October 2, 2005
I'm in New York this week and with all due respect to those
who love this town and rave about it incessantly, turn away
from the computer screen for a few minutes. You may not like
what I am about to say.
New York, I must admit, wormed its way into my heart after
9/11. Like all Americans, I felt personally attacked and my
heart went out to the people of New York. We all became New
Yorkers for a while. I even rooted for them to get the 2012
Olympic Games and was angered when they didn't.
I had not been to the Big Apple in about 15 years, and my
memories were about having dinner at the World Trade Center
one night, and in Brooklyn another night. It's funny what
you remember about a place that didn't impress you the first
After a week in Midtown Manhattan, I am convinced the reason
visitors are so wowed by the City is that it is unlike anywhere
they have ever visited, and they like the fact it is NOT like
their town. In short, I believe New York is what no other
city EVER wants to become.
It is rude, dirty, loud, crowded, dense, and unfriendly,
and that's what I think appeals to some people. It's hard
to find another place like it. It is a dirty version of Las
Vegas, and without the class of the City that never sleeps.
If Vegas is full of gambling cheats, then New York is King
of Con Artists. I tired to replace a non-descript camera lens
and ring for which I paid $100, and one merchant demanded
$3,000 for the same item. He tried his best to swindle me,
but failed, then cursed me as I walked out the door because
he lost the sale. I went down the road a bit to 48th Street
and Seventh Avenue and another con man posing as a legitimate
business also tried to fleece me, this time at a reduced price
of $2,200. He too was unhappy when I told him he was overcharging.
Fed up, I hurried back to my hotel, bought the lens and ring
online for $75, paid $25 for overnight shipping, and returned
for a few moments to sanity in a city of depravity and chaos.
This city is hostile to the handicapped, both in its limited
access to hotels, restaurants and stores, and in the inability
of the disabled and wheelchair bound to get on and off sidewalks
easily. How do the Feds let them get away withy it? I was
with a disabled colleague and we were almost run over three
or four times at intersections by New Yorkers (and one with
New Jersey license plates) who cursed us, honked at us, flipped
us off, or otherwise showed their displeasure at the unbelievable
notion that we should be able to cross the street safely.
Smokers reign in New York and they toss their dirty cancer
sticks at will in front of people, almost flaunting a challenge
to fight or throw something back at them. New Yorkers, and
some of their visitors, are in a world of their own and you
are the last one in the world with whom they want to deal.
My disabled friend repeatedly found himself trapped outside
buildings where the door handle was not reachable and some
just stood and watched him as if testing his next move. Doormen
ignored him. It was typical New York and cruel.
I decided to spend some time watching New York television
and the local shows, like their network counterparts, were
boring. Local news anchors were dull and they all seemed patterned
after the same vacuous character. I thought New York was supposed
to be big time. It's not. It's not even close to places like
L.A., Chicago and Seattle in terms of TV news.
The food was good in most places we visited - great in others.
That's not an endorsement or a knock, just the truth. Cabbies
are the pits. They love to argue, they don't speak English,
and if you let them, they'll rip you off by taking the longest
I miss L.A. I miss the drive-bys in the predictable parts
of town, and I miss phony, plastic Hollywood types who do
such a great job of pretending to care. I miss the traffic
because at least in L.A., we don't sit there and engage in
honking marathons just because we're not moving as fast as
I feel lost when I try to communicate with people who can't
speak English and I find out Spanish is NOT their native tongue.
Do I really need to learn Urdu and Arabic to make progress
in this town? Sharmutas!!
I have been telling God that I think he sent Hurricane Katrina
to the wrong place. Instead of leveling the Big Easy, he should
have asked Mother Nature to take a shot at the Big Apple.
I mourn for what happened to New Orleans, but the next time,
won't be so quick to cry for New York.
I know it sounds harsh and almost sacrilegious for some,
but then you're not here right now. And if you are and you
like it here, hey, one man's junk is another man's gold. Or
put another way, one man's hell is another man's hype. And
New York is all about the hype and nothing about the hope.
I don't think there is any hope for this dinosaur.