Are you relatively new to this fine metropolis? Don't be shy about it, everyone was new to New York at one time... except, of course, those battle-hardened residents who've lived here their whole lives and Know It All. One of these lifers works among us at Gothamist—publisher Jake Dobkin grew up in Park Slope and currently resides in Brooklyn Heights. He is now fielding questions—ask him anything by sending an email here, but be advised that Dobkin is "not sure you guys will be able to handle my realness." We can keep you anonymous if you prefer; just let us know what neighborhood you live in.
This week's questions comes from two New Yorkers who are having a hard time with newcomers:
Dear Native New Yorker,
Born, raised, and STILL LIVING in the Lower East Side, I grew up with easy access to Chinatown, Alphabet City, Greenwich Village, Wall Street...you get it...completely DIFFERENT worlds. I love that. So how do you handle when a younger FAMILY member comes to live to NYC from "hicksville," thinking they own the city now because they studied tourist books (ok, so you Googled that buddy); adapted a wannabe hipster lifestyle they are truly too square to really assimilate to; are eating at the latest restaurants and boastfully asking, "Have YOU been to insert latest craze? No? Why you should try it, it's really good..."
So now they have this "cooler than you" attitude. What the hell do you do to stop yourself from literally slapping these young newbies who think they've seen it all, or worse yet, think they KNOW NYC more than—not just a native New Yorker—a FREAKING native New Yorker? !@#$%^!!
LES in da house!!
Dear Native New Yorker,
Am I allowed to butt into tourists' conversations about what to see in the city? What if they are only going to go shopping and they don't want to visit the the NYC outside of Times Square? Isn't it my duty to say something?
A Native New Yorker replies:
Dear LESIDH and Nosy Nelly:
Today I'm going to drop some wisdom that we natives know instinctively, which is that for every moral quandary facing a New York resident, there is a zen and unzen approach. For ease of remembering, let's call these two approaches "MCA" and "Nas":
"A Strength From Within To Go The Length
Seeing Others Are As Important As Myself
I Strive For A Happiness Of Mental Wealth
With The Interconnectedness That We Share As One
Every Action That We Take Affects Everyone
So In Deciding For What A Situation Calls
There Is A Path For The Good For All" -MCA
"I'm the type of brother who keeps a four-pounder / Start a lot of shit and shoot at out-of-towners" -Nas
Let's apply this method to a concrete problem: how to deal with tourists. Say you're walking in Midtown and four tourists are standing there looking at a map blocking the entire fucking sidewalk and you're already late for work. What would MCA do? He'd tell you to meditate on whatever causes resentment. That is, he might say that it's your egotism which is causing you to feel that your need to get to work is more important than those turnips' need to get to MoMA. Seen from a perspective of wisdom, he'd say you need to acknowledge that all people are connected in one unbroken chain of causation, and no one should privilege their own needs above anyone else's. In other words, "just sit back and max and relax."
Now, if you ask what would Nas do, he'd say something like "At the out-of-towners, they better break North / Before we get the four pounders and take their face off." That's going to be emotionally satisfying in a very temporary way, and then you've got the police after you and you're probably late for work anyhow. That's because, in general, acting in an unzen way just leads to more suffering for you and everyone else. What I'm saying is that Real New Yorkers are usually very wise, because they've learned enough to survive here a long time. They don't feel the need to prove it.
So when your hipster cousin, fresh out of NYU, comes at you with whatever bullshit trend he just picked up on Thought Catalog, like cronut sausages or Tinder gangbangs, you can just smile sagely, while inwardly repeating these fine words from MCA: "Well I got to keep it going keep it going full steam/ Too sweet to be sour too nice to be mean/ On the tough guy style I'm not too keen."
On the other hand, let's say you overhear some midwestern types discussing their plan to eat at Guy Fieri's restaurant in Times Square. In that case, you should definitely step in— it's extremely unzen to allow people to hurt themselves like that.
N.B.: tourism earns NYC $34BB in direct spending, supports 325,000 jobs, and nets each NYC citizen $1350 in tax savings each year—act with the appropriate gratitude!
Ask A Native New Yorker anything by emailing our Tips address here.