Those Upper East Side B*tches

Sitting at my new kitchen table (Thanks Bernie & Phyl!), still rummaging around in Castells.  Wild news about Cory Lidle all over the papers this morning.  I heard first from my dad last night, though he failed to put together the fact that the building Cory hit – The Belaire – was where he stayed in 2000 when I was at Hospital for Special Surgery for a spinal fusion.  The hospital was a couple blocks over from my apartment on the Upper East Side.  So many reminders of  my old ‘hood lately!

Including here in Castells.  In his critique of Louis Wirth‘s seminal work (if you haven’t noticed, I’m working my way through the planning and sociology “bestsellers” in anticipation of my exams this spring), Urbanism as a Way of Life, he points out that in Wirth’s emphasis on the density of cities as instrumental in shaping urban culture, “cohabitation without the possibility of real expansion leads to individual savagery…and consequently, to agressiveness.”  Castells thinks Wirth has it all wrong, that urban culture is a misnomer for a specific kind of social life borne of capitalism (broadly defined).  

Who knows – NYC would be the ideal-type city to support both arguments.  But as anyone who has ever been jostled by rude, plasticized, tightly-wound, and elder New Yorkers in line for coffee, meds or groceries on the Upper East Side knows, Wirth was right on the money.   And though it seems they’re usually women haranging and elbowing us at Eli’s or Starbucks, my worst experience with this was a thin, older, ascot- and blazer-wearing jackass who mimicked me in a cafe on E 79th St this spring until I got off my cell phone.  Originally getting my coffee to go, I took twice as long in the store after this, since I threw that first latte in his face. 


(Ok, so I didn’t really throw my coffee at him.  I live in Boston now, where we are a civilized bunch.)



6 Responses to “Those Upper East Side B*tches”

  1. 1 Amy
    October 12, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    We independently made the same remark on each of our blogs about UES assholes, at almost the exact same time. Weird!!

  2. 2 Leigh
    October 12, 2006 at 6:00 pm

    Your analysis made me chuckle. I can’t remember if I have written here yet about their Chestnut Hill counterpart (I am about to contradict my earlier civilized Boston comment) – the women who shop at the Chestnut Hill and Atrium malls on Route 9 might be the most aggressive set I have encountered in my urban decade. Without question my turquoise ride and I will eventually be flattened by an SUV (most likely a Lexus) driven by an impatient, hostile, and over-caffeinated (this I am definitely stealing from some women’s lit somewhere) sister of one of your neighbors in the East 80s. These women scare me more than they irritate me, given the V6 power behind their public jostling!

  3. October 12, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    I actually think the problem is living alone – what I found in New York was that although we were all on top of each other, many of us shared apartments, if not bedrooms; and that made for a certain tolerance of the indignities of long lines, etc (I always noticed that the worst line cutters and impatient types were from out of town – frequently unnerved by the sheer size of the place and unaccustomed with organized waiting – this was always my main argument against Times Square on New Year’s Eve). I found those old ladies – and they certainly were there – were often the sort who lived alone, and thus were not necessarily well socialized (I wouldn’t class you in this group, RedStar, at all. I think you were very social). And so tyhe reason I think Boston is a little more civilized is because the heavy collegiate influence means even more roomate living and socialization.

    All of that said, I did leave New York because the opportunity to increase my living space seemed very limited. It’s just a theory.

    I found myself struck by Lidle too – it wasn’t my side of town, but I found myself chuckling when commentators on TV kept calling the area around the building a “luxury” neighborhood. York Avenue! As if. But then, it is Manhattan, and I am using Manhattan logic – only in New York, kids, only in New York. 🙂

  4. 4 Leigh
    October 12, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    It’s funny – the reason I stopped living alone was because I thought I needed more socialization, that I was getting too set in my ways. I thought I could benefit from the informal down time roommates share. And I was right.

    Hmmm…maybe you’re on to something…

  5. 5 Leigh
    October 12, 2006 at 6:34 pm

    PS: I am an excellent cutter…I think it’s an only child thing…

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