Firstly let me say that I have a keen fondness for Margot Robbie, star of the TV show Pan Am. She’s become that rarefied creature, manufactured only in committed relationships: the couple crush. That is to say that both my girlfriend and I appreciate her acting, looks and coolness. The girl lives in Brooklyn and likes to bike ride–a woman after our collective heart.
High in a clock tower in DUMBO, Robbie takes a tour of the Esquire magazine “apartment”–a place so swank it makes the Taj Mahal look like a trailer. Indeed with touch responsive audio/visual cloth, a grand piano, clear glass staircase, clear glass elevator, four floors, a roof deck, a gym, four or five living rooms and a kitchen bigger than your office it’s coolness flies off the page like a Shaolin monk’s roundhouse.
Margot (we’re on a first name basis) takes us on a tour of this unbelievable home. The camera dutifully follows her as she oohs and ahhs her way through the walk in closets and plush couches. As she reflects on how cool the views and the apartment are she utters a cliche common to transplants to our fair city: “New York is just so cool.”
Right you are Margot, right you are. But only for some.
The sort of opulence with which the city has become synonymous is accessible only to a small few. The rich, the famous, the industry people–these are they who gain access to places like the Esquire loft, the many beautifully designed clubs and restaurants that are the subject of magazine features. The rest of the city are much more familiar with food trucks and their local happy hour schedule.
Margot and the Esquire staff give us a tour of one of the most stylish and rarefied pieces of architecture in the world. For that, I say thanks. But I can’t help but wonder about what it means to live in a place and be unable to share in it’s defining characteristics.
New York was once a filthy place, inhabited only by those unfortunate enough to stagnate in the bog of the lower east side after arrival to the nation. It evolved to become a cultural capital in the 60s, then a slum in the 70s and 80s as the city grew and expanded. The 90s saw some improvements to quality of life, but moreover the identity of the city was one of edgy counterculture living next to commerce. To truly participate in the character of the city was easy, as the character of the city was defined by experiences shared by all. These days, not so much.
Now, the city has achieved a level of economic success so pervasive that it’s identity has changed again. And it’s hard, as a native not to feel as though it’s gotten (to borrow a phrase from every snubbed teenaged boy on earth) too good for me.