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May152010

Stop Being So "Smug," Imaginary New Yorkers!

Filed under: The Squib Report   Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Martin Schneider writes:

Recently Ezra Klein, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Conor Friedersdorf, and Andrew Sullivan have been blogging about New York City's overweening cultural clout and—interesting, this—the tendency of its residents to behave in a smug manner.

I must say, the discussion has been extremely disappointing, and I came away from it feeling frustrated, annoyed, and not a little insulted. I guess it is helpful to find out how much people dislike you for reasons that seem insufficient or inaccurate. Such is the power of cultural envy, or something like cultural envy.

The discussion proceeded along the following lines: Friedersdorf wrote about New York's worrisome centrality in all cultural matters and its pernicious effects on other major cities. Sullivan weighed in, agreeing and complaining about how "irritating" New Yorkers' "narcissism" is. Accepting New Yorkers' smugness as a given, Coates then wrote a fairly empathetic post in which he gamely tried to put that smugness in context. Then Ezra Klein (this was my entry point into the discussion) quoted Coates approvingly and called the behavior of New Yorkers "unseemly."

As a lifelong New Yorker, all I can say is: WTF?

Notice how quickly the discussion devolved: in short order, it went from a look at the unfortunate tendency of New York to "hog" (my word) the major cultural and literary outlets to complaints about the self-obsessed behavior of New Yorkers. Quite literally, the discussion went from "It's too bad that smart people in Phoenix and Houston and Denver don't get a chance to have the literary spotlight" to "Yes; I'd never want to live in New York; the city is overrated and the people are narcissistic" to "Well, yes, but the people there are smug for a reason" to "New Yorkers are unseemly because they won't shut up about how great their city is."

That, my friends, is some serious devolution. In no time, the subject of the relationship of, say, The New Yorker (the magazine) to the literary scene in Denver (this is an interesting subject) was dropped completely in favor of an attack on unnamed New Yorkers for unspecified actions. In three posts focusing on the inability of New Yorkers to shut up about how great New York is, you know how many beastly New Yorkers were quoted or referenced doing this?

The answer, you may be surprised to learn, is zero.

That's right: confronted with presumably countless examples of snobbish New Yorkers disparaging Indianapolis, Tulsa, Atlanta, or Baltimore, Klein, Coates, and Sullivan couldn't be bothered to name a single instance of anybody doing this. In this discussion, that was taken as a given, just as in a book you don't have to cite anyone to establish that Amsterdam is north of Rome. It is a truth just as self-evident, apparently.

This gets all the more astonishing if you contemplate analogous scenarios. Imagine if any of these men had endeavored to make some point about, say, Mexican-Americans in the same manner. Ahh, "Mexican-Americans are fine people and work hard, but they obsess too much about soccer and they have no interest in education," let's say. Do you think any of them would venture such a statement without casting about for some empirical evidence that what they were saying is true? Even a single anecdote? I doubt it. But apparently New Yorkers are not accorded the same courtesy. Such are the pleasures of living in America's cultural capital or whatever.

I'm going to push back on this "self-evident" premise. Before I get to that, I want to make it clear that I do agree that certain New Yorkers, and I'll even include myself in this group, are capable of some insensitivity on the question of the cultural offerings available in New York in comparison to those available in other parts of the country. There's something to that, and saying so is basically fine. What I mainly question here is the use of the words "narcissicism" and "smug." If the exact same discussion had been about New Yorkers' "sense of entitlement," I might not take much issue.

Let's start with Klein's post. Klein basically says that you can't get New Yorkers to shut up about how great New York City is. Let's quote:

About the worst thing that can happen to you in life is to be in a room with two Texans who start trying to tell you about the Alamo. Or about Texas. Or about how Texas was affected by the Alamo. But there's something endearing about it, too. Texans are battling stereotypes that don't tend to favor them. It's like talking up your mom's meatloaf. New Yorkers, by contrast, have what's considered the greatest city in the country and can't stop talking about it. It's like an A-student bragging about his grades, or a rich guy making everybody look at his car. It's unseemly.

So, from Sullivan's "narcissism" we quickly get to Klein's picture of New Yorkers incessantly talking up their city. Many of the people reading this are New Yorkers. I ask you, New Yorkers: Does this portrayal seem accurate to you? I may be completely blinkered, but it does not seem accurate to me. If anything, New Yorkers tend to betray an unspoken assumption that New York is superior and are less prone to acting evangelical about touting the city. Am I wrong about this?

Let's talk about New York for a moment. Coates, to his credit, mentions the sheer size of New York City (he says that it's "like ten Detroits") and points out that, statistically speaking, you're going to get a good number of boors in a population that large, no matter what you do. He refers to New York City as "what happens when you slam millions of people who are really different into close proximity." Right on.

So given that, let me ask: Are taxi drivers from Ghana "smug"? Are the Pakistani owners of bodegas a "narcissistic" bunch? Who are we talking about here, exactly? When Sullivan and Klein talk about narcissism and smugness, aren't they really talking about educated New Yorkers who work in publishing and similar fields? Does that make a difference? If they're more "entitled," is it still fair to make such sweeping generalizations about them?

To get a little personal here: Last week I spent a couple of days in South Carolina with extended family; the group was about 20 people, most of whom were raised in South Carolina or Georgia. Smart people; nice people. The entire time I was with them, at no point did I gush about this great museum exhibition or that awesome indie rock gig; it wouldn't occur to me to do that, because it would obviously be rude and seek to put the others present at some sort of disadvantage. Also, it's unclear how interested any of these people would be in a band they had never heard of or an exhibition they would have no opportunity to attend. It's equally unclear to me how many New Yorkers would prattle on about the city in this manner. It seems to me, not so many.

We didn't spend all that much time watching television, but some of us did catch the tail end of VH1's Top 100 Songs of the 1990s and Betty White on Saturday Night Live. Both shows made for good communal watching experiences because we all had the same cultural purchase on the material. Everyone below a certain age was familiar with Nirvana, and we all could enjoy the punchlines involving the potty-mouthed Ms. White. And that was great; there was no potential for anybody to feel left out.

Another story: twice this year I drove out to Cleveland to witness a particularly memorable indie rock project called the Lottery League. (By all means, click and be amazed.) I met a lot of grand people during both trips, and I enjoyed it so much that I'm currently seeking to relocate there for the summer and maybe beyond.

Most Clevelanders are pretty wary of New York, for reasons I find perfectly comprehensible. A microcosm of that view can be found in the relationship between the "have" Yankees and the "have-not" Indians. It's little wonder that Clevelanders (along with pretty much everyone else in the country) are sick and tired of the successes of the Yankees and that they refer to the team as the "evil empire." (Given that, it would be a disappointment of epic proportions if LeBron James ends up abandoning his native Ohio for Madison Square Garden. I really hope he stays in Cleveland.) The Yankees serve as a symbol for everything New York has and other places don't, and people hate New York for that.

It's an accident of history that New York City is what it is, and yes, New Yorkers cherish it, you're damn right we do. We are sometimes unthinking about assuming that another place might have, I don't know, good theater, and we sometimes have to catch ourselves mid-sentence to avoid appearing rude. We do take that sort of thing for granted, yes. One name for that is "living in a place."

It's useless to deny that New York City tends to hog the attention-getting people and events that make a difference in the cultural arena. When you interact with outsiders about it, you can choose to pretend that it isn't true ("Oh, I'm sure Indianapolis has great theater too!"), or you can disparage other places ("God, I could never live in Denver, there probably isn't a decent restaurant in the whole city."), or you can honor the reality in a relatively humble way ("Wellllll, you know New York, we're all a little fussy about theater and the like, but it sure is gorgeous here on this South Carolina beach...."). Does that last one count as smug or narcissistic? I'm genuinely curious.

The fact is, New York City is a very specialized ecosystem, and its natives don't always thrive outside that particular rainforest. This is a well-known phenomenon, isn't it? The New Yorker who can't leave the city, even though part of him hates it? We're all a little misshapen.

So maybe a little compassion for us "smug" New Yorkers. As far as I know, anyone who envies the city is free to drive on over and move in, we're very welcoming that way. And since we're accustomed to teeming multiplicity in all its forms, we're a little slower to describe vast groups of people with a single disparaging adjective without any kind of evidentiary backup. It's kind of a local tradition 'round these parts.

Comments

Hell yes!

Reiterated here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5U9QRiY46I

T.M. De VosMay 16, 2010

Great post, Martin. As an Angeleno, I love New York. Personally, I’ve never met a smug New Yorker myself or any New Yorker who disparaged or mocked the cultural offerings of Los Angeles. New Yorkers are justifiably proud of their city. I wish Angelenos had the same level of pride for their own city: if we did we would make the city more bike-friendly, build a viable subway system, rebuild LAX (a disgrace and embarrassment), and bring back the trolley car system.

Thank you and right on re LA. Why is LAX such a disgrace? I was not aware of this.

Oh, it’s a total nightmare: dirty, disorganized, and ugly. “Los Angeles International Airport is rated among the worst” in the country according to this article: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/feb/27/business/la-fi-travel-briefcase27-2010feb27

It blows my mind that with all this talk of New Yorkers being smug that no one has mentioned how the, um, “abrasive” temperament of New Yorkers might intensify the passions of non-New-Yorkers on this subject.

Dude, have you never been to LAX? The first time my (then two -year-old) daughter used the bathroom there while we were waiting for the luggage, she said “mommy, what’s wrong with this aiwport?” Admittedly we had just flown out of Singapore’s Changi, but LAX blows goats.

New Yorkers are no more provincial than people from anywhere else. It’s only that it’s considered somehow appropriate to hate on them in a way that is true of no other US city. Could you just going around talking smack about what assholes people from Metter, Georgia are? No you could not, unless you were willing to be dubbed an evil, latte-sipping, smirking shithead. LA is the only other city allowed to be hated on to anything like the same degree. Why the hatred of imaginary smug New Yorkers? People are jealous they don’t live in NYC.

I live in Southern Vermont and I hear quite a few loud, rude complaints about the food, the roads, the weather, the hours of the shops and everything else you can imagine from NYers (as well as NJers and CTers) who have second homes here or are visiting friends with second homes here. Maybe you should try going undercover as a Vermont resident sometime and watch Your People from another point of view. Maybe catch some earnest, amateur community theater, let some pedestrians cross the road without trying to kill them, and eat an inauthentic bagel or two.

Isn’t one reason that no actual person was referenced disparaging random cities that New Yorkers don’t spend alot of time thinking about any place that isn’t New York? This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s the same dynamic you see in a smallish town anywhere in America.

Corey SchmitzMay 17, 2010

I like that, New York assholes as the new Snuffle-upagus. (He was just here! I swear!)

I think New Yorkers develop habits that make sense to New York but don’t travel well. The legendary “brusqueness” or “impatience” of New Yorkers (don’t need citations on that one) is largely a show of respect, because the assumption is that your time is valuable and so is that of your counterpart. Certain things make sense when so many people are crammed together in a hectic context, and they don’t work so well elsewhere. Hence, brusqueness.

I visited Vermont last year under those kinds of circumstances, and I can see how that would happen. I wonder if part of the problem is the highly transactional nature of life in New York. You’re constantly paying out for things, many times a day, and navigating constant systems of obligations, favors, advantages. It’s not my favorite aspect of New York. So when a New Yorker ventures outside, that same sort of “I won’t get taken/Where’s my value here?” mentality becomes a big albatross. But Sullivan and Klein didn’t betray much interest in this dynamic beyond chiding New Yorkers.

Also, remember that most New Yorkers come from elsewhere, have family who live elsewhere, and so on. We have the same ties to other places anyone else does. Those things do prompt New Yorkers to “think” about other places.

Nope, never been to California. Want to rectify that next year maybe (this one’s already pretty crowded).

I’m a lifelong Angeleno and can testify that:

1. LAX really is a bad airport. What its big problem is is that instead of being like one large airport, it’s like 8 medium-sized airports all crammed up next to each other. Terminals 1,2, and 3 are all kinda old and crappy, so the airport experience is like getting in and old of an old and crappy medium-sized airport, expect that you have to deal with mega-sized airport traffic to get in and out of it. The facilities in the newer terminals aren’t particularly nice, but they’re not quite as crappy as the older terminals. But you have to pass through more of the rest of the airport traffic to get to them.

But the real killer is if you have to switch terminals on a connecting flight. To do so, you have to completely exit the terminal you’re in, fight your way through the arriving and departing airport traffic to get to the terminal you’re going through, and then go through security all over again.

Thankfully there are several alternative airports around Southern California, but we still have to fly in and out of LAX a good portion of the time.

2. I take public transit and have, in fact, overheard expat New Yorkers complain that L.A. is just inferior to New York, to which I just have to wonder why they moved out here. I’ve also known other visiting or expat New Yorkers who chat up how great NY is. Heck, just look at Ezra Klein, an ex-Californian, who presents it as a given that New York is superior and apologizes only for advertizing this apparently incontrovertible fact.

See, here’s where I come down on this. I have no doubts that these tendencies exist to some degree, even to some large degree. But the complaints are generally still very overdetermined. There are a couple of subjects that people are wildly sensitive about, so much so that it makes discussion impossible. Have you ever tried to have a conversation about IQ or the number of books you’ve read? Everyone is so eager to make sure everyone knows that their intellect is in good order that it drowns out every other possible avenue of discussion.

And the same thing is true of identifying with place. Note that Klein and Sullivan began ragging on New Yorkers with pretty much no pretext. That was the reason I felt insulted. Really, guys? The most important contribution you can muster from Friedersdorf’s post is that you have to let people know how awful New Yorkers are? Klein wouldn’t let that crap ride if it were any other subject.

So you get into these overreactions where if a New Yorker happens to observe that the coffee options in New York City allow patrons to exercise a little more choice, then everyone else feels entitled to jump all over that person and call him a jerk, even though nothing interesting was said or even really implied, because everyone felt the need for a preemptive strike and cut off the “narcissistic” New Yorker eight sentences before he even began to get judgmental about anything.

My entire life has been spent dealing with smug New York City Dwellers.

As a native Western New Yorker, I was bred to dislike the city. People from NYC have, generally speaking, been unnecessarily condescending about my origins, like I somehow wasn’t lucky enough to be birthed from a vagina located in the city. “Oh, you’re from Upstate… like Westchester? FARTHER?! WOW…”

I now live in DC and have for years. DC is not New York City. I have been reminded of this by every person that has spent even a few weeks in New York and is the type of person that loves it. The comments only get worse from people that I used to know that are current NYC residents. Their attitudes have changed drastically and it is a little upsetting.

When DC went through its cupcake thing a few years back, people from NYC bemoaned that we had “no good” cupcake places… at least, not as good as New York City’s. The bars in DC, people tell me, are bad and lifeless… fourth-rate at best to New York. The music scene, I hear, is pretty shitty, too. All of these comments have been handed unto me by friends that are either still living in NYC or are recent transplants from it. These little jabs happen all the time and, I’m sure, no one making them is thinking to themselves, “Wow, that was likely uncalled for,” but they are irksome and they do lend to this “myth” that people from NYC are smug.

One of the previous commenters posted that if someone from NYC just “happens” to mention that in NYC people have more choices in coffee, then they are immediately considered jerks. That’s not entirely accurate, but I do look at people like you in the same way I look at friends of mine who are entirely too enamored with a significant other- they find ways to drop that person into conversation even when it’s not appropriate (i.e.: “My mom’s dog just died,” somehow produces, “Oh my god, James’s friend’s girlfriend’s cat’s brother’s dog just had to be put down! I love James!”). People from NYC do this city-dropping, perhaps because you have a really great thing and feel the need to share it. But if I mention that I got a crappy latte from a local place in DC (or insert other city), the appropriate response is not, in fact, to mention that you know a great little place in the Bronx and that NY has better coffee options. That doesn’t help me or my half-rate latte. And to some people, you probably do seem like a self-important jerk for bringing it up.

I also found it interesting that the first thing mentioned in your piece was more or less a, “Whatever- you just jealous, bitches,” argument for why- maybe- a large number of people feel that people in NYC are, in fact, raging assholes about how awesome their city is. You do have a lot of cool stuff, but it’s that attitude that makes people not actually like you.

I think, perhaps, you’re suffering from being too close to a situation to accurately assess your current circumstances. You probably don’t know any smug New Yorkers because you’re all smug New Yorkers, happy in your rather large sounding box of like-minded people. And that’s ok. It’s the DC equivalent of polling all your friends in Georgetown if your Sperry’s match your Croakies and are they totally the bomb dot com (Answer: OMG, YES).

I think that’s very eloquent, and probably true, I am too close to the subject. I’d like to push back on just one or two small points.

First, I dispute the idea that I inmediately ascribed everything to cultural jealousy. Ta-Nehisi Coates lives in New York, Sullivan and Klein live in DC, but Klein has lived in New York, Sullivan went to Oxford. I don’t think they are suffering from cultural envy, and I probably should have been more careful about my wording. I meant to say that the discussion is marked by a great deal of cultural envy. If you re-read the passage of Ezra Klein I quoted, you’ll see that he situates New York as the rich guy with the car or the smart kid with the good graders. I’m not the one who claimed New York is better at anything, particularly. Ezra did that. And then said New Yorkers aren’t very gracious about their advantages. Like it or not, that’s cultural envy working, and I definitely didn’t mean it to come off as, “you just jealous, bitches.” And I think if you re-read what I wrote fairly, not a lot of it is consistent with that.

That’s point one. The other thing is that I’m just dispositionally opposed to tarring so many people with one brush. Places affect people, so it’s fair somehow to say that Texans “tend” to do this or New Yorkers “tend” to do that. But if you re-read my post, I think you’ll find that it’s rare that I say certain people “all” do this or that. The questions I asked about the taxi drivers and bodega owners — nobody’s tried to answer those, because it challenges their assumptions that New Yorkers are cut from the same cloth. We aren’t, and neither is anybody else.

You won’t catch me saying “Oxford graduates are all like this” or “UCLA graduates are all like this,” because it’s a genuinely obnoxious way to talk about human activity, and I’m genuinely annoyed with the habit of mind that leads to statements like that. In other words, I’m more bothered by the need to tar so many people with one brush than the actual substance of the claims. But none of that seems to bother Sullivan and Klein very much, apparently, which is a shame because usually they write more insightful things.

Regional bigotry against New Yorkers / Northeasterners / city-dwellers is one of the last institutionally allowable prejudices in this country.

My entire life I have been told that I must be a snob who hates “Flyover Country” just because of where I live. Meanwhile, the only people I’ve ever heard even use that phrase have been the people who lived in the region I’m told it describes, and who have explicitly devoted their lives to bashing other parts of the country. Their anti-NYC rhetoric would do Al-Qaeda proud.

Never underestimate an insecure person’s love for bigotry.

I love New York. I think it’s probably the greatest city I’ve ever been to. I’m guessing the smug New Yorkers are mostly transplants. Lifelong New Yorkers don’t have anything bad to say about my city (Minneapolis) because they know nothing about it. When I’ve visited NY and tell people where I’m from all I hear is “it’s cold there.” New Yorkers can afford to be provincial because everything they need is right there.

New York is the safest of all the big cities in the United States. Consequently, people aren’t afraid to return from theaters and concerts late at night. Bookstores are open late; some restaurants are open 24 hours a day.
New York’s low crime rate is related to the cultural and ethnic integration of the city. Everyone is at home. Everyone has a good chance of economic success.

I’ve lived in Upstate New York for 21 years, Michigan for 6 years, Ohio for one year, and the New York Metro area for the last 22 years. I married in to a family from rural Appalachia, and, in the past 19 years, have spent a great deal of time in rural Virginia. I think I know a little about how New Yorkers talk about New York City, and about how people from the rest of America talk about New York City.

First, no matter where people are from, they consider their home to be the center of the universe. People from Michigan are focused on Michigan football, the big 3 auto companies, and the marvelous beaches along Lake Michigan. They talk about vacations “Up North,” follow Bob Seger’s every word, and mourned, en masse, when Ernie Harwell (long time Tiger announcer) died a couple of weeks ago. They are, in general, indifferent to Mayor Bloomberg, real estate in Park Slope, the new sandwich shop on 29th and Broadway, and the million and six things going on in NYC every day.

People in the Cleveland area are rightly proud of their Symphony. They love how their downtown has been revitalized. They mourn the failures of the Browns, and they gossip about Dennis Kucinich, Sherrod Brown, and Jackie Presser ( a Cleveland boy). They love the Lake Erie islands, and they are sure to point out how superior Cleveland is, compared to Columbus or Cincinnati. Like peopel in Michigan, as a general rule, they don’t think to much about the G Train, the new pedestrian areas in Times Square, or any other thing that New Yorkers think about.

People from Upstate New York worry about upstate. Rochesterians are quick to tell you how Rochester is much cleaner, more vibrant, and more interesting than Buffalo or Syracuse. They visit New York every now and then, and come home and brag about their visits. But, in general, they are proud of where they live, happy to tell you how beautiful the Finger Lakes are, and, in general, interested in where they live, as opposed to a city 350 miles away.

Southerners are kind of split. Some are fascinated with New York. I have relatives who come up here as often as they can, because there are stores, restaurants, and show up here that they can’t get down there. Some are kind of mystified about the area, and they will ask: How can ya’ll live up there? I try to answer them as best as I can. Rural Southerners are, in general, proud of where they live, and not shy about telling you. Did you ever listen to country music? It’s full of homages to the rural south. “If you’re lookin at me, you’re lookin at country.” “My home’s in Alabama.” “Drive South.” “Okie from Muskokee.” “Coal Miner’s daughter.” You get the point. Southerners are going on forever about how wonderful the South is.

The truth is, everyone talks about where they live. Everyone knows how their hometown is wonderful. Part of the standard college freshman experience is learning that everyone in your dorm — those people from Queens and Cleveland and Cedar Rapids and Los Angeles — all love where they’re from, all have great late night dives, all have great local bands you never heard of. New Yorkers are no different from anyone else. This is a silly argument.

Hanan Kolko May 17, 2010

I find this all a little ridiculous. Having been raised in Oklahoma City, lived in Louisville, Denver, DC AND New York City all wonderful towns. When I first moved to NYC I was very apprehensive having heard about those mean nasty New Yorkers… I found just the opposite people were very friendly and helpful I saw examples of it all the time not just for me but witnessing others being helped or treated graciously. NYC has a lot to be proud of and if New Yorkers are proud of their city so be it.

Anne MurrayMay 17, 2010

“Why the hatred of imaginary smug New Yorkers? People are jealous they don’t live in NYC.”

Oops.

As a Bay Area resident, I have to claim San Francisco as the most SMUG city of all. Beautiful, but SMUG.

What’s wrong with being proud of your city? People should be proud of their cities or the towns that they live, especially if that care and pride turn into the sort of action that improves them. Our cities should compete to see which is the greenest, most attractive, most economically just, most culturally vibrant and safest. I think the problem is that so much of the media is located in either NY, LA and DC that the media and the populations of those areas are simply unaware of the stuff going on in other regions and metropolitan areas. In that sense, NY, LA and DC are as provincial as Flagstaff or San Luis Obispo. But I think it’s important to be provincial. Interesting culture is created precisely by appealing to a local provincial audience, whether it’s southerners writing country music or Florentine painters painting for the Medici. Cultural production that attempts universality is usually pretty boring.

People who indulge in New Yorker bashing need to examine their motives, their logic and their inferiority complexes. It is not a New Yorker’s job to make you feel better if you don’t live here. I was born here so it’s my home town and I feel the same thrill of the familiar when I return after being away that everyone feels about their home town. Why would anyone live in a place they didn’t love? Why do non-New Yorkers need to judge New Yorkers on love of place?Especially a place that has so many stressful factors to overcome including crowding, cacaphony and expense. New Yorkers get a reputation because the city’s ambient speed demands you move fast, think fast, and talk fast. Some people adapt when they come here and some suffer sensory overload and never want to come back. Most New Yorkers are polite as long as you don’t try to put something over on them. But with all the competition it is an evolutionary fact that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I can’t help it that I was born in the widely acknowledged greatest city in the world. I should automatically be deemed smug because of it? Since when is agreeing with prevailing opinion considered smug?

Dana in NYCMay 18, 2010

I’ll point out here as I’ve pointed out elsewhere that Connor listed the WSJ as an example of NY taking over too much mental landscape. Given that the WSJ only started covering NY with a local section this month, methinks his idea about NY taking up too much mental landscape is a bit distorted.

I think it helps to define what aspects of culture we are talking about here in terms of “if you can make it in NY you can make it anywhere”. This is true in some fields, but not in others. I think it’s important to point out that NYC is the national capital for certain things, but not others.

For instance, NYC has little importance in the fields of science and technology. It has never been a center of architectural innovation, but brings in architects who have cut their teeth elsewhere after they are well known. It has played catch up in the area of gastronomy in the last decade and a half. It is not an important place for the film industry. While Columbia and NYU are good schools, it isn’t credible to say that NYC is the center of national scholarship in any field. It has no importance as a center of recreational innovation in say backpacking, water sports or any other outdoor hobby or pastime. It has never the national center of religious innovation or experimentation. It is not a place of political innovation. It is not on the cutting edge of urban planning or innovation in agriculture. It is not notable as a center of retail innovation.

For literature, theater, some classical music and opera (but not baroque), dance, fashion, painting and sculpture, and mainstream
news media NYC is preeminent. And of course it is the center of everything financial. But to characterize the fields in which NYC has
preeminence as being all of culture is to have a truncated idea of culture. The downside of NYC is that it is too expensive, and, yes, too competitive for innovation in certain fields, ones which take a little more breathing and thinking room and financial slack than NYC allows.

N.B. Darrell: I don’t live in New York.

it just irks me that pride is misconstrued as something bad.

New York is one of the most fascinating places to live, it truly is.

I commend the commentators on their collective articulation of the point. I hope to be precise in mine. Let me begin by submitting a few candid facts which ought to inform my commentary. Born in Denver, Colorado; raised in coastal New Jersey nigh to the City, and in rural Vermont; a lifelong New Yorker with roots in Three of Five Boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens; a current resident of Maine. Just yesterday I was strolling up Third Avenue in my mind, though I sat in New England. New York occupies my whole thought; I hate cars and have always been a pedestrian by habit as much as by philosophy.

Therein lies the rub. I do not dislike the other environs that have sustained me; only, New York sustains me more. I would no more turn my nose up at a Vermonter than I would a Texan, because by circumstance or choice they resided there, or loved them best while loving others least.

New York is New York. That’s what they say. And I think that’s just the way it is. By circumstance and choice, New York is the way it is. And everyone has an idea on what New York is. New York to me is home more than my home, and it doesn’t have to be anyone else’s. But I won’t curtail my pride for it, nor will I cease being aware that not everyone is proud of it. The best of New Yorkers are always as polite as they are proud.

Who taught me how to be polite and proud? My mother, from Brooklyn.

MetropolitanJune 02, 2010

Im originally from long island newyork but now Im currently based in Atlanta. I get sick of all the so called “newyork attitude” people label us with. There are cities all across this country that pride themselves on where they from, why cant we? Yes NYC is a hustler city, if your simple-minded, seem inferior or portray yourself as weak it will eat you alive. I hear so much of southern hospitality down here but for the most part, I’ve experienced more racism crime & prejudice down here than I did in NY! I don’t BRAG about my city when people ask me where Im from, they just quickly label me as arrogant, superior, etc..without me getting one word in. Now theres more of a jealousy or envy towards us NY’ers that was mainly created by people who hate us just because of someones bad experience. Anyone who hates us or feels that we’re better than everyone is to blame for this so called “sense of superiority”. Wow, get over it already.

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