Sunday, June 27, 2010

Miami, je t'aime

I haven't written on Miami, bro in a bit since I've been busy establishing a new website, The Heat Lightning, which I encourage you to read and enjoy. However, I wanted to address something someone said to me recently, and I thought this was the best place to bitch.

I was asked a question by a fairly recent Miami to New York transplant regarding my living situation. Out at a bar, the inquiry went something like this: "you're an intelligent person, can I ask you a question?" (Of course!, says me) "Why do you stay in Miami?"

I was sort of shocked, as anyone would be. It's like asking someone one of these questions: you're pretty, why do you have such short hair? You're not poor, why do drive a P.O.S. car? You're not a douchebag, so why do you live in Brooklyn? Doesn't the original question assume that no one intelligent stays in Miami? Are all the people who work, reproduce, grow old, fall in love, take jobs here, are all of them retards? Do they have no common sense? What's wrong with you? With me?

I answered kindly, since I am kind. Miami has a great burgeoning art scene, it's relaxing to live here, it's beautiful here... After a minute, I noted that living in New York was stressful for me, I felt always at the bottom of some pile of people who look better on paper. Since I'm honest, and honestly a bitch, I also I made sure to mention that New York isn't that cool anymore. It's not that edgy, and all in all, it's not for me.

It's hard to be nice when someone questions your life choices. It somewhat assumes theirs are the wisest. I believe that I live a way more interesting life in Miami than I would if I were running from the Subway to work to the bodega to the "next great" band concert to home to back again. I don't want to dis on New York. I love my New York friends, I love eating there, being there for a few days, but it's a hard lifestyle. You get to see your friends once a week if you're lucky. In Miami, I get to see my friends every single day of the week. You see more buildings that animals or plants. That was hard for me living in Manhattan or Brooklyn. It was isolating, and it's difficult to feel isolated, for me at least.

Today, I spent the most lovely day at the beach. The water was just warm enough, the sun and clouds were just so that everything looked clearer out there. The Atlantic's hues were more defined than usual. If I could take this day and pass it around, I feel it would be a lot less intelligent to leave Miami than to stay here. Everyone's priorities are different and it's not that I am completely without ambition. I just don't think New York's THE place to be. Tell me you're moving to Beirut and I'm impressed, but New York, here, please, take my yawn.

A few years ago, one of my best girl friends, who doesn't live in Miami, was casually discussing people, specifically what makes people interesting. And it was what they do, you know, what they're doing. It's not interesting just to live in an "interesting" place, but what you do in that place where you live that is impressive. Anyway, I think every place is interesting in its own way. Adventure is interesting. So are people who follow the unusual, who uncover new desires by following old ones. Those who move to Moab to collect rocks, live in a trailer in New Mexico making art, learn to drum in Morocco.

I am interested in enjoying that bit of life that's been given to me in a way that is peaceful and enriching through the senses in reference to the intellect. Smart people are pretty easy to come by and they are unimpressive if they're not good, giving, and growing. People living in New York are plentiful, but people living in New York that are rabidly interesting are equal in number to those living elsewhere the world that are as well. Maybe I seem like a slacker or complacent because I live here, but I love it here. It's not that I wouldn't move again, because I might, but while I'm here, I'm going to suck all the wonder from it. J'aime Miami, bro.


krylonultraflat said...

Liz -

First and foremost I'd argue this is EXACTLY the sort of thing that should be on Heat Lightning even though I know you and Alesh are taking a different editorial tack than your hyperlocal hyperpersonal blogs of yore. Also on first reading it pissed me off, and we all know that the easy path to recognition in the blogosphere is getting people angry – just ask the jerks from Stuck On The Palmetto.

Anyway, I didn't realize the question offended you this much and I sincerely apologize. Maybe a better way of phrasing it would have been “Liz, I have lived here a very large portion of my life and every halfway intellectual person I have ever known here has eventually thrown their arms up and fled, whether they were born here or were transplants. Despite this you seriously enjoy yourself here and thrive. Why would you say this is the case?” However I was drunk, and the question apparently came out the same way it did when my friend asked an overweight woman at a bar if she was pregnant.

I asked you the question above because I've never fully understood it – you and I have both been witness to many people leaving this city for many reasons all involving some level of disgust (albeit much less frequently now than they used to). Frankly you don't do an adequate job above of explaining the city's appeal for anyone but yourself. However the magic you're describing now has been gone for me since I was 22. Not fading, not faded – gone. Maybe not working every weekend and not working a job I hated would have brought some of it back or maybe I'm getting to be too much of a cynic to feel magic, but to be honest I'd been trying to make the city work for me as an adult for over 2 years and I think it was about time to hang it up. Also I'd written just about everything I could about palm trees and adolescence that I could. No matter what a change of scenery was necessary and New York just happened to be the easiest place to do it. Yes, having a very strong friend base and pursuing a career in a well represented field constitute “easy”, even in the most overpriced city in the country.

For your information I don't feel like I'm finding anything magical up here now either – I'm just finding something different. But that's great though as difference is exactly what I was looking for and feel like I should be looking for. If I'm still here in 5 years I'll be surprised but if I'm back in Miami then I'll be even more surprised. Also in the past few weeks I've seen a ton of old friends and done a lot of things I've truly enjoyed. I haven't yet had reason to seriously complain about anything.

The last thing I want to do is turn my nose up at Miami or (jesus motherfucking christ!) you. You seemed to take my leaving intensely personally even before the conversation outlined above and I have absolutely no idea why. In the grand scheme of things it's not really my problem if my leaving upset you nor do I have to validate my decisions to you or anyone else, but I can't say it didn't hurt my feelings then and, thanks to this post, continues to hurt them now. It wasn't until now though that I'd realized I'd hurt your feelings as well and again I feel the need to apologize.

In closing: girls with short hair are hot. You suggesting otherwise is the only truly offensive part of this entry.

Believe it or not much love,

p.s. I have been working on an extended rant on Miami for quite some time now (or was working before my computer ate it, hence why I haven't gone back to it in a while). Maybe I should just go ahead and rewrite the damn thing already?

Rick said...

Also on first reading it pissed me off, and we all know that the easy path to recognition in the blogosphere is getting people angry – just ask the jerks from Stuck On The Palmetto.

I resent this statement. Me and Alex worked very hard at getting people was not easy.

But thanks for the mention.


Anonymous said...

"Frankly you don't do an adequate job above of explaining the city's appeal for anyone but yourself."

John- Why should Liz have to explain the appeal to someone other than in reference to herself? The question was directed towards her as to why SHE lives here, not why should someone else live in Miami. She isnt selling Miami to you nor anyone else.

Fortunately you have the same brain size as your friend who asked a fat lady if she was pregnant. Drunk or not.

C.Langley said...

Bravo Liz! I'm glad you brought this up. It's been a long time since being in contact with old friends from Miami, mostly because (almost) everyone's left the state! I've enjoyed South Florida all my life, despite all the typical complaints and stereotypes that make for such easy comedy routines ( and blog posts ( I've probably missed out on lots of levels by not having lived in NYC or Southern California or Paris or Tokyo for any number of years. That would have been nice, but it simply wasn't in my cards. With the oppressive heat, crazy mix of cultures, areas of beat-up streets and storefronts, and stories of abuse and meyhem (sarcastic "YAY!" for Channel 7), it's easy to not like Miami off the bat. Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons to absolutely LOVE Miami.

More to the point, it's easy for people to overlook the niceties and blame the city for their misery. I think that's why Miami natives tend to pack up and ship out so readily, seeking the inspiration of another place to call home. Whether it's New York for the artsy crowd, San Francisco for the geeky crowd, or Washington DC for would-be politicians, a different climate can be all it takes to stoke motivational fires. Maybe I just haven't yet fallen into my rut, or have otherwise needed to storm off the scene. I have, admittedly, moved out of Miami for some time, but only an hour North where I settled in for college. Although home is definitely NOT Miami by any stretch, I still enjoy visiting, and even (gasp!) driving through the sprawling city for the occasional visit. In any case, I love being one of the few natives to still call South Florida home.
Go Fins!

Amanda said...

Soulja Liz, TELL 'EM! I love this, you really nailed it.

I think it's a good idea to leave the city you were raised in - it's an excellent way to expand your world/life/etc... But it isn't the only way to be an interesting or intelligent person and I think people who condescend along those lines are missing the point in a big way.

I always complain about Miami. I kind of hate it here sometimes - it's too hot and I sunburn too easily, there's too much traffic and no public transit, all those same old songs and more, so many, many more.

But if you ask me it's the people who lean on what might be an (admittedly!) enviable zip code to construct themselves a personality who must be, in some sense, kidding.

Anonymous said...

as a Miamian in New York, who cares? Miami will always be home and New York is where my life happen to goes on, at least for now. Everyone has different reasons for leaving and staying, but personally Art Walk and Art Basel got a little tiring after the first few dozen times. I can make cafesito at home, and get pastelitos in Jersey or Queens if I'd ever crave one. There are plenty of freaks here as there are on calle ocho and south beach. But one thing that New York definitely beats Miami at is hispters! Come on Miami, you try so hard to be skinny jean wearing, neon loving, over-sized sunglassed, bike riding, art gallery hopping, organic-eating hipsters just as hard as NYC, but you still don't come close to Brooklyn. And to the last person, move to NYC for the artsy crowd?! Thats all Miami has been striving to be for the past 10 years! And believe me, there's nothing artsy about my Dominican & Puertorican neighbors. Wait, how'd this turn into a rant??? Oh yea, I guess my point is its all the same bologna. However, For some reason though its much easier to get a job in New York (and get paid what you actually deserve) and get practically free health care, not having to wait 20 hrs straight at Jackson Memorial Hospital. One I'll move back to Miami and live in the Gables or at D Place and frequent the same local bars and not drive a car, get some benefits working part-time at Starbucks, and be virtually worry free. I think for those of us who lived deep in Kendall and worked a shitty 9-5 that had nothing to do with your major, dealt with Turnpike & Palmetto traffic, high car & health insurance, then Miami would be a completely different experience than Liz paints.
Do miss the beaches though...

Josh said...

Fuck New York.

EAT said...

Dear John, I'm sorry that this post wasn't about you. Don't be embarrassed about that though. We all make late night mistakes.

You're allowed your time in New York. Enjoy it. Eat at Zum Schneider for me. BTW, I am a recovering short-haired female - I would never dis on one of those chicks, ever. Was just making a point that people do.

C.Langley - is that Christian Langley?! Don't get me excited! Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

High five, Amanda

ANON 1 - True!

ANON 2 - You make some really good points, and not just about the hipsters and art walk, both about which I have mixed feelings. You can live well or shittily anywhere. And living shittily in Miami really SUCKS. I've done it. I'm just happy there's an opportunity for me to live well enough here for now.

lila said...

So, I should preface my comment by first stating that I am a Miamian who has been living in New York for one year now. My point isn't to convince you its better or worse than Miami. NYC is definitely not for everyone and we can all agree the quality of life in Miami is higher in many regards. I love Miami and miss it at times- but, you sound so bitter towards the Big Apple in your post- some of the claims you make about NY don't even make sense to me.

1) We actually hang out here a lot as well- Maybe not everyday but the difference is we have more options about where we choose to hang... and we don't hang out in parking lots or the same 3 bars

2) "You see more buildings than animals or plants"... ok, for sure. But there are a shitload of parks that New Yorkers enjoy flock to during the warmer months. ALSO, in the last year alone I have taken many short trips (the equivalent of my former commute in Miami) and found myself in mountains, vineyards, national parks, beaches- and even other major cities. Anyone with $20 for a Bolt bus or a zip car membership along with some motivation can explore way more than Miamians, who cannot enjoy a true change of scenery for at least the 12+ hour drive out of the state. That, to me, is terribly "isolating".

3) Finally, I want to say that I now realize how easy I had it in Miami, "relaxing"- but in a sense that can also be disabling. Why ever strive for more when the livin' is easy? My first year here has been a boot camp of sorts and not at all easy- but that challenge has been rewarding and humbling. Again- this isn't for everyone and the last thing I want to imply is that my Miami friends are provincial little souls with no ambition- to each his own. But I want to respectfully challenge your statements about NYC. Living here definitely ain't the same as learning to drum in Morocco but we got tons of Moroccans drumming downtown.

EAT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EAT said...

Mad love to you, Lila, but here's the thing...
(it's late)
I'm not the only person who feels that living in New York is overrated. My best friend who now lives in London, and who spent almost 3 years in NY, feels the same way. He wouldn't live in Miami either though. It's not a Miami vs. NY thing, it's just that there are many people who get turned off by living in NY, mostly realizing how they feel after they've left.

As a young kid, I grew up outside of NYC, and over the years returned quite regularly. I remember always wanting to move to Manhattan, always building it up in my mind. I enjoyed many things about living there, made amazing friends, and some of my favorite people still live there. I just know now that it's not the only place in America where things happen.

Also, If I need to, I can go anytime to NY, just like you can take the Chinatown bus to Boston anytime. Like that, cause there's airplanes. I can get to my brother's front door in DC in 3 hours, from right here in downtown MIA. We're far from the rest of America and that sucks. Of course that sucks!

I'm older now, and yes, I've spent many years frequenting the same downtown Miami bars - I also spent time on Miami Beach and in South Miami. Do I feel limited? In many ways, YES, I definitely do, but not because of the shitty bar selection - we have a fuckton more bars in Miami than most cities! I feel limited more because we don't get movies or shows here that I would love to see. I do miss that, but it's a trade off. I mean, when my best friend tells me all the amazing shit he's doing in London, it's envy-making. Of course it's got better shit to do than Miami, but, that's not where I live. There's stuff for me to do here still (like blog about stuff and make people dislike me).

When I lived in New York, with a full time job trying to meet up with friends who had full time jobs, it was very difficult. It was hard to trek across town after waiting forever for the afternoon train that never comes. Also, I hate to say it, but I'm gonna: a lot of the time, people go to New York from Miami and hang out with Miami people they wouldn't have been friends with here. I can't say I did that entirely. But, it's always made me wonder: why move there to hang out with people from here? It's an obnoxious question, yes, but there it is. Make a few new hot guy friends and invite them home down south with ya.

Any place you live can be stifling or limiting. I once temped with a woman in New York who grew up in the Bronx and worked on Wall Street. She asked me where I was living, and I told her Williamsburg, because that was where I was staying. Her response was, "isn't that in Virginia?!!!"

Sure, there's a lot of everything in New York. But there's a Luxor in Vegas, too. My goal isn't to watch some immigrants play Peruvian tunes on their flutes in Union Square (please don't tell me that's what Marco's doing now). So much becomes watered down in a big city like NY or Chicago, it becomes like a theme park in many ways, generic.
This is my opinion, but I'd rather live here, by the beach, write some shitty shit on the web, and when I get the opportunity, get my ass to Machu Picchu and hear them flutes in the mountains.

I wouldn't say I'm bitter at the city. I'm just short-tempered with it, disillusioned by it. I think it's great you've found it to be a place you like living, I think it'd be great if you liked Boise though, too - I'd visit you there 4sho (get that pull out ready!). I wrote this more to vent about the presumption that because I'm not a total loser, that Miami's not the place for me. I've left before and will again, but not because this is a place for lamebrains or b/c NY is for winners. Like I said, there are good people here and good people there. Good is good, anywhere. (Like that? It's a song I wrote.)

lila said...

When I moved to London in good old 2004, I couldn't afford it and ended up having the time of my life in, randomly, Glasgow. Still look back on that time often. So underneath all the internet banter, I get you. Bigger isn't always better. ANYWAY, I'll actually be in your area code this weekend so we can arm wrestle this out or something. <3

EAT said...

I would love to see you this weekend!
We could bro this out. Bro.

Anonymous said...

I just left NYC (lived in Brklyn, worked in Manhat) after 4 years, I grew up in LA, and lived in CHI for a bit. glad to be in MIA. Wanted to see if anyone else had to defend their city choice, and its intellectual presence. I am with you completely! Though variables may differ slightly, it really is pretty simple. Can I be your friend!? Seriously! haha thanks for affirmations.

Bruno Padron said... stinks of smart in here.

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