I once saw a New Yorker magazine cartoon where a man was wearing a shirt that read, “I Have Mixed Feelings About NY” as opposed to “I Heart NY.” After living here for three years, that is exactly how I feel about this increasingly bland metropolis.
There are no gorgeous natural visions to behold like one can easily stumble upon in Vancouver or San Francisco nor is there the bohemian charm that one inhales in New Orleans. In fact, New York—specifically Manhattan—has become nothing more than a place where the rich congregate to compare notes and stare at each other. Most of the enjoyable aspects of Gotham, such as the restaurants of Thomas Keller or a play like “God of Carnage”, hell even a few drinks at a bar like the Half King in Chelsea, command half of the average person’s monthly pay. I have never been so bored as I have been over the past few years and I blame NY for marketing a false bill of goods. There marketing pitch should be, “Come to NYC—only if you have a trust fund or work 90 hours a week.”
Outside of a few pleasant blocks in the West Village or in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn the architecture is overly austere and unwelcoming whereas in SF or NOLA half of the fun each day can be derived from marveling at the buildings that conjure up images of places far away and eras of yesteryear. A walk in NYC is spent trying to circumnavigate the overweight tourists walking four abreast in Times Square or playing chicken with the suit absorbed in his Blackberry. Unlike SF, there is no fog rolling in over the bay and rushing over the Sutro Tower nor is there the promise of the Marin Headlands that a 20 minute bike ride will deliver on. There is only the West Side Highway bikeway and Coney Island.
Simply said, New York just does not have the soul that buoys places like New Orleans or San Francisco—not unless you want to buy it at a inflated mark up. But I live here so I will head to my corner bar in Carroll Gardens, grab a $7 beer and dream of the day I can return to a city that is alive and accessible.