Dissents Of The Day

Because I’d fuck it up. But first of all, many thanks for all the barbershop recommendations from readers, in both the in-tray and on Facebook. Now for the onslaught:

Would you please stop telling us either how much you like or (mostly) hate New York City.  So you had three bad experiences with lousy and (in the case of the iPad) unprincipled barbers – and that crystallizes everything that’s horrible about this place?  I’m a lifelong New Yorker and don’t have a “love it or leave it” attitude, but I just think you sound as if you’re whining, which is unlike you 99% of the time, and really off-putting.

Another helps explain a little of my entirely unscientific, whiny anecdotage:

Allow me to join the chorus: Why the hell are you in Manhattan? I’m willing to bet that relocating to Brooklyn would remedy at least 90% of your solvable issues. One huge difference is places in Manhattan, especially the more touristy areas uptown, can survive on doling our shitty service, since there’s enough foot traffic to keep them in business without ever getting a repeat customer – not so in most parts of Brooklyn.

Another really lays into me:

Andrew, this whole NYC Shitty thing has starting to become profoundly offensive.

I have lived in this town since 1978.  Yes, I have had bad service; yes, I have had surly encounters – but, Jesus, I’ve had that everywhere: yes, even in your beloved Washington D.C. I’m sorry you have had a bad experience with barbers in NYC (if you’re not going to Astor Barbers on Astor Place, where I’ve been getting my hair cut for the past 25 years, you’re not going to a real barbershop anyway).  But I am beginning to suspect that you are getting back the vibe that you are giving out.  The only people who are consistently treated poorly in this town are, quite frankly, assholes.  You treat people well, and they will treat you well back.

But for you to write something like, “one of the least competent, self-loving cities I’ve ever known,” you have just singlehandedly insulted every single service person in the five boroughs and, brother, you have not lived here long enough to make that kind of sweeping generalization.

Seriously: if people are treating you like jerks, it might be time to look inside.  Because I haven’t had as many bad experiences in 25 years as you have in 25 weeks.  But then I’m a cheerful soul who spent 15 years in a service profession myself, and so I go out of my way to treat anyone else in that role with kindness and respect.

Other New Yorkers disagree:

I couldn’t agree more about NYC being filled with incompetents. To this day, after about 12 years in the city, it still fills me with amazement, especially when you compare the plain experience of any one day with that in any other city. The guy at Chipotle gets your order wrong, after repeating it 3 times. Two different people in adjacent departments at a store tell you the other one is the person able to answer your question. And you get a shitty haircut from someone who acts like they did you a favor. But part of what actually changed for me is finding routines. NYC is a city that simultaneously offers you the most magical moments of spontaneity you could ever hope for – while at the same time demanding that you find a tiny little series of unyielding routines around which you can build a life. It’s the routines that isolate you from the city’s most Kafka-esque moments of surreal discomfort.

I’ll give you an example: The other day, I was fortunate enough to find myself at The Loft, a private dance party thrown by David Mancuso for 43 years. It originated partly as a safe place for gays to dance together in the late 1970s. And today, if you ever get a chance to go, you’ll be dancing alongside music heads, grizzled disco veterans who great each other with salutations like “oh! My friend from the ’80s!”, and a lone Japanese guy in a tie-die shirt who stands in front of a concert-grade speaker for an hour just screaming with joy. I challenge you to find that mise-en-scene anywhere else.

Well, I did have one of those magical moments recently. A friend took me to some Russian baths – a mise-en-scene that came like a bolt from the blue. Some of the most beautiful men I have ever seen were parading in front of bikini-ed female admirers; there were Jews and gentiles; there was food and even something called “plotzing” where some dude whacks you with a tree branch as a form of massage. So my friend booked me one when we arrived. It was timed for 3.45 pm. It never happened. We waited till 5 pm and gave up. The lockers were all numbered randomly. Talking to customer service, one quickly realized there wasn’t any. Another reader:

Today, the Dunkin Donuts I go to every morning, where they start making my drink the minute I walk in no matter how many people are on line, where they hand it to me on the side and scan the barcode on my iPhone app without bothering anyone else, and where they always have huge smiles for my 10-month-old son Ethan … today, for some reason, when I took a sip of my iced coffee, I realized that they had put sugar in it. How dare they. I don’t take sugar in my coffee.

Pray tell, what the fuck is wrong with this godforsaken city?