Yesterday I wrote an article called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Seatte,” in which I playfully diss on Seattle (I called one neighborhood “boring,” minimized The Stranger’s influence on local culture, implied that Seattleites are insecure about how culturally rich Seattle is, harped on bike messengers, said that I didn’t like a local fast food restaurant, and made a joke about how a certain neighborhood was for Black People). I thought this was all very playful and lighthearted, but people got really mad! Look at this email I got:
Just read your article entitled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Seattle.” Congratulations on showing the Internet that you are a raging dickweed. Since you hate Seattle so much I figure you won’t be offended if I suggest that you move far, far away.
The vitriol of the reaction took me by surprise. I didn’t really get it. Are people here so uptight as to consider the city in which they live a sacred entity which must be defended from any and all defamation, even if it’s so obviously jokey and snarky? Who would actually react that way, for example, at a party? I can’t imagine anyone calling me a raging dickweed and saying that I should GTFO upon hearing that I don’t like the Space Needle. Who would honestly act butthurt if I said Queen Anne was boring?
I like Seattle. It offers a pretty unique and special blend of nature, weather, space, and culture. It has its downsides and things one might consider lame, but generally it’s a pretty nice place to live, and I’ve lived in a lot of places . But as a writer and editor, I often feel a sort of pressure to move out to NYC, where “everything’s happening.” Here’s why I’m a bit cautious about that prospect.
1. It’s crowded as hell
Pretty sure this is the #1 reason why I wouldn’t want to live in the Big Apple. Every time I’ve been there I’ve had to get into a veritable conga line of people just to like, walk a block and a half on the sidewalk. Compare that to seemingly any other city and it’s just not that way – there’s something uniquely insular and claustrophobic about NYC that grates on the soul. My dislike for the “crowded” aspect of NYC isn’t even a matter of principal; it’s only that, at some kind of instinctual level, I really don’t want to be that close to so many freaking people all the time. I like to walk freely on the sidewalk. I enjoy riding my bike in a relatively carefree manner. Sometimes I like to move my arms when I’m in public.
2. There seems to be no escape
The problem with the crowds (not to mention the general close confines that characterize NYC) is that there like, seems to be no escape whatsoever. It doesn’t end once you get out of public spaces, because in private spaces, you’re still sort of in a public space. Come home after a stressed out day of walking and navigating the crowds, etc? Guess what – you still don’t have peace: your neighbor’s TV is blaring through one wall, the couple on the other side of the other wall is having some sort of domestic dispute, and your roommate has people over. And when you try to get to sleep, you can hear the people above you fucking! And so the next day when you want some stress relief, you go outside and it’s concrete forever, and when you finally get to where you’re going for some R&R, there are a bunch of other people there with the same idea. No escape.
3. There is no way to not get screwed on rent
I’m under the impression that in NYC, you have to pay a shit ton just to live alone, and a shit ton more if you want your studio to have windows. And then there’s this pretty egregious thing we all hear about: Broker’s Fees. I don’t get it. If you don’t have enough money to live alone, well – you have to live with roommates, and living with roommates… I’m over it, at least. The point is, if you’re working a service job or an entry-level position that pays just above minimum wage, you’re most likely going to be living in a really nasty place, and you’re going to be paying an unreasonable amount of money for it. How are you supposed to build up your savings in such a situation? Or even afford insurance?
4. The culture of canoodling
People canoodle in NYC – more than anywhere else I’ve ever been. Canoodle? “To win over or convince by cajoling or flattering; wheedle: ‘his matchless ability to charm, bamboozle, or canoodle most of his political associates.’” To the non-New Yorker, the sheer scale of canoodling – and the overt respect it’s given – in NYC on a night-to-night basis can be almost frightening, because he faces an uphill battle. Lack of experience and a not-from-NYC (Less Cool/ Savvy/ Authentic) status are at work against him. Let’s leave Talent out of this discussion.
NYC, more than any place I’ve been to, seems to be an environment in which metaphorical dick sucking is a recognized and valued currency; ‘accomplishments’ determine order, ‘friendships’ are strategic, and status is as cut and dry as a corporate ladder. It’s an environment in which the people are angular and impenetrable, rather than… bloblike and permeable (seriously). There’s something both highly respectable and highly disingenuous about it all; respectable for the transparency by which it’s all played out, disingenuous for the fact that this is how it’s all played out. Just like high school. Still, it’s a jungle out there! Not one that I can say I’m a fan of.
Don’t get me wrong – I like NYC. It’s really cool, it’s really interesting, everything does seem to happen there, and people seem to self-actualize there at a higher rate than any other place I’ve been. The culture that comes out of NYC is vibrant and insane, and perhaps is in part born out of the ‘negatives’ I’ve here listed. I wouldn’t even be surprised if I ended up moving there, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to living in a roach infested storage closet for $2,500 a month!