A Not-Love Letter to New York

new york and philly

I grew up near Philadelphia, the birth place of the nation, the 5th largest city in the country, with a vibrant and still growing culinary, arts and theatre culture. But to a typical New Yorker, Philly is still New York’s largest suburb.  That attitude led me to jealously dislike the city the way a little brother may dislike a much more successful big brother. Imagine being Don Swayze when your brother Patrick brings up “Dirty Dancing” for the millionth time.  Imagine being Fredo when your little brother says, “Who’s the Don again, big brother? You? Uhm, no, that would be me.”  So, New York, as great and wonderful and powerful and all-knowing as you are, you have a few flaws that I’d be glad to point out to you.
a.  The Pride of theYankees;

Like “The Walking Dead,” in which the main characters encounter shambling, leg-dragging, moaning zombies wherever they go, always trying to eat their brains, wherever you go in the US—Florida, California, wherever—you encounter shambling Yankees fans stumbling toward you, muttering about Jeter and trying to eat your brains.

When the Yankees appeared in the World Series in 2009, the team had not been to the Series since 2003 and had not won since 2000. Yankees fans called this nine year period a “drought.” Just a refresher, Merriam Webster calls a “drought” a period of prolonged dryness “that causes extensive damage to crops or prevents their successful growth.” Often someone’s dying of thirst or hunger before the word “drought” is bandied about. Maybe definition number 3 refers to 9 years without a World Series Victory.


b.  The City That Doesn’t Sleep;

Sinatra told us that New York is the city that doesn’t sleep, and no doubt, the city needs to get some rest. Have you seen what people look like after just one night with no sleep?  Maybe a little shady, obviously exhausted, easily confused, eyes drifting, 5:00 shadow, smelling faintly like whiskey.  Or other times their eyes are too wide, fingers drumming, listening to house music that plays only in their heads, like the two guys in “Night at the Roxbury.” New York, relax. Huey once asked, “Where else can you do a hundred million things all at a quarter to three,” but at 2:45 am, shouldn’t you be in bed?


c.   A Complete Failure to Grasp Basic Geography;

Whenever I’m on the verge of victory in trivial pursuits (It happens!), when my pie is filled and I’m waiting in the center, my opponents always pick geography. I have no idea how to answer questions like “what state is Florida City in” or “What state are you in right now.” But even my geographic illiteracy pales beside that of a typical New Yorker, to whom the world is divided into “New York” and “Not New York.” (I’ve confronted a New Yorker friend with this attitude once, and she said, “So what? It’s true.”)

d.   The Greatest City in the World.

Anyone who watches Saturday Night Live or any live show from New York will hear the host say, “It’s great to be in New York, the greatest city in the world.” The crowd goes crazy. What’s odd is not how subjective and meaningless that statement is (“better” that Paris?  Than London or Sydney?), but how the New York crowd so often needs to hear it.  Are New Yorkers actually sensitive, insecure people who need constant validation? Imagine if you’re the greatest athlete, a Peyton Manning, dominating your craft, do you really have to be introduced all the time as “Peyton Manning, the world’s greatest football player?” You would think he would be comfortable enough not to have to hear it constantly, or he would maybe get as sick of hearing it as Tom Brady would.


So, New York, you have a lot going on, a lot you should be proud of.  But get some sleep and get over yourself.  

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About Robert Phillips

Robert Phillips is a Miami lawyer still deciding what he wants to do for a living. Once a lover of Pynchon, Pinter, and any other artist whose work he barely understood, he has since "come home" to genre fiction and fandom, where he truly belongs. He focuses most of his fan-attention on his wife Elena and his three little girls, who will one day be a female president, a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and a supermodel/astrophysicist. (He's not sure which one will be which yet.)

2 Responses to A Not-Love Letter to New York

  1. Very amusing essay, Bob. Love the Don/Patrick Swayze analogy (and photo)!

  2. Kevin Walsh says:

    Nice dig, Bob. Now I fully expect (and hope for) some of our favorite New Yorkers to fire back with equal irony!