"Live in New York?" I'd Recommend It | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

"Live in New York?" I'd Recommend It

I surfed over to the C-L's website this morning on the off chance that there was a correction or re-statement of last Saturday's editorial. Didn't find one, which I guess isn't shocking. (To be frank, it is a little shocking. These grown men who purport to be journalists who run the C-L should be ashamed of themselves. Run a damn correction.)

What I did find was David Hampton's most recent blog entry from last week entitled Who would want to live in New York? In it, he takes a half-hearted dig at Charles Rangel. After recounting the Rangel incident, he wrote:

"Mississippi gets more that their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?" Rangel said.

The natural defensive response is "Who the hell would want to live in New York?" I think I have said that in the past without prompting from an insult.

Well, David, as someone who moved from New York City to Mississippi five years ago, let me say this -- I encourage anyone who can afford it to live in New York, at least for a while. In some ways it's a magical city, if only because so many people of so many different backgrounds and cultures make it their home. I think it deserves the moniker "the capital of the world" because there is so much art, culture, food, music and some many "ways of life" to be experienced and understood.

New York is very expensive to live in, and most of the city is very difficult to live in if you're poor. Even as a young, middle-class professional I found it stressful to keep up in NYC, and the rent payments never quite seemed to justify the cramped quarters we could afford. Our 400-square foot apartment on 81st Street had no direct sunlight, a kitchen smaller than my desk space at the JFP and metal gates on the windows that we were pretty serious about keeping locked, since the fire escape was a potential entrance for a would-be burglar.

But, then again, we had Central Park as our backyard. We could hail a cab outside our door, or turn up one block to catch a crosstown bus or to dive into the subway station (the blue line, ACE, trains, would take you directly to SoHo and a short walk to either village; or, you could change trains at Times Square to head down to Battery Park. I used to enjoy leaving the train at the World Trade Center exit and crossing the street to Century 21, an amazing discount clothing store where you could find designer Italian suits and cashmire sweaters for pennies on the dollars. (OK...maybe dimes on the dollar.)

To me, New York was particularly magical as winter set in -- deep in the throws of winter, yes, the weather could become tiresome. And you have to get out it in a lot. But those first dustings of snow turned our Upper West Side neighborhood into Bedford Falls -- the upscale Italian and French eateries, the Korean delis, our favorite Cuban restaurant, the Vietamese place that was in "You've Got Mail," the Latino church services at the corner where I turned off Columbus to walk down to my office, the sort of half-assed socialist bookstore in the basement of the apartment building where I rented office space from a semi-retired dentist, the high school, the Crunch gym, the music college, where practice sessions waft out of windows. Aside from Starbucks, it was a "chain-free" zone that I loved to walk in the mornings or when I decided to take a break from writing and get a coffee...no, not from Starbucks, but usually from New World Coffee or from one of the delis, where you'd order it "light, no sugar" since the assumption is that every New York deli coffee comes with milk and sugar unless ordered otherwise. (OK, full disclosure, in the summers I would sometimes get a flavored tea from Starbucks in the afternoon, but only after I'd made a point of shopping at at least two other coffeehouses first that day.)

Woody Allen filmed on both the block where our apartment was and later on the block where my office was. We spent a lazy summer evening one night sitting on our stoop with about 300 of our neighbors, eating ice cream from the small Haagen-Daaz tubs and watching a vestibule across the street where Adam Sandler kissed Winona Rider over and over again for a scene in what was to be "Mr. Deeds." (Not a great film, but I've got a part of it on DV video if you ever want to see movie magic in action. :-)

So, in answer to the question Mr. Hampton has asked in the past without prompting, I'd recommend that anyone who can afford it (or even if you can't quite, as long as you're young and willing to live with roomates) live in New York, at least for a little while. Take some classes there or see if your band can make it there or work a contract job up there for a while. Sure, it's expensive and it can be a pain in the ass. But I guarantee you that you'll learn something.

Some of the things I learned -- about other people, or other cultures or just about a broader world view -- have made me a better person, I think.

Previous Comments

ID
108549
Comment

Maybe such provincial, closed attitudes are what makes that newspaper so bad, and keeps them from thinking clearly before writing those editorials. The Clarion-Ledger editorial page is enough to make "outsiders" think that Mississippi is backward. Otherwise, I'll add to what Todd said. I LOVE New York City. I LOVED living there for all the reasons he stated and more. (And you ought to hear from pre-Todd stories about living and doing a newspaper in the East Village.) But, wait for it. I LOVE Jackson. I LOVE Mississippi. I LOVE living here. It's amazing how open-minded people who love life can manage to love many different types of places and people, eh?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-11-21T13:00:32-06:00
ID
108550
Comment

How true ladd and itodd! If you are bored and have nothing to do in one town then no matter where you move the same thing will happen in the "new" city, unless it is the person who changes. A lot of people leave cities because of various reasons thinking that life will be better in the "big city." But, if you still sit at home watching the same TV shows every night, and sit around and do the same things you did in the town you came from, then nothing changes but your address. Usually, for a while the newness of your new abode and the new surroundings creates a vigor and euphoria like a birthday gift or new car. But, once that wears off it is up to the person to make life exciting and enjoyable. I've seen this happen to many friends, and I've seen friends change from moving to a new city. I won't deny that change of venue sometimes creates the spark to change people so they live a better life. Yet, usually, I hear the same complaints from them as I did when they lived nearby. I too have moved to various other cities; and, in one place I grew bored until I decided that I would enjoy what I have and where I live. Now it is easier to find the charm of any town I live. BTW: Melton doesn't make Jackson charming!

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-11-21T13:25:09-06:00
ID
108551
Comment

Agreed, Pike. Happiness comes from the inside. One of the saddest things is to run from place to place looking for something that you have all along. I know. I've done it. It's also very sad to have so little confidence and self-awareness that you need to tear others down in order to feel better about yourself, as both Rangel and Hampton seem to be doing. I've done that, too, but I hope I've grown out of it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-11-21T13:35:09-06:00
ID
108552
Comment

I feel like I should throw my two cents in since I'm a Mississippian who is currently living in a big northeastern city; Philadelphia in my case. I love city living for lots of the same reasons iTodd listed. (I especially like not having to own a car because I can walk to most everything I need to do.) At the same time, I love the place I'm from, and I miss it a lot. This is kind of why I follow stories about redevelopment in Jackson so closely. I want to see a real urban center grow up in Mississippi, so that in the future people like me won't have to move so far away from home, family, and friends to get the benefits of living in a city.

Author
Mark Michalovic
Date
2006-11-21T21:26:29-06:00
ID
108553
Comment

Agreed, Mark. That's what we all want here. But dissin' big cities out of some provincial defensiveness isn't going to get us there. Boo, hiss, Hampton.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-11-21T21:41:33-06:00
ID
108554
Comment

I agree. One of the eye-openers of having lived both in small-town Mississippi and big-city Philly is that a lot of people in both places think they don't need the people in the other. City people somehow think they don't need country people to grow their food and country people think they don't need city people to build their tractors. One of the things I like about my neighborhood is we have a tie with our rural neighbors in that we have a really good farmers market. We get to buy produce and baked goods straight from Amish farmers...and you can't get any more back-to-the-land than the Amish! Jackson is in an even better position to build those strong urban-rural connections like that, what with the country being so much closer to downtown than in Philly. Or at least for now. Jackson is sprawling, and I think that's another issue that urban people and rural people should unite on. Jackson needs to be a real city so that rural Madison and Rankin can be real country.

Author
Mark Michalovic
Date
2006-11-21T21:56:12-06:00

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus