Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Sucked Orange

Legendary Anti-Semite and part-time auto-worker Henry Ford once had this to say about my transplanted home, New York:

“There’s just too many Jews – I mean they already control our newspapers and now I can’t even get a decent bagel –“

… I’m sorry that’s the wrong quote. Ahh, here it is:

New York is a different country. Maybe it ought to have a separate government. Everybody thinks differently, acts differently. They just don’t know what the hell the rest of the United States is.”

Kinda makes you think: gee, if what the “ rest of the United States is” is people like Henry Ford, then good-fucking-riddance but still - the demagogue had a point.

I like the idea of New York being its own country. New York’s metropolitan area, which includes the city itself plus neighboring cities like Newark and StamfordNew York’s JV Squad if you will – is home to over 22 million people, which as its own independent nation would make New York the 54th most populated country on Earth, beating out about 175 other, sovereign nations. New York’s gross metropolitan product is 1.13 trillion dollars, 1.02 trillion of that covering the Yankees’ infield. In regards to being its own country, New York could totally pull it off, and maybe it just should.  Hell, why stop there? New York is so diverse, home to so many large and prosperous ethnic subgroups representing scores of nations; it really could be its own planet.  It would certainly give a new meaning to the phrase “illegal aliens.” 

In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley envisions a future dystopia where Henry Ford is our Deity. Aldous Huxley did massive amounts of LSD.

I’ve discovered that a vast majority of quotes on the internet regarding New York City are negative. It appears there is nothing easier then getting someone famous to say something shitty about New York:

New York, like London, seems to be a cloacina [toilet] of all the depravities of human nature.”
            - Thomas Jefferson

New York is a sucked orange.”
            - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This could be good or bad. Who knows?

“[New York City] sucks… It just fucking sucks.”
            -Woody Allen (As quoted in The Onion.)

Read this now. Actually, strike that. Read it after you finish my blog.

That’s just a sampling of what awaits you if you Google New York Quotes.  It’s interesting (if not a little bit unsurprising) the level of vitriol that New York City can inspire in people.
Anyone watching Saturday Night Live in the late nineties remembers the name of disgraced big-league pitcher John Rocker.  He took the time-tested route toward immortality that a surprising amount of perpetually mediocre athletes traverse: he made a legendary ass of himself. When asked by Sports Illustrated about the prospect of playing for the Yankees or Mets, the affable and cuddly Rocker infamously responded:

"I would retire first. It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing."

Ok, here’s the thing: Until the last two words, John Rocker was spot on. (And this is really just a modern, albeit far less eloquent, update on Jefferson’s quote.)

Let me explain before you go accuse me of being a sexist, racist, paranoid son-of-a-bitch. There’s an adage in the marketing world I learned in college, and it’s appropriate here: It’s the medium not the message. Or something like that; I was not frequently sober. But anyway that’s the gist of it and the point is that the person or device that’s disseminating the information is more important the information itself.  What John Rocker is saying is true, but more important is what’s also true, that John Rocker is a sexist, racist, paranoid son-of-a-bitch. (Read his Wikipedia entry. The rest of his life proves this.)  So when says it, being an ass hole, it becomes an ass hole thing to say. It's the medium. 

My initial reaction to re-reading Rocker’s quote was  - I’ve been on that train before, why didn’t he mention the guy with no legs?! – and I’m sure I’m not the only one to think like that. But the difference between all of us and John Rocker is that these are things we love about New York City, indeed these are things that some of us are ourselves. We’re dudes with purple hair, we’re queers with AIDS, we’re ex-cons, we’re teenage moms.  And we all ride the train. New York just happens to have the biggest concentration of these people probably in the world, and for most people (most people I hang around with anyway) that’s pretty cool.

I wish I wasn’t 11 years late writing about John Rocker.

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