Rose Colored Glasses When it Comes to New York City?

6 Dec

I had an interesting conversation this weekend about that special character that plays a huge part in the background of my life – New York City.  But before I get to that conversation, I want to tell you a little bit about my love for Manhattan.  I am a born and raised New Yorker.  I grew up in Brooklyn and I have always been fascinated with the energy of Manhattan.  As a child, I recall the grafitti covered trains that ran from my Brooklyn neighborhood into Manhattan.  I recall going to see my dad at his Tribeca office and the artists sketching and painting in the cobblestone streets of Tribeca. I recall learning about the streetwalkers on the westside highway looking for a John.   As a teenager, I remember walking in the West Village and the East Village and marveling at the shops selling bongs and other drug related  paraphenalia along St. Marks Place.  I remember the first time I drove over the Brooklhyn Bridge – the inspiration I felt as my car entered the streets of Manhattan and I had NO idea what I was doing in my parents HUGE 1970’s car.  I just wanted to feel the energy of New York City run through  my veins.

As I grew, so did New York City.  It became gentrified, it became home to fancier and fancier restaurants.  As  I grew I was fortunate enough to have a career that exposed me to that part of the social scene in New York City.  Notwithstanding this exposure, I also have been keenly aware that this slice of Manhattan society is just that – a small slice.  New York is home to poverty – 1 in 2 students attending the New York City public schools  are living below the poverty line.  I dedicate much of my free time to organizations that offer services to the residents of New York City who are struggling everyday in this tough economy and this expensive, overpriced city.  I believe these organizations can and do make a difference to the lives of my fellow New Yorkers.

New York is indeed an expensive and tough place to live  – the small island of Manhattan has become an even more difficult place to live in more recent years as it becomes more gentrified.   But it is still New York and I believe this is a place where dreams are made.  No, life in New York City ain’t going to be Mayberry everyday – it’s going to be tough and it might even be rough.  But that’s what makes it even more special once you start to feel a part of that  energy of the city – while you try to fight your way through the crowds and compete with the greatest competitors you might ever find in your field.  I believe it is the satisfcation that you know you gave your dream a shot – a shot at doing the best you can in a city that welcomes you with the Statute of Liberty in her harbor – a place where people from all over the world are welcome and come to seek their dreams. 

New York City is really not about people like me – the people who live in New York City and call it home.   People like me keep the city stable and constant.   New York City is about the people who come to New York with their dreams – they are the ones who give the energy to the city.   It is these people that make Manhattan one of the most special places in the world and maybe the only city in the world to represent the diversity of the human culture on the planet.

Yes, I’m not naive, it’s a tough place to live.  Yes, a penthouse on Park Avenue and shopping on Madison Avenue may always be inaccessible to you – but knowing that you have come to New York and have experienced the energy and melting pot of people in this great city should be at the very least appreciated, don’t you think?   I think these dreamers who come to New York to make their dreams come true should give a gentlemanly nod to Lady New York and say thank you for giving me a shot to try to make it in this fiercely competitive city – I did my best but my competitor beat me. 

I was told this weekend that New York City is all hype.  This person argued that there’s nothing special about it – you can get the same things in smaller cities across the country for cheaper.  Yes, maybe you can get the same beer in a small city out west for half the price – but are you going to be able to have the same conversation at the bar with the bartender and your fellow patrons.  I’m not so sure – because what New York is about is the people who and New Yorkers born and bred and the ones who adopt this city as home – are not like any other people I have met – New Yorkers (born and raised and adopt this city as their home) are the most passionate of people.

Yes, I was insulted by this insult toLady  New York.  I took it personally.  I know I probably shouldn’t have but New York runs in my blood.  And so, I vehemently disagreed.  I think one is closed minded if they think New York is all hype – there is no island in the world that acts as a commercial center and at the same time filled with art and hundres of different foods and languages.  I challenge you to find one other city that delivers what New York City can deliver in culture and passion.

 I don’t have rose colored glasses – it is my hometown and I do love it and I love the people and my daily experiences; notwithstanding that, I know New York City is  a tough city but it is not hype – New York is exactly who she presents to people – there is nothing hidden – New York is a place filled with dreams – dreams that can be achieved so long as you are ready for the competition and hard work.  I know this because I worked hard to achieve success and I need to believe it for my friends and for all the beautiful residents of this city who make this place their home – they live in the city, have their own dreams – not matter how small or how big – and are working hard to achieve thei dream for themselves and their family.  So, yes insulting New York City is personal to me – it is my life line and it is the life line to millions of people who love this city and call it home.




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