Live in New York City long enough, and you might eventually succumb to a terrible condition I like to call Situational Giuliani Syndrome. SGS is typically characterized by an extreme, often unfounded sense of self-worth and arrogance, coupled with persistent anxiety and an almost paralyzing fear of terrorism. Those who suffer from the condition have an uncanny ability to reroute all conversations—no matter the topic, no matter the situation—back to themselves, to the events of 9/11, and all with an easy dismissal of anyone else’s concerns or point of view.
Let’s say there’s something happening in another part of the world, say, civil unrest and social upheaval in the Middle East. An SGS sufferer would respond thusly: “Well, the last time Qaddafi was in town, he messed up traffic so bad, my driver had to go all the way to Murray Hill to avoid the U.N., so good riddance!” Or, let’s say there’s a major hurricane pummeling the Bahamas, an SGS sufferer would complain, “Well, there goes my weekend in the Hamptons!”
At work today I had to write a memo to all New York staff about hurricane preparedness. Almost every sentence could have been followed by “D’uh.” But common sense doesn’t matter sometimes when the universe orbits around NYC and its denizens.
The best thing about New York City is its diversity. On the streets, on the subways, you rub shoulders with people from all walks of life. You can pretty much find anything you want and experience things you can’t anywhere else. The worst thing about New York City—despite its diversity—is the vocal and powerful hegemony that works to subvert individual thought, refracting every event, every situation, every perspective through a uniquely narcissistic NYC filter and reflecting back a distorted picture of what the people who live in the city, real New Yorkers, are actually like.