Monday, October 4

Letter to America #1: The Needs of Nerdy New York Girls

What the fuck is going off out there in NYC? Are you all mad?

I use the word nerd as in its COD definition: a foolish or contemptible person. And I apply it to the juvenile parents alongside their juvenile spawn, for it's they who are coughing up millions of dollars for essential needs such as $100 botox treatments to armpits.

I have a pet theory (for pet, read deluded by whisky) that London is both New York and LA - and that west London is essentially la-la land, and that the east (of course the east - it's where I am!) is NYC as it ought to be. QED: London is the greatest city in the world.

Now it seems to me that you can draw a line across Manhattan at, say, St Mark's - and all points north are la-la land. More than that: it's Blade Runner LA. The streets are full of Replicants. They all walk around, but they've taken the batteries out.

You know what? If al-Qaeda put out a manifesto saying that this is the kind of thing that is sickening the world, and that's why we had to defenestrate the Twin Towers, then I'd be thinking "Hey, it was a little over the top ... but something had to be done." (And yes, were their rallying cry A Plague on ALL Religions, then I'd sign up - so long as I could be their DJ.)

This is not the first time that I've linked to an article depicting New York's atrophy. I remember commenting on reports in the summer of how some smart New Yorkers are relocating to Berlin, as their hometown homogenises (Why Berlin is the New Old New York); more recently, there was the piece on America's fucked-up, pill-dependent teens (What's Eating All You Gilbert Grapes?) - unsurprisingly, it's New Yorks's young denizens who are leading the way.

And it's a spreading virus. I detected some blanding out skirting around the Lower East Side on a visit back in May; but as I get to visit her about as often as a New York girl allows herself to eat chocolate, I feel she's always going to have the power to seduce me. It's the thrill of the other - and I'm an easy lay.

Viruses can be checked. Especially man-made ones. And I console myself that this cannot be the whole story: after all, there's a $100m bookmarket across the five boroughs. Yet even that comfort contains its woes: I'm guessing that if you stroll into Barnes & Noble or wherever, you'll be assailed by the racks of Jenna Jameson and Michael Moore product, and not by the latest novel from Phillip Roth. Believe me, I'd be so happy to be wrong about that; but let's face it, it's the same story here in London.

Finally, there's still this: at a dinner party last Saturday night a friend of mine (sometime nickname, the Marquise) who had recently returned from a visit to Boston lamented: "Boston's not like New York at all . . . It's a hovel." (I'd be so happy to come back at her on that one too - but I've never been to Boston, so I need your help.)

True or not, some of you New Yorkers had better start thinking. I thought that the likes of the Hilton and Bush sisters were freaks, with a street index of spoilt little pariahs. And when you hit Gawker, that is their profile - though to my eyes, that site has a distinctly English take - albeit Pop Bitch-lite - on American celebrity. (We English, we happy few, who go so far with our saxonic appetite for schadenfreude.) But no, they are not pariahs: the more I see and hear the more I realise that these are aspirational figureheads for the coming generation. Shall we name these people Generation Zero - and be done with them?

As the bright young things say to and of each other in Vile Bodies: too sick-making . . .

ADDENDUM : I fear I have seen the early warning signs of this nefarious trickle-down: the recent arrival on these shores of the Bratz (surely they are referred to as da brats?) after selling millions in the States. I've seen the dolls (ie molls and beach bums) and I've seen their gear (leopard-skin minis; calf-length boots; the beach buggy). It's the classic marketing ploy of, well, the other: the Bratz are the Stones to Barbie's Beatles. And my six-year-old niece and her schoolfriends are besotted by them.

Oh dear.

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posted by DD @ 13:06 

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