New York Magazine Wades Into New York v. London

Continuing last week's brawl started by The Times' James Harding, New York Magazine has taken up the battle between New York and London. This time, it's the Big Apple that's on the defensive. "New York emerges as the suspicious, security-addled city that long ago turned its back on its wonderful waterways, that lost out on the Olympics, and that is swiftly losing its claim to being the financial capital of the world. In short, New York is cardiganed Woody Allen, and London is party-dressed Lily Allen. And even the Woodman is setting his movies across the pond." That might have been true at press time for the New York Mag folk, but yesterday we learned Woody has ditched London and is headed Barcelona way.

NYMag's comparison between the two cities is much more comprehensive than Harding's, including witty head-to-heads on the following topics:

Overheard in London: "I live in Islington, I'm middle-class, and yet I have never been offered cocaine at a dinner party. I am sure in New York we'd be swimming in it now."

What sucks in London: "New York: four seasons, including a real summer and a romantic, if freezy, winter.

"London: one season, which is sh*t. (…)

"The Tube is expensive, shuts down early, and runs so deeply underground that riders often end up with black snot.

"Drunk men try punching you, for no reason."

The five up-and-coming London stage stars.

On London's financial growth: "London has taken the qualities associated with New York – openness to immigrants and unfettered free enterprise – and stretched them beyond what even the U.S. now tolerates. New York can look parochial by comparison."

On expensive London food: "In New York, with its ever-larger, Wal-Mart-size dining establishments, restaurateurs make their money through volume; in London, a city of diminutive dining rooms, they do it the old-fashioned way, by jacking the price."

On sex and the two cities: "British men are more bumbling in bed. But this makes them more appealing, because bullsh*t is less acceptable than in New York."

On clubbing: "New Yorkers are more concerned with arriving at a new cool spot. Londoners are simply concerned with finding a spot on the dance floor to freak out on."

On terrorism: David Goodhart, editor of Prospect, says, "From the big-picture point of view, we probably face bigger terrorist threats since we have a more prominent Muslim population. And now there's this claim that London has taken over New York as the financial center. It's feeling rather pleased with itself, and if I were a jihadist, I'd find London quite vulnerable."

On celebrity behavior: Warren Fischer of electroclash outfit Fischerspooner says, "I was just hanging out doing some nitrous oxide, and I realized that there were about fifteen guys dancing with each other around me. That's totally normal in London, and in New York, it's really just not."

On the lit world: Jonathan Burnham says, "The British literary scene tends to be more openly alcoholic. London book launches are more drunken and sexually active than New York ones."

Hilariously, New York Magazine is aware of the dubiousness of this argument: "Perhaps it's folly to think this way, or at least evidence of the kind of blinkered self-absorption that marks both cities. The capital of the 21st century will be neither New York nor London, but Beijing." Yeah, thanks for wasting our time, folks.

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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