Sunday, August 21, 2005

don't turn your back on me.

so last Sunday at the Buck, i sat down for my lunch break and opened up the Sunday New York Times to this.

i nearly cried.

i swear to god, if Philadelphia becomes the next "borough" for hipsters and pretentious people to crash land upon, i might just stay in Houston. great. now that they've ruined the entire city of New York, they're going to move down the turnpike to Filthadelphia? i have a feeling the great people of my fair city will be all up in their asses in very short order.

New York and i have had a very strange and storied history. i can say for almost sure now that unless a job, school or significant other draws me there, you will never see me pulling up stakes to move to a rat hole in Corona (which, realistically, is all i could afford).

this is the thing. i love New York. i've loved New York since i first set foot in it when i was 13. i wanted to go to college there so badly, and probably should have. i love New York because there is so much of my history there. i was seduced by the rhythms, the sounds, the beautiful order and chaos of it. but the shine that stood so firmly in place when i was 19, 20, 21 has faded. the city has changed. or maybe i have changed.

this is the thing. i really hate New York. the older i get, the more it exhausts me, every time i go there. i have to pack, i have to drive to the train, i have to get on the train, i have to get to the surface, i have to find a cab. i arrive at my destination utterly exhausted. when i am in New York, i feel dwarfed by all these pretty people. i feel ancient, out of touch, a step behind. all the desperately hip kids in the East Village. the bleached monsters of the Upper East Side. the high class pseudo hippies pushing their jogging strollers on the Upper West Side. rich kids living off mommy and daddy's money near NYU. on and on and on. the people in the city are larger (and fiercer) than life.

you get the feeling that everyone is either at a beginning or an end. those that are fresh and new and haven't yet been hit over the head, and those that are worn, so worn down, and have given up and stayed, or given up and left. but everyone is straining, desperately. there is no oasis of calm in this city, there is no downtime to breathe, to think. and everyone, everyone, everyone is so jaded. it's all been done, we've seen it before, you don't impress us, next please. it sickens me

but Philadelphia, god, Philadelphia. i miss it like fucking crazy. here is a place that is run down, beat up, graffitied, spit on, and yet to me it is just utterly beautiful. life just begins again and again. here is a place where real people live, so many different kinds of real people. the kind of place that i can relax, where life is a normal pace, where i can rent an apartment for $430 (heat and hot water included) the year after i graduate from college and live and survive and still have money left over to go down the street to the Oak Lane Diner and have a cup of their excellent French Onion Soup for $2.95. where i can go to a dive bar and not worry about turning into a scenester hole, because it's fucking Feltonville, and no one cares about Feltonville.

i am worried, ultimately, that Philadelphia might become what New York is becoming, which is a playground for extravagantly wealthy people who are boring. the working class roots that the city was built upon are slowly disappearing. the citizenry of New York City is now divided into two camps: those who were born here, and those who came here. they are vastly different, and it is, in my mind, the latter group that is ruining it for everyone.

i recently reread "Here is New York", which is an excellent essay by E.B. White. it tells of the Manhattan of 1948, a place that is all but gone. his point in the essay was that the condition of the city is ever changing, and therein lay the key to its vitality and beauty. it has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. i just wish it would change in a way that would make me love it again.


me said...

Oh, my goodness.

I knew there were people working in NY during the week and going home to Philly on the weekends, but every day?

The thing that strikes me is that these people doing the daily commute in 75 minutes, are they taking Amrak? It's actually cheaper to pay Amtrak every day than to live in NY? Or is it possible to do it in 75 minutes via SEPTA and NJT?

The whole thing is weird, either way.

3:44 AM  
Bethany said...

the only way i could see a 75 commute from Phila to NYC is Amtrak, or possibly the Acela (which is ridiculously expensive). when i took NJT and SEPTA combined (not driving from Hamilton, which took a cumulative 2 hours), it was closer to 3 hours.

you would think they would make it more convienent, given that Philly is so hot and all.

1:38 PM  

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