Oct 20, 2014
110 Reasons You Should Probably, Definitely Leave New York City: A Point-by-Point Takedown of a BuzzFeed List
It all started in earnest about a year ago, coinciding with the release of a book of essays centered around the topic of leaving—or staying in—New York City. Oh, to be sure, people have been writing about the difficulty of leaving—or staying in—New York for decades, but in the last year it seems like we’ve finally reached the saturation point in terms of sheer quantity of essays devoted to the topic. We don’t want to sound like we’re complaining about the preponderance of these types of essays, though; on the contrary, when these essays are thoughtful and well-written, we welcome them as we would any writing on a well-trod topic. After all, we live in New York! We sometimes think of leaving New York! This is actually a topic as infinitely interesting to us as, we don’t know, death. Just, you know, as long as it’s done well.
Which brings us to BuzzFeed. Last Friday, Matt Stopera and Lauren Yapalater posted a list of “110 Reasons Why You Should Never Leave New York City,” and reading through it was one of the more confusing things we’ve done in a really long time. The list manages to be both highly redundant (how many different ways, our editor-in-chief, Mike Conklin, wonders, can you say that New York is not a car-reliant city?) and frequently nonsensical, all the while trafficking in such heavily used clichés as to be laughable. Or, if not laughable, at least cringe-inducing. Now it might seem like the very format of a list precludes nuance, but we beg to disagree! Lists can be full of specificities, especially when their makers have 110 opportunities to avoid stereotypes and actually deal with the particular subtleties inherent to living in this city. But then that probably wouldn’t be as shareable as gross generalities, now would it? No. It wouldn’t. At the risk of bringing even more attention to this list, though, we wanted to do a point by point take down of everything wrong with it. Which, it turns out, is so many, many things. Like, almost 110 of them.
Obviously the bagels. Not so obviously. The bagel trend currently sweeping the city is centered around Montreal-style bagels.
Obviously the pizza. Sure. Ok. But now that you’ve mentioned it once, you’re not going to mention it again, right? Right?!
The speed at which people walk is superior to the speed at which people walk in other cities. No. The speed at which NYC-residents walk is superior to the speed at which other people walk while in this city. In other cities, our speed isn’t superior, because people get around in ways other than walking.
That first nice day of spring after being stuck inside all winter. How is this different from anywhere else located in a place that is not Los Angeles?
Happy hours after work. Happy hours exist in places that are not New York.
he ability to go out and never worry how you’re going to get home. We had no idea that people outside the five boroughs had panic attacks about how they were going to get home whenever they left the house. Must be terrible.
Not driving. Beyond the fact that plenty (like, literally millions) of people have cars in this city, the whole “not driving” thing is bullshit unless you solely rely on walking, cycling, or public transportation. Because if you’re a frequent Uber user? Guess what, that’s car culture. You’re relying on the ease of a car taking you home. No judgment here, but you are. Don’t lie to yourself.
Not paying car insurance. OK, we get it. You don’t think anyone here owns a car.
Never knowing the price of gas. No, really. We get it.
Listening to music on the subway. Not that it isn’t nice to listen to music on the subway, but this point ignores the fact that it is FAR SUPERIOR to listen to music in the car, where you can sing along at the top of your lungs.
Finishing that last chapter on the subway JUST as you get to your stop. This is a good feeling, but the amount of times that we have missed our stop because of reading on the subway far surpasses the amount when we’ve JUST finished a chapter.
The fact that you have that extra 30 minutes to shut your brain off on the subway before work every day. Oh, your commute is only 30 minutes? Good for you. Most people we know have a commute closer to an hour, during which time it’s pretty hard to shut off because of the teeming masses of humanity pressing against them.
Falling in love with strangers on the subway. Is this literal or figurative? Either way, this has never happened to us. Or anyone we know. Or anyone in history.
14. Bodega cats. (Well, ok. Bodega cats are a good reason to stay in New York.)
People-watching on the subway. Just on the subway? People-watching is good everywhere in New York. Just as it is everywhere in, like, the entire, inhabited world.
People-watching on a bench. Oh, you just want to use up list numbers? We get it.
People-watching, in general. This should have just been the entry to begin with.
Never truly worrying about how many glasses of wine you can have. Huh? Why would we not worry here, but worry other places? Oh, is this another way of saying you don’t have to drive yourself home here? We get it.
That moment when you go above ground on a train and everything is illuminated. This can be a good moment, sure. Especially when it involves crossing a river. But this also feels like another reminder that we take public transportation here. WE GET IT.
Strand. We always forget that no other cities in the country, let alone the world, have independent bookstores. Silly us.
Walking down the street with your headphones and feeling like you’re in a music video. Again, this is fine or whatever, but it’s nowhere near as good as listening to music in a car, where you can sing along.
Going over a bridge on a train. Isn’t that basically number 19? Yeah, basically.
23. Wanting a snack and just running downstairs to the nearest bodega to get one. (Ok, this is a true, good thing about New York. But this is the second bodega-based entry, let’s not go crazy here.)
Knowing your bodega guy. We get it. Bodegas are good.
Having, like, five bodegas you call your own. No, really. They’re good. Enough.
Bodega coffee. Really? Nobody forced you to make this list 110 items long.
You can walk everywhere. We mean, you can. Just as you can walk anywhere when you’re anywhere else in the country. But a lot of the time? That walk will be fucking intolerably long.
The grid. Oh, so it’s that kind of list. The kind that pays no attention to anywhere other than parts of Manhattan. Cool.
Sharing a smile/shrug with a stranger… Who knew this was forbidden everywhere else in the world? Not us.
…especially when someone really crazy comes on the subway. In other parts of the world you’re banned from experiencing camaraderie. Blame car culture.
Not truly having concrete plans for the night. Scheduling weeks in advance is mandated world-wide except for here.
Stopping by somewhere for a drink, then going to your friend’s apartment, then going to another friend’s apartment, then another bar — and home eventually. This could never happen anywhere else. Only in New York, folks.
That satisfying feeling of giving people directions. Whatever makes you happy, we guess. It’s possible, though, that people in other places of the world also feel good about giving directions, but we can’t say for sure.
Randomly walking onto a movie set/TV show being filmed… You like this? Who likes that?
…and yelling at their handlers that you don’t care and you need to get down that street. Oh, you don’t like it? You just like yelling at people doing their jobs? You’re a monster.
Smelling weed in your apartment hallway and immediately liking that neighbor who you’ve never actually met. You like weed? You’re so cool. People in New York smoke weed in their homes? New York is so cool. That just doesn’t happen anywhere else.
The first time it snows, everything’s really quiet, covered in white, and not gross yet. This is nice and everything, but in other places? Things actually stay nice. So if you really like that pristine feeling, maybe go somewhere else. Like, far away.
You can fart basically anywhere and no one notices. This is patently absurd. Everyone notices. More so than in other places because there are so many more people around and you can’t fart in your car. They’re just pretending not to notice because New Yorkers are nice and pity idiots.
The fact that you have the ability to take the subway to multiple beaches. How many times can you mention the subway in one list? So far we’re at 9. So, roughly 25% of the list so far is about the subway. Ok.
The fact that you can take the subway anywhere. Now we’re at 10. Also? We’re confused. We thought you could walk everywhere. Who even needs the subway?
Everyone wants to visit you. How on earth is this a good thing? Guests are the worst.
You can buy a ticket to a concert or sporting event literally 30 minutes before it starts and still make it on time. Fuck you. We couldn’t make it to Citifield from either our home or our office in 30 minutes if our lives depended on it.
Our sports teams are generally the best. Oh my god, do you even know which teams are New York’s teams?
Being able to go to a different restaurant every night for the rest of time. Providing you have shit tons of disposable income that is.
Being able to go to a different bar every night for the rest of time. See above.
Walking by thousands of strangers every day and not giving a fuck what they think of you. Really? Not even a little fuck? Are you a sociopath?
Just going to “pick up a few things from the grocery store” on your way home from work. Are people in other places forced to go STRAIGHT HOME after work? No errands? Nothing? We had no idea!
Having easy access to dozens of movie theaters. This should really be “easy” access. But also, we are lucky to be rich in independent cinema, which is a real plus. Of course, that’s not what this says, but whatever.
49. The smell of Christmas trees on the sidewalks. (This is a good thing. We approve.)
There are trash cans on every corner, WHICH IS REALLY CONVENIENT. Well, there are trash cans on many corners. Most of which are overflowing. So.
You always walk off your meal. Right, because you can “walk everywhere.” Also, people ARE allowed to walk even when they’re not in New York. No, really!
When you’re hungover, you have extremely easy access to egg sandwiches at your local bodega. We get it. Bodegas. New York is only bodegas and subways.
53. Knowing what good street meat is. (Ok, fine.)
Knowing what to order at street-meat carts. Stop repeating yourself.
55. The bars are open till 4 a.m. (Yeah, this is a good thing.)
56. Twenty-four-hour diners and delis. (Also good, though could’ve been combined with #55)
57. You can also just get just about any food you ever imagined delivered. (Yup. New York is pretty great!)
Infinite Seamless options. Stop repeating yourself.
The slices of pizza are bigger here. Bigger doesn’t mean better. Especially when it comes to pizza. See: Chicago.
Walking with your head down and finding money on the street. Little known fact, people lose money everywhere.
Finding something actually useful/cool someone just threw out on a curb. Another little known fact, people leave stuff curbside all over the place, and there’s less of a chance it’s infested with bed bugs in other places!
You can truly participate in a drunk brunch. Please don’t do this. We already lost Julian Casablancas. Who’s next??
Never worrying about parking. Oh, right! Because if you live here, you DEFINITELY don’t have a car. We’d almost forgotten.
Empty neighborhood parks in the summer. Because everybody who’s anybody in New York leaves town in the summer. Fuck that.
Picnics in parks. This is not an “only in New York” thing. Not at all.
Your roof. My roof is off-limits.
67. Other people’s roofs. (This is a real thing that is good.)
68. Community gardens. (Sure. Fine.)
That amazing feeling of JUST catching the train. #11
70. Pat Kiernan. (Agreed.)
Actually relating to Hey Arnold. This is making you want to stay in New York? A Nick show you watched as a child? Ok.
Laughing at Sex and the City tours. How can you laugh at SatC tours when you admit that you want to live here because you relate so strongly to a children’s cartoon show? How?
There are so many songs about New York and it’s fun to listen to the songs and actually relate to them. You realize this is the musical equivalent of those SatC tours, right? Ok.
Knowing you can get somewhere in, like, 20 minutes, even during rush hour. Sure, you can get “somewhere.” But where?
Guys running without shirts in the summer. Um. Ok. It is so much more common to see shirtless guys almost anywhere else in the country, but nice try.
Air-conditioning in a subway car in the summer. #12
Feeling connected to a person you see on your work route every morning but never actually speaking to them. #13
The pleasure of the one-swipe MetroCard at the turnstile. #14, but also? What does this even mean? That you get pleasure out of not fucking up your Metro Card swipe? That is a pretty low bar.
Brunch goes till, like, 4 p.m. Really? Brunch? Again? Ok.
Late dinners. We get it. City that never sleeps. Enough already.
Outdoor seating. Almost everywhere else in the world has outdoor seating that is more pleasant than most of New York’s.
Deli sandwiches. Not New York exclusive. Not at all.
Emerging out of the subway and knowing exactly which way you need to go without flinching. #15
The idea of Manhattanhenge, because you never actually get to see it. We should probably not be so harsh on this one since we’re wildly impressed that #85 isn’t “Manhattanhenge, because sometimes you manage to see it.” But still, “the idea of Manhattanhenge” is maybe the least NYC-specific thing on this list.
Summer weekend mornings when everyone’s out of town and the streets are empty. “Everyone.” Ugh.
Just walking down the street and being like, Wow, I live here. Oh, man. Maybe you are beyond help.
Helping tourists get to Times Square. If this is one of your reasons for never leaving New York, we’re really curious about what would actually get you wanting to leave. Also, this is the same as #33.
88. The Staten Island Ferry. (Ok. It’s nice that this is free and convenient.)
The Ikea ferry being actually better. Better at what? Not getting you to Staten Island. Do you actually understand what the Staten Island ferry is for?
90. Twenty-five-cent dumplings. (Ok, this is a quantifiable good thing about being in New York.)
Dollar pizza that’s better than any other city’s best pizza. Untrue. Also, enough about pizza.
Subway dance performances that are actually good. #16
When someone is about to give you a flier to go on a bus tour, but then they realize you live here and retract their arm, and you feel good about it. Again, this is establishing a VERY LOW bar for happiness.
Looking at the Empire State Building and trying to figure out what the colors mean. We hope this isn’t hurting your brain too much, there is an app for that.
Seeing a cobblestone street peeking out under a paved one and remembering that the Gangs of New York era once really existed. Yeah, Leo was just so CUTE in that.
Free concerts that are actually good. And when they’re good, always massively overcrowded.
Jaywalking all the time and not giving a fuck. Haha. Ok. You’re such a tough New Yawker. Really, though? You should occasionally give a fuck. We mean, we get that you don’t think cars exist here, but they do! And people get hit by them all the time.
Crepes at street fairs. Of all the things at street fairs, you pick crepes?
Watermelon at street fairs. And watermelon? Ok. At least we’re done with street fairs, right?
Street fairs in general, which are pretty cool because you can walk in the middle of the street. Wait, we’re confused? We thought we could walk in the middle of the street all the time because we’re New Yorkers and we jaywalk and just don’t give a fuck.
Cheap comedy shows. Not New York exclusive. Not even close.
102. Cart coffee. (Super similar to bodega coffee, but by far not the most egregious thing on this list.)
103. Murals on the sides of buildings. (Fine.)
Being around people who actually get your jokes about New Jersey. Stop joking about New Jersey. It was never that funny to begin with and now only serves as the clearest sign that the person joking about Jersey only just arrived in New York.
Empty parks during snowstorms. Did you already forget #37? We didn’t.
You don’t have to say “hi” to everyone on the street. Did you already forget #46? We didn’t.
It’s OK to just ignore people. Did you already forget #106? We didn’t. Also: What kind of a sick joke is this list?
Sharing crazy subway stories. This was already mentioned at #30. THIS LIST COULD HAVE BEEN MUCH SHORTER. Also, this is the 17th time the subway was mentioned.
You can eat alone, see movies alone, do anything alone, and no one gives you a second look. Is this list just one long litany of how you have no friends?
That feeling of riding over the bridge, looking at the skyline, and realizing just how awesome New York is. Wait, this reason feels so familiar… oh, right. It’s already been mentioned—almost verbatim—several times already. If this is a list of reasons for why you should “absolutely” stay in New York, may we just suggest, once and for all, leaving if only for a little while. Just, you know, don’t write about it. At least not in list form.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen
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