The New York Times wrote another hilariously detached story about L.A. this week, making America’s second-largest city sound like a primitive society on a foreign planet. The Times called us a “city that never quite came together” that has “not developed the political, cultural and philanthropic institutions that have proved critical in other American cities.”
We wondered, as we read the article by bonfire in our tent made of trash, what it would look like if L.A. journalists wrote about New York the way the Times writes about us. Here’s our best guess:
They’re Walkin’ Here: New York’s Hep Cats, Hot Dogs and Many, Many Rats Prefer Carbs to Cars
Most people think of New York City as a sleepy town on the banks of the Hudson River, or as a reference from half-forgotten Jazz standards by the likes of Dave Brubeck or Miles Davis.
But new visitors to New York may be surprised to learn that it has undergone many artistic developments since the 1950s. While you can still find “hepcats” and “angel headed hipsters,” many also enjoy a form of art called “hip-hop,” or “rap,” in which people just talk in public parks over percussive rhythms and illegally appropriated music.
New Yorkers can often be seen in expensive business suits complaining about the quality of coffee, which, for some reason, they call “espresso.” The caffeine boost it provides causes a relativistic distortion of their perception of time, giving rise to the term “New York Minute.”
New Yorkers travel about their city using a curious, underground train system they call the “sub-way.” While most New Yorkers I spoke to were aware of the existence of the automobile, they actually prefer these “sub-way” carriages and often can be seen using them as late as midnight, often joined by rats.
Outsiders may be unaware that the city’s harbor is home to a great statue dedicated to liberty, which is a synonym for freedom. The copper colossus, a tasteful aqua green that compliments the ocean blue surrounding it, stands at least 50 feet high. It reflects the city’s fierce libertarian values: New York is a city so free that people often pile bags of garbage on the sidewalks.
To get a sense of the city’s current political climate, we did not reach out to the current mayor or any currently serving city officials for this article, which is fine, it’s all fine. Instead, we spoke to a former mayor who has not held public office of any kind since 2001. The former mayor told us that despite having had no operational understanding of New York politics in nearly 20 years, he is certain New Yorkers have very low self esteem about their city. “We are a global city,” he told us.
“[but] we need to see ourselves as a global city.”
New York proudly remains unaffected by larger national food trends, with residents rejecting such culinary delights as In ‘n Out or Fatburger. The city’s Mexican food is very much in its infancy, though recently food innovators have made inroads. The city’s main delight is Pizza, often called “‘za,” but New Yorkers are particularly proud of their approximation of bread, which they call “bagels.” Made of flour and yeast, these breadforms also contain a secret ingredient that is apparently distributed from a tap attached to every kitchen sink.
One of the biggest cultural markers in New York City — or “The Big Apple” as it’s known to local denizens — the “bagel” is a kind of donut without sugar or grease enjoyed by the city’s business elite, particularly on Wall Street. Some even add salmon, for a dish called “locks.” New Yorkers also like hot dogs, which are, curiously, made from pigs rather than dogs.
Though 80 percent of New Yorkers live and eat on the island of Manhattan, probably, during our time in the city we took pains to visit New York’s four other boroughs: Brookland, Queens, Jersey City, and Yonkers. It was in Yonkers that we experienced the delights of Shake’s, an upscale hamburger bistro in New York’s “Shack” district that serves wine which is almost passable to more sophisticated Southern California palates.
New York’s climate varies from arctic in winter to tropical in summer, and the result is several unique species evolved for the harsh environment. These include cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers and pizza-rats.
Looking out the window of my hotel room in New York’s hardy, working-class Tribeca neighborhood, I couldn’t help but wonder what this city might be if it were friendlier to cars, convenience stores, or major chain restaurants that define the modern, sophisticated American metropolis. Alas New Yorkers will, as they always have, make their own gritty future.
Don’t worry, we love New York, honest! But seriously, quit it.
Thanks to everyone who joined in on the author’s thread about this on Twitter, which you can read and join in on here.