Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to Not be an Asshole in New York City

Many of you know that I was in communicado this last week...*

*And no, 'communicado' is not a quaint Mexican village I was communing with the raddest group of badass mofos on the planet: my blogging sistahs at the BlogHer 2012 Convention in New York City.  

While my hotel was mind-blowingly fabulous and had the dual distinction of being walking distance from both Times Square and the State Parole Offices, it was sadly equipped with a phalanx of PlaySkul "Dora the Internet Explorer" PC's that did not support my blogging site so I was forced to scuttle around NYC jotting down events and anecdotes on a little notepad like I was Lois fucking Lane.*

*Although I doubt Lois Lane used an Avengers notebook. . .I'm just saying.

Now, let me state for the record: I love New York City.  L-O-V-E it.  New York City is the biggest, brashest, boldest son of a bitch in the country and it doesn't care who knows it.  In fact, if the United States were high school, New York would be making out with Las Vegas behind the bleachers, smoking in the boys room with Chicago and L.A., and beating the ever-loving shit out of Seattle during study hall.  And in New York City, anything goes.  You can be waiting in line at the Times Square Office Depot wearing go-go boots and a unicorn head, dancing to Demi Lovato and snapping nipple clamps on your eyelids and everyone will walk right past you on the way to the copy paper.  This is my kind of place, folks.

Although most New Yorkers have a laissez faire "live and let live" mentality, it legitimately jacks my jewels when people accuse New Yorkers of being assholes.  In my experience, the exact opposite has been true.  Most New Yorkers, like most people everywhere, are kind and respectful when they are treated with kindness and respect.  Let's face it, when you're living in an environment where most citizens leave the subway with about as much decorum as Motley Crue leaves a Holiday Inn, and crossing the street can be considered an extreme sport, your tolerance for bullshit is going to be considerably lower than the average American.  As long as tourists understand that basic mentality, there is absolutely no reason why we all can't peacefully coexist in the Big Apple.  Sadly, most tourists appear to be ignorant to this fact, and are capable of turning your average happy-go-lucky New Yorker into a seething pit of fiery white-hot rage.  And I don't blame them, as this week I saw such acts of idiocy and general cluelessness that it made me want to run to the Statue of Liberty and scribble over the plaque with a Sharpie until it said: "GO THE @#$% BACK HOME!!!"  So, out of respect to the city that I love and all of the amazing men and women of New York who made our stay so positive and memorable, I have included a handy guide that I have chosen to call:


1. New York City smells.  We know.  On any given day you will pass through streets that hold a heady miasma of funk that can best be described as the scent of a syphlitic badger with a urinary tract infection eating Gorgonzola cheese while getting a permanent inside of a Port-a-Potty at Burning Man.  This is what happens when you have a few billion people living in a single metropolitan area so get used to it, New York has.  No matter how bad the stench may be, at no time is it appropriate to make "gaggy" faces, pinch your nose, and cry out "Euw!  What's that SMELL!?!?"  That smell is New York City, damn it, so take a big whiff.

2.  When walking through the busy streets of New York City, alacrity and efficiency are key.  You can spot the natives at a glance as each one of them is bobbing and weaving like a Uruguayan soccer player and tearing down that sidewalk like Rosie O'Donnell on her way to rib night at Applebees.  Walking in New York is just like driving:  slower traffic keep right, and if you need to consult your map or ask for directions, pull over to the side before someone goes all Michael Oher on your sorry ass.  And if you decide to go striding down the sidewalk in a row all hand-in-hand-in-hand then get ready for some high-impact 'Red Rover, Red Rover', motherfuckers.

3.  If you have particular biases against any specific race, creed, color, sexual orientation, or religion,  I suggest you check that shit at LaGuardia.  Guess what, Racey McJudgerton?  In New York City a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant IS the minority!  Blowing your mind yet?  Good.  So, I suggest you set aside your "Welcome to America, Now Speak English" t-shirts and your thinly veiled "Osama, Yo Mama" hatred of all things Middle Eastern and accept the fact that part of what makes New York City great is the fact that it is a steaming hot mess of variant cultures, mores, and lifestyles.  Let's face it: black, white, tan, straight, gay, bi, Hindu, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, or Jew; we are all equal pains in the ass in the eyes of the Lord.  L'Chaim.

4.  Don't think that your preconceived notions of "rude" New Yorkers gives you the right to treat them like they just farted on your best suit.  New York City is like Washington D.C. with ADHD; they have very little time, very little space, and dealing with psychotically aggressive tourists all day that have the attention span of Boo Radley and the social skills autistic wolverines is enough to make anyone lose their shit.  New Yorkers are human beings.  They have hopes, dreams, ambitions, and a base sense of decorum like (almost) every other person on the planet.  Treat.  Them.  That.  Way.  You'd be amazed how far a smile and a kind word can get you when asking for directions or recommendations to a trendy restaurant or Broadway show. But if you go in like Dick Cheney on waterboarding day at Gitmo, don't be surprised if you find yourself with front row seats to "Fuck You: The Musical".  You've been warned.

5.  New York City is home of some of the most amazing galleries, museums, and historical buildings.  It was also Ground Zero to what is quite possibly the most horrific act of terrorism the world has ever known.  But true to form, New York; like the rest of our great country, pulled itself from the rubble and rebuilt.  I had the very distinct honor of visiting the 9/11 Memorial site on Monday and was deeply moved not only by the memorial itself but by the love and respect shown to each and every visitor by the staff, security and volunteers at the site.  I was not, however, deeply moved to anything but sadness and disgust by some of the behaviors I witness by my fellow tourists.  Pardon me if this is somewhat less than humorous; let me simply state that the following behaviors were observed at the 9/11 Memorial site and that they are NOT okay:

  • Two boys attempting to skip rocks in the North Fountain.
  • Sorority girls posing with duck faces and Rockette-kicky legs in front of the Survivor Tree.
  • Some asshat with a beer gut and an I <3 New York hat yelling "Look out!" and "Oh no, they're back!" every time a plane flew over.
  • A guy in a Kenny Chesney t-shirt telling his wife to "Take a picture of me with that 'Let's roll' dude!"  then posing with a thumbs-up and a shit eating grin next to. . .the wrong name.
  • A family travelling with two small children who were laughing and making fun of the names etched into the fountain's rim.  Particularly horrifying was the hearty laugh they shared at the expense of two of United Flight 93's victims, Rodney Dickens and Zoe Falkenberg.  Rodney Dickens was 11 years old the day he died.  Zoe was 8.

New York City is a crazy, vibrant, manic city filled with crazy, vibrant, manic people.  It is the one place in the world where you can dance with a naked cowboy in the street, eat sushi three feet away from Katie and Suri, watch a musical comedy version of "Silence of the Lambs" and have your photo taken with a seven-foot tall Hello Kitty wearing glittery pink gogo boots.  All at the same time.   At three o'clock in the morning.  For some (like myself) the thought of a single metropolitan area that is simply replete with blog fodder and opportunities for inane dickery fills  the soul with childlike wonder.  For others, New York City is loud, fast, dirty, and chaotic.  Well. . .yeah. . .it is. . .but that is the very heart of what makes me love new York City.  So.  Damned.  Hard.  For me, I love New York for all the same reason I love my special needs child:  it marches to it's own drummer, colors outside of the lines, and doesn't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks.  

Walk tall, New York.  ((fist bump))


P.S.:  Fear not, there will be many more Blogher tales to come.  SPOILER ALERT:  Someone drunk texts from behind the curtains, someone else gets hit by a garbage truck, and more than a few people dry-hump a unicorn.  It was magical.


Kelly Fox said...

Dry humping a unicorn eh? See? That's what I got from that.. My mind is filthy, and riddled with ADHD, and I saw shiny happy humping unicorns, and was distracted!

Tiffany said...

I can tolerate all kinds fo foolishness and weirdness, but I would have gone off on those people at the 9/11 memorial. I would have had trouble not hitting them. They would definitely have know what huge assholes they were after I'd gotten done with them.

mod mom beyond indiedom said...

Yes, yes, yes and Hell yes to all of the above Jen! New York is the most fabulous place in the universe and I'm so glad BlogHer was held here this year!

Audra said...

The significant other and I decided not too long ago that we want to visit NY for no other reason than to say we've visited it. Thanks for the guide. Now I must prepare myself, lol! :-D

Jen said...

KELLY - I even have photographic evidence. Be very, very afraid.

TIFFANY - I would have shoved them all in the fountain if my mom hadn't been there to rein a bitch in. The memorial itself was amazing. Every American should see it at least once.

MOD MOM - BlogHer was glorious. I only hope they hold it in Seattle next time so all of my Northwestern homettes can make it. :)

Jim said...

But was it fun? I'll wait for future posts!

Gia said...

Hahah I knew you'd bring up the stopping on the sidewalk thing because ITS SO ANNOYING ANYTIME THERE IS A CROWD ANYWHERE AAAAHHHHHHHHHH!


Jennifer Clark said...

Seriously? People were that crass at the Memorial?!? Words fail me... I would have viciously scolded them like giggling, farting children in church, I'm afraid. My man would stopped me, but my anger would have known no bounds.

Jesus. Remind me to tell you of my visit to NYC in November 2001.

Anonymous said...

I'm so bummed I missed the unicorn. =( I hope there's a video. At least a pic.

Johi Kokjohn-Wagner said...

I'm glad that you got to spend a little extra time touring~ I would have loved to have been able to join you!
Next year it is in Chicago. I was hoping for Denver!

Bexstar said...

I cannot wait to read more. In between bouts of self pity & honking up my insides, I thought about you bitches non stop. Glad you home in one piece pretty mama x

Jen said...

JIM - It was ah-may-zing. Many stories to follow...

GIA - And the strollers? Jesus, don't get me started on the frigging strollers.

JENN - My mom seriously had to restrain me from kicking the one guy in the sack. So. Much. Anger. See you in a half hour! :)

THOUGHTSY - Sorry I didn't get to see you more in NYC; we mos def got pictures of the glittercorn -- it was glorious.

JOHI - Chicago? Oh HELLZ yeah! I loves me some Chi-Town. Shopping on the Miracle Mile? Yes, please! :)

BEX - You were sorely missed, but a care package is on its way. :) xoxo

chemgirljaime said...

afuckingmen Jen .... seriously don't know wtf is wrong with people these days.

JM Randolph said...

LOVE this post. You nailed it. I met you for about thirty seconds twice on Saturday with Jules and Misty.

Jen said...

JAIME - the disrespect at the 9/11 Memorial was the worst by far. I still feel loathing in my gut when I think of it.

JM - I remember you! Glad we got a chance to meet, if only briefly. Blogher should be a week long; I'm just sayin'. :)

Leauxra said...

I'm pretty sure that the fashion police would have thrown me out of New York LONG before I had time to insult anyone.

And a MUSICAL COMEDY OF SILENCE OF THE LAMBS!?!?!?!? Apparently someone plucked the idea STRAIGHT out of my brain. I need a tinfoil hat.

I love love love all the different stories coming in from BlogHer. I am living vicariously.

Brett Minor said...

I visited New York a few years ago and had the same experience you did. The people were pleasant and very helpful. I did not witness any of the stereotypical rudeness that is unfairly attributed to New Yorkers.

Glad to hear you had a great time and am looking forward to your other posts about it.

Jaclyn said...

I work near the Empire State Building so I spend about half the time I'm on the street mumbling "God, would you fucking MOVE already" under my breath at tourists. Or sometimes, not so under my breath. And the hand-in-hand thing? I can't even. I want to punch those people in the face.

I'm glad you had fun and I'm sad that I couldn't meet up with all you awesome bitches!

Jen said...

LEAUXRA - There are also musical versions of Newsies, Ghost, Spiderman, and Bring It On. Broadway has hit an all-time low, y'all.

BRETT - New Yorkers are rad. Thet're like the cool kids I followed around in high school, desperately thinking "Like me! Like me!"

JACLYN - I didn't know you lived in NYC! I was staying just a few blocks from the Empire State Building; wish we could have met up.

Myth said...

I’m sorry, what’s wrong with the names Rodney Dickens or Zoe Falkenberg? Oh, right... fucking nothing at all. But more importantly, it’s the 9/11 memorial; even if the victim’s name is Titty McBallsucker, you should not be laughing. I can’t remember 9/11 (I was in first grade when it happened), never even seen footage of it, and it still unsettles me to think about it to this day. So have some damn respect, people. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Great post. This New Yorker thanks you. You hit the nail on the head with every suggestion.

I (and most of the people I know who live and work in NY) haven't been to the 9/11 memorial. Not sure why I haven't gone, but reading your post made me kind of glad that I haven't. I wouldn't need to see any of that behavior.

(oh, but this morning? My neighborhood SMELLED! Yuck.)


Jen said...

MYTH - My friend had to hold me back from completely losing my shit with some of those people. GRR!!!

JEN W - I am so jealous of New Yorkers. They are a breed of cool that no one else in the country can ever attain. :)

mark said...

I miss NYC. It's been too long. Glad you had a blast!

FoghornUnicorn said...

Bahaha "farted on your best suit."

Christine @ Quasi Agitato said...

Found this post via Accidental Stepmom and loved it. Your vocabulary is kind of stunning, has anyone ever told you that? I live here and will defend New Yorkers until the day I die except 99 out of 100 of us really are jerks when someone brings a stroller on the subway at rush hour. I try to avoid that shitstorm at all costs.
I have not been to the memorial yet. I just can't bring myself to go there.

Jen said...

CHRISTINE - No one has ever called my vocabulary stunning before, although my mom has a few choice words regarding my egregious use of the word "fuck". :) Thanks for stopping by; hope you stick around!

Anonymous said...

I'm a New Yorker and truer words were never spoken...especially in such a humorous manner! I HATE when people stroll hand in hand in hand in hand!!!
Can't wait to read more about New York

Jen said...

LAILA - I am so damned jealous of all of you New Yorkers. I would kill to live there but my mom would lose her mind if I took her grandkids to the other side of the country.