Thursday, July 16, 2009

#10 The Concept of New York City

If you live in San Francisco, you're always threatening to move to New York. A friend has an open bedroom in his West Village sh*tbox or your company has a satellite office in Midtown. There's some reason. You likely already lived there or almost moved there after college. New York and San Francisco are like these two wormholes, and you're always standing at the edge of one or the other, waiting for your luggage.

Moving to New York seems like a pretty specific life decision but for the educated, well-to-do twenty or thirty something living in San Francisco, it is the epitome of modern desire. Whether it concerns our job, our bodies, our hair or our girlfriend, what we desire is not a radically different alternative - we are solipsistic, self-aggrandizing ego queens who love who we are and what we have, we aren't some loopy farm kid from South Dakota - no, we just desire a less flawed version. We want to keep the good and banish the bad, not in some sick, Fascist pogrom way but in a totally normal, totally healthy Tony Robbins or Scientology way.

So we don't want cities like Charleston or Minneapolis. No one in San Francisco threatens to move to Tallahassee. And though people constantly clamor about how different New York and San Francisco are in lifestyle, as if their dual existence confronts humanity with some grand crisis of identity, New York and San Francisco are really overlapping worlds, comprised of the same genre of affluent white (or white acting) people, same career opportunities, same progressive cosmopolitan ethos. This is why we have friends there, job prospects, and a lead on an apartment.

New York promises the same basic stuff and meaning of San Francisco life just subtly improved. It offers opportunities we can't yet describe but that we sense are right in our sweet spot. We imagine a fabulous if small studio and delicious cocktails and all the glamourous people! Like a Tom Wolfe novel! The Wall Street players with dark suits and dangerous smiles, the skinny models, the actresses, the fashionistas! None of these Subaru-driving faux-hippies, none of these ex-nerd jokers who wear polo shirts and white tube socks. Say sayonara to awkward encounters with Google engineers.

But here's the thing: when your consciousness is half tuned to that mythology, when you always have one foot out the door, then you disengage from your reality, you don't make small talk with the random guy on MUNI, you don’t go slumming at Circa on weekends, you see the tawdriness of SOMA clubs and the under-arm hair of the barrista at Peet’s. After all you've been to Manhattan, the real city, in fact you're considering a move there, Jenny just started Stern and there's that tall guy you met in Tahoe, who has a penthouse on Park Ave., so he said, he's unbelievably full of himself and Sarah said some bad things about him but he was so funny and he keeps texting you... and this small little city around you and it's dorky denizens are just so...bush-league. You can do better than this, you know it.


  1. Having moved from New York to San Francisco I can say you can't comapre them. SF only has 700,000 people. It might offer as much as the East Village, but not much more. Its a nice little town, don't get me wrong, but its a town that wants to be a city.

    As far as hot girls, what hot girl careers does SF offer? No modeling, fashion or media.

  2. you need to take a writing class. every sentence was a story in itself; thus making this piece udderly unreadable and with no real point.

  3. *i misspelled utterly!
    -farm town boy living in the city

  4. I spent 5 years in NYC and 5 years in SF and I love them both. I've also spent about 10 years listening to people compare the two with an odd chip on their shoulder one way or the other. What's the point? I don't agree that SF wants to be New York or that there exists some insecurity about whether or not SF is a "real city" or whatever. SF just wants to be SF, with all its diversity, beauty and weirdness. All the hubbub comparing SF and NYC is more a reflection of the anxiety suffered by twenty and thirty-somethings in their attempt to forge their own identities in these two cities (or others). When it comes down to it, they're both amazing places to live.

  5. SO How do I as a New Yorker... get the women of my dreams to move from San Fran... I have the sh*t box apt in the west village and the big house up state. What every NY girl wants... but all I hear about is how she can ride her bike 365 to the water front. "We have a water front... actually quite a few" I respond, but limited seasons I am reminded. So how do I compare the two cities here.. do they compare? I think it is a matter of taste and priority. Two different places drawing the people who require certain amenities to their respective niche.

  6. hmmmmm, sounds as if san francisco isn't the only place with a shortage of women if new yorkers are going out of state to find "the girl of their dreams". maybe it's not women or the amount of them available?

  7. You must be a San Fran girl. I think you are right the issue is the quality, not so much quantity. Plenty of available women in NY, they actually out number the men. I would not be chasing the San Fran girl if she did not exceed the quality off all the women I have met in the entire world. ( Put together)

    You still have not answered my question..... how do I get her to move to NY? IF you can't compare the women then, not this one anyway, compare the cities and help me make my case. OR I WILL END UP BEING YOUR NEIGHBOR.

  8. I'm not sure I am going to be able to help you with this one-

    I don't know if you've ever lived in the Bay Area, or specifically San Francisco, but it does have alot to recommend it. I definitely love NY and appreciate all the amazing things about it, but when it came time for me to decide if I was going to live there, it just didn't add up.

    Let's see, I'd be giving up my very large, rent controlled apartment w/ a huge yard and swapping it for a tiny shoebox that was going to cost me 3X as much. I would have to get a new job w/o any of my contacts in SF and I was going to have to deal w/ alot of weather. And even more people. I like my space.

    And I'm sorry to tell you this, but at the time I was in a two year relationship w/ a Manhattanite who decided he was going to be happier moving to California than I would be moving to NY. It's definitely worthy of alot of discussion. You never know what's going to happen.

    All that being said, there are many, many things that are much worse than moving to NY to be w/ the one you love (I'm assuming she feels the same way). Just as there are many, many things much worse than moving to SF to be w/ the one you love.
    I don't mind having more neighbors, especially New Yorkers.

    I find it highly ironic that you, living in NY was able to find a girlfriend in SF , while our lonely blog author is still having no luck.

    And now, our moment of Zen- give it some more time and see what the universe brings to you.

    Finding someone you connect w/ so much is rare thing - good luck!

  9. So. Fucking. True.

  10. It is the same sentiment in every city. to think that san fran shares a special connection with new york is nearsighted.

  11. I've been to New York, and I think it's full of little red haired angry guys that get drunk and scare off all the women by telling them they're not as sucessful as him. Then again, I've been to San Francisco and have seen some jackass take his shirt off in the Comet Club creating the most uncomforable scene, once again, scaring off the women.

    If you want a real city move to Michigan- and "dominate."

  12. They are both disappointing and amazing at the same time. SF has the geek culture (we all know the nerds win in the end). NY has better food and women (no wonder they aren't geeking out over there!). SF is +1 for tech luminaries. Coney island doesn't compare to any beach in SF...especially in January. SF +1 for natural and architectural beauty. NY is +1 for no life threatening earthquakes (so the chicken can stay there in their comfort zone). Both fail in the leadership category. MTA card readers dont work at all. MUNI is run as a slush fund. Violence is prevalent as much in brooklyn as in the mission. SF weather and nightlife are overrated. SF has enough gay population to keep them from obnoxiously hitting on the straights ( I can't say that about any other city I've lived in). Contrary to this article, neither city is particularly caucasian.

  13. I think the big difference between the 2 are the overriding values of each city. These values and local culture are greatly influenced by the largest and most influential industries there. I think the most influential industry in NYC is Finance. The culture of Wall Street therefore infiltrates and dictates life there whether directly or indirectly. The largest and most influential industry in SF and the Bay Area is Tech.

    NYC = Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase

    SF = Google, Facebook, Apple

    Look at how these companies operate, their executives, company culture and modus operandi, and you can get an idea of what the most pervasive lifestyle and values are in each area.

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  16. I'm from Pittsburgh and just graduated from college with a degree in Management and Marketing. I know.. not very exciting stuff. But I'm contemplating moving to San Fran without a job simply because I've always wanted to move there. Even with the high cost of living I'll have money to get me by for 3 months or so. Still, is this s this a terrible idea? I only know one person there, but I'll still have to look for my own apartment.