We're going to have a little lesson today. Listen up, because there'll be a quiz later.

New York is a great city. As a native Philadelphian, I'd really like to hate the Big Apple, but the city's really interesting. It's a big mess of every type of person imaginable, and it certainly makes Philly's 22-block stretch of skyscrapers look pale.

OK, that's all. That's my whole description of NYC.

With the way people drone on about it, however, you'd think the streets were paved with gold. We recently got back from Fall Break, so the campus was littered with conversations extolling the graces of The City That Never, ahem, Sleeps.

"Oh, I was in New York for break."

"Wasn't it amazing?"

"Oh yes, I wish Penn were in New York."

"If I were in New York right now, I'd be surrounded by men wanting my body!"

"If I were in New York, I'd be Emperor of Finland!"

And it goes on like this. By the end of the conversation my two fictional characters are talking about how in New York they can travel back in time and bet on sporting events in the 1920's. (July 21,1927: Jack Dempsey knocks out Jack Sharkey in the 7th round.)

A friend of mine was talking about how, in The City -- apparently, the only city -- she breathes better. Please. If you wish Penn was in New York, then you should have gone to Columbia. And if you couldn't get in there, then NYU. Or even CUNY. There are lots of options.

New York is the most overrated place on earth. That doesn't mean it's not a great city; that doesn't even mean it's not the best city in the world. But, people leave Manhattan for one second, and they forget that it always smells faintly of pee, that it costs roughly $4,000 to get on a waiting list for a hot dog and that the New York Knicks play there.

During the blackout this summer, we were forced (literally, someone tied me up and forced me) to watch numerous television reports about how New Yorkers were in a crisis. News anchors across the country extolled the great virtues of the great men and great women of the great city for not looting.

Whoo! Nobody looted!

Telling someone they're great for not looting is like me giving you a basket of apples for not stealing my car.

Were the Romans like this? I really can't envision two Gaulian patricians sitting in their villas talking about how great Rome is because you die of infection faster in the city.

But I suppose I'm comparing apples (different apples, not the ones I gave you for not stealing my Subaru) to oranges here. That still doesn't let you off the hook for talking about how great NYC was this summer.

Look, there's a lot of great things about New York. But it's not Utopia, and it's not even Fruitopia. There's a lot of things to hate about it. Like NYU students and cab drivers and Rudy Guiliani and tourists and pollution and '41 Shots' and Flushing.

Oh, and the Yankees. I hate the fuckin' Yankees.

Class dismissed.


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