Buttery Rebuttal (from the U.W.S.)

by Theodore Barrow

Your response to my point has set the tone of the dialogue between the two of us: breezy and sugar-coated yet mordant and vicious. Not unlike a molasses-covered glob of feces shat from the fiery sphincter of Cerberus, the three-headed hound of the Upper East Side. You are a worthy adversary, despite your blue-blood, and your argument, albeit fallacious, was a pleasure to read in its frivolity.

Nonetheless, your words do smite, not in the sense that they bear any semblance to what I and most sane New Yorkers consider to be self-evident truth, but because, feeble as your attempt is, you besmirch my beloved berg, and that I will NOT stand for. No, madame, I do not abide wanton and haphazard insults flung across my dear (Central) Park, insults whose empty meaning bespeaks nothing more than the folly of idle privilege. You see, while we Upper West Siders may revel in watching the sun set over the Hudson river, submerging its golden light behind the grillade of bucolic boughs of Riverside park, enjoying our picnic baskets from Zabar’s, we do not take such insults lightly. As one of our many accolades said in his ode to the (soon to be) Upper West Side, “We prefer to fight you more like a man, and beat you down, with our hands, and body slam you in the Wild Wild West”.

Be that as it may, I will show you the meaning of delicacy and restraint, if not to say modesty. You see, although I’m quite certain that the Upper West Side could beat up the Upper East Side, (who would really win in a fist fight, Jon McEnroe or Brooke Astor?) I choose to take the high road, as is the intellectual tradition of our neighborhood, and keep this beef verbal.Oh, how so like an Upper East Sider to at once try and hoard, not to mention take credit for, all of the perks of New York, while at the same time bragging about how rich they are. Real classy. My adversary quotes the following passage in Wikipedia:

The Upper West Side is often characterized as more intellectual and creative, in contrast to the old money and conservative values of the Upper East Side, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the United States.”

While this may happen to be true, just this once, I do not think that bolstering one’s argument with references from Wikipedia is a very strong defense. I cite the example of the New Yorker running an article on Wikipedia in July of this year, in which one of their sources, purportedly a tenured professor of religion at a private university turned out to be nothing more than a degree-less 24 year old named Ryan Jordan. Is this really where you want to be getting your information? For all I know, you could have been the one to add The Met to the Upper East Side’s list of cultural attractions. There is nothing dependable about citing Wikipedia, and if I really wanted to play dirty, I’d go and edit the Wikipedia page for the Upper West Side, but that would not fit in with the “more intellectual and creative” nature of my Western comrades.

Instead, I will throw another quote back at you: “they [UWSiders] represented new money who thumbed their collective noses at established society. Who needed Mrs. Astor anyway? They [WE] created their [OUR] own society, and in the process set a nonconforming tradition on the West Side that continued for many years” (Kisseloff, You Must Remember This, p. 147).

You know what that means? We don’t need you guys. And why would we, anyway? While we may have come from new money, this was new money begot by hard work, sweat, and toil, and not the exploitation (read: Carnegie’s massacre of striking miners) of, say, mining interests in Pennsylvania. No, we are a neighborhood of artists and musicians, doctors and lawyers, Jews and lapsed Jews, and we don’t have any need for the moldy gentility of the east side of 5th Avenue. Like I said before, we’re just fine with our park and our museum, thanks.

My East Side opponent attempts to extend, somewhat laterally, her argument, with a quibble over semantics: “East Side and West Side are geographical designations. They extend so far up and down Manhattan that there is no consistent cultural common ground between them. However, The Upper East Side and The Upper West Side are neighborhoods.” While I do know the difference between geographical designations and neighborhoods, I also recognize, something that she fails to do, the fact that “The Upper East Side” and “THE UPPER (case) WEST SIDE” represent collective neighborhoods. On the East side, you have 3 zip codes, 10021, 10028, and 10029. You have neighborhoods like Carnegie Hill, Yorkville, um, Museum Mile (with the exception of one museum). Over here on the West, we have Lincoln Center, Upper West Side Proper, Higher Upper West Side Proper (above 96th Street) and Morningside Heights, not to mention the Eastern Upper West Side, which of course includes that afforementioned lush bit of greenery and culture between Central Park West and 5th Avenue. You see? While it may seem like the Upper East Side and Upper West Side are designations of neighborhoods themselves, they designate the area, as in land mass, where the Upper Eastern and Upper Western neighborhoods can be found. “Side”, I assume, refers to “Side of 5th Avenue”. I need not back this up with any more substantial evidence, because it’s pretty much a no-brainer. Both neighborhoods span 7 avenues on either side of 5th Ave, ours just happens to include some prime real-estate for lounging in the grass and furthering your cultural knowledge. That’s the cultural common ground. What do you want me to say? Tough shit, richies.

What I find to be most irksome about this argument is the simple, unabashed gall of your neighborhood to even try and claim Central Park and the Met. What’s wrong, don’t you have enough already? What, you’re not happy with the Frick, The Jewish Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, the Barbour by Peter Elliot Store, The Whitney, and the Guggenheim? What do you want the Met for too, you little effrontery-filled spoiled brats? It’s bad enough that we let all you philanthropists unload the masterpieces that you looted from impoverished European countries during the 19th century in our Museum. We’re still paying for that. If some greedy Upper East Sider hadn’t carelessly bought the Euphronious crater without properly doing provenance research, we wouldn’t have to be returning it now. But no, here we are, having to show our asses to the world, covering for you, and you don’t even have the decency to be grateful.

What’s next? You want the Dakota? The Beresford? Oh, how ’bout we just give you St. John the Divine, would that make you happy? I don’t think so. You see, there’s these little things called “common sense” and “geography” that support our claim to the Met and Central Park, and that, my opulent silver-spoon-fed blue-blooded neighbors across 5th Avenue, is something that money can’t buy.

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