“ There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. […] Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”
– E.B. White, “Here is New York”
With all due respect, because E.B. White by all accounts is a great writer, but this is complete bullshit it’s just not that accurate. I’m ambivalent about comments like this with all the recent, subconsciously and increasingly anti-NYC sentiment pervading this citadel’s air. I’m confounded by the possible reasons, but if the recent flood of movies is any indication, the weird relationship between the “settlers” and NYC will always be tenuous at best.
Check the latest disaster flick coming out in Christmas in which now it’s Keanu Reeves’ turn to pick up the pieces after NYC gets destroyed: The Day The Earth Stood Still. At first, when I saw NYC getting destroyed on film, I knew it was because places like NYC, DC, Chicago, San Francisco, and other big cities just have an exceptionally fun look when they’re getting destroyed … but only when it’s fake. After 9/11 and after seeing the massive overhaul of old buildings and businesses here, cranes falling, houses on fire, rising cases of breathing issues from NYC residents, and bar after bar popping up all over Manhattan, I wonder if this barrage of movies destroying NYC is some sort of subconscious attack on the NYC native’s psyche.
And I’m not that defensive about New York; it can more than handle its own. As a native New Yorker, I cheer for the Yankees and root for the Mets on off-days (honestly, Yankees fans have little problems with Mets fans. Not so the other way around …), take the F, V, A, D, and the 1, drink bubble tea and eat sushi with soy sauce with the best of them, can tell you the best way to get to any neighborhood by train, bus, or taxi, have a scary understanding of the history of the Lower East Side complete with why we pronounce Houston HOW-Ston and not HUE-Ston, and a blogroll replete with NYC bloggers. Yet, when someone’s a true Red Sox fan and not some myopic bandwagoner, or prefers their quieter suburb to the crazy confines of this city, I respect that because that’s what they know. Besides, with all of NYC’s pro-capitalist, pro-emperialist (The Empire City anyone?), anti-activist, and white collar tendencies, I’m almost living a contradiction.
Yet, when I see the drastic changes to the city, when “settlers” try to be more NYC than me, when developers keep razing condos and no one can afford to live in them while supposedly low-cost housing keep getting like condos, when none of this matters to the kids who were born and raised here, it gives me more clues as to who are the real terrorists to New York City.
And scarily enough, I can’t quite put a face on them either …
jose, who doesn’t think it’s the settlers, the natives, or the commuters per se …