New York Sucks

Added 5 years later: The inexplicably high ranking search engines give this little rant has led to a lot of comments below, including some excellent rebuttals to my original points. There are also a lot of people adding their own complaints about the city that never sleeps. All comments are welcome, but overall I find the ones who disagree with me to be more interesting, and a few are worth digging up and reading. There are definitely some things to love about the city. My favorite comments of all, however, are the ones on both sides of the fence that hide their whiny, entitled attitude behind foul language, apparently unaware of the irony.

Recently the quality of comments has been so low that I’ve considered not allowing any more of them. Semi-literate ravers, please don’t bother anymore. There’s already plenty of barely-coherent blather on both sides.

Anyway, on with the original episode:

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In the unlikely event there are two New Yorkers capable of mounting a meaningful defense of their home city, I’ll publish them both. More than two, either I’ll pick the one hardest for me to rebut, or I’ll figure out a way to let the polls decide. Messages of the form “F%*$ you, you f^%#ing f$^*!” will just add to my smug belief that I am better than you are and will be deleted and mocked.

I have for a couple of years now held the opinion that New York City is filled with victims and crybabies. Everyone knew already that the city was filled with arrogant assholes.

To start with the arrogant assholes, here’s a case in point. Tonight I was sitting in a bar, and at the next table was a pair of Yankees fans. Yankees were playing the Bosox, a game with history and significance. You would expect a Yankees fan to be passionate about such a game, and these guys were. I’m OK with that. That’s why God made baseball. That’s why Steinbrenner bought it from Him.

I overheard part of their conversation early. “They’re still talking about ’98 here. Was it ’98? The Yankees humiliated them. It was a sweep.” Now, I don’t know if it was ’98 or ’96, and yes, the Yankees did completely dominate the Padres. It was a sweep. But that year San Diego won the pennant. When dad buys you a pennant every year, that may not seem so special. But when you earn it, doesn’t it mean so much more? No point explaining that to a Yankees fan.

And that’s what New Yorkers just don’t seem to understand. They seem to believe that simply being from the hive is enough to entitle them to all the respect the world has to offer. Later, the New York fans were outraged among themselves when the best TV was switched over to the Padres game. There was still a TV right in front of them carrying their game, but it wasn’t Hi-Def. “What the [email protected]%& are they doing showing the Padres game?” one NYB asked the other (B is for bastard). Had the man been grandstanding, trying to get a rise out of the other people in the bar, I would have simply labeled him as an asshole and shrugged it off. But the simple fact was that as a New Yorker he expected to get his game on the hi-def TV. He was entitled.

New York is inexplicably proud of being a bunch of arrogant assholes. They call it “street smart” and other transparent euphemisms. When I passed through New York I was not prepared for the incessant whining and victim attitude.

I was passing from Aruba to San Diego, and because I’m a cheap bastard my return flight included a sleepover in New York. No problem, I figured. I’d just find a less-uncomfortable place to crash at JFK. Best case, I find a bar and just hang out all night. It was a naive notion, I now realize.

My first welcome as I came off the plane set the tone for my stay in the city that never sleeps. “Did you see what he just did to me?” I heard an angry woman behind me say. We made our way to an escalator and I tell you now I have never seen such concentrated uncivilized behavior. Poor little Jerry was pushed aside and every time I said, “Oh, I’m sorry” as I was shoved into someone else I was answered with “eat me” or something worse. “Screw the other guy before he screws you” was the rule of the day.

The airport was closing. There would be no crashing in the terminal, no all-nigher in the bar. The bartender was terribly appologetic. I called a hotel and they said the shuttle would be right over. It was a cold night, freezing rain, and I was in shorts. People were not looking at me with sympathy as I stood waiting for the shuttle; they were looking at me with suspicion. I watched two old men get into a fist fight over a taxi. I shook my head. The cold rain on my legs hurt far less than the anger all around me hurt my poor west-coast brain.

It turns out the signs telling me to wait for a hotel shuttle did not direct me to the place hotel shuttles were going. After freezing my ass off (proudly, stoically, without whining) I tromped back to the terminal and called the hotel again. The friendly person apologized and the shuttle was redispatched. I stood longer in the bitter New York sleet until I was finally swept away to the warmth and security of a nearby hotel. I was happy to see that guy, and he was downright nice. Maybe New York isn’t so bad after all. Pff.

Once safely installed in my room, and with the local anger fizzing in my head, I made my way with laptop to the hotel bar. There I sat and watched the local victim hour, also known as the news. Crap, can’t there be one story on the evening not spun as injustice? The weather report was “here’s how mother nature is fucking us over today.” I have never heard a more consistent, pervasive whining than I did in NYC. I have gone out of my way in this story to mention people that were not whiny little fucks who thought the world owed them something. Two were bartenders, one drove a van. Who knows what they thought when they weren’t sucking up to travelers. [Unfair – the bartender at JFK was the read deal. She was funny as hell and a true sweetheart. I would have loved to stay up all night in her bar.]

The next morning I caught the plane back to San Diego. I staggered down the jetway and heard someone say, “Oh! I’m sorry. Go ahead.” I laughed not from humor but from joy, back where we may not be intimate but we are certainly polite, and we don’t feel that the world owes us happiness. We make that for ourselves.


Proud to be an American?

I will publish good rebuttals (profane is OK but abusive is not, coherence is required). If there are too many, I will publish the ones hardest for me to refute.

I am an American. I am really, really fortunate to be one. There’s nothing better to be. But I didn’t actually do anything to become an American. I am proud of my accomplishments, and I am grateful for my good fortune. There are political refugees and immigrants of every stripe who have worked really hard to become Americans. There are people who have taken up arms in defense of this nation and only later become citizens. Many more who are currently defending our freedom are waiting for citizenship.

Those people can be proud to be American. For them it is an achievement. I simply am American. I was born that way. I have not earned the right to be proud. I am thankful to be American, but there’s no source of pride there.

There is another way to be proud to be an American, and that’s to take pride in America’s role—our role—in making a better world. That is the pride in accomplishment. And hell, we’ve accomplished a lot. There was a time in Somalia before it all went to stink that I really thought we had managed to beat swords into plowshares. I thought “this is the role of a great nation, standing as a beacon of freedom and peace.” At that moment I was truly proud to be American. Thought honestly I hadn’t done anything personally (except pay taxes) to deserve that feeling.

It got gray sometime after that. Protecting the Muslim population in Kosovo still feels right, but more timely intervention might have precluded much of the violence. [an aside – why do the factions we support almost always come to resent us? Talk among yourselves.] But still, there was an earnest belief that intervention could save lives and transform those troubled regions. Even if those expeditions were ill-conceived, they were noble of purpose. Something you could be proud of.

Frankly, we don’t have that anymore. I am Accidentally-American, or perhaps Fortunately-American, but I have not pulled off any individual accomplishment to which I can hang the label “proud”, and I am not proud of the actions of my nation (granfalloon) as a whole. At least in the past we believed in our nobility, if no one else did.

I am happy to be an American. I am fortunate to be an American; I did not accomplish being American. I am proud to give to my nation more than blind faith.