New York Shitty Update, Ctd

Best tweet ever, Mr Cumstien. I read this, by the way, in a coffee shop in Soho where they don’t have a restroom! Another NYC specialty. From the inevitable backlash from the in-tray:

Oh no!  Overbooked hotels!  Lofts with insufficient drapery!  Cry me a river.


I am a loyal Dish reader, but I cannot stand your consistent whining about NYC. New York is the only true city in America. It’s diversity, creativity, density, wealth, and knowledge cannot be matched. Even with it’s problems of income inequality, stop and frisk, and a lack of affordable housing, NYC is still one of the greatest engines for social mobility and creativity in the world. The five boroughs of New York represent the American ideal more than any other place in the US. In no other place in this country do you see a welcoming of people, ideas, and the sharing of public space in the way you see it in NYC. New York is an egalitarian city by nature, forcing people to share the streets, subways, and public places. Humanity comes to New York to express itself. If you don’t like New York, you don’t like people.

New York has never been easy, but what good things in life are?

DC is a suburb and a one-industry town. To compare DC – or for that matter any city in the US – to NYC would be like comparing foie gras to dog food; at first glance they may seem the same but in reality they are worlds apart. So as Jimmy Walker said so many years ago, “I’d rather be a lamppost in New York than the Mayor of Chicago” – and let’s face it, Chicago is a better city than DC.

The blog is great. Your views on NYC are suspect.

I’m sorry but my point is simply about the livability of the city. And when people say that NYC is the only true city in America, or that “humanity comes to New York to express itself,” I have to say it sounds like a cult not a judgment. And you do need something of a cult mentality to put up with all the horrendous hassle. Chicago, in my view, is the quintessential American city. You can smoke weed legally in Denver. You could get gay-married in Iowa before NYC. What Los Angeles offers in terms of livability and climate knocks New York into the dust. DC is – especially now – cleaner, more modern, more livable and also culturally rich. San Francisco is far more beautiful; New Orleans far more exotic. New York is an amazing place – but it is a gigantic, chaotic, incompetent mess. Another reader turns the tables:

The last time I stayed in DC, the hotel’s fire alarm went off around 4am. Loud speakers were announcing that the hotel should be evacuated. People were wandering around the halls in their bathrobes looking for an exit. I was standing on the sidewalk outside the hotel when I learned that the evacuation was due to a small, contained, grease fire in a basement kitchen.

You live in DC and don’t stay in its hotels. You know the city and know when a cab driver is going blocks out of the way and you don’t have to rely on Google Maps. And, of course, no such thing would happen in Chicago, Paris, Rome or to anyone visiting DC. Everywhere has its pros and cons.

I love ya. And one of the reasons I do is because you make me want to slap you now and then – no different than the few I hold as close friends.

Another has the right idea:

I can’t wait ’til you get to Provincetown and chill the fuck out for a while.

Update from another:

Your reader is wrong; DC is not a one-industry town. I grew up there and neither of my parents worked for the government. And it’s not a suburb. A suburb to what city? His precious NYC. I might be biased because I grew up in Alexandria, but DC is an amazing city with a lot to offer. And so much of it is free. Yes, it can be argued that it is more of a town than a city, but that’s the best part. You can see the sky, and live in an apartment or condo or house all in the same city. You can have a lawn and be in the city limits. And just like every other American city, there is the depressing economic apartheid, but at least you don’t have to be in your 20s and willing to live in a hole or be super fucking wealthy to enjoy it. Yes, the Beltway fucking blows, but driving on Rock Creek Parkway makes up for it. And when you go into a deli and order breakfast you aren’t snarled at by other patrons for not spitting out your order fast enough. Ordering food as a tourist in NYC is panic inducing.


Chicago, in my view, is the quintessential American city.”

AMEN. I tell all the foreigners I know who are planning on visiting the US: if you only have one week in America, spend four days in Chicago (and two days at the Grand Canyon.) Chicago is a perfect microcosm of the entire American experience: a big industrial port city with a huge immigrant population and a vibrant African-American community. Somehow it is midwestern, northern, coastal, and a little bit southern (all those Kentucky transplants, plus great soul food) all at the same time. It even feels a little Canadian in places. OK, it lacks the fresh-scrubbed natural beauty of western cities like SLC or Seattle, but you do get a taste of it — Chicago was once at the edge of the frontier, too. Great music scene and global cuisine, but with strong regional roots. Museums and sport stadiums and other touristy stuff up the wazoo.

Importantly: its suburbs sprawl endlessly, as do all American cities, so you get the quintessentially American experience of driving hours across the sprawl to get somewhere (just like LA!) — but with decent trains if you hate driving. Other cities, like Boston, New Orleans, LA, San Francisco and even, yes, NYC are tiny nations unto themselves. Boston is Boston (and New England) before it is America. NYC in particular is a city of the world before it is anything else. But every time you turn around in Chicago, you’ll see AMERICA.