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About New York

People Who Write About NY Are Total Frauds

People who write about New York City are total frauds and phonies. Personal feelings aside, I hate this goddamn city and I will see it burn if it's the last thing I do. It would be completely impossible to encapsulate something so vast into any amount of words or phrases. Writing about the culture of The Big Apple is like lying down in the middle of the Arizona desert and trying to count the stars … you could spend forever doing it.

The first reason it is so impossible to pay homage to Gotham in words is what language do you even do it in? Census information from the year 2000 states that there are 176 languages spoken by students in the New York City Public School System and 138 languages spoken within the confines of Queens alone. While there are no exact figures for the entire city, some experts estimate that as many as 800 languages are spoken in the city that never sleeps. Which also explains why the city is awake all the time, the residents won't shut up!

Queens New York
Queens, New York


The cacophony of languages, however, is just one aspect of the Empire City that makes it all but futile to write definitively about its culture. Then there is the food! Let me tell you if Paris was a “movable feast” like Hemingway said, then New York is an unstoppable buffet. If there are 800 languages, then there are 900 different styles of cuisine to be sampled and most of them probably deliver round the clock. According to Open Table, restaurant seating software, a hungry New Yorker could eat at a different restaurant every day for nearly 23 years straight without going to the same place twice.
NYC Cuisine

NYC Cuisine


What do languages and restaurants mean though? They don't tell the real story of a city’s culture. Art tells the story of a city’s culture, and how could any one person even think about trying to frame the home of Basquiat and Warhol, of Lichtenstein and Grandma Moses, and of Ella Fitzgerald and Jay Z, through their own puny lens. It's known the world over that to make it in the worlds of fashion, art, music, design, or any other artistic discipline, New York is the mountain that must be climbed to truly be at the top of one's craft. Sinatra may not have been born in New York, but he still knew that if “you can make it here, you'll make it anywhere,” an idiom that still holds true today.
Warhol and Basquiat

Warhol and Basquiat


But art is for the hippies, am I right? To truly dive into the culture of a mega-city, the magnitude of the City of Dreams, there has to be history. Deep-rooted traditions and mythic folklore worthy of Paul Bunyon and Pecos Bill, and I defy anyone on God's green earth to find me a person able to break down the tales of New York into a readable narrative. The story of this town goes veering off in as many directions as the maze of streets that make up Lower Manhattan. From the titans of industry like Carnegie and Rockefeller to notorious gangsters like Gotti and Luciano, from Champion Athletes like Derek Jeter and Lawrence Taylor … side note, did you know the world's first chess champion is buried in Bushwick, Brooklyn; I walked by his grave just a few days ago ... to brilliant political leaders like Marcus Garvey and WEB Dubois, this city has seen scandal, riots, murder, war, epic victories, and horrific losses -- but history is continuously made in New York.
Carnegie and Rockefeller
Carnegie and Rockefeller


History is boring though, and I'm not some kind of nerd. To really write with authority on the culture of a city like New York, you have to investigate its very soul, and last I checked the soul of New York isn't up for examination. Was it the soul of New York burning a fiery red when the Stone Wall Riots paved the way for a whole new outlook on queer culture? Or perhaps it was shining in Mets blue when the air traffic controllers cleared the air-space around LaGuardia Airport so that legendary Beatle Paul McCartney could bid farewell to the Shea Stadium faithful with Billy Joel at the last event the 45-year home of the New York Mets would ever host. But maybe the spirit of New York City shines brightest when she is opening her harbors to the millions, if not billions, of immigrants who have been coming here looking for hope and a better life for hundreds of years.
Stone Wall Riots 1969

Stone Wall Riots 1969

They call it “the city so nice they named it twice” and let me tell you, she can be a cold bitch. But no matter what anyone's opinion of what Mafia Don Joe Bonnano called “The Volcano” is, New York is a one-of-a-kind city with an unimaginably dense culture that could no sooner be communicated through an 800-word article than it could a 2,000-page book. New York has to be heard in its own language, it has to be tasted with every taste bud, its funky sights and songs need to be seen and listened too, it needs to be learned -- but to really appreciate the culture of New York City you have to let it seep into your soul.

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