Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New York Nabes 101 and why (some) Brooklynites bug me

New Yorkers have an amazing amount of neighborhood pride. West siders hate east siders because of the boring pack driven frat boys. East siders hate the west siders because of their lame Mommy and Me play dates on the Great Lawn. Downtowners can't stand uptowners because they aren't hip enough yet invade their precious territory on the weekend. Uptowners hate downtowners because they are pretentious as fuck and refuse to ride the subway past 14th street.

And it gets even more complicated. Manhattanites look down on the outer boroughs because they think there's nothing there worth seeing. Queens residents take pride in their diverse neighborhood and hate on homogenous rich Manhattanites. Bronx residents basically don't give a crap about anyone else and everyone else is just plain afraid of that borough.

And then there's the Brooklynites. Many Brooklynites are long term natives of Brooklyn and have become comfortable in their little section of town where chances are, they speak the same language as a lot of their neighbors and can shop in their familar ethnic food stores. For this they are thankful that they never have to leave Brooklyn.

But then there are recent Brooklyn transplants. Many were driven out of Manhattan as rental prices increased, and have settled into semi-posh neighborhoods where they can easily find cute cafes, great live music, and wonderful restaurants. These places tend to be even better than Manhattan cafes, venues and restaurants because they rely on word of mouth rather than pedestrian traffic. And after a while, these Brooklyn residents get spoiled and they refuse to even step foot in Manhattan if they don't have to. They mouth off about the big bad borough complaining about the crowds, the prices, and the lack of quaintness. They are, in my opinion, the snobbiest of them all. They forget to acknowledge the opportunity Manhattan gave them to build up, gentrify poor ethnic neighborhoods, and pay cheaper rent. If it weren't for all of the attractions from Manhattan, they most wouldn't have a job, and thus wouldn't have the means to fill their streets with fine boutiques and cheese shops. They hate on Manhattan after all Manhattan has given them. And to them I say, I hope a big ol' mall opens up in your neighborhood so you have to move again.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I'm back

I'm back from a short vacation to Amsterdam and Paris, and recuperating from some New Year's festivities.

Amsterdam continues to be one of my favorite cities. The Dutch are unbelievably nice, down to earth, and politically right in the middle. It's probably the easiest city in the world to be an American tourist since everyone speaks English, it's very walkable, and it's quite small. I highly recommend getting out of Amsterdam to smaller towns such as Delft. They embody the charm of Amsterdam, but without the stoned tourists.

I had been to Paris one weekend five years ago, so I was very excited to have three days to wander around in a gluttonous stupor. My favorite thing to do in Paris is to find a random low key bistro a bit on the outskirts of town (not a hard thing to do) and order a prix fixe three or four course meal complete with wine and coffee. I had the most amazing quiche of my life, salads that tasted off-the-vine fresh, tender veal, creamy chevre, subtle bordeax, and a smooth strong coffee to top it all off. I will say that I found Parisian shopkeepers to be very rude, and I can assure you I went prepared to be proven otherwise. There was a snootiness in Paris that stood out, especially after a few days in Amsterdam. As a New Yorker, that's saying something. I should have done the trip in reverse.

I sucked it up and did the typical tourist architecture photos in Paris. Oh, also there are some dudes in a park who looked cool. Unfortuneately, I don't have many interesting photos from Amsterdam. Unless you consider chilling out on my friend's couch and singing Chanukkah songs to be interesting. Yeah, didn't think so.

Arc de Triomph
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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting