London vs. New York: The winner is clear
And it's New York, obvs. Time Out London pitted the two cities against each other; two TONY editors have taken umbrage.
Mon Mar 11 2013
By now, you've surely seen our feature detailing why NYC is the world's greatest city. Today, our colleagues across the pond published Time Out London's rejoinder, in which they claim London is the greatest city in the world—and take Gotham to task in the process. And we're not going to let that stand.
So, Time Out London, you really think you're better than us? We—deputy editor Jonathan Shannon (a U.K. native) and senior editor Amy Plitt—are here to offer a point-by-point rebuttal that proves New York's superiority.
1. London has Notting Hill Carnival; New York has the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
TOL's take: "Three hours of watching SpongeBob SquarePants dangle over Manhatten [sic] does not a festival make."
We say: Interesting comparison. To address your point, we guess it's worth pointing out that gun crime and stabbings tend to be less of a problem at the Thanksgiving parade. Don't get us wrong, we've spent many a hazy weekend at the Notting Hill Carnival, it's great—especially the soundstages. But then there are countless free outdoor parties all summer in New York, so we're less interested in fighting through crowds for one weekend. A better comparison, of course, would be with the massive West Indian–American Day Carnival in Brooklyn—replete with J'ouvert (look it up, limey). Or perhaps we could compare it to the NYC Pride March. But then you'd lose, so perhaps not. We are nothing if not gracious.—JS
2. London has reasonable tips; New York has tableside extortion
TOL's take: "In fact, anything less than 20 percent will be taken as a personal insult by the waitstaff, who will label you a table-blocking tightwad and sneer you off the premises. Advantage, London."
We say: We railed against New York levels of tipping when we first arrived here, too, but were quickly indoctrinated into the culture. Now, when faced with truly abysmal service our reaction is, "You, sir, will only receive a 15 percent tip, because we are that angry," which is, admittedly, ridiculous. There's the argument that waitstaff in England are paid a living wage—but we've never seen any information to substantiate that, and wouldn't it mean that the cost is factored into the meal anyway? You have to pay one way or another, right? Does it really matter how? There's an interesting article to be written about how the two systems compare, but we're too riled up to bother looking into it now. We'll only mention one thing the tightfisted Londoner has probably never experienced—the buyback.—JS
3. London has relaxed licensing laws; New York has officious barmen
TOL's take: "In New York, however, [ID checks] are applied if you look under 40, which makes 39-year olds feel like twats and leads them to shout things which they later regret, like: ‘Are you kidding? Look at my fucking hairline/crow’s feet/photo of my grandchildren!’"
We say: If your licensing laws are so relaxed, why is it that every time we go out drinking in London, 11pm rolls round and the hunt for another pub that's open until midnight begins? But to your point, not all bars ID everyone, and the ask-a-codger situation you describe is often because the spot's been guilty of infraction. They either adhere to this new rule or lose their license. You know what you could do? Stop whining, show them your ID and go about your drinking business.—JS
4. London has regular hipsters; New York has "mental hipsters"
TOL's take: "Venture into [Williamsburg] and you’ll find adult humans sporting manbags, headbands, fluorescent sombreros and Kitchener ’taches, crossing the road on pogo sticks while playing Tetris on their Game Boys. All ironically."
We say: Wait, really? You're trotting out the h-word as proof of London's superiority? Let's ignore the fact that the "hipster" aesthetic to which you refer is something that originated in New York (and the concept of the "hipster," loath as we are to use the term, is an American one at that). But really: You're grasping at straws if this is one of the ten reasons you're using to claim that London is better. Not history, not music (we'd maybe—maybe!—give you that one!), not anything of import; hipsters?!C'mon, you can do better than that.—AP
5. London has "The Boris"; New York has "The Bloomberg"
TOL's take: "Mayoral hairdos are not vital to the wellbeing of the citizenry, but they can be good for morale. London gets top marks with ‘The Boris,’ an electrified haystack that reflects the chaotic exuberance of the capital."
We say: The haircuts of our mayors? We can almost hear your nails on the bottom of the barrel—cut it out, it's put our teeth on edge. If we had to compare unimportant mayoral details we'd plump for language. El Bloombito stumbles genially through a translation for the Spanish-speaking population. Bojjo (New Yorkers, this is honestly the nickname for Boris Johnson) probably sits there sulking that the oiks are too dumb to understand him if he addressed them in Latin.—JS
6. London has "the knowledge"; New York has no knowledge
TOL's take: "Jauntiness, however, does not compensate for the fact that most of their drivers have no earthly idea how to convey passengers to key destinations."
We say: We love London cabbies, and the Knowledge—an encyclopedic level of recall of all the roads in the city—is a truly impressive thing. However, not having such a barrier to entry means anyone can do it so taxis here are cheaper, and we can also talk to cab drivers here normally without trying to imitate a geezer rather than the ersatz Hugh Grant we normally sound like. You know what else? Lots of cabs now have GPS, making the knowledge redundant; riders have smartphones with map apps, too (see previous point); and New Yorkers actually love showing off the fact that they know their city. But sure, get ferried around like cosseted royalty—good for you.—JS
7. London has saucy street names; New York has streets with no names
TOL's take: "New York’s streets, meanwhile, are a dismal grid of ascending numerals, devoid of poetry and double entendre. It makes navigating the city simpler but much less chucklesome."
We say: Setting aside the fact that this undermines Manhattan's grid—and we all know how amazing that is, right?—this is also woefully inaccurate. The intersection of Seaman Avenue and Cumming Street exists, and it's not in London: It's in Inwood, up at Manhattan's northern end. Beat that.—AP
8. London has free culture; New York has "vulture culture"
TOL's take: "Entry to New York’s Museum of Modern Art? That’ll be $25, please. Entry to Tate Modern? That’ll be no pounds, please."
We say: True, some of our bigger museums—including the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art—have steep admission prices. But you can get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art without paying a dime, technically (although really, is it so terrible to pay to see priceless art? what do you have against that, London?), and we have plenty of great, free museums on top of that. Oh yeah, and don't forget all the other free culture—concerts, comedy shows, galleries, outdoor films, theater, we could go on—that you'll find in NYC pretty much every night of the week. Also: You liars, the Tate's special exhibitions (like the current Lichtenstein show) have an admission fee of £14—or roughly $20.—AP
9. London has Danny Boyle; New York has Woody Allen
TOL's take: "An Allen opening would see a neurotic Isambard Kingdom Brunel fail to get behind the Industrial Revolution, opting instead for some self-analysis and an affair with a sexy teenage suffragette."
We say: We knew you wouldn't be able to get through this without making some reference to the Olympics. As fun as Danny Boyle's carefully orchestrated opening ceremony was, it hardly seems fair to make this comparison based on speculation. Let's look at the facts—in this case, the filmmakers' respective careers. Sure, Boyle directed a few good movies, including Shallow Grave, Trainspotting and 127 Hours; Allen, meanwhile, directed verifiable classics like Annie Hall, Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters. If you'd stop making jokes about neurotic New Yorkers, you'd see that many of Allen's films are really like epic love letters to Gotham—something we can't say about Boyle's work, enjoyable as it may be.—AP
10. London has summer tippling; New York has "buzzkill parkies."
TOL's take: "Denied the joys of a snifter on the turf, [New Yorkers] must restrict themselves to overpriced fizzy water, or a double-shot cappuccino for the hedonists. We booze, you lose."
We say: While it's great that you can have a beer in Hyde Park, is it as lovely as having one on the High Line, which now features a wine bar on the premises? Or at the Met Museum's rooftop bar? We may not be able to drink in parks (legally, anyway—what, you've never heard of brown bagging?) but when it comes to getting an alfresco buzz, you won't find a greater variety of interesting spots to do it in than NYC. Plus, call us old-fashioned, but we like that our parks are for meandering and enjoying the sunshine, not getting wasted.—AP