Tuesday, August 16, 2005

This argument about Philly vs. New York upsets me because of the obvious yet ignored class issues involved. 

When Jason Brooks was giving his farewell reading at La Tazza, friends of his were down from New York. One of them was this horrible woman who works for the New Yorker, what an awful human being she was (probably still is). She sat next to me while I was talking with Jason and said, "You don't actually enjoy living here do you!?" Jason started to say things about Philly to ward off what he saw coming in my glare, but it was just too late. I smiled and said, "I take it you don't live here?" "No, I certainly don't! I live in New York where people know how to use deodorant!" "Oh, you don't live here, I'm very happy to hear that," I said smiling an even bigger smile. "OH, yeah, you only have TWO SUBWAYS, well, I guess that works, right!? And a cheesesteak shop at both ends!" "Excuse me, but are you going home soon? I sincerely hope so!" She then growled at me and left my side to return to the bar, where she continued to get plastered, and more obnoxious. I hope she never comes back!

Jason apologized for her, then we started a conversation about the snobbishness and where that comes from. He said, "Well, you have to admit, Philly people do feel they're living in the shadow of New York." I about choked on my drink, "Actually, none of my friends feel that way. We don't walk about thinking, Oh it's a lovely day, Oh but it's just the shadows we're walking in, Oh it's not really Philadelphia!"

See, this is the kind of thing that pisses some New Yorkers off because they don't understand that I don't HATE New York, in fact I LOVE New York. It's a great place! It's just that I LOVE Philadelphia, and it's Philadelphia, not New York. Do you fucking understand this? I'm not hating New York here, I'm just saying that I don't WISH I lived there. I very much like living in Philadelphia.

The only time I ever hear people in Philadelphia pine over New York like they're the poor orphan cousins is in neighborhoods like Rittenhouse Square, where I work. But then again, I've seen these people cream their pants if someone nearby is speaking French, or with a British accent. They really do go out of their way to make it clear they feel Philadelphia is inferior, but I believe this is actually their way of proving to be superior to the heart and bulk of the city, which they fear and loathe.

This is a working class town, and folks in Rittenhouse and Society Hill know it and are clearly ashamed of it! When I was working at Metropolitan Bakery just before the 2000 Republican Convention (I'll ALWAYS remember this!), the city was cleaning up the streets and planting fabulous trees and plants and it did look beautiful! But I'll always remember this pack of lawyers who live in Rittenhouse, coming into the bakery, and the one guy, the one with the biggest, stupid voice, said, "The city looks GREAT! My only question is, WHAT are they going to do with the scabby people in South Philly, maybe ask them to go to Atlantic City until the convention's over!?" They all cracked up. They just loved themselves. Yeah, what a bunch of wonderful, loving human beings. WHAT A BUNCH OF SCUMBAGS!

To be honest with you the New Yorkers who are moving down here are not all that kind either. First of all, they always seem to go out of their way to make it CLEAR they are from there. Okay, got it, you're from THERE. Recently a young woman said, "I don't LIVE here! I live in New York!" And I said, "Oh, but you said you're phone number is 215?" "I'm just going to school at Penn." And I said, "Well, BEING somewhere for four years might be considered LIVING there!" She sneered and said, "OH I GUESS SO!"

Some days my irritation runs dangerously close to exploding all over the place!

Class geography politics is both fascinating and irritating to me. I experienced it all the time when I lived in Albuquerque, which is 45 minutes from Sante Fe. I worked near the airport at Alamo Car Rental doing security checks on cars (probably the worst job of my life in my little aluminum booth with the tiny fan in the middle of the fucking New Mexico sun), and there were always these fancy assholes from LA who would make comments like, "OH, let's put the peddle to the metal and get out of THIS town!" They were always headed for Sante Fe of course. Albuquerque was the working class town. It became a routine conversation, someone would say how hungry they were, and I'd suggest a place nearby, and they'd say, "WHAT!? OH NO! That's okay, we can WAIT until we get to Sante Fe!" People acted like Albuquerque was filled with the plague, they really hated the place, and I bet they never really spent time there. Granted, I didn't enjoy living in New Mexico, but I have to say I preferred Albuquerque. Sante Fe had the most extreme case of rich and poor I had ever encountered, and the rich people were so racist it freaked me out. The same company I worked security for at Alamo had me work a couple of weeks at a museum in Sante Fe, and the fucking rich people there would always make the most outrageously racist remarks about Mexicans and say, "YOU KNOW what I mean!"

Anyway, I could go on, but I'm not going to,
it's too Goddamned depressing,

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