KAITLIN PHILLIPS IS A WRITER AND PUBLICIST
LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY WHO HAS WRITTEN
FOR N+1, ARTFORUM, BOOKFORUM, VOGUE, THE CUT, AND SPIKE.
No matter how expensive, how gentrified, how decadent, how past-it the city is always declared to be, people keep coming to live here. No one from South Dakota, but people from just about everywhere else. (Ontario, Latvia, whatever.) What other city has spawned a genre of essays about leaving it — songs of the defeated — resigned to an easier life in more forgiving precincts, where life is less punishing and therefore less real? Perhaps under the mistaken impression that the city couldn’t get along without them.
“You never wanted to be decent and live like a human being,” a man says to his fiancé in His Girl Friday, as he realizes she won’t come with him to live with his mother in Albany but will stick to New York City and the newspaper business (and her ex, Cary Grant). Who would want to live like a human being when you could live like a New Yorker — loose, tight, wired, broke, desperate, often ecstatic, never bored, always in touch with your exes?
Living in New York is being awash in a sea of exes. You’re either famous for being friends with all your exes or famous for never speaking to your exes ever again. People don’t mourn the closures of restaurants — they mourn restaurants their exes frequent, parties they can no longer attend without looking over their shoulder, lest some girl throws a drink at them. (And girls do still throw drinks here, quaint as that may seem.) Then there’s all the people who are constantly trying to set you up with their ex. For the record, that’s a trap. But a trap worth falling into…
There were speculations that the pandemic would return New York to its glory days. It would empty out the shopfronts and the lofts and make the city as cheap as it was in, say, the 1970s. (In what other city are higher crime rates and poorer sanitation an object of nostalgia?) As it turned out, after a temporary dip, the rents went up, and, along with them, another old friend from the 1970s returned: inflation. It all stands to reinvigorate a proud New York tradition: complaining about how much everything costs and bragging about how you got out of paying. They just named it the most expensive city in the world … whatever.
New York is a restaurant town, a barfly’s paradise, a constant pageant of parties — largely all the same party, attended by everybody except those who have shut them- selves inside to write their novels or screenplays about the nights they wasted at the pageant. There are so many gyms in the city now — palaces of pain for those who think the city’s regular dose isn’t enough. The pure of heart prefer cinemas. Hollywood may put out most of America’s films, but it’s New York audiences that pass judgment on them and keep the good ones alive through constant revivals. All the best showbiz talent starts here; Los Angeles is simply where you go to sell out. Washington is where you go for the delusion that you’ll make a difference. Chicago has niceness and worse weather. Boston has meanness with worse weather. Philadelphia — are you kidding? New York is the capital of the world. That’s why 9/11 happened here.
The city is big enough for everybody’s secrets, not that anybody in this town can keep one. I used to wear a bracelet that said, “TRUST NO ONE,” and it’s the best advice I ever got. Everyone in New York has a lot of ad- vice for everyone else. Usually it’s “don’t do what I did.” The people who give this advice the most frequently have the nicest looking lives. There’s a piece of advice in that; mostly, don’t believe what you hear.
Spend a year here, and you’ll make some enemies. Stick around for a decade or so, and they’ll be the ones you’re happy to see at the party. You might even make it rich. That whole scenario of “being young in New York” feels like an era that passed. (“You stayed out too late, blew all your money, slept it off, and missed your train. Tough luck, kiddo — another one leaves in an hour.”) Every young person I meet seems richer than me. Honestly, I don’t mind. It’s the poor people coming up behind you that you have to watch out for. They’ll steal your job!
You can tell a lot about a person by the friends they have — but especially in New York. Who can’t make friends in New York? You have to be a real loser! Which is funny because everyone in New York is always complaining about being surrounded by losers. You never hear anyone offline complaining about gatekeeping. (It’s why, as a friend told me once, you can’t hang out with the B people. They’ll bring the C people.)
Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is: most US magazines, and almost all the best ones, are made in New York, which is why the city will always control the narrative. The narrative is: tragedy, black comedy, rise and fall, the burnout, the comeback, the love story. All your friends will get rich or famous, and then they’ll all get cancelled, or, worse, they’ll have kids, and they’ll never be fun again — it won’t matter. You’ll be able to talk about what happened to them for as long as you live. What happens to people here is more interesting than what happens to people all over the world. Maybe it’s because New York is the most glorious place to fall in love — but also the most treacherous because there are so many people here to fall in love with. Thus love is the sole permissible justification to leave town.
[Table of contents]
What is new york?Read the article
Will New York Return To Its Glory Days?Read the article
SouvenirsRead the article
Letter From HarlemRead the article
Rectangular WorldRead the article
New York: The Pixel Ate My LunchRead the article
The Girl In The PictureRead the article
Words Without MusicRead the article
Best of the Season Spring/Summer 2023Read the article
Ser SerpasRead the article
Laura PoitrasRead the article
Alyda Grace In Gucci Spring/Summer 2023Read the article
John CurrinRead the article
Screen TestRead the article
Puppets And PuppetsRead the article
Saint Laurent Summer Summer 2023Read the article
Tali LennoxRead the article
Lars Eidinger in Balenciaga Summer 2023Read the article
CumGirl8Read the article
Paul SevignyRead the article
Matthew WilliamsRead the article
Givenchy Summer 2023Read the article
Ebecho MuslimovaRead the article
Charlotte Kemp MuhlRead the article
Jonathan Lyndon ChaseRead the article
AA BronsonRead the article
Jamian Juliano-VillaniRead the article
Bottega Veneta Summer 2023Read the article
Amy Fine CollinsRead the article
Cartier Grain De Café CollectionRead the article
By Guen Fiore
Carolina HerreraRead the article
Kiki As Jane Forth At The FactoryRead the article
AZ Factory With Lutz Huelle Spring/Summer 2023Read the article
Bob ColacelloRead the article
Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2023Read the article
Valentino Unboxing Collection Spring/Summer 2023Read the article
Jenny SchlenzkaRead the article
Emma SternRead the article
Elena VelezRead the article
TourmalineRead the article
Roger JazilekRead the article
Guy Bourdin In New York: A Love Letter To AmericaRead the article