The Palinization of the City

ESB photo, by me. CC licensed.

This week’s New York Magazine celebrates the 40th anniversary of New York Magazine, with the kind of double-sized, self-indulgent , self-absorbed, self-congratulatory issue you’d expect from a magazine called, “New York Magazine.”

While I dispute how much the magazine might be worth all this praise, what I wouldn’t dispute is that the city, which is the topic of all this fanfare, is worth every gallon of ink (real and digital) they’ve spent on it. And that kind of statement, unsurprisingly, is exactly the kind of self-indulgent, self-congratulatory thing you’d expect to hear from someone who lives in NYC.

Well, sorry, but it’s true. New York City is the standard by which all other cities are compared.

But lately, in our political rhetoric, NYC has also come to represent the kind of city people love to hate. You know, because we’re not a “small town.” We have “community organizers.” And the liberal media elite. And, of course, we not only have Wall Street, but we have plenty of minorities who, apparently, caused the credit crisis.

Let’s call this resentment, the “Palinization of the city.” (Brought to us, of course, by the former mayor of said city. Oh The Irony!!!)

It’s, of course, a stereotype, and although the stereotype is an overgeneralization like all stereotypes, one look at the current issue of New York Magazine makes it easy to see why the city, and its people, are such an easy mark. The image we have of the city: dirty, noisy, unfriendly, busy (and those are the nice things). But peel back the preconceived notions, the Hollywood and television imagery, the fictionalized accounts, and you find NYC is a full of contradictions, and complexities, and nuance.

Yes, it’s some of the stereotypical things people think it is.

But it’s also city of silence inside a city of noise: to find it, stroll through Central Park on a Sunday, or walk along the Hudson river at sunrise, or find a friend with a roofdeck, one that rises above the grit and grime, where you can feel the breeze and soak in the sun.

It’s a city of neighborhoods inside a megalopolis, a collection of small towns, side by side, block by block. To find them, you can stroll from Hell’s Kitchen to Chelsea to the West Village to SOHO, as different moods and people and sights and sounds appear around every corner.

It’s a city of languages; you find them spoken all around you. And of food (the food!!!), from the dirtiest of dirty water dogs to the $175 burger.

It’s a city of so much more, a city of art, of sport, of contemplation…

Most of which, unfortunately, is missed in the current issue of New York Magazine. And by anyone who uses the city — any city — to score points in the game of politics.

No matter. New Yorkers, well I really don’t think it bothers them one bit.


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