Thursday, April 29, 2010

No Holds Barred - A 4-day zinger in New York

"... one friend took me to her new "Studio 54" — the all-night Apple store on 59th and Fifth. This was truly a "happening scene," with all ages of people wanding their fingers over many different types of flat screens and never speaking or interacting with each other."
by Blair Sabol

There was never more of a "geographic desirable" tug of war than my recent four-day visit to NYC. I had three dear friends (all living in different parts of the city) chauvinistically plow me threw their neighborhoods. All of them beating their chests that their turf was THE HAPPENING scene in Manhattan. I don't know about locations, but here is what I observed (in speed dial pace) as "happening" in NYC:

Midtown is now comparable to Vegas. Lots of the same overamped stores with the same untidy visuals. Everyone looked like sloppy replicas of Adam Sandler and Chelsea Handler. Sorry Bill Cunningham, nobody looked chic on the street. SoHo is now officially a used up mall, mired in tired boutiques.

TriBeCa may be current and the rage, but it also feels very "faux hip" with expensive overrated eateries and small hotels with higher-than-uptown prices and no room service. And I am sorry, but The Meat Packing district may be hot, but I can't get The Anvil and The Ram Rod out of my head. Ah, the power of history.
.... The High Line walk is truly a unique downtown addition and beats all galleries and museums for me. It was a great combination of performance art and architecture in motion."
On the other hand The High Line walk is truly a unique downtown addition and beats all galleries and museums for me. It was a great combination of performance art and architecture in motion.

However, nothing could top my morning walks in Central park this time of year. I am an uptown girl at heart and was appalled at the number of "outta biz" vacancy windows along Madison Avenue. It looked like war-torn Beirut. I felt the pain of an era long gone.

"Filled with late 70-year-old anchovy-shaped ladies in slitted mini skirts, knobby knees, stiletto heels .... These weren't cougars."
I was privileged to dine at Jean Georges (The Mark Hotel) with all those gorgeous waiters serving gorgeous food in a gorgeous orange and golden setting. But the "new and improved" Mark Hotel scared me. The bar scene was in "high geezer" buzz.

Filled with late 70-year-old anchovie-shaped ladies in slitted mini skirts, knobby knees, stiletto heels (how could they balance on their hip and knee replacements), fish lips, and full facial pullbacks. These weren't cougars. These were wolverines with their gay decorators. Good for them. They need a place to hang out since the rest of the city is so young. What city isn't.

By the way, The Mark lobby floor is zebra tiled as in "acid flashback," so God help you if you've had a few too many. I checked the rooms but couldn't get past the wall iPad controls. I demand real "on/off" switches and a phone I can hold in my hand and press "operator."

Speaking of iPad ... one friend took me to her new "Studio 54" — the all-night Apple store on 59th and Fifth. This was truly a "happening scene," with all ages of people wanding their fingers over many different types of flat screens and never speaking or interacting with each other. My other place of note was The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, and the site of the homeless in the most creative levels of box living. This might be THE address for living (condo, rental and otherwise) in NYC.

My geographic final came with my" virgin " visit to Brooklyn. I had heard it was "the new Paris." But Paris isn't even the "new Paris." It definitely had some more interesting features and a "fresher" feeling than downtown Manhattan. The kids are less self conscious and the look is less studied and more spontaneous ... even if it is the same old tights and tunics.

Blair's "virgin" visit to Brooklyn.
Clothing stores are lost on me as every neighborhood has an Indian Sari store, an expensive black and beige boutique with non-constructed dresses, multi-silver chained bibs, and those lace-up Barbarello platforms (which are hideous in any neighborhood). I loved the scene of the Hasidic Jews (talk about an "original look") in Williamsburg mixing with Top Shop hipsters.

My favorite store was "I Hate Perfume" at 93 Wythe Ave. A specialty shop that is minimally high-endedly designed with expensive specially concocted scents like "Burning Leaves" and "dandelions in the rain." Incredibly original and none of it would I buy. Brooklyn is NOT cheap, but saner than NYC.

I had a great "gourmet meal" of fresh kale and lentil and lemon soup at General Green and the staff was sweet, the price was low, though service "slow" (I was reminded Brooklyn is not on "Manhattan speed").

I had a true Brooklyn "sabra" and fashionista tour guide who kept lecturing me about the "art of hip," having to do with the influence of the kids from Harajuku. (A city outside of Tokyo where the teens sport odd combos of pink hair, plaid Chanel jackets, and high socks ... go figure).

But my friend also insisted on wearing her latest "jeggings" (jeans as tight as leggings) even though her ass might be the size of Angola. She counseled me strongly: "If you are into clothes in New York ... you can wear whatever you want and screw what people think. It's all in the attitude."

But my friend also insisted on wearing her latest "jeggings" (jeans as tight as leggings) even though her ass might be the size of Angola. She counseled me strongly: "If you are into clothes in New York ... you can wear whatever you want and screw what people think. It's all in the attitude."
"The Big Buddha Store is THE reason to go" [to Englewood, New Jersey].
And no doubt The Mark Hotel wolverines would agree. Actually, the need to find an out-of-Manhattan "hip borough" has extended to Jersey ... Hoboken being the obvious success story. I went to Englewood for two hours on my way into the city and found Dean Street to be trendily competitive.

The Big Buddha Store is THE reason to go with its reasonably priced colorful and fun handbags, jewelry and T shirts. I rate this as high as my treasured ABC Carpet and Takashimaya.

But though I scanned New York's high/low mode, there was one trend I couldn't deny and it is truly epidemic ... although nowhere more evident than in Manhattan. It has to do with "the Millennium generation" (18- to 30-year-olds) who I ran into occasionally with a few of the service jobs (boutiques, hotel staffs, some office help).

It's labeled ARE — arrogant, rude, and entitled. And that generation is loaded with it. And here I thought everyone was like Rachel Uchitel and Ashley Dupre or the Bottle Girls ( drink "pimpettes" at the clubs) ... a little narcissistic and pornographic, but THEY HAVE JOBS!!!

I kept running into a lot of this attitude with a lot of the city's "trust fund babies" ... and there are a lot of THEM. Some vaguely "work"; most don't. They all projected an air of insolence and rudeness that I couldn't understand. All of them acted like zombies.

Is that from too much "True Blood" viewing or from the massive doses of ADD medication, which many of them seem to be on. Some may have scored "apprentice jobs" at ESPN or CNN but none of them look you in the eye or express a "Thank you."

When I talked to many of these kids, none of them expressed an interest in going after 'an entry level' job ANYWHERE. No starting at "mail rooms" for them, let alone cleaning toilets. Derek Blasberg, the spokesman/ journalist for this crowd, apparently expressed his own outrage in his current book, Classy. He doesn't mind that this group expects Burberry or cashmere and pricey gadgets. But he can't get over that they don't appreciate anything. None of them seem grateful.

"So remember. Be thankful for what you have. Some one — if it's not you, then it's your parents or grandparents — had to work really hard for everything you've got ... a pair of Louboutin wedges look even better when you've earned them."

Earned them indeed. Most of these ARE kids had parents gift them ALL they ever wanted with keys to the platinum Hummer.

"Most of these ARE kids had parents gift them all they ever wanted with keys to the platinum Hummer."
This all backs up into Michael Douglas and his son Cameron and their sad jail room state of affairs. No question, Cameron is the poster boy for this age group. He was given everything by his father (except his actual presence), including a drug contaminated DNA. (I witnessed his dead uncle Eric passed out many times in my Beverly Hills Hotel lobby).

He was so bored by his 24-karat privileged life that the only thing he could successfully compete in was drug dealing. It not only gave him a "high," but he probably made as much as his father and Kirk in one evening's Meth "score."

But the ARE trend isn't limited to the very rich. The day I left NYC, USA Today ran a front page story on "The Generation Y Facing Steep Financial Hurdles." In essence, the article reports these 21- to 30-year-olds are mired in debt and lack savings, yet continue to spend on fancy tech, apartments, and depleted student loans. "They have high unrealistic expectations." And again, no one wants to work a real job. They want to start at the CEO level. Working is not even an "ethic," but status and money are.
Ahh, youthful optimism, or is it?
Even though they remain unemployed, most of them have a ridiculous level of overconfidence. "They tend to believe in magical thinking ... typical of young adults." But this is not "youthful optimism," this is simply silly arrogance.

But who am I? I don't have children and I was singing and dancing to "The Age of Aquarius" in Central park in the 60s with an Afro and a micro mini.

"Be afraid ... be very afraid."
BUT, I had a job and was humiliated at the thought of not working. In fact, if you lived in NYC you HAD to work somewhere, somehow.

At dinner on my last night in NYC, I was listening to a very privileged Generation Y- er (Trust Fund Baby) blab on about his great talent as an "artist," even though he has been unemployed for some time and refuses to go to school. I was blinded by his level of pompous self-importance.

A well known TV political pundit was sitting next to me listening to his rant. She politely whispered in my ear: "It's not the Al-Qaeda that is coming to get us and take our country down ... it is this generation and their lack of awareness responsibly and financially."

Be afraid ... be very afraid." It took a trip to NYC for me to see it.
 
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