Why I Hate All These “Why I Left New York” Essays

Another sad sack just published his elegy to New York and why he simply had to pack up his things and bid this city adieu. (Or in New York parlance, say “fuck you” and get the hell out.)
Yes, Christopher Ketcham checked every tired, shop worn box: too expensive, loss of creative energy, Russian oligarchs…check, check, check. The article even has the requisite grimey-looking photo from decades ago, featuring two dead people in it: Lou Reed and Andy Warhol.
Like Lou, the guy who wrote this piece is a born and raised New Yorker. Like Andy, I am not.

As a child in Hawaii, I loved Sesame Street more than anything else. I wanted to play with Ernie and Bert, sit on the stoop with Maria and Gordon, and buy candy from Mr. Hooper’s store. So I asked mom if we could move to Sesame Street. Mom, always a stickler for the truth (even when it came to outing Santa as a fraud) informed me that, “Sesame Street is only on TV.” But she was wrong. Sesame Street is New York.
We later moved to Whidbey Island, a woodsy, rainy outpost in the Pacific Northwest and my fascination only increased. As a teen, I subscribed to Spy Magazine, read “The New York Trilogy”, “Last Exit to Brooklyn” and “The Andy Warhol Diaries”. I scrounged around used record stores for Velvet Underground albums.

It took a lot of hard work, luck and balls-out determination, but I finally moved into my first New York apartment on October 11th, 2001. Just one month after 9/11, the city was still in mourning, bathed in American flags, yellow CAUTION tape, and “I Love NY” t-shirts. Yet it was understood that New Yorkers needed to be strong, to return to some degree of normalcy.

So everyone did just that.

Within a few short years, New York was back to doing what it has historically done best: making money. Lots of it. Foreign money. Real estate money. Hedge fund money. So began the era of bottle service, celebutantes and the return of velvet rope burn.
As for me, apart from a couple invites to some glamorous parties where I got drunk on appletinis and threw fancy appetizers in my purse when no one was looking, I wasn’t affected by any of it. I wasn’t buying $3,000 handbags or summering in Southampton. I was shopping at TJMaxx like always. Going to free storytelling events and drinking cheap gin. I’ve never been any good at making money so my life stayed pretty much the same…just as it did when this insane money train came to a halt during the Financial Crisis of 2008. I didn’t make money during the boom, and I didn’t lose money during the bust.

But now filthy lucre is on the rise again, rich assholes are using this city as a playground, rents are rising, and your favorite dive bar is a Chase bank.

All of this is true. I won’t deny it. But I love this place: the weirdos, the grande dames, the kids on their skateboards, the hustlers, the dreamers, the drag queens,
Going for the Garter
the professional dog walkers, the old bastards playing chess in the park. Through all its ups and downs and changes, I love this place. Some changes I like better than others. Point is: you’d have to drag me out of here; claw marks all over the Chrysler building as I cling to it, to get me to move anywhere else. And if that ever happens, I promise you: I’ll spare you the “Why I Left New York” essay. (Mostly because it would be all of five words: “Some asshole made me move.”)

I’m just so damn tired of people yammering on about how this city is soulless now, that it’s lost its charm and edge. Yes, all of us have places, people and things that have disappeared from the New York landscape that we miss. It’s part of living in any city for a long time. Nostalgia is inevitable. Especially in New York where I’m convinced the day after the first person set foot here he said, “This place was so much better yesterday.” So this recent trend of boring motherfuckers writing their elegies to this town (as NYC slams the door on their ass) is obnoxious. Especially Mr. Ketcham, who is so out of touch that he uses the term “male nurse”.

Step up your game, buddy.

We’re a city of cockroaches, both literal and figurative. I always say that if armageddon happens, there will be a few survivors in New York. And after the dust and smoke clear, those people will rise up, and with whatever radiated limbs they have left, they’ll sell each other over-priced shovels, pick axes and hammers so they can start rebuilding this city. Get back to normalcy. Rebuilding schools (so people can compete fiercely to get their kids accepted) and cool restaurants and bars (so people can judge your shoes as you walk in the door.)

Some things will never change.

NYC Mascot


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