New York in twain…

January 7, 2010

New York's (grand) Capital Building

T-shirts fly off shelves in New York City if they have our famous “I [Heart] NY” slogan on their breast. What further proof do you need to authenticate a trip to the Big Apple and the wild times had there but a Taiwanese-crafted polyester-blend tee, emblazoned with a pronoun, an acronym and an icon (possibly vulva or bovine inspired)? I cannot recall when the catchphrase was introduced, but you can see the success of the New York model…the idea is pervasive, the words are ingrained in all of us. Every place you visit has their own (possibly but likely not humorous) version of “I [Heart] NY”, attempting to situate themselves within economic and mental echelons of NYC. But their failure to do so is inevitable: making the comparison so plain, so obvious, their attempt pitifully assumes the role of the second-rate knockoff. The use of the slogan alienates them from its source. Like the t-shirt says, they are not New York and [Heart] somewhere else.

And then you watch an old movie you recorded on your VHS tapes in middle school and see (now former) Governor George Pataki advertising all the wondrous things New York State has to offer. You know, one of those commercials exported to the City and other states to encourage tourism. They hardly ever feature the City in those ads, instead preferring to highlight our fantastic skiing, the Erie Canal, and picture-perfect 18th and 19th century small Dutch towns. But look at the icon in the corner. “I [Heart] NY”. It’s the same thing as with bum-fuck Montana or any other place using the meat of the phrase. The idea of I [Heart] NY is alien to whatever bucolic utopia is being presented by Pataki. Though likely unintentional, the slogan is glued to the City, and it cannot be appended to everything opposite. “I [Heart] NY” really means “I [Heart] NYC,” and everyone knows it. The entire state cannot claim to be loved in the same way.

There are two New Yorks, don’t you know. There is the New York of the imagination (that movie-bred setting of all things trendy and active) and the New York of the rest of us (slightly less active with more manure trucks blocking the road). Unchanged since the days of the Constitution’s ratification, we have always been a diverse state. Listen to the range of accents that exist within our territory (from the dawg of NYC to the Syaturdays of Buffalo). What’s changed? According to State Senator Joseph E. Robach of Rochester, we are no longer a unified force. This idiot man has proposed that we hold a state-wide referendum in 2010 in which all sixty-two counties will vote YES or NO to this question: “Do you support the division of New York into two separate states?”

Shut the fuck up, Rochester.

The legislation adds this little tidbit:

“[t]here is a large degree of apparent support for dividing New York into two separate states, so as to separate the distinct social and political concerns between upstate and downstate New York.”

Notice there is no mention of economic concerns. Hardly surprising, I suppose, the Rochester microcosm is a model of failure to develop and adapt. Add barrels of snow to the list, and you are left with the disaster known as western New York. This lunatic Senator must be aware that the profits of NYC are the lifeblood of our state. The cycle busts (occasionally) and we blame the source, NYC. Fine. But when it booms again, we are all sitting pretty in our minivans, driving down the highways that NYC paid for.

Need I add that almost two-thirds of our entire population resides in NYC, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley. Why are we surprised that they get a lot of attention and money thrown in their direction. I take your point, Rochester, we need to spread money around like manure and encourage things to grow (in feet of snow). But let us not get extreme. Should we all share the same opinions and viewpoints? Should we play North Korea to NYC’s South Korea? Diversity, people!

And do we really want to be the only red state in the Northeast? Don’t deny it, you know upstate New York would be.

Officially, New York State is in the red this year for the first time, I believe, in our history. According to the New York Times, on December 30th our general fund will be $174 million in the negative with $1 billion in bills yet to be reconciled. No doubt we all, as one unified state, will suffer in some way from this. Let’s start again knowing we’re all in this “I [Heart] NYState” t-shirt together.

Post Script: Congrats Governor David Paterson on finally making a good political move. An ethics bill limiting career politicians. What took so long?

Post Post Script: Can anyone offer names for the (proposed) two New Yorks?


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