Dear Transplants: 5 Truths to Know About NYC
Welcome, and/or a mightily belated welcome to those of you who have been here for some time. When I got back from a recent three-year tenure in L.A. I noticed the city had evolved dramatically in the same direction it had been. Rents were already astronomical; now they were closer to comical. Psychotic. There’s no longer any such thing as rich neighborhoods in Manhattan. Manhattan is a rich neighborhood where poor people have the option to live in a closet. There were already white people in the hood, but now there are corny white people in the hood (it’s okay, I’m white). Apparently you no longer need any street smarts or awareness to live on 147thStreet — just a fabulous job with great benefits. Strange days.
Most of us are not “trans-phobic.” We recognize that not all transplants are lame, just like not all native New Yorkers are cool… soooort of. Obviously many transplants have come to New York over the years, embraced the culture and contributed to the city as much as they parasited from it. In hopes of continuing more towards this trend I offer to the rookies and fresh fish some helpful truths about our casa, which is now tu casa tambien. You’re (mostly) welcome.
1. People are from New York: If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard some transplant pontificate how “nobody’s actually from New York” I could afford half of the rent they paid to displace some black family with generations of roots from the city to down south. Umm, if nobody’s actually from New York how would you explain all the local high schools… and middle schools and elementary schools and nurseries and childbirth wings of the hospitals? Schmuck. I’m from New York; so are my parents and their friends and most of my friends. The reason your reality does not reflect this is because birds of a feather flock together. If you’re a 20–40 year old transplant professional, chances are your inner circle is more of the same. Mad people are from here. If you’re confused or weirded out by my usage of “mad” you probably don’t really belong here.
2. We’re not unfriendly — we’re just not friends, G. New Yorkers get a bad rep for being rude. It isn’t that we’re rude, but just operating within the only functional frequency for our context. It would be impossible to become friends with every one of the thousands of people we see every day, so instead we must exist within our one-man commute bubbles, now with the elevated armor of headphones, iphones, itunes and high goons. However, just because we will never be friends does not mean we are unfriendly, as some sense of community is implied in any metropolitan climate. The black people in my building always offer amiable chat, (not to be confused with “small talk,” which comes from a sense of obligation rather than sincerity), whereas the transplants never say shit. They’re “New York to a fault,” because they’re really not New York at all. A typical behavioral expression of over-compensation.
3. Washington Heights is not “Spanish Harlem,” and stop trying to make “Soha” happen. Just because your block numbers in the 100’s and your building is full of Hispanics does not make your neighborhood “Spanish Harlem,” which instead denotes a specific geographical part of town: the east side. Hell’s Kitchen is fine I suppose, but was a nickname in reference to the diabolical ghouls and hedonistic killers who once roamed its streets. The hedonism might still exist in the form of bottomless brunch mimosas, but the only thing being killed these days on 47thand 9this the memory of any traces of Irish gang culture. It’s “midtown west.” Finally, if you refer to the lower part of Harlem as “Soha,” just fuck you, okay? The reason we had to name Soho, “Soho” is because there really was no name for that area. It’s not east enough to be L.E.S., nor west enough to be Greenwich Vill. It was just there… south of Houston. Conversely, “Soha” is not south of Harlem. It is Harlem. When you call it Soha you mark yourself a newbie as instantly as a crew of tall blonde guys with maps in hand mark themselves as tourists. Real estate brokers made up “Soha” and “East Williamsburg” so they could rape you and displace us and perpetuate how capitalism makes the world awful.
4. Boycott 7–11. Did you know that there was no such thing as 7–11 in New York City until 2005? Did you know why? Because the void of generic, redneck shit holes is part of what once made this the greatest city in the world. It’s not a matter of protecting the “mom and pops,” but a matter of acknowledging value in culture, which is obviously what makes New York, New York. I could understand if 7–11 actually offered something that the gourmet delis or ghetto bodegas didn’t, but they don’t. Whether you’re looking for refined and health conscious or dirty and disgusting, shelf options are truly better in local spots. This is logical, as local businesses cater to the immediate community, as opposed to copying and pasting the top commercially selling items from across the other 49 states we’re supposed to stand out from. “But what about Big Gulps?” you ask. What about ‘em?! The only good thing about Big Gulps is they highlight the reality that there is no fundamental difference between white trash and ghetto trash, as each are the only consumers of fucking Big Gulps. A sure red flag to consider having to make changes in your life is consuming anything named with the word, Big.
5. Lower your voice: New Yorkers are notoriously loud, but again, context. If you feel no self-consciousness in yelling across the street to get a friend’s attention in spite of standing immediately in front of a mob of sidewalk brunchers, tu salud, Don Corleone. You’re a New Yorker. But if you’re actually inside a dining room or subway car and everyone within a 20-foot radius can hear every detail of the mundane story you’re recounting to your homey, you’re the worst. I went on a date last year with some shit head who incidentally offered everyone where we were eating a front row seat to her awful dialogue and my pathetic pandering to it. Later on after mentioning that she didn’t feel any chemistry between us she chose to kiss me goodnight as a final litmus test. I know the kiss was good because New Yorkers are good kissers. An hour later she texted me the results: “Well, while kissing you I definitely felt horniness, but not chemistry.” She was from California. I digress. Please try to master the volume of speak one level above whisper for particular environments.
That’s all for now — carry on, carry on. I’d like to say we thank you for adding charm, culture and diversity to our city, but since New York has been already completely maxed out on all three for 100 years, I instead offer a semi-sincere, “you’re welcome.” In the same vein as understanding the stupidity in racism we cannot paint a broad stroke over all transplants, as plenty of you do bring an abundance of magic to the table. Just please do so at a respectable volume and without frequenting 7–11.
Originally published at davidfostercomedyblog.com.