I thought Metafilter revolved around SF February 13, 2010 10:25 PM   Subscribe

New Yorkers perceive their own city differently because it's constantly reflected back to them in movies and books. Was this discussed on Metafilter, maybe in a comment on Ask?

I thought I remembered exact phrases from this post, but I can't find it. Can you find me that quote? Or other interesting comments with similar insight?
posted by tantivy to MetaFilter-Related at 10:25 PM (56 comments total)

This comment by lunasol, I think.
posted by iconomy at 10:39 PM on February 13, 2010


Differently from what?
posted by longsleeves at 10:43 PM on February 13, 2010


Er, I meant differently from how most people see the world in general. But maybe the question is clearer if you read the actual comment I was thinking of.

Thanks, iconomy!
posted by tantivy at 11:45 PM on February 13, 2010


I always sort of thought that Metafilter revolved around Santa Fe, too, but that's probably just because it's such a fucking awesome town.
posted by koeselitz at 2:14 AM on February 14, 2010


iconomy. you. own. askmefi. over 3,000 answers, damn. You got more ticks than a mastiff in the summer grass.
posted by tellurian at 2:36 AM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was just telling someone the other day that as a kid, I thought everyone had TV and movies for their town. Like, if you turned on the television in Detroit, you got media about Detroit. I really didn't understand that the whole world was watching and absorbing information about the city I lived in.

When I finally realised that, it was one of those weird, world-inverting moments.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:38 AM on February 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


I used to live on Ramsay Street and damn if I didn't know everybody in that neighbourhood. Self-absorbed drama addicts that they were. Fuck I hate that place. Glad I finally got out of there and moved to Twin Peaks.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:35 AM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


New Yorkers perceive their own city differently because it it is the center of the universe. Not the country, not the world, uh-uh. The CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:04 AM on February 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Damn, it's so exciting now to be flipping through channels and see Law and Order and be like "omigod there's my street omigod I recognize that!!!!". Even re-watching old movies set in NYC is fun, especially the gritty nasty 80s NYC movies like Desperately Seeking Susan.

But yeah, I can see how growing up watching your own neighborhood on TV all the time would be a bit of an ego inflator.
posted by amicamentis at 6:56 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obligatory assertion that I'm a New York resident who doesn't think of NYC as the center of the universe.

In fact, I wouldn't mind getting out of here. Does someone want to rent me a room in Iowa or something?
posted by bingo at 7:10 AM on February 14, 2010


Dude, whatever you're paying for rent will cover a mortgage payment on a pretty nice house in Iowa.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:28 AM on February 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


But it'll be in Iowa.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:50 AM on February 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Somewhat related: you might want to check out a movie called Los Angeles Plays Itself. It's by a guy who lives in Los Angeles and the entire movie is footage of Los Angeles from other movies with him talking over top of them about how much he hates that it's never portrayed correctly.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:52 AM on February 14, 2010


I seem to remember there's this book on the topic.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:19 AM on February 14, 2010


Well, see, here's the thing: I have lived in two different movie New Yorks. They are both in Canada.

They are both nothing like New York.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:40 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


In fact, I wouldn't mind getting out of here. Does someone want to rent me a room in Iowa or something?

Hell, I'll trade you the house in Iowa. My girlfriend is a born-and-raised New Yorker and we can't wait to get out of this place. It's cheap to live out here, but spend some time in the subzero temperatures we get out here and NYC winter will seem almost tropical to you. You'll also have to get used to the small-town gossip mill (even here in the largest city in Iowa). Girlfriend has an ex in town and we suddenly found ourselves without friends after getting together. Nearly two years later, the nasty things people have said are still filtering back to us. It's uncanny.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:53 AM on February 14, 2010


See, it's IOWA.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:59 AM on February 14, 2010


You may meet some interesting and fun people here. Prepare for all of them to move to Portland within 3 years.
posted by TrialByMedia at 9:02 AM on February 14, 2010


This January 1st Nowy Jork ceased to be.
posted by Kattullus at 9:07 AM on February 14, 2010


Er, I meant differently from how most people see the world in general.

Most people see the world through their own local filter. It's their reality and it's natural to project that reality on the rest of the world.

As to New Yorkers seeing their city differently because of how often it's use in media, I think that goes for any city.

The Wire was set in Baltimore, where I grew up, so most of the physical settings and neighborhoods and history were really familiar to my wife and I as we watched it, and we got a lot of subtle references about it. For instance, we cracked up when Herc and Carver were frantically cleaning out the back of their cruiser, looking lost drug money before their commanding officer tore them a new one. One of the things they threw out was a Dunkin' Donuts box. It wasn't just a prop box, marked donuts, it was an actual box from the chain donut shop in and around Baltimore, which cops can often be found gathered at. It also reminded us of many mornings or late nights we had spent at the shops, which seemed to be largely run by Indian families, so there's a whole feeling of nostalghia and memory, just from that one 2 second scene. I imagine anyone seeing actual scenes from their home city in the movie or tv will have similar feelings as they're not just seeing a physical place, but also moments in space and time.

Was Paper Moon Diner ever shown on The Wire?

The fish fry joint where Barksdale tried to ambush Milo's gang, but wound up getting shot instead? Yeah, it was exactly the kind of place where that would happen, the detail the crew obviously took in staging filming that scene was unreal.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:27 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The New York I know is that little stretch of Normandie just south of Wilshire.
posted by carsonb at 9:44 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Wire was set in Baltimore, where I grew up, so most of the physical settings and neighborhoods and history were really familiar to my wife and I as we watched it, and we got a lot of subtle references about it. For instance, we cracked up when Herc and Carver were frantically cleaning out the back of their cruiser, looking lost drug money before their commanding officer tore them a new one. One of the things they threw out was a Dunkin' Donuts box. It wasn't just a prop box, marked donuts, it was an actual box from the chain donut shop in and around Baltimore, which cops can often be found gathered at. It also reminded us of many mornings or late nights we had spent at the shops, which seemed to be largely run by Indian families, so there's a whole feeling of nostalghia and memory, just from that one 2 second scene. I imagine anyone seeing actual scenes from their home city in the movie or tv will have similar feelings as they're not just seeing a physical place, but also moments in space and time.

Now I'm curious. Are Dunkin' Donuts boxes in Baltimore different from Dunkin' Donuts boxes in the rest of the country? I ask because I never associated the brand with Baltimore. It's a national chain, with less of a footprint out west and down south. But I'm pretty sure if you had to associate it with any part of the country, most would choose Boston/New England. And I'm pretty sure the idea of cops hanging out at doughnut shops isn't so much a Baltimore-only thing, either.
posted by aswego at 9:52 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Then again, you could live in Toronto, which never plays itself but always plays New York or Chicago or LA or Raccoon City or a friggin' alternate universe. Identity crisis? I think so.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 9:56 AM on February 14, 2010


Are Dunkin' Donuts boxes in Baltimore different from Dunkin' Donuts boxes in the rest of the country?

No, the point was that it was DD box, which has a certain local aspect with being the shops, cops and the culture of the majority of the owners. Others from different parts of America could claim similar feelings, no doubt. It was just a nice touch to add in the scene, considering the personalities of the two cops, especially when you consider that DD box in the trunk, not the back seat, doesn't make sense.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:00 AM on February 14, 2010


As to New Yorkers seeing their city differently because of how often it's use in media, I think that goes for any city.

...Isn't the point that most cities aren't ever depicted in movies and TV? Baltimore's not a great counter-example because it's featured at least sometimes.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:49 AM on February 14, 2010


New Yorkers perceive their own city differently because it's constantly reflected back to them in movies and books.

Heh. Try living in NYC and then moving someplace else. You get tired of hearing about NYC real quick.

After a while, it makes you just want to grab people and shake them and shout , "NYC REALLY IS NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL! OTHER PLACES DO HAVE SOMETHING TO OFFER, YOU KNOW!?"

Oddly (and non-stereotypically), I find that New Yorkers actually have a better grasp of this than non-New Yorkers.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:48 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"NYC REALLY IS NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL! OTHER PLACES DO HAVE SOMETHING TO OFFER, YOU KNOW!?" I find that New Yorkers actually have a better grasp of this than non-New Yorkers

This has really, really not been my experience.
posted by fleacircus at 12:25 PM on February 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Though I'll chalk it up as another tally in the "New Yorker's understand X better than other people do" column, if you don't mind.
posted by fleacircus at 12:26 PM on February 14, 2010


I dunno, there are hordes of them who are too busy struggling to get by on $65k/year, living in a cramped smelly apartment with 3 other people, rushing to catch the subway, and trying to calculate their next moves to spend a lot of time in cosmopolitan reverie. Jus' people.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:48 PM on February 14, 2010


"NYC REALLY IS NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL! OTHER PLACES DO HAVE SOMETHING TO OFFER, YOU KNOW!?" I find that New Yorkers actually have a better grasp of this than non-New Yorkers.

This has really, really not been my experience.


Yeah, having lived in NYC for about seven years, but having grown up somewhere else, I would say this is pretty much the opposite of my experience.
posted by bingo at 1:02 PM on February 14, 2010


God, this thread reminds me of how much I want to get out of here.
posted by bingo at 1:04 PM on February 14, 2010


I've never lived in New York, but I want to comment on what it's really like there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:15 PM on February 14, 2010


"NYC REALLY IS NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL! OTHER PLACES DO HAVE SOMETHING TO OFFER, YOU KNOW!?"

It is sort of fair, though, to say that what "New York has to offer" is not available anywhere else. And that's pretty much the point of living there, right, given that the costs of doing so are so high? I can't begrudge New Yorkers the sense that it's like nowhere else.

It's just that I know I'm so lazy that I wouldn't bother to deal with the greater hassle and expense of accessing things in New York, so it's worth it to, you know, go to theater of markedly less quality, at a quarter of the price, at one day's notice, with a 5 minute drive and no trouble parking, and pay the babysitter from down the street $7/hour for the privilege. But then again, I'm a satisficer.
posted by palliser at 1:29 PM on February 14, 2010


Mostly, NYC is just an interesting landmark that makes the transfer at Newark a bit more tolerable.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:36 PM on February 14, 2010


I live in Harlem with my hot African wife. We like to hang out some of the french places in the neighborhood and occasionally check out some of the great jazz that comes through here. Most of the people I work with are immigrants from Asia, India, Russia or the Middle East. Everywhere you go here there's a new language, different cultures and religions and all living relatively peacefully together in close quarters.

I dont think that Television really depicts this New York. From what I've seen, it usually takes place in the small area of lower Manhattan and doesn't reflect the demographic makeup of the City.

And no I dont think most New Yorkers romantasize their city that much.

Prepare for all of them to move to Portland within 3 years

A lot of people here dont even know where Oregon is so I wouldn't count on it.
posted by freshundz at 1:49 PM on February 14, 2010


I was talking about Iowa.
posted by TrialByMedia at 1:55 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love New York more in concept than in actuality. It's my ancestral homeland and I grew up in the Jersey 'burbs about twenty five miles west so I should probably feel more at home there than I do. When I go there, it's just so big and overwhelming and expensive that I find it exhausting and draining. I assume that it gets easier to deal with once you get to know the ropes better but like Palliser, I'm not really a maximizer. I'm happier to deal with the smaller more accessible pleasures available in a smaller city.


I do wish that my family still owned the property that my great-great-grandparents owned on Central Park West in the 19th century. I can't imagine how much that would be worth by now
posted by octothorpe at 3:54 PM on February 14, 2010


What do you call the sensation of seeing your months-old AskMe response reflected back at you on the Grey?
posted by lunasol at 4:25 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


New Yorkers perceive their own city differently because it it is the center of the universe. Not the country, not the world, uh-uh. The CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.

I've had an alternate theory for about the last ten years. New York is not the center of the universe - not exactly. Instead, in what would be a properly-designed map of Earth which was based on something more important than magnetics, NYC would be spread across the four corners of the map, which, if folded backwards into something resembling a sphere, would all converge at Union Square.

Next time you're in Union Square, take note of the four sides of it, and how they fan out radiantly from the park as four entirely separate personalities of urban landscape. This is NYC - not the center of the universe, but everything at the edges.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:30 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I live in Harlem with my hot African wife.

Link to photograph, please.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:40 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I live in Harlem with my hot African wife.

What?

Link to photograph, please.

Wait, what!?
posted by loquacious at 4:43 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Differently from what?

Pancakes.
posted by ardgedee at 5:14 PM on February 14, 2010


Link to photograph, please.

Done
posted by freshundz at 6:11 PM on February 14, 2010


I was talking about Iowa.

Good lord, WHY?!

Link to photograph, please.

Done


Oh hey, I'm just in time for the "Weird as shit" train, yay!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:20 PM on February 14, 2010


It's just that I know I'm so lazy that I wouldn't bother to deal with the greater hassle and expense of accessing things in New York, so it's worth it to, you know, go to theater of markedly less quality, at a quarter of the price, at one day's notice, with a 5 minute drive and no trouble parking, and pay the babysitter from down the street $7/hour for the privilege. But then again, I'm a satisficer.

Found this interesting, as my lifelong desire to live in New York was driven my "satisficer" inclinations (I don't have to worry about a car! I don't have to deal with the hassles of homeownership! I don't have to travel long distances to see/hear/do the cool stuff I happen to be into!). I'm agnostic about everyone else who might or might not choose to live here, though. I feel no need to sell anyone on the place if it's not their thing.

But it is constantly reflected back on residents through various media (more than anywhere else I'd guess, except maybe L.A., London, Paris, Tokyo, and a few other places), and it's interesting to think about how that affects the residents. It probably reinforces and amplifies a lot of things we recognize from our lives, but causes consternation when the image and reality don't quite match up.
posted by aswego at 6:32 PM on February 14, 2010


Heh, I like the bizarre direction this thread has taken.

I was thinking about lunasol's comment (and that whole Ask thread, really) because I've been reading personal essays by girls culturally like me, or studies written by interviewing students in my department at my college... it's new to me, having grown up in a generic suburb, but seems like a feeling New Yorkers would know well.
posted by tantivy at 6:52 PM on February 14, 2010


Done

Thanks so much. I'd reciprocate, but my wife is just the TOTAL hotness, y'see... hotter than hotty hot hot on a hot hot day, and I'm just worried that folks couldn't handle that much hotness.

God, she's hot.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:05 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I grew up in New Jersey, not 15 minutes from the Lincoln Tunnel, and I was taking the train to the PATH almost every weekend by the time I was 13. This was back when you could see a Broadway show for $14.50 if you went to the TKTS booth. I adored everything about the city, and I still do.

I live in Chicago now, and I love it, but if I were wealthy enough, I would move to New York in a New York minute. If you can afford to live there in relative comfort, it's the most wonderful place in the world (IMO, of course). If you can't, it is often a depressing nightmare.

I miss real bagels.
posted by tzikeh at 7:06 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Take it from an Angeleno for ten years now:

People who live in a city and talk about how great that city is aren't obnoxious. Obnoxious is people who live somewhere and constantly talk shit about it, but THEY WONT FUCKING GET ON A PLANE AND GO BACK WHERE THEY CAME FROM>
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:36 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Movies and TV keep portraying my city as New York. Needless to say, I'm pretty confused most of the time.
posted by mannequito at 8:46 PM on February 14, 2010


I'm just worried that folks couldn't handle that much hotness.

God, she's hot.


Could God microwave a burrito so hot that he couldn't eat your wife?

Wait, could...um, well. Ok.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:02 PM on February 14, 2010


When people capitalize Television, they mean the band.
posted by breezeway at 9:02 PM on February 14, 2010


When people capitalize Television, they mean the band.

Do you complain of his diction?
posted by invitapriore at 10:58 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


What in the hell is a wife burrito? Is that anything like a dutch oven?
posted by loquacious at 12:02 AM on February 15, 2010


From what people are saying about Iowa I would live the fucking shit out of there.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:01 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


From what I've seen of it, Iowa isn't so bad, although I should note that its most famous native son went waaaaaaaaay the hell away from it when he had the chance.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:00 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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