New York has a bad reputation, much of it undeserved. In movies, television and newspapers New York is always dirty, crime-filled, blight-ridden and dangerous. (“There are 8 million stories in The Naked City … .”? Talk about lousy public relations!) Actually, it’s a nice place to live, if you don’t mind the expense. We pay for the privilege of living here – a lot. But, in spite of what you see on Law and Order, we don’t stumble over gruesome murder victims every time we step outside. Most of us never see a murder victim even once in our entire lives. Really. It’s true.
I have lived here for over thirty years. Most of that time I lived in Brooklyn. For the last several years The Bronx has been my home. I only lived in Manhattan for a couple of months, but I’ve been working there for over 30 years, not to mention all the performances I have sung and attended there and all the friends I have who live there. I know Manhattan better than I know either Brooklyn or The Bronx, which is very New Yorker of me.
New Yorkers will get through a hurricane, a Nor’easter or a giant blizzard with great courage and fortitude. High winds? Flooding? A week of blackouts? Fuhgeddaboudit! On the other hand, a little bit of rain or slush turns us into a bunch of grumbling sissies.
The reason is that most New Yorkers don’t have cars. A car is a lot of trouble here, and we have good public transportation almost everywhere, except on Staten Island.* People in other parts of this country can step out of their houses on a crummy day and right into the car. Most New Yorkers step outside into the weather and walk in it. Sometimes we have to stand in it. The curbs soon become littered with broken umbrellas that have been tossed aside and left to die alone and abandoned. Very few of today’s umbrellas can survive the combination of bad weather and the anger of a New Yorker caught in the rain, especially if there is a high wind at the same time. In that case, all bets are off and it’s every man for himself, women and children included.
It’s a good thing that it doesn’t snow as often here as it does Upstate or in New England. Snow in New York City is pretty for about five minutes before it turns into Super Slush. If there is any way to get inside your boots, Super Slush will find it. Super Slush congregates in massive piles on street corners, turning getting across the street into a Herculean task. Attempting a broad jump over the mess is likely to land you smack in it, surrounded by strangers, some of whom will want to kill you because you splattered dirty slush on them and the rest of whom might help you up after they get through laughing like hyenas or catching you on video.
The irony is that this city is in a protected little pocket and, aside from our legendary hot, humid summers, our normal weather is pretty mild, considering. New Jersey, Upstate New York, Long Island and New England get hit with crazy weather a lot more than we do. We complain anyway, because that’s what we do.
* Staten Island is like a separate country, which suits Staten Islanders just fine. They don’t really believe that they are part of New York City, and they show it by making it hard for anyone who doesn’t live there to get there.