYC than I do at home (in Chicago). Street parking is cheaper, the subway appears to be cheaper, people on the streets were friendlier. That's the one that killed me- it was more pleasant to wander around NYC than it is Chicago. Maybe friendly isn't the word, but less-unfriendly perhaps. I wonder whether Chicago has changed, NYC has changed or I have changed. Considering that it's a $350 fine to honk your horn in NYC now, I'm betting it is NYC that has changed."

I think NYC is a lot friendlier than Chicago. I've been in Chicago for 25 years but still have fonder memories of living in Brooklyn that I will ever have of this "aw gee shucks we're just a working class, blue-collar, toddlin' town" bullshit that get shoveled around like it was gospel truth. The fact that it's more expensive to do a lot of cool stuff here than it is in New York, to me, is a good indicator what a joke Chicago has become. As soon as our bankruptcy is complete, we are getting the fuck out of here and not looking back. So yeah, Chicago has changed I guess. Or maybe not.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:53 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


LA is trash.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 6:56 PM on July 8, 2012


Funny! I actually knew this guy! He was an intern at [WELL-KNOWN ONLINE MAGAZINE I WORKED AT] for like a week until a play or screenplay (can't remember which) got optioned. Pretty sure I set up his computer.

Anyway, you know, I lived in NYC for 7 years, and I'm almost ashamed not to have a romantic "on leaving NYC" story, simply because it's become so archetypal. I never formally fell out of love with NYC. I left because my life had gotten boring and stale and depressing, none of which I blame on NYC.

So I moved to SF, and my life here on the whole is happier and more fulfilling. But I wouldn't necessarily say that's because SF is a better place. I think it's just more suited to who I am and where my interests lie. I still love NYC, I just love SF more.

The whole NYC snobbery thing he talks about, meh, I think it's overblown. I mean, I live in SF, and I see the same shit here. If you live in the Northeast/Northwest/West Coast, it's basically the statement of our shared culture. "We're the smartest, and that's why we live in the best places. Everyone else is a yokel that wants to make us teach creationism in schools." Same damn thing.

I do miss NYC, which is why I go back every year and keep ties to my friends there. I may return one day, who knows.

But I doubt it.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:57 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, Joan Didion already wrote this essay, but really really well.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 6:59 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I lived on Myrtle and Taaffe starting in 2002. Myrtle was definitely more sketch at that time, but even then you could see that it was coming up in a huge way. I left in 2009 but going back there now is still jarring when you see how different it is.

I LIVED ON TAAFFE Place in 2002!!!! I used to order Korean food from Myrtle every Monday but I don't think it was really up and coming...although obviously I moved to Manhattan at EXACTLY the time everyone else was moving to Brooklyn so what the hell do I know about foresight?!
posted by bquarters at 7:10 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, Joan Didion already wrote this essay, but really really well.

Exactly, her one quote by one of the Gawker commenters was the ONLY thing that made reading this article worthwhile.
posted by bquarters at 7:11 PM on July 8, 2012


Now here is an interesting story about living in New York.
posted by Miko at 7:21 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just came back from a visit to NYC, and was surprised at myself in that I found myself realizing that I had a more pleasant time in NYC than I do at home (in Chicago). Street parking is cheaper, the subway appears to be cheaper, people on the streets were friendlier. That's the one that killed me- it was more pleasant to wander around NYC than it is Chicago. Maybe friendly isn't the word, but less-unfriendly perhaps. I wonder whether Chicago has changed, NYC has changed or I have changed. Considering that it's a $350 fine to honk your horn in NYC now, I'm betting it is NYC that has changed.

While I really like Chicago, I would say that NYC has done a fantastic job of making public spaces nice. Like it or not, a lot of credit goes to draconian policies originally instituted by Giuliani. I see people doing stuff on the street and on trains in Chicago that would get you thrown into jail immediately in NYC. I've heard people complain about NYC being dirty, but Chicago is way dirtier in my experience, in a totally unacceptable they are letting this empty lot become a trash dump way, not the inevitable dirt of NYC caused by just having a big city with lots of traffic and buildings and people. The homicide rate is also double here compared to NYC, which surprises a lot of people. But as things have gentrified in NYC, the rents have followed. Not being able to afford an acceptable dwelling anywhere near my work was really the main reason I left. I think that will continue to be a major problem in NYC, especially considering lots of NIMBYism that is preventing the construction of new higher-density better-quality housing.

The fact that it's more expensive to do a lot of cool stuff here than it is in New York, to me, is a good indicator what a joke Chicago has become.

Things are cheaper in NYC besides rent because rent is such a crushing expense for so many people. That's why I've been told Chicago has a disproportionate amount of extremely expensive restaurants, because people are paying $800 a month for a one bedroom apartment in a decent area instead of $2000 a month. Though everyone who owns a car tells me Chicago is better. Oddly, Chicago is a bit more bike friendly- more bike racks and stuff.

Can anyone link to Didion's essay?
posted by melissam at 8:41 PM on July 8, 2012


Like it or not, a lot of credit goes to draconian policies originally instituted by Giuliani.

Meh, my instinct is to say that it's actually more of a Bloomberg thing.

Giuliani did OK in terms of stuff like making it safe to go into Tompkins Square Park, but by and large his draconian policies were about porn, nightclubs, and policing what kind of art could go up in important museums.

Bloomberg is all about making the parks gorgeous and full of amenities (and creating new parks in areas formerly associated with urban blight), adding bike lanes and pedestrian zones, and instituting weird quality of life stuff like making it illegal to eat on the subway and smoke in parks (neither of which is actually enforced, but maybe it cuts down on the horror a little bit?).
posted by Sara C. at 8:55 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can anyone link to Didion's essay?

I just found it by Googling. Goodbye to All That.
posted by Miko at 9:00 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


we live on the Upper West Side, rent control.

For the record, I hate you a little bit.
posted by falameufilho at 9:01 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


a $350 fine to honk your horn in NYC now

Not new, and let me tell you, it does not help.

This essay wore me out. Feel like I've read a million of these and I still only like Joan Didion's. I left NYC and came back and live in Queens. I kinda hate it here, but it turns out I hate it more everywhere else. The thought of moving is tempting but gives me the chills.
posted by zvs at 9:02 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Like it or not, a lot of credit goes to draconian policies originally instituted by Giuliani.

Meh, my instinct is to say that it's actually more of a Bloomberg thing.


Oh God, I don't think so. Having watched it all go down, it was Giuliani that made the big difference. Bloomberg's work is just a gloss on that, and he's much more mellow. Like him or don't, Rudy really gets credit for totally changing the city atmosphere.
posted by Miko at 9:03 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I agree with that in general. I think Giuliani changed the city's atmosphere, which allowed for Bloomberg to come in with policies that would be laughed out of any other city except maybe San Francisco.

Also, I think a lot of Bloomberg's policies are good ones. Probably because he gets to come after the fascist and just be all like, "You want to have a park on this old deserted rail line? Hell yeah!" and, "Hey, I know, let's ban cars from most of Times Square!"
posted by Sara C. at 9:13 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Miko: The only problem with that theory is quality of life in general got better in lots of cities in the 1990s: crime plummeted, property values soared, everywhere got cleaner, people got happier. But Giuliani was mayor of only one city where this happened; how do you explain the very similar results elsewhere?

I moved to New York, rather hesitant because of the city's bad rap, in 1988, and I was surprised to find that it was, in general, just a city like any other: you had to have a sense of where felt safe (most places) and where didn't (deserted industrial blocks at 2 AM) but otherwise it was eminently livable, not squeaky clean but a great place to be. I remember mentioning this "discovery" to friends who had been in the city for a while and the answer was always, "oh, it was worse five years ago" or "yeah, ten years ago this block was really rough."

Giuliani wasn't mayor until 1993, but the upswing of the city had been going on already for 10 years or more. Maybe he helped accelerate the trend, or maybe he happened to luck out and be running the place when a rush of new money came into town with investment bankers and that new thing called the Internet.

If you were afraid of squeegee guys, Giuliani was your man. But if you didn't drive a car in from Staten Island and rode the MTA like a normal person, you noticed that the subways were slow and late and the buses few and far between. My own quality of life had little to do with broken windows or public urination or guys smoking pot on a front stoop-- all top Giuliani priorities-- but it would have been heaven for mass transit 20 years ago to be as reliable as it is today.
posted by La Cieca at 9:34 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sorry for the double post, but I'll further go on record as saying that I believe the decline in NYC from the '60s to the '80s was essentially a blip -- a big one, obviously, but still a blip, something about a particular demographic in the city at a particular point in time that eventually passed. A lot of different people did a lot of different things to try to bring about the renaissance of the city, and in the absence of a control, I'm disinclined to buy into "broken windows" as even the tipping point.
posted by La Cieca at 9:40 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


: The only problem with that theory is quality of life in general got better in lots of cities in the 1990s: crime plummeted, property values soared, everywhere got cleaner, people got happier. But Giuliani was mayor of only one city where this happened; how do you explain the very similar results elsewhere?

In percentage it may have dropped, but NYC still remains an outlier in low total homicides. And go to any of those cities and look at what the streets are like and NYC is still an outlier in terms of cleanliness and what kind of behavior is tolerated. I do think Giuliani did something unusual. Or something else or somebody else in NYC is responsible.

I live in a "nice" neighborhood in Chicago and the kind of stuff I see, like squatters or dirty empty lots used as trash dumps, would not even be tolerated in NYC neighborhoods that are a bit less nice.
posted by melissam at 9:55 PM on July 8, 2012


Who the fuck is Cord Jefferson?
posted by bardic at 10:41 PM on July 8, 2012


Clearly someone thier parents didn't like very much.
posted by The Whelk at 10:46 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


South 4th and Hewes, represent (apparently.)

Hah! South 2nd & Bedford, 2003-2004!

(this is getting weird)
posted by Afroblanco at 4:46 AM on July 9, 2012


Havermayer and Metropolitan, 1997 - 2002
South 4th and Hewes, 2002 - present

Is it just me now?
posted by idest at 6:11 AM on July 9, 2012


And I guess there was also the illegal basement apartment on south 2nd between driggs and roebling that had neither an address or a mailbox. That you entered by going down some stairs, through a gate, under a building, and across a courtyard. Whose plumbing was so dodgy, we had to keep the water running 24/7 so the pipes didn't freeze. That one.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:19 AM on July 9, 2012


It wasn't a "demographic decline" that hurt the city in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. It was a number of combined factors: consolidation, the departure of manufacturing, containerization leading to the loss of shipping traffic to outports, breakdowns in aging infrastructure whose maintenance had been too long deferred, military demobilization, and eventually the 1980s recession.
posted by Miko at 6:32 AM on July 9, 2012


Cord Jefferson graduated Magna Cum laude from New York's renowned Hudson University.
posted by griphus at 6:35 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


when a rush of new money came into town with investment bankers

This was really happening by 1985 and is why the city was already on the upswing. Its becoming a true international banking/financial services center instead of just an exchange point (which arose originally only because of proximity to shipping and thus communication) began to meaningfully replace the decaying industries. It had a lot to do with Reagan's deregulation,and the rise in stock ownership by regular people as part of their increasing inclusion in middle-management and executive compensation packages.
posted by Miko at 6:37 AM on July 9, 2012


I'm not sure why anyone would be surprised to find NY friendlier than Chicago—Chicago, and the Midwest in general, are not friendly or welcoming places at all, despite the self-mythologizing of the natives who cling to ideas about Midwestern hospitality and friendliness that can only seem plausible if you've never lived much of anywhere else.

My last couple of trips to the east coast (NYC and upstate), which were my first in quite a while, it took me a while to get used to the lack of the pervasive nastiness that you get here in the Midwest—the endless surliness, suspicion, and social dick-measuring are so universal here that I'd kind of stopped noticing them and it was a real shock when they weren't there anymore.

There is nothing new about any of this and it doesn't have anything to do with Giuliani or Bloomberg or any other mayor, it's the same shit Liebling was writing about in the 50s.
posted by enn at 8:18 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


New Yorkers are quite friendly and considerate. I live around Boston now and Boston folk compare very unfavorably; every time I go the constrast is startling. I'd say that's been consistent even in bad economic times and times of higher crime, at least as far back as my memory extends.

As far as Midwestern friendliness, I didn't sense it so terribly much in Chicago or Indianapolis or Minneapolis, but I have in Wisconsin and in Michigan, outside of major cities. I think the mythologizing may be based on a truth, but it doesn't seem to carry as well to the cities.
posted by Miko at 8:26 AM on July 9, 2012


I'm not sure why anyone would be surprised to find NY friendlier than Chicago—Chicago, and the Midwest in general, are not friendly or welcoming places at all, despite the self-mythologizing of the natives who cling to ideas about Midwestern hospitality and friendliness that can only seem plausible if you've never lived much of anywhere else.

You can't compare the experience of a visitor with actually living there. When I first visited Chicago I said I'd never live here because the people I encountered were so rude. I got yelled at more times that one week than I did in my two years in NYC. It's like Chicago wants to scare tourists away or something.

But living here, it's just like NYC. How nice people are depends on what kind of people and what neighborhood in either city. But I would say that the time/money constraints in NYC place a lot of pressure on friendships. To me, it always seemed like people were looking for something better to do and maybe they might RSVP at the last minute if they didn't find it.

But then again, I often think that my experience, friendship-wise, in either city, has been a matter of luck- the people I initially meet and the neighborhood I first chose make a huge difference. But in NYC people just don't have a lot of time and I didn't see many of my friends there very often, unless they lived very close by.

I do find my particular neighborhood in Chicago (Lincoln Park, which I hate and I'm leaving ASAP) more "friendly" in a shallow way that I find unsettling coming from NYC via Stockholm. Like people I don't know making eye contact with me on the street and saying hi to me. I don't appreciate that kind of "friendliness" to be honest. I find it shallow and pointless.
posted by melissam at 8:31 AM on July 9, 2012


forgot to shout out Cokie's
posted by nathancaswell at 9:13 AM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I grew up an hour from NYC, and it always seemed like the most exciting place in the world, or at least the US. Now live on the West Coast, and every time I go back "The City" (it will always be "The City" to me) it's still exciting and I also think Jesus Christ I'm glad I don't have to put up with this every day.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:13 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This discussion always remind me of my hassle-vs-reward system for evaluating cities as long-term living options. To wit:

NYC: High hassle, high reward
DC: High hassle, moderate reward
Albuquerque: Moderate hassle, moderate reward
Portland OR: Low hassle, high reward
posted by gottabefunky at 11:15 AM on July 9, 2012


I LIVED ON TAAFFE Place in 2002!!!!

Shoutout from 60 Taaffe place which was across from a Hasidic apartment building and right next to a chicken processing warehouse! Cheap but smelled fucking terrible.
posted by josher71 at 11:34 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've lived in the Kansas City area for over 20 years, so I think I can speak on the friendliness of this part of the Midwest.

Since I came here as a kid, outward friendliness is the norm. If I pass by someone I don't know without smiling and saying hi, it can be seen as rude or hostile. I think nothing of asking someone at the store how their day is going.

Beneath all the friendliness, you have some racism, xenophobia, and all the other "Tea Party" characteristics we're becoming so known for. That outward friendliness also masks exclusion and cliquishness. I've heard more than a few transplants complain about how hard it is to actually make friends if you haven't gone to high school or college around here.

So, our friendliness might be a little better looking to outsiders, but it masks the same surliness and wariness of strangers you'd see in NYC.
posted by reenum at 11:43 AM on July 9, 2012


There's also the pizza.
posted by jonmc at 7:21 PM on July 8


New York pizza is nasty, nasty, greasy shite.

Also, New York does not know how to do Indian food.

Apart from that, it's totally fucking wonderful, and anyone who says that loving a place is all about your age and situation rather than the place itself hasn't lived in Grimsby. New York is objectively an ace place to live. TGIF in Oklahoma City? Oh, fuck off. Get real.
posted by Decani at 11:50 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


...hasn't lived in Grimsby.

So did they just give Dickens carte blanche to name towns over there or what?
posted by griphus at 11:53 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Baltimore MD: Wildly variable Hassle, Wildly variable reward
posted by josher71 at 11:57 AM on July 9, 2012


I've heard more than a few transplants complain about how hard it is to actually make friends if you haven't gone to high school or college around here.

My parents forcibly relocated me to St. Louis as a very young teen. It never felt like home, and I left as soon as I could. Staying STL would have meant spending the rest of my life being asked, "where did you go to highschool?", which would have been awkward seeing as that I was brutally ostracized and dropped out.

(and then got a free ride my first year of college for my perfect GED score)

So no, I don't associate Midwesterners with friendliness. Nosiness is more like it.

One good thing I can say about them, though, is they're generally a grounded, pragmatic bunch, which I've come to value after 7 years in NYC and nearly 3 in SF. I swear, you spend time in these cities and encounter people whose viewpoints have basically nothing to do with reality, AND THEY'RE PROUD OF THIS. Not as bad as the "we should teach creationism in schools" flavor of ignorance, but ignorance just the same.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:43 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


New York pizza is nasty, nasty, greasy shite.

I politely disagree.
posted by ericb at 1:10 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


New York pizza is nasty wonderful, nasty amazing , greasy shite manna from heaven.
posted by Sara C. at 2:10 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, in the whole time I lived there, I never once got the fetish for NYC pizza. And by that I mean the oversized greasy slice that's been sitting on a glass shelf for god-knows-how-long, purchased at the corner pizza joint at 2AM. And I'm not saying it's bad, just that it's unremarkable. The only thing that's "special" is its relatively thin crust and large size -- which admittedly does make it perfect for folding in half and eating on the run.

What I did love was the classic brick oven-baked Margherita pizza, which you can get pretty much anywhere in NYC and is uniformly excellent. I'd never had it before living in NYC, and I haven't had pizza that good anywhere in SF.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:54 PM on July 9, 2012


That outward friendliness also masks exclusion and cliquishness

This is Minnesota Nice in a nutshell (although I always thought Minnesota Nice had a special flavor of not-us racism unique in the Midwest, although it's not like the rest gets a pass or anything).
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:19 PM on July 9, 2012


And by that I mean the oversized greasy slice that's been sitting on a glass shelf for god-knows-how-long, purchased at the corner pizza joint at 2AM.

Oh man, that's not what I think of as "NYC pizza." That's crap, make-a-buck pizza of a kind found nationwide. When I talk about it I mean a thin-crust, cornmeal-dusted, slightly blackened simple cheese, crushed tomato/oil/oregano/basil sauce, with a light sprinkle of cheese cooked just 'til bubbly. It doesn't need to be high-end or wood-fired. It's a style, more than a product.

Since I live these days where I can't get a pizza without a 3/4" soggy white-bread crust, overcheesed and undersauced, I really do miss it.
posted by Miko at 8:35 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


But, we must all agree that the best pizza in America is made in New Haven, CT!

Frank Pepe. Sally's. Modern Apizza.

Need I say more?
posted by ericb at 11:08 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


But, we must all agree that the best pizza in America is made in New Haven, CT!

I do agree.
posted by josher71 at 6:32 AM on July 10, 2012


I do enjoy Pepe's, but my favorite pizza in America is made at a little family-run place in Long Branch, NJ.
posted by Miko at 6:36 AM on July 10, 2012


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