“You can have them!”
So cried Carl Paladino, when asked what he thinks about New York City and particularly the people of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
The Republican candidate for NY Governor explained his disdain for Manhattanites with its “smug, self-important elitists”, and the Bronx, with its high percentage of Hispanics, immigrants and the poor, whom Paladino believes should be placed in work camps with classes in “personal hygiene.” Lovely.
To be fair, Queens and Staten Island passed Carl’s smell test. ” They’re like us!” a grinning Paladino told an enthusiastic group of supporters at a rally near Buffalo, and if by “us” he means small-minded bigots, I don’t think those living in the two boroughs should take it as a compliment.
But if you think such anti-NYC venom is limited to “trash with cash” Paladino and his rabid supporters, you are sadly mistaken.
Travel across our great nation, tell people where you are from, and you’ll soon be paraphrasing Sally Field: “You hate us–you really hate us!”
Saul Steinberg’s iconic New Yorker cartoon goes a long way in explaining this attitude. Are we that self-centered, truly the capital of the world, or both? The cartoon certainly captures our “center of the universe” hubris (which non-New Yorkers get) and also our ability to laugh at ourselves (which too often escapes them).
The truth is, most people have more of a love-hate relationship when it comes to us than one of pure hate. This includes many native New Yorkers. Let’s face it, people in Manhattan often look down on the other boroughs (“the B&T crowd”–ask someone you know in Manhattan to explain), while those in the outer boroughs often grumble about Manhattanites’ snooty, superior attitude.
But let outsiders make hostile remarks about us New Yorkers, and we band together as one: Why this unreasonable hatred for New York City, and how freakin’ dare they?
I asked relatives, friends and acquaintances across the U.S that question, and their frank (too frank?) responses revealed a number of recurring themes:
1) Too much traffic (true)
2) Too many people (a matter of taste)
3) Too many foreigners. New York is home to the U.N., for God’s sake!
4) New York City is a filthy, crime-ridden hell hole (usually from those who haven’t stepped foot in the city for the past 30 years).
5) New Yorkers think they’re better than us.
6) Shit, they are better than us.
7) Those damn Wall Streeters screwed the entire nation (can’t argue with that)
8) New Yorkers are cold, arrogant, selfish people.
That last one stings. Untrue! We are kind, giving people, always willing to help a stranger in need. And we love and offer guidance to our beloved tourists–even when they slowly shuffle along, walking two or three abreast and blocking our sidewalks with their double-wide butts, stopping us from get to our REALLY IMPORTANT MEETINGS–we still tolerate them!
A woman I know who was born in the Midwest and visits here often made perhaps the best observation of New Yorkers I ever heard: While many Midwesterners are soft on the outside, but hard on the inside, New Yorkers tend to be the opposite: hard on the outside but soft on the inside.
Yes! Those who say they hate us “rude, cold, self-centered” New Yorkers should take some time to actually get to know us. Then they’ll see what warm, sensitive, cuddly human beings we really are.
And if they don’t?
Also inside this week’s NewYorkGritty:
–Restaurants of the Week (Food tab)
–Mets and Knicks Problems are Related (Sports tab)