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Fun:New York City

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Noo Yawk.
New York's alright… if you like saxophones!
—Fear[1]

New York, New York… the city so nice they named it twice! The Bronx is up, but the Battery's down. Come and meet those dancing feet.

Aw, fuck it:

  • Pizza
  • Dirt
  • Shitty sports teams
  • More dirt, but we don't look at it

Oh, and Manhattan… sniff sniff…[2] NYC is Schrodinger's City: it is both the world’s greatest city and everything about it is awful simultaneously.

Like the human body, it can be said that you have an entirely new city every seven years. Of late, the city has become astronomically expensive as yuppies flood into the former meat packing districts and slums, while the rest move to someplace cheaper, like Brooklyn Queens the Bronx you know, I hear good things about Connecticut.

Boroughs[edit]

The 5 boroughs

New York City' consists of four or five boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island) spread out over roughly three islands (all of two and the western tip of Long Island) at the mouth of the Hudson River in New York state, as well as a small sliver of the mainland between Manhattan and Long Island. Founded as the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam, it is blessed with an excellent natural harbor and one of the more bearable East Coast climates.

  • Manhattan — Erstwhile hipster mecca-cum-execrable office park. Always dirty, overpriced, and suffused with Brooklyn/Queens-castigating transplants who need to have the "New York, NY" address as a snobby status symbol (to wit: parts of the West Side, the Harlems, and Washington Heights-Inwood are as far or farther from the city center than many Brooklyn neighborhoods), although these nefarious characters multiplied exponentially during the Giuliani mayoralty, decimating the last authentic elements of its decadent, après-(Lou, not John) Reed visage. Now home to the new Versailles (with the general sensibilities of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-bashing Florida retirees manifesting in narcissistic-to-sociopathic private equity/public relations/"consultant" scalawags clothed in Lululemon and AirPods). Best avoided unless you're doing the requisite Joey Ramone/Larry Levan/Stonewall pilgrimage — or snag a post-COVID invitation to lunch with some Geriatric Master of the Universe at the Century Association — although such sights as Inwood Hill Park and the campus of the City College of New York (the once and future "Harvard of the proletariat") are quite underrated.
  • Brooklyn — Boasting a plurality of its residents, the real heart of the city, although this has been tempered by "creeping gentrification" that has long since come into actualization. Indeed, the actualization had commenced by the time displaced Villagers and neighborhood boosters rechristened the better quarters of Old South Brooklyn as "Boerum Hill" and "Carroll Gardens" in the late 1960s, while the downtown cognoscenti discovered Williamsburg lofts not long thereafter. (It all makes sense when one considers that the redlining which facilitated Brooklyn's degentrification was all but tantamount to a historical aberration. Park Slope was the wealthiest neighborhood in the United States prior to consolidation — yes, Brooklyn was its own city until Chinatown-style water drama prompted the "Great Mistake" of 1898. Still, fuggedabout the elitist pre-consolidation "city of houses and churches" nurturing the likes of Barbra Streisand, Mel Brooks and gangster-to-movie/TV gangster phenom Tony Sirico — 'twas worth it, even if James Agee wrote that odious article conflating its denizens' street smarts with intellectual lassitude! But we digress.) These days, even in the borough's less fashionable, immigrant-driven communities (which are more akin to Queens than the brownstone/postindustrial Brooklyn of Girls), a down payment on a modest 1-bedroom co-op (almost assuredly in a 3-to-4-story building not subject to the city's prewar fireproofing laws) would require years of savings at above-average salaries in a two-income household without, y'know, "familial magnanimity." (One does not need to be a FIRE tool or trust fund beneficiary per se, as the most substantive and beneficial changes in southern Brooklyn stem from huge Chinese families successfully pooling their resources.) Unless you live in Marine Park and commute to Kennedy Airport, proximity to the subway is key, as many of its limited-access highways were built on the cheap by Robert Moses (c.f. The Power Broker by Robert Caro) and lack basic amenities like hard shoulders, resulting in miles of congestion when a single crash occurs. But the cannabis-scented sunsets at the eponymous park (or its fancier sister, Fort Greene Park) always compensate for any quotidian drama, fear not. (And yes, Prospect Park is the apotheosis of Olmsted and Vaux, but you already knew that.)
  • Bronx — Relatively unchanged from its putative 1970s "nadir," save for pockets of growth along Jerome Avenue and near Yankee Stadium. The cradle of hip-hop — culturally and geographically isolated from the omnisexual disco revolution in downtown Manhattan, the old funk and reggae folkways were gradually transubstantiated into the lingua franca of America's youth cultures. Despite this indisputable historicity, much of it lacks the aesthetic appeal of Victorian/Edwardian Brooklyn (lots of Machine Age-era apartment buildings were erected in the 1910s-1920s for the incipient Jewish middle class, and the upkeep has been erratic), significant change will only occur with the unlikely prospect of improved transit. For those who are undaunted (and the real issue these days is poor transportation, not the amorphous vagaries of crime), there is truly engrossing heterogeneity beneath the hard-scrabble surface; once the "the Park Avenue of middle class Bronx residents," the Grand Concourse features one of the coolest concentrations of residential Art Deco architecture this side of Miami, while Riverdale could be likened to a bizarre, woodsy exclave of Westchester County. (And complexes like Parkchester and Co-op City are groovy, thoroughly integrated steals if you meet the prerequisites.)
  • Staten Island — So the Port Authority's looking to raise our tolls again? Must be Tuesday. Also has comparable educational attainment rates to the Bronx despite its relative affluence because its (predominantly white ethnic) residents tend to gravitate toward dead-end government jobs... while espousing New Right sympathies, naturally. Still, it has given us the legendarium of the Wu-Tang Clan, while Todt Hill is like Mill Valley or San Rafael if they were populated by made Mafiosi instead of former Grateful Dead employees. You could see a Marin/Berkeley Hills-type scene evolving here in due time amid inevitable demographic shifts, though.
  • Queens — Lots of Asians, particularly in the vertiginous, Blade Runner-esque milieu of downtown Flushing. A prewar WASP redoubt that attracted upwardly mobile white ethnics and thence the great migration of post-1965 immigrants from East Asia, South Asia, Latin America and beyond. Proximity to Midtown Manhattan (via the superior IND subway lines, the Long Island Rail Road and the only honest-to-God real interstates in the city outside of Staten Island) and slightly less rapacious real estate prices vis-à-vis Brooklyn are the main appeals for its residents; its diversity may attract legions of food writers following the lead of Robert Sietsema and Pete Wells, but the pay-to-play Bill de Blasio/Andrew Cuomo administrations aren't doing anything for this borough. (And Cuomo is from Holliswood!) Interestingly, neighborhoods like St. Albans and Cambria Heights emerged as de facto suburbs for Black residents due to... you guessed it, pernicious midcentury redlining. Forest Hills and the sub-neighborhood of Forest Hills Gardens are must-sees for neo-Tudor aficionados.
    • Lawn Guyland Long Island — Suburbia, as Nassau (one of its two counties) broke off from Queens following consolidation. Now large enough to be a borough (or two). Runs the gamut from elaborate, prewar Eyes Wide Shut-style manses to Levittown, the archetypal (and ignominiously race-restricted) postwar tract suburb. Out in Suffolk County, the beachfront Hamptons and Montauk evolved from gritty fishing communities and artist's colonies (more or less analogous to Boston-adjacent Provincetown) to the East, East Side for those one-percenter Manhattanites who can't deign to bathe in the more egalitarian waters of the Rockaways and the Jersey Shore. But the segregated, cul-de-sac-laden banality of the Baby Boomer era predominates in the popular imagination, and it was these "idealized" communities that spawned the likes of Pamela Geller, Michael Savage, Peter King, Anthony Cumia, etc. To his credit, Nelson Rockefeller trolled the locals by placing an experimental SUNY campus in Old Westbury, one of the wealthiest communities in the nation; it endures as one of the most diverse colleges in the state."Long Island will reject the KKK not because its members are racists but because they're clumsy amateurs at racism compared to many Long Islanders."[3]

Shorthand[edit]

Having long ago surpassed Boston and Philadelphia as the premier city of the British American colonies and the United States, New York City is now the world's most important city in many areas, finance being the most easily notable. Parts of the city have become virtually synonymous with some fields, especially in the US.

  • Wall Street is used to mean "business interests" or "the stock market."
  • Broadway is the premier theater district (also known as "The Great White Way").
  • Madison Avenue stands in for "advertising."
  • Fifth Avenue is associated with shopping.
  • Seventh Avenue is the center of the American fashion industry.
  • Ellis Island, while no longer the major port of entry for immigrants in the modern day, still conjures up images of massive waves of people arriving on the New World's shores.
  • Times Square is, for the rest of the world, a metonym for glitzy overblown commercialism. And New Year's Eve. For New Yorkers, it's a metonym for tourists who adorably grind foot traffic to a halt so they can take pictures of billboards.
  • Harlem, for many decades, was synonymous with African-American culture, a role now associated with the South Bronx, Atlanta and South Central Los Angeles, among other places. And with the Chicago Globetrotters.

Sports[edit]

The only way the Jets win a Super Bowl is if all 31 other teams die in a freak accident at the same time. Even then, if the game is an inter-squad scrimmage between the Jets and the Jets, they'll somehow still lose. The Giants on the other hand, will either suck ass the entire season, or just barely make it to the playoffs and against all odds make it to the Super Bowl, but only if the Patriots are also there. Both Giants and Jets play at the same stadium, which isn't even in the same state.

Transit[edit]

Anyone riding a bike in NYC will, within about 2 hours, start to wonder if every driver is trying to kill them—along with some of the pedestrians, and even other people on bikes. The key is to ride defensively. As in, assume that Honda door is going to open, assume that delivery boy is driving the wrong way, assume that taxi is going to turn without signaling, etc. But, most bikers don't do so, they just ride on through the middle of traffic and ignore signals, jump out in front of everyone, so most drivers actually do wish to kill some of the bikers.

One thing NYC has going for it is lots of one-way streets and cars can't turn right on red.

Subway[edit]

I would advise any new parent to roll their child on the floor of the New York subway.
—Chris Mason, geneticist[4]

There's like five NYC stations in total that can compare to the metro stations in urban Africa and South America. Or even goddamn New Jersey. The NYC transit system is on the verge of total collapse every single day, and MTA workers are nothing more than emergency managers who spend each day trying to keep the system just barely afloat and functioning. There is work to be done all throughout these tunnels and yet nobody available to do it, no mass hiring of tens of thousands of unemployed Bronx and Brooklynites to clean it all up, or build new train cars, or replace the fucking signal system from 1915. The entire system has been packaged and sold off to private contractors who can turn it into corruption and bribes easier than your bladder turns water into pee. (Governor Cuomo literally attempted to steal a quarter billion from the MTA budget to install decorative lights on the city's bridges.)[5]

In short, the MTA is a microcosm for the public transit experience of every American. Investment in infrastructure has been a meme in the US for the last two years; we've been laughing at the idea of it.

That being said, it's still the only way to travel, so if you are a first-time rider on New York's clean and efficient subway system, be sure to:

  • Familiarize yourself with the smell of the subway stations gradually by walking over the metal things you see on the sidewalk which provide ventilation. This will be most effective on stations in Downtown (such as 14th Street on the B, D, F and M lines) rather than stations in more affluent (or less effluent) areas of the city, such as the Upper East Side (86th Street on the 4, 5 and 6 will not desensitize you to the smell as well as 14th Street will, although 59th Street always inexplicably smells like old piss, no matter how near Bloomingdale's it is).
  • Learn how to swipe the MetroCard before you approach the turnstile, or else the locals may get angry and bust a cap. Read the MetroCard and look at the arrows! The arrows will teach you the proper etiquette of swiping the MetroCard.
  • If you happen to be on the A train in Far Rockaway, beware the occasional man and his associate selling candies for "dem kids with da cancer." You will find these to be a scam; also, in typical New York fashion, the Metropolitan Transit Authority will pwn you if you sell items on trains.
  • If you stupidly jump onto the tracks to fetch something, roll into the gap beneath the platform as the added shoulder space will definitely help you a lot.
  • A few years riding the NYC subway and your immune system becomes Hercules; it's great! (From personal experience, if you take a weekend subway into the Bronx, you face a 90% chance of being confronted with someone else's bodily fluids.)
  • The subway system's unique failure to link with other lines when it's supposed to, and its failure to provide seemingly necessary lines (that Phase 1 of the Second Avenue line is coming in 2016!), is the result of stunningly ineffective free-market capitalism at its best. When the lines were privately owned, the subway barons refused to let their lines intersect, to the disadvantage of everyone but the subway barons. Since the city bought the lines in the mid-20th century, minimal effort has been made to make up for a century of transit built on the "no-fair-he's-touching-me" model. In transit systems built by a single government agency, such as Baltimore's, this problem never arises. Following these tips, combined with the plentiful space (particularly on the Lexington Avenue line) and friendly transit officers willing to assist you with accurate responses to any questions you may have (such as, "The express train most certainly does stop at 66th Street!"), will enable you to find your subway ride to be pleasant.

Service[edit]

Restaurant service varies from the perfunctory to the obsequious, passing briefly through the highly professional and excellent. However, don't believe all you hear about the city. This editor, after working very late one night, entered a 2nd Avenue restaurant that looked open. It went like this:

"Hi, are you still serving?"
"Nope."
"I thought this was the city that never sleeps."
"We're not a-fucking-sleep, we just ain't serving."

Sex[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Sex

In the city. Mostly overrated. But the TV show was amusing for its first couple of seasons.

Abominations[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Abomination

Eating pizza with a fork and knife.

…Oh, and the Statue of Liberty is in New York (and the Supreme Court agrees, even if it did say that the water around the Statue of Liberty belongs to New Jersey).[6] It is an abomination unto the LORD. The Bible says, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (Exodus 20:4)

Most of the larger cities in Upstate New York can be considered abominations as well. They really aren't all that great (Ithaca is clearly exempt). Still less corrupt than Florida.

Donald Trump — New Yorkers mostly hate the fucker. He only got 10% of the vote in his home borough of Manhattan, 22% in his natal borough of Queens, only won 1 borough, Staten Island,[7] a place "where time had stopped — kind of stuck in the '50s."[8]

Slogans[edit]

  • "Our rats are bigger than your rats."[9]
  • "Get the fuck out of the way!"[10]
  • Bloomberg? I hardly know berg!

New York in popular culture[edit]

In many disaster and apocalyptic films literally EVERYTHING bad happens to New York City (Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Tsunamis, Zombies, Asteroids, Giant Marshmallow Men, GodzillaWikipedia, and so on), this is no exaggeration at all.

References[edit]

  1. Fear in New York with a saxophone
  2. Actually, some scientists looked at the bacteria in Manhattan and mapped it. Big Data and Bacteria: Mapping the New York Subway’s DNA: Scientists in 18-Month Project Gather DNA Throughout Transit System to Identify Germs, Study Urban Microbiology (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 5, 2015)
  3. Filler, Lane, " Long Island's different style of racism", Newsday 8.26.14.
  4. A geneticist says any new parent should 'roll their child on floor of the NYC subway' — here's why by Erin Brodwin (August 15, 2015 10:45 AM) Business Insider.
  5. http://gothamist.com/2017/07/19/cuomo_bridge_lights_budget.php
  6. See the Wikipedia article on New Jersey v. New York. We aren't kidding.
  7. Borough breakdown: How NYC voted for the president (hint: Clinton didn't win them all) (November 09, 2016) Eyewitness News abc7NY WABC-TV
  8. Jason Alexander: Quotes IMDb.
  9. With this in mind, you may want to avoid the temptation to eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  10. New Yorkers aren't rude. You are. From HuffPo. (TLDR — New York City is filled with people who don't drive. Instead, they walk and take public transportation everywhere, especially to work. So when you're standing there like a fucking lump in the middle of the sidewalk so you can stare up at the tall buildings, or when you try to board a subway car before people have had a chance to exit like you're the Queen of fucking Sheba, their bumping into you and telling you to get the fuck out of the way is just their gentle way of saying that it is you who is being rude to them.)