Each year on Brightest Young Things we ask people what they love about their city. You can love a city without being in love with a human being.
For this year’s Why We Love NYC we asked comedians, musicians, artists, publicists and restaurateurs what they love about NYC. A must-read if you’re looking to rekindle your romance with ye olde Big Apple.
Lane Moore, Tinder Live
Catch Lane tonight at Littlefield for Tinder Live! (They added a second show due to popular demand, so grab tickets before they’re gone!)
You can cry anywhere. No one cares. Truly. Cry away.
You can technically have meet cutes at any time, but only because there are like 19,000 people around you all times and someone is bound to spill something on you and eventually be hot, right?
ABCV. They have herbal infusions that are just fancy herbs designed to make your brain feel better and I love them.
Confectionary. VEGAN MACARONS GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love this place.
Flower Power. Have you been here it’s just every type of herb and everyone here is kind it’s heaven.
Photo credit Sandy Honig
Everybody looks cool all the time!!!! Everybody has great, individual style. You can wear whatever you want and there is no way you will be the loudest or weirdest dressed. EXPERIMENTATION IS WELCOME, BABY!!! (Same with smells. There is no way you are going to be the worst-smelling thing or person in any location no matter what. Wear the perfume, try the lotion, eat the crazy new food. Live ur lyfe out loud, baby.)
Usually everybody is pissed off about the same stuff. Trains bad? Weather suck? Talk about it to literally anyone and they will agree and understand and validate your many frustrations.
There is so much to see/do all the time. People work harder, create more, and are constantly pumping out beautiful new things for the world to see. The minute I start feeling bored with myself/uninspired, I walk outside and force myself to consume something — and there is always something beautiful to consume. Doesn’t matter if it’s a play, a book, a movie, a great meal, a concert — there is so much to take in all the time. Wow!!!!!
You can eat whatever you want at any time. As an Ohio gal, I will never take this for granted. Every other place has like, sleep schedules. Lame!!!!!!!!! If I want to eat an entire pizza alone at 4am, it is my constitutional right to do so (in NYC).
Somehow you become ok with co-existing with rats and strange smells and garbage and weirdos screaming random crap at you as you walk around the city. This isn’t a perk, but it goes to show how amazing the city is. If you can withstand all the nightmares that come with living in NYC, you can embrace all the things that make it such a special place. But also disgusting. It is gross here and there is no getting around it.
Robert Perlick-Molinari, French Horn Rebellion + YouTooCanWoo
Photo credit Erin Mulvoy
Lunch is Just Easier. When New Yorkers go to lunch, we don’t drive to the lunch spot, find a parking spot at the lunch spot, enter the lunch spot, then wait in line to order at the lunch spot to get lunch. We just walk somewhere a block away and get something, and it’s usually ridiculously delicious. Baddah-Bing!
The Rhythm of The Roads. There is something about the rhythmic pace of driving in NYC. I don’t know what it is, but whenever I come back, everything seems just right. It’s when you’re driving down the BQE and there’s just a light amount of traffic. You’re not at full speed (Texas Highways), but you’re also not parked (Chicago). For me, driving here is a calming experience— because I know I’m home.
Beer is Good. New York City has some of the best craft beer around. I know what you’re thinking. Robert, you’re just another hipster guy that likes craft beer. Well, you’d be right. BUT, I am from Milwaukee- and beer is in my blood. In my humble opinion, NYC is home to some of the best local breweries, period. Brooklyn Brewery, Six Point, Captain Lawrence, KelSo, Singlecut, Coney Island Brewing the list goes on and on. Even being a Wisconsin kid, I have to say New York beer is pretty good.
Running Into People You Know. NYC is geographically not-that-big. You end up running into people a lot, and I love the city for that. You can go by yourself to a show, movie, the grocery store, and you will see somebody you know. It’s one of those places where you have to be yourself. After a while, it’s almost impossible to keep up a front. People that hate you will let you know, and people that love you will do the same. There’s some level of acceptance that you are who you are, and that’s the way it is, and that it’s OK.
Language. I love yelling at people I don’t know, talking to strangers, and making up new slang with the guy on the corner. New York is a diverse place- it’s well known that people come here from all over the world. However, my favorite result of this diversity has got to be the language. Here, you can experiment with your language, delivery, cadence, and so on to find your unique voice. The spoken word is an evolving art.
IT’S NEW YORK, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! It’s just the best.
Deidre Muro, Deidre & The Dark + YouTooCanWoo
The history is incredible. I’ve watched the entire Ric Burns documentary about New York (all 14 hours of it). I love discovering a tiny plaque on a building saying who did what there in the 1800s. Sometimes my husband and I will pick a destination building or bar with some interesting history, head over there and walk around that neighborhood with Wikipedia open. There are super fascinating stories to be found from one block to the next.
Amazing food of almost every variety, and you can find incredible quality. We are spoiled rotten.
Dog-Watching. It’s no secret I have a problem – they approach me on the street, I make immediate eye contact, they see into my soul, and I must resist the urge to hug them. I love animals, and New York is just one of the best places to dog-watch, anytime you’re walking around.
Speaking of walking, the fact that you can walk anywhere and everywhere is one of the most awesome things about NYC.
Everyone is basically tasked with the home design equivalent of Top Chef. If you’ve lived in a New York apartment, you know that spatial and logistical challenges come with every lease. A lot of people probably see this as a serious drag, but personally I love the challenge of setting up a home after an inevitable move. If I weren’t in music, I would probably be in interior design, so that probably explains it!
Florencia Alvarado, Visual Artist
Photo credit Elisa Quero
LATIN NEIGHBORHOODS. Coming from Venezuela, it’s amazing to find strong Latin communities spread all over New York. Listening to Dominican, Puerto Rican and Mexican accents gives me pure joy. And the best part is discovering food joints with arroz (rice) and sweet plantains. And tacos of course…
ART. This is the one of the reasons why I moved here. From big institutions in Manhattan to artist run spaces in Brooklyn, I think there is a way to study here without going to college.
NEW YORK IN FILM. Before I came here I was into watching TV shows, films and documentaries that tell the story and evolution of New York. When I came here I felt that I knew these red and brown bricks from films and TV shows, especially the ones made during the 90s.
FEELING SAFE. I come from a very dangerous environment (Caracas, where I used to live and work is considered one of the most violent cities nowadays). So, I love being able to work at night without feeling threatened.
GAY LIFE. Love is love, right?
FREESTYLE FASHION. I love the freedom that people applies to fashion here. Everything is valid. I love the mixture between nerdy, hip-hop, artsy, comfy, classy…
Vanderbilt Wine Shop. The best place to buy high quality wine in our own backyard. We don’t know how it’s possible that Owner Greg Rubin can cram so many excellent bottles in to this tiny space but the shelves are packed with some of the best organic, biodynamic and small production wines available. Plus it’s one of the few places in the neighborhood that carries Zalto glassware. Our dog loves it there just as much as we do!
Olmstead’s Rutabaga “Tagliatelle”. Using ribbons of paper-thin rutabaga in place of egg noodles, this dish is simultaneously new and unique but also seriously comforting, like the best bowl of (actual) pasta. Genius! We should all be forever grateful that Chef Greg Baxtrom decided to wind down his world travels and open Olmstead in Brooklyn.
NYC’s Hospitality Network. We love that in a city where they are 25,000 restaurants, the industry is incredibly supportive of one another. We’ve been particularly inspired by the many food and beverage professionals that have spent their nights off at Fausto, promoted our events, and shared their experience at their own line ups and on social media.
New Yorker’s Adoption of Amaro. We love that New Yorkers are excited about amaro! Ten years ago when I opened up Dell’anima, I couldn’t get anyone to look at amaro, nevermind spring for a glass of vintage digestivi for $15 a glass. At Fausto, we offer a selection of vintage amaro and can’t replenish fast enough. It’s a testament to New Yorkers’ curiosity and interest in the unknown, not-to-mention the preeminent amaro expert, Brad Thomas Parsons, lives around the corner in South Brooklyn.
Pound Hounds Resq. Rescue organizations like Pound Hounds Resq have given pit bulls a second chance. We adopted our 3 year old pit bull Susu a year ago from Pound Hounds. Their efforts have saved hundreds of dogs from NYC-area kill shelters and found them loving homes #adoptdontshop.
Selena Coppock (Amazon’s Red Oaks, NY Times, Co-Host of Bitchcraft)
The Grand Central Oyster Bar – Honestly, there are better places to get fresher oysters in the city but the HISTORY of this place! It’s been around forever, it’s tucked away in the basement of gorgeous Grand Central, you can sip a dirty martini or lovely glass of wine in either a white leather bar area that reminds me of a Whitesnake video OR The Saloon, which feels like an old timey back room bar.
New Yorkers Willingness to Mind Their Business – I love that in NYC you can wear whatever you want and no one will look at your twice. You do you, I do me, as long as you don’t block the subway doors, it’s all good.
Pockets of Nature – I love running along the West Side Highway and not only is it a peaceful, glorious run, but along the way there are patches of grass to roll in, small parks to sit in, and dog runs to watch sweet little buddies enjoy nature, too.
Classic Juke Boxes – There aren’t many left, but a few East Village bars have classic juke boxes (the flip page kind–NOT digital download kind) with gobs of motown music on them. Check out Mona’s (Ave B just south of 14th), Sophie’s (5th St near B), Josie’s (6th St between A and B).
Eavesdropping – On the rare occasion when I forget my earbuds, I listen to the world around me and overhear so many languages, experiences, perspectives. New York is filled with all types of people and daily I am reminded of how magical that is.
Laura Maul (Just For Laughs, NY Times, Co-Host of Bitchcraft)
For every bad smell in NYC there is an AMAZING smell. My favorite city scents are the Nuts 4 Nuts stands, city parks after a rain, and a combo of old books/old buildings.
I love the city’s strong sense of “line justice”. In NYC I’m not the only one who says “excuse me, there’s a LINE.”
Taking public transportation during off-hours can be a religious experience. I love the magical solace of an empty bus or subway car.
I’m a big fan of all the community and senior centers. In NYC you don’t have to grow old alone- there is such a sense of community here.
I love walking while snacking and NYC is totally made for that kind of experience. Plus, you can get any kind of international snack here and that has really elevated my snack-game.
Bodega sandwiches and snacks 24/7
Driving over the Williamsburg Bridge and looking at the skyline and realizing how lucky I am that I’m living here.
All the art museums!!!!!
All the places to perform comedy every night of the week!
Rachel Van Dolsen, Founder of RVD Communications
Photo credit Molly Tavoletti
Convenience – I’m not embarrassed to admit that running a business often turns me into a monster –– I need the things I need and I need them now! Thankfully, I live in New York, where clothing, pizza, wine, a taxi, a blowout, a boyfriend (I ordered mine almost four years ago on the internet) and many other amazing things are only a click away.
Equality at the Dog Park – All bets are off at the dog park – beasts are jumping on people, there’s inappropriate humping – it’s impossible not to come right back down to earth, no matter how cool your day job is. In most cities, you simply let your dog into your backyard. In New York, it’s a much more hands-on experience.
The Wing – On the more bougie end of the spectrum, I’m obsessed with The Wing in all of its feisty, feminist, instagram-bait glory.
The Best Dive Bars and Cocktail Bars – Sometimes you need a perfect dirty gin martini… and sometimes you need free cheeseballs and a shot. In New York, the havens that traffic these items co-exist happily, often on the same block.
People – I’ve met interesting people from all over all the world, but New York breeds eccentrics. Even the most mundane daily interactions can be fun and unexpected.
Alyse Vellturo, pronoun
Photo credit Shervin Lainez
Archie’s Pizza – Archie’s Pizza is the definition of bae. By far the best pizza in the city, right down the street from me, and has Downeast Cider (which I swear I need to survive). Try the bacon and jalapeño pie, you will not be sorry. Or get a salad those are great too but when given the option…why would you choose salad.
Restaurant Movie Theaters – I hate movies and this place makes them more than bearable. Talking mostly about Syndicated (has Downeast Cider!!!) and Nitehawk (does not have Downeast Cider) AND they bring it to you in the seat. Great place for a date or wallowing in self pity.
Elsewhere Zone One – WARNING: DOES NOT HAVE DOWNEAST CIDER. However, does have every cool indie/rock show in NYC pretty much every night. Plus, the out door roof top bar is rumored to open in April.
The Exley – This place is usually fairly empty but is conveniently right off the Lorimer L/G. I have started to go here to cut up my recording and start organizing them fro my mix engineer because it’s so chill and relaxing. Also has Downeast Cider.
The Williamsburg Bridge – fun on both sides with a beautiful walk in the middle. BYO-Downeast though.
Josh Ethan Johnson, Photographer / Videographer / Musician / Designer / FACES
Manhattan Chinatown – Packed and stacked tight with food and authenticity. Amazing it exists being surrounded by bougie ass hoods like SoHo, Tribeca, FiDi, Nolita. There are plenty of North Face Jacket wearing Germans clogging the sidewalks but if you get down to Two Bridges/ East Broadway part, you can still eat dinner for $5. Breakfast for $2. Lots of great photo opps but hard to concentrate when in the presence of Vietnamese and Chinese foods.
Flushing Meadows Park – The museums, fountains and lakes are worth checking out but I go on the summer weekends to watch the Ecuadorian and Colombian volleyball players compete for cash and eat delicious, inexpensive foods the wives and grandmas prepare for any and everyone. Great, welcoming peeps.
Anonymity – I believe the quote is something like “the loneliest place is in a crowd” but if you like being alone…go to midtown on a weekday lunch break.
Comfortablilty – NYC’ers are accustomed to frequent personal space violations. The result is very open, comfortable people who are cool about being chatted with. The car culture in other parts of States promotes a decent level of xenophobia. NYC doesn’t have this luxury.
Flushing Chinatown – It’s a food wonderland. Go to the food court in the World Mall basement and notice how you don’t recognize a single restaurant logo. Upstairs is a HUGE Asian grocery with cheap, exotic produce and seafood. It’ll feel like you saved $1500 on a round trip ticked to the Szechuan region of China.
Dame Brian Moylan, writer for hire and founder and president of New York magazine’s Real Housewives Institute
Fire Island. It’s not the time of year for it, but come May I will be able to take public transportation to a magical wonderland where there are no cars, few straight people, fewer rules, and certainly no one without body image issues. The Fire Island Pines may be the last gay ghetto on Earth and it just happens to be on a glorious beach filled with attractive men and some of the best architecture on the East Coast. And you only need to take the subway, two trains, a bus, and a ferry to get there. It’s so easy!
Dō. One of the best things about New York City is that we’re always finding new and inventive ways to make ourselves fat and then feel bad about it afterwards. The latest is this Greenwich Village emporium of raw cookie dough. Get it in a cup, get it in a cone, get it topped with sprinkles or rainbow sugar. Yes, it’s a little basic, but there is a reason why basic things are popular, and that’s because they’re good.
Club Cumming. The newly refurbished Eastern Bloc reopened as a wonderful East Village gay bar, albeit one where on any given night of the week there could be a cabaret performance by someone like co-owner Alan Cumming, his good friend Emma Stone, or Fergie trying to promote her own album.
Trump Tower. God, it’s not that architectural features of this gold-plated monstrosity bearing the most divisive name in the country that make this place something to love. It’s just knowing that whenever that certain person in the White House does, says, or (I can’t believe I have to type this) Tweets something ridiculous we all know exactly where to go and protest.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical. No, seriously. It’s really fucking good.
Rebecca Trent, The Creek and the Cave
The MTA. While I never expected to be praising a rat infested tube with trash fires, the truth is that having a 24 Hour public transportation system is hands down the best thing about NYC.
Pizza. We don’t need to have this argument again. Deep dish pizza is a casserole with a crust; sit down, Chicago.
Queens. Our little borough might not have the high society of Manhattan or the grungy hipness of Brooklyn, but we are the most diverse place on the planet. From languages to cultures to religions we literally have it all. As comedian Mark Normand says, “I live in NYC. I can’t be racist. If I was, I’d be exhausted.”
The drinking water. I know this sounds crazy but I swear nothing cures a hangover faster than your tallest glass of NYC tap.
Potential. This city is pregnant with it. There’s a relevance to residing in New York that you cannot find anywhere else. Not to mention, the street cred. But the real greatness of this city is the electricity you feel with the thought that your big break or your next hustle is just around the corner. Don’t get me wrong, this city will ride you hard and put you away wet, but if you ride back and master that bronco, she’ll take you for the ride of your life.
Bodega Cats. They guard the tampons and keep the bread warm. They are an essential part of the NYC economy.