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Waking Up to New York


Nick Denton, publisher, Gawker Media
Arrived: 2002
I once made a spreadsheet comparing San Francisco, London, Budapest, and New York. I assigned different weighted scores based on different criteria: old friends, business opportunities, Hungarians, Jews, nature (that one had a fairly low weight). I was living in San Francisco, but I’ve always liked the idea of that city more than the reality of it. So I would play with the spreadsheet, and when I didn’t get the result I wanted, I adjusted the rankings. One factor that tipped things in New York’s favor was that New York had way hotter guys.

I finally decided to come here after 9/11. The foreign press was full of love letters to New York. Writers like Martin Amis were waking up and thinking, “Oh my God, we almost lost it!” I know it sounds sentimental, but no one would ever write a love letter to San Francisco. I drove across the country with Christian Bailey, who would later became famous for getting all that money from the Pentagon. He had arranged for a two-bedroom apartment in the Soho Court building, a standard building for junior analysts at Goldman Sachs. It was a wonderful summer. I wasn’t really working. We launched Gizmodo in August, and Gawker in December. Most days I would go to Cafe Gitane and sit outside eating waffles with fruit.

I remember going to a party with a bunch of Broadway and film gays, and the one-liner one-upmanship felt like a scene from Will & Grace, which at the time was my lame yardstick for what passed for New York salon conversation. My HTML skills had improved in San Francisco, but I’d lost my edge. I thought I was being really witty, but at one point on a ski trip to Tahoe, it became clear that everyone thought I was just an asshole.

Chloë Sevigny, actress
Arrived: 1991
I grew up in Connecticut and went to the city with my family for big holidays. But I started going on my own when I was a freshman in high school, skipping school and staying overnight on the weekends. We’d hang out in Washington Square Park with all the skater kids and punkers and pot dealers. The north part of the park was the skater side (because there’s a slope the kids would skate down to get speed), and the south side was more hip-hop. By the time I was a junior, I think my parents were a little nervous. Sometimes I’d lie and say I was at a friend’s house in Greenwich. They would not have been happy if they knew that I was at a rave all night long and then sleeping in the park. But not like a homeless person—like a teenager.

Aziz Ansari, comedian
Arrived: 2000
My first New York home was at the NYU dorm on 14th between Third and Fourth. It was right beside Amore’s pizza, which I first thought was delicious, authentic New York pizza but soon realized was in fact greasy, nasty, shitty pizza.

My dorm, like all NYU dorms, was full of potheads. Most of my initial friends were content taking bong hits and playing Snood all night instead of actually exploring the city. The kids I knew who did go out told me the places to go were hot clubs like Twilo and Exit. Apparently, all I needed to do was grab a shiny shirt and puffy pants, take some E, and twirl glow sticks to terrible trance music and I’d have a good time. I decided to take a pass on that scene.

One thing I was really excited about was live music. Most musicians usually don’t have a South Carolina leg on their tour. I used to be really into scratch D.J.-ing, but I’d never seen any of those guys live. After a few weeks in New York, I saw Cut Chemist, D.J. Shadow, D.J. Qbert, and Mix Master Mike pretty easily. I also went to Kim’s on St. Marks and Fat Beats to browse records between classes.

Most nights, I ended up going to bars on a strip of Third Avenue below 14th Street. Bar None, Nevada Smiths: Finally, the experience of shitty college bars, right in New York City! Every year, I would wise up and go one more avenue east to avoid the mess. And every year, one kid in the group would always say we should go another avenue even farther east, because that’s where the good bars are.

Jesus Luz, model
Arrived: 2009
I feel like life here in New York, it’s more intense. A day here is like many days in Rio. The city pushes you to grow up fast, but it’s not scary; it just encourages you to live your life. You can meet every kind of person here. I first came to the city in August 2005 because my aunt won a poetry contest. On that trip, I went to see the Statue of Liberty, and it felt like seeing the statue of Christ in Rio. Even though only one of them is religious.


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