Monday, February 15, 2010

News Flash: Ex-Manhattanite Finds DC Lacking

Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to peruse the always-amusing "DC" magazine from Urban Luxury, the self-proclaimed "premier luxury lifestyle publisher in the United States". What does that mean for DC magazine? Well, apparently it means an attempt to portray (and transform) DC into a smaller Manhattan.























Included in this issue is an op-ed of sorts from an ex-Manhattanite named Mimi Riesner, who has been booted out of her snug Manhattan cocoon and must now face the daunting prospects and deprivations of day-to-day life in the District. By now, we nation's capital dwellers are used to this tired argument from ex-New Yorkers. Basically, it goes something like this: wait, are you telling me I can't get a pedicure while enjoying a fine selection of tapas in the lower level of a jazz club/oxygen bar at 4 in the morning? (Currently, the answer is "no," but I'm certain Eric Hilton is working on just such a concept, provided he can get ANC buy-in.) Fortunately for us, Mimi doesn't disappoint. Among her list of grievances include our lack of 10-hour turnaround dry cleaners, our dearth of rude and reckless cabbies and--but of course--that our spinning classes ostensibly don't burn as many calories as those in NYC (here's a hint Mimi: pedal faster).

She also seems surprised and baffled by the fact that Washingtonians talk to each other (I thought we were all cold and career-driven?) and that cafe patrons actually wait patiently for their sandwich, rather than to yell at the staff.

Mimi appears perplexed that her fashion choices fail to evoke an acceptable level of awe and appreciation by relating a story about being asked by a fellow parent at her child's private school whether her "French-designed pilgrim belt buckles" (which, she notes helpfully, she paired with her Roger Vivier flats) were "functional." Such a moment provokes an epiphany of sorts for Ms. Riesner, who asks herself (for the first time in her life, we learn) whether "extremely large decorational buckles" on each toe made sense. Fortunately, she decides that yes, they do. By God, old seersucker suit-heavy DC isn't going to suck the fashionable life out of Mimi Riesner.

By the end of the piece, it seems that old DC just might be winning Mimi over, however. She seems genuinely impressed to have been able to set foot on "foreign soil" while attending an event of some sort at the Embassy of Cyprus, thinks the Mall is pretty swell, and is pleased to report that DC's cocktail party circuit is forcing her to learn new and exciting things, such as the name of the president of Pakistan. (Note to all you Wikipediers out there: I'll save you the trouble. It's Asif Ali Zardari.) In the end, Mimi is relieved to find that she just might be able to make DC work for her, albeit with a "few adjustments and a lot of patience."

Pondering the apparent influx of Manhattanites such as herself who have recently arrived in the District, Mimi asks rhetorically "Is DC ready for us?" I don't know Mimi, but you do now have me wondering how on earth I have managed for so long to tolerate an unacceptable lack of customer rage at area sandwich shops, but I suppose us Washingtonians simply have "a lot of patience." Particularly for ex-New Yorkers.

22 comments:

brap said...

very funny.

Erica Amina said...

You crack me up. :-) And Mimi is just annoying. People who go to new places and display the attitude that their old homes are better than their new homes are always the same kind of person - those who feel the need to make themselves feel superior, those who lack sufficient self esteem, those who lack true intellect and curiosity about the world, I could go on and on. We've all met them. They're the obnoxious Americans who travel abroad and then complain about the food, the hotels, the crappy old cities are a good example. BTW, I moved here from Pittsburgh 20 years ago and I've got 3 pairs of Roger Viviers. I've met NYers who have no clue that they're looking at a pair of shoes from the designer who brought us the Beatle Boot and Queen Liz's coronation shoes. But that doesn't mean I snobbily tell them that they're clueless. I tell them where to find them on Bluefly.com on SALE! I bought mine at the NY store and at Bluefly, and I proudly wear one with my seersucker suit every summer. suck that Mimi.

Anonymous said...

Good post.

New Yorkers should just stay there and save us the trouble of having to punch them in the face every time they speak.

Jessica said...

As they say, there is nothing as provincial as a New Yorker outside of New York.

Anonymous said...

In defense of Eric Hilton, one would hope he would not construct such a thing. Not his style.

Cathy said...

Mimi makes all of us ex-New Yorkers look bad. I wouldn't know one shoe designer from another. Now, hiking boots, that's a different story...

Of course, I left new york for Boulder...

Anonymous said...

I just read the article. I would hate to talk to this women at a dinner party. She sounds pretty vapid. Thanks for the warning!

Joel said...

Best
14th
&
You
post
ever

And I've lived/worked in both cities. And Erica, I'm from the 'burgh too, and I hear ya.

Anonymous said...

How about: "Ex-Manhattanite-Zilla"... A new spinoff tv show of the show "Bridezilla", featuring vapid self pitying Mimis struggling through their grotesque day to day lives in DC, Boston, Pittsburgh or any other city?

FrenchTwistDC said...

LOVE your analysis of the article, it
's great (I just finished scanning my copy of DC Modern Luxury this morning) I must say I do agree with Mimi on one thing... dry cleaners! Why does it take three days to get a pair of pants back?

True2me said...

new yorkers and their "God complex" ..I HATE IT...

Jenna said...

This just drives home why I never want to live in NYC. And I've met a lot of nice people who moved down from NYC who appreciated our lack of customer rage (although, really, I think we just hide it better).

Greg said...

as an ex-Manhattanite myself, my only complaint is how early stores and bodegas close. Finding any kind of store open after 10pm is a chore. I'm not requesting 24 hour service, but maybe stuff could stay open til midnight?

A-lo said...

I agree, one of your best posts.

In a similar vein, have you read the GQ article from a few months ago about their Chef of the Year, Jose Andres? The article was basically contradicting and subtle dig at how DC is bad for Andres, and how LA is superior.

Scott said...

Great posting...best one I've read in a long time. I'd agree that NYC has us beat on the dining and shopping scene. Let me climb on my soapbox and just whine a bit about my frustration at the dwellers all moving into condos here in the city and then complaining at ANC meetings that they don't want a restaurant or bar opening in their buildings because of their fear of a little noise or trash issues. New Yorkers don't expect a quiet suburbia in Manhattan so why should District residents expect that in neighborhoods like Logan and Dupont? We will never become "fabulous" with these attitudes.

Anonymous said...

Erica, this line was great (and exactly right!):

"They're the obnoxious Americans who travel abroad and then complain about the food, the hotels, the crappy old cities."

monkeyrotica said...

You'd never find this sort of attitude IN AUSTRALIA.

Karen Sommer Shalett said...

We are a sensitive lot. Thanks so much for all your comments. We love to hear that you are reading DC mag--no matter what feedback it generates.

Having hired Mimi to write the piece, I know that her tone was intentionally self-mocking--not critical of DC, but of NYC. Do you think anyone really wants to be barked at while getting a sandwich? Even New Yorkers don't really find that charming.

She also has begun a deep love affair with the city for all of its best qualities--the headiness of being engaged in a political debate, the abundance of civic minded people here, and the energy of all who partake in making the city an exciting place to live--including all of you.

Now, I have to ask. How many of you have never chided DC's lack of style, maybe not in your neighborhood, but on Cap Hill or Potomac or elsewhere? How many transients haven't romanticized the things that you hated at home when feeling a tad homesick--or juxtasposed them with your new surroundings to validate your decision to leave?

Mimi is hardly vapid. She is excited and exciting. Has a great deal of depth and is already investing in the city we love. But please, keep reading and please continue to let us know how you feel. We are always looking to know when we touch a nerve. Best, Karen Sommer Shalett, editor-in-chief, DC Magazine

Mr. 14th & You said...

Karen, thank you for taking the time to comment here. I truly appreciate the time you spent responding to my post and everyone's comments--however, seems that you're not really grasping why people have responded the way that they did to Mimi's ill-informed op-ed. "Sensitive" isn't exactly the word I would choose to describe it--it's more of a tiredness of seeing people like Mimi move to this city and attempt to turn it into something it is not.

Mimi's developing "deep love affair with the city" comes across as little more than a shallow, empty curiosity into what life is like outside of the snowglobe that is Manhattan. Her musings on the fashion sense of Washingtonians, her bemusement at the reserved nature of its citizenry, and her near-childlike wonder at its cultural institutions smack of the writings of someone who finds herself genuinely surprised that there are lives to be led outside of Soho's shops and Chelsea's galleries.

She may be excited to be here, but she will quickly find--if she has not already--that people will not find her to be "exciting" simply because she wears shoes that she paid too much for to her parent-teacher conferences. This is DC after all, and we just don't have the fashion sense.

Anonymous said...

As a fairly recent transplant from Manhattan, I will admit that I have found myself complaining about DC far more than I expected. But, what I find surprising is the down-right hostility and eye rolling I get from people in DC before I get a word past "I just moved here from NY". It's not as though I always lived in Manhattan. I think it's just that if you take in all that Manhattan has to offer-- I don't mean the snobbery, high fashion, vapid-life you perceive is NYC-- but, the great art, music, fantastic food (at all prices); then DC can seem quite small. DC has a lot to offer and I am finding it, but it is a hard, slow adjustment. Women as vapid as Mimi are annoying in NYC, too. Be a bit friendlier. NYC is mean to everyone, equally. I expect better out of Washingtonians.

Tim said...

Ha. I just read this today, and I really like it. Well done.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has had quite a few interactions with Mimi I completely agree with the responses here of her been vapid and completely self-absorbed. In her own words she said that their family had agreed to slum it in DC for the greater good of the country for her husband to do his civic duty by serving at the SEC at Obama's request. She had me completely snowed at first but after a couple conversations I could see right through her after catching her in some outright lies. The only redeeming thing about Mimi's move to DC is that they kept the house in the Hamptons and DC is safe for the summer while they are gone.