Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Ladder

Some people live in a New York City swaddled in silks and Cartier jewelry. A rodent-sized dog slung over one arm, Italian leather bag with gold detailing adorning the other, they spend their days lounging on rooftop terraces sipping frozen margaritas. When the orange autumn leaves give way to another unforgiving New York City winter, they find sanctuary amidst folds of chinchilla fur and minibreaks to Cabo and the South of France. Christmases and New Years’ are spent skiing and snowboarding, carving ice trails down the side of mountain paths packed with coarse artificial snow. Summer weekends are spent finding solace from the relentless humidity poolside in the Hamptons, discussing extra-marital affairs and breast augmentation. On spring afternoons, they sit in outdoor SoHo cafés sipping Diet Coke and browsing the menu for entrées that adhere to low-carb lifestyles. Dinner conversation takes place at trendy three and a half star restaurants decorated with hard furniture in retro geometric shapes and bold, primary colors. When the sun sinks into another city night, persistently illuminated with the glow of high-rise windows, they throw themselves into the welcoming embrace of opened velvet rope arms drinking fruit-infused martinis and slipping into cramped bathroom stalls to snort illegal substances.

A lot of people escape their suburban sprawl, family-owned businesses and small-town limitations to pursue this New York, a New York fictionalized on movie screens and splashed across tabloid pages. They don’t realize that this city exists only to a select few, deemed society’s most profitable or beautiful, the bankers and lawyers and the women who fuck them, the socialites and heirs, the few models and actors who achieve the level of success necessary to finally remove “aspiring” from their title. The rest of us are left to fight for the wilting husks of trendiness they leave behind—empty shells of once-exclusive clubs and bars that have outlived their stint in the limelight and are forced to open their doors to the likes of you and me.

Some manage to achieve a watered-down version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s New York. They meet someone who provides an in—a free pass to view this side of the city, perhaps even latch onto a B-level celebrity and secure a spot within. I’ve known some people who managed to get me inside, and as much as my eyes lit up at the spectacle of this inaccessible alternate world in my own neighborhood, I could never bring myself to stroke an ego, fawn over an entourage member and fix a place for myself within.

I like to consider myself rising above this shallow world, but for the reason that I’m not welcomed there, I find myself oddly infatuated with it. The simple fact that it isn't available makes it desirable. I feel a twinge of envy at another’s mention of finding a way in, even if their methods clearly involve debasing themselves. And, while my pride won’t let me attach myself to someone purely to snake inside, I consider it a goal of mine to independently raise myself to that level and storm the gates. I want to have a place in that world so I can decide that I didn’t really want to be there in the first place.



Blogger The Doorman said...

Don't worry. The entire fucking place is rotting from the inside out.

2:08 AM  
Anonymous Pat said...

The one show that did more to advance this ridiculous notion of NYC is "Sex and the City". I say again, fuck that show.

2:18 PM  
Blogger fairest said...

Are you really from Elmhurst? Then this is some sort of "pick a topic" construct, cuz you know this is not NY.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ladder is exactly the right metaphor. Your writing is focused on the top, but the ladder is actually made of all the rungs. If it weren't for the bottom rungs, the thing would be useless. And there's way more money in the non-top rungs than the top, because there's so many more people. Look at Armani - he makes his name off of fashion shows and unique designs, but he makes his cash off of Armani Exchange mass production. I'd be willing to bet that Prada and similar brands (LVMH, etc) make way more profit off of wallets and items priced under $200 than the couture which gives them cachet. It's cashing in on the aspirations of the masses to be rich. It's brilliant and it works, but if that purse isn't actually worth 20 hours of your hard work to you, then just say no!

Also, I don't see NYC as linearly ordered like a ladder, by money. That's one way of looking at it, but I see people making great art, helping people, and achieving a lot of dreams that don't have much to do with making big bucks. Maybe you could skip ahead to the part where you reject the ladder and figure out what you really want?

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Groucho had it so right...


11:48 AM  

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