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New York smug

"I think New Yorkers only seem more smug, because there are more people in New York and thus more arrogant New Yorkers," writes Ta-Nehisi Coates. "In my time, I have watched [folks] from everywhere from Dallas to Cleveland to Columbia, Maryland, hold forth about why their neck of the woods is touched by God."

This is true, of course. About the worst thing that can happen to you in life is to be in a room with two Texans who start trying to tell you about the Alamo. Or about Texas. Or about how Texas was affected by the Alamo. But there's something endearing about it, too. Texans are battling stereotypes that don't tend to favor them. It's like talking up your mom's meatloaf. New Yorkers, by contrast, have what's considered the greatest city in the country and can't stop talking about it. It's like an A-student bragging about his grades, or a rich guy making everybody look at his car. It's unseemly.

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 3:13 PM ET
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"Texans are battling stereotypes that don't tend to favor them."

Yes, I've never heard of any negative stereotypes about how New Yorkers are elitist, un-American ... or smug.

Trust me. I'm from New Jersey, and I know what real arrogance looks like.

Posted by: westofthedc | May 14, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

This seems unduly harsh. Pretty sure Knicks fans know they don't have the greatest basketball franchise of all time...

Posted by: NicholasBeaudrot | May 14, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, maybe you should take a second to read Kathleen Parker's op-ed piece from the other day, where she argued that Elena Kagan's being from NYC put her well outside "mainstream America" on that basis alone. It was, in other words, gratuitously insulting.

Posted by: simpleton1 | May 14, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I find that, at least while you're in New York, the New Yorkers most likely to brag about the city are almost always originally from surrounding areas. I don't think I've ever met someone who was actually raised in the boroughs and had that same level of overbearing arrogance about the city. This leads me to believe that a lot of the "bragging" about New York is just an aggressively defensive way of acknowledging that New Jersey sucks.

Posted by: ISOK | May 14, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

But you wouldn't think it was boring, if you truly understood just exactly how Texas has been affected by the Alamo! For example......

Posted by: TxinTexas | May 14, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

part of NY's smugness is honestly having everything at their disposal so I can't blame them. If we all had that we'd be obnoxious too.

Sure other cities have good restaurants of most every ethnicity, some nice shows and entertainment, amazing art galleries and attractions but how many of them have them of the stature and scope of NYC?

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 14, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

You couldn't come off as a more elitist smuck if you actually put effort into it. The reality is in your uber-liberal world, anyone who is associated with the South or with conservative locations is at a disadvantage. Probably because the only people you surround yourself with are other liberals.

There are plenty of negatives about New York, such as their I don't care about anyone but myself attitude. Texas on the other hand has great hospitality, and far better meat. No one goes to NYC for the brisket.

Posted by: Natstural | May 14, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I have to tell you I lived in Texas for two and a half years and I never once got someone telling me about how awesome Texas was without deliberately baiting them.

Posted by: adamiani | May 14, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I think you're on to something here. But actually, I find that the smuggest part of the country is California. Just the other day after yoga class I heard a woman complaining to the studio owner that the Level 1 class she'd just taken was too easy. The studio owner asked about the complainant's previous yoga experience, and by way of an answer she started out with, "Well, I'm from CaliFORnia. (*lots of eyelash-batting and head-twitching*)"

Not that the state doesn't have problems (which is why everybody who's born there seems to leave), but they like to play it off as the fault of the poor schmucks who move there from the rest of the country. Boo.

Posted by: csdiego | May 14, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

*the New Yorkers most likely to brag about the city are almost always originally from surrounding areas.*

You also get the people who grew up in New York and now live in the surrounding areas who are really militant about New Yorkness, too. Both are borne of a sort of insecurity, but only because they want to maintain their association with the city.

That's the thing about being unseemly: in the end, you have to concede that the braggart is right about that. You have to concede in the end that the rich guy's car *is* really nice. I don't like that unseemly bragging, but I can at least concede that the guy can back it up, or that I can at least understand it.

Natstural: the thing about New York is that there is a high likelihood that not only is there a "Texas brisket shop and restaurant" somewhere in the 5 boroughs, but that they will *deliver it to your door* if you want to buy any.

Posted by: constans | May 14, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I've lived in Texas for two years now. I have to agree that Texans are overly obsessed with all things Texan. It is just assumed by nearly everyone that there is no place or people better in the world. When I first moved here, they even expected me to talk, at length, about how wonderful my new life must be compared to everywhere else I've lived.

When I mentioned that I'd previously lived in places like Toronto, San Francisco, New York, etc., they'd give me this really sad face like it was a tragedy that I had to endure that, then rest their hand on my shoulder and reassure me that finally, I'd made it to someplace truly wonderful and perfect, unlike those other hellholes. If I even dared suggest that there were things I missed, even small things, like good Jamaican food, I'd get my head bitten off. It is near blasphemy to suggest that anyplace does anything better than Texas (or if they do, that thing is dumb and unimportant). Its really intense and as an outsider, I don't feel like I'll ever be truly accepted. I definitely wouldn't describe their treatment of non-Texans as "hospitable" at least in the long-run. You'll get a lot of fake smiles and forced politeness for short visits, but stay for a long time, those will fade, and you'll realize that Texans think themselves above non-Texans.

I've gotten by by just learning to agree that yes, the French restaurants in Dallas are indeed better than those anywhere else I've ever been, and yes, Texan beers is the best beer ever, and yes, Tex-Mex is the best food ever, that no one can BBQ like a Texan, that the girls are the prettiest and that their morals and manners are the best ever, no matter how many frighteningly racist things I've heard over these two years.

Posted by: nylund | May 14, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I've never met people more irritatingly solipsistic about themselves and their city than folks from NYC. And I've met people from a lot of places.

"I think New Yorkers only seem more smug, because there are more people in New York and thus more arrogant New Yorkers"'

Ya-huh. There are a lot of people from London or San Francisco or Los Angeles or Boston or D.C. or Seattle? Or Paris? I've never met people who not only love their city so much, but love to compare everywhere else (unfavorably) so unflaggingly. They aren't rich people showing off their car--they're rich people telling you how much your car sucks compared to theirs, you poor, dumb hick. I've also never met people who have to refer to where they are from or where they consider home more often.

"Good morning."

"In New York, where I'm from, I'd say good morning right back to ya. But I'd have some coffee from xxx Coffee Place, not this swill from Starbucks that's all you have in the sticks."

"Well. Okay then."

"Too bad you don't have any real museums in this backwater. You call that a bagel? You don't have any Salvadorian restaurants? I am shaking my head in disbelief. Because I'm from New York. If you haven't noticed."

"Okay. Bye."

"So much for Southern Hospitality, then. Jesus, you people are rude!"

Too many New Yorkers view their city in the same manner as an addict views their narcotic of choice for it to be a matter of population correlating with arrogance.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | May 14, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

The reason is simple: everyone boasts about their city/state but only in NYC (and maybe LA, but everyone apparently hates LA) do the people boasting own national media outlets. It is the broadcasting center of America and anyone in media either lives there or is employeed by a company based there...isn't that right, Kaplan-boy? ;)
(Kaplan, Inc based in NYC)

Posted by: ctown_woody | May 14, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I live in the Memphis Area. Texas BBQ compared to Memphis BBQ? Please.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | May 14, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

"No one goes to NYC for the brisket."

This is one of the most comically ignorant things I've ever read. Have you ever heard of delicatessens?

Beyond that, Ezra's showing his age. "New Yorkers, by contrast, have what's considered the greatest city in the country"? Try "Ford to City: Drop Dead." It wasn't that long ago, Ezra, that NYC was widely considered a dystopia and a national shame. I assign you a remedial viewing of "Taxi Driver."

Posted by: JRoth_ | May 14, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

*In New York, where I'm from, I'd say good morning right back to ya.*

No New Yorker would ever say this. Instead, they'd look at you askance because they'd be thinking, *why the heck are you saying hello to a total stranger? Can a man get a little privacy here???*

*Too many New Yorkers view their city in the same manner as an addict views their narcotic of choice*

They're even worse about telling you about the bagel situation, or lack thereof, in whatever non-NYC locale they find themselves in.

Posted by: constans | May 14, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Having lived in Houston and in NYC, I can state emphatically that New Yorkers are "smug" and cantankerous! Texans are more laid back and move at a slower pace. But, make no mistake, they are just as sharp and knowledgeable as the "smuggies" from NYC!


Posted by: my4653 | May 14, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"New Yorkers only have positive stereotypes"?


Have you listened to talk radio?

The problem New Yorkers have is the same problem all prominent people have: everyone else's paying attention. It doesn't help that, an awful lot of the time, they actually are better then everyone else. Manhattan alone is big enough be the fifth largest city in the US. This means it alone has a talent pool bigger then anybody but LA, Chicago, Houston, and the other boroughs.

As far as arrogance goes it's impossible to beat Texas. Those people are convinced their flag has precedence over everything but Old Glory. Guys, you're a state. You may have been independent once, BFD. So was Vermont. And West Florida.

Posted by: NickBenjamin | May 14, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

One of my best friends is a jerk.

My other friends inevitably ask, "What the f'ck is Dan's problem?" I explain, "He's from New York."

They then say, "Ohhh..." and sympathetically nod their heads in a manner usually reserved for the developmentally disabled.

-- MrJM

Posted by: MrJM | May 14, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

"No one goes to NYC for the brisket."

The moment I arrive in NYC, I blow off all friends and relatives and head straight for Katz's.

That said, having lived there 10 years, it's best to not obsess about it. To do so is more a sign of insanity than anything else.

The truth is, Chicago is the greatest city in the world. And, oh yeah, no one gives a hoot about Texas.

Posted by: leoklein | May 14, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Sorry you've met so many arrogant New Yorkers. I haven't, and I'm a native. I mean, yeah, I like living here, but I recognize its drawbacks. And I think a lot of other places are lame, but a lot aren't. Mostly I've met people from all over who hear me say I'm from here and suddenly seem defensive, like I called them ignorant hicks. I swear, I didn't.

Posted by: brunoblumenfeld | May 14, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

I have a friend who always says "I'm sorry, but I'm from Dallas" when I laughed her and said "You should apologize for that" she got kind of offended.

Posted by: merlallen1 | May 15, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm originally from the Midwest but have lived in Boston for a number of years. In my experience, New Yorkers are an order of magnitude more insufferable than people from anywhere else when it comes to city pride.

The core problem is how it manifests itself. Texans mostly just talk with pride about where they live, though there is often some broad-based condescension about everywhere else. I rate them as the second most insufferable. Californians are typically just confused that anyone would have decided to live elsewhere, but they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Floridians are similar to Californians. Basically everyone else manages to have some humility in their pride.

But New Yorkers -- yes, New Yorkers take the cake. Part of what grates on me is that their city pride doesn't at all manifest itself as excitement for New York; it almost entirely seems to manifest itself as putting down everywhere else. Another part is that I don't actually like their city very much -- the air is unbreathable, the whole city feels cramped and oppressive, it's terribly expensive, people don't display basic friendliness, there's very little green space or room to exercise, and, yes, virtually every other city in America has all the good restaurants and plays and museums I need, thank you.

But what kills me the most is that New Yorkers match their smugness with perhaps the highest degree of ignorance about the rest of the country of any of said groups. I have had a New Yorker guess that it took three hours to *drive* from Boston to Illinois. And I have yet to meet a single New Yorker who could correctly identify what states you'd drive through to do so. Smugness is so much less appealing when it's paired with ignorance.

So I disagree with Ezra's claim. It has nothing to do with jealousy; in fact, if I were to pick one place in America that I steadfastly would not live, New York would be very high on my list. That doesn't prevent me from being unusually bothered by the smug condescension of New Yorkers.

Posted by: jeffwacker | May 15, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

By the way, Kevin_Willis is right. Memphis > Texas where BBQ is concerned.

Posted by: jeffwacker | May 15, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Almost any time I tell a New Yorker that I'm a Chicagoan, he will within five minutes begin telling me how much better New York is than Chicago. I am not even lying when I say that a New Yorker once told me that Chicago is not "a real city." When I tried to respond charitably, saying, "oh, you mean that it's not one of those mega-cities like Mumbai or Mexico City -- yeah, I could see that," he responded, "No, I literally mean that Chicago is not a city."

NYC costs too much, people there work too hard, and it's full of pretentious people. That's just cold hard facts.

Posted by: blah1 | May 15, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

New York is loud, dirty, crowded, obnoxious and it smells funny.

These are not the things of which greatness is made.

Posted by: pj_camp | May 15, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

"New Yorkers, by contrast, have what's considered the greatest city in the country and can't stop talking about it." As far as I can tell, much of America thinks of New York as a foreign country, and not one they much like. However awesome we New Yorkers think our city might be, it's not smugness that leads us to brag: it's a hope that perhaps we can convince other regions to be proud, rather than ashamed, that we're a part of the country.

Posted by: outoftime | May 16, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty simple.

There's no place like home.

Some people are just more vocal about it.

Posted by: LosGatosCA | May 17, 2010 1:40 AM | Report abuse

The best way to prove that New Yorkers unlike a group that "battl[es] stereotypes that don't tend to favor them," is to make a sweeping, wholesale claim that all New Yorkers engage in objectionable, unseemly behavior while including no examples of any actual New Yorkers engaging in the objectionable, unseemly behavior.

This just proves my theory that all people from Irvine, California are smug.

Posted by: Fanshawe | May 17, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Natstural - With better reading skills, you would have noted that Mr. Klein painted Texas pride as charming, and New York pride as being indefensible. I'm probably using words too large for you to understand this explanation, though.

Also, you've apparently never had a good pastrami on rye, though I will admit that more flavorful dishes, meat and otherwise, disproportionately come from the Southern part of the country. Heart disease and obesity, unfortunately, also share this disproportion.

Posted by: dHoser | May 17, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow, what's with the unnecessary NYC bashing? There are rude, arrogant people everywhere. I know many NYers that do not fit whatever stereotypes you are all talking about. Arrogance is thinking an entire city full of millions of people share a negative characteristic. I have a friend who brags about Texas all the time, but that doesn't mean all Texans are like that. Stop your stereotyping and worry about your own city.

Posted by: tblue | May 17, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

So, uh, should the guy who blogs to the world about what he made for dinner last night really be accusing New Yorkers of unseemly public behavior?

Posted by: ksully1 | May 17, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I love New York! Native of Baltimore, Md and with the train station only a few blocks away, friends and family in the New York city area I visit alot. I have never, ever, found New Yorkers to be rude or unfriendly. However, I am still always happy to come home to good ole Bmore! In spite of its many problems, home is still where ones heart is, that's true for New Yorkers and Baltimoreans as well!

Posted by: ilg123 | May 18, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

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