A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 36: Having Just Missed the Party

August 1st · 2 Comments

This evening I unexpectedly find myself at dinner on the Lower East Side with a columnist for a big New York magazine and his girlfriend. (Don’t ask.) There had been no warning, no time to prepare.

I smile and nod gamely over the eggplant lasagna and wish I’d shaved, or combed my hair, or gotten around to buying new clothes, so I wouldn’t be wearing these Dockers with the cuff that I’d torn on the chain of my mountain bike a few months ago.

I keep my legs firmly beneath the chair as conversation wanders – the slow strangulation of our economy by China, trends in pubic hair – but what depresses me most is what the Columnist, a native New Yorker, had to say about the city.

“New York used to be run by the freaks,” he inveighs over a glass of fruity Italian white. “Now it is run by the bankers.”

But, he adds, one thing had not gone to the corporate dogs, and that is the food. We sit at an outside table at Inoteca, a sort of Italian tapas bar at the corner of Ludlow and Rivington streets, feasting on paninis and candied beets. This neighborhood, I had heard, was just recently the kind of place dominated by broken glass and blanketed figures in doorways.

Now a Friday night on the Lower East Side, like many neighborhoods, is a frat party with great taste in clothes. Tan thirtysomethings sashay by in backless dresses and office drones strut in their pinstripes.

I take another bite of fontina-and-roasted-garlic panini and almost mention the article I’d read that morning about how New York is being suburbanized by a flood of chain stores like McDonald’s and Bed Bath & Beyond. But I don’t. That’s old news, anyway. Everywhere I go I hear the same message: you missed it, got here a little too late. The food is good but the soul is gone.

There’s no place here for you and your torn Dockers, the city seems to say. Might as well just turn around and go on home.

Tags: Dining · Personalities · Schmoozing · The Rat Race · Why I Hate This Town

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 steve // Aug 4, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Oh, sure Dave, we all know the fifties were the best of times anyways. I’ve heard how New Yorkers love to complain. Don’t take it so seriously.

  • 2 Kimberly Winston // Aug 12, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    David! Haven’t checked in in awhile. Are you seriously bummed? Or is this just a writerly device? I keep hearing THE NY was the NY of “Mad Men.” My mom wasn’t even there yet. I wasn’t even born yet. Whattyagonnado? But the columnist is right about the bankers. And you got your first eyefull of what New Yorkers call the “bridge and tunnel” crowd (meaning they don’t live in the city, they live on Long Island, Staten Island or that state to the west.)

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