INCLUDING THE $1000 Gas Guzzler Tax, my new 2005 Jaguar XKR lists at $87,995. Convertible,
of course. I hate being in debt, so I’ll probably just buy it outright. The garage will run a few hundred
each month—plus a “tip” for the night crew—and then there’s insurance… Hell,
what’s a year of insurance cost for a $90K car these days? A few grand? Whatever. My accountant will
mind the details.
The supercharged v-8 isn’t as cool as the old v-12s, but it’s got a nice kick
with 399 pounds of torque paired with a six-speed transmission. I’ll get a better-than-expected
16/23 mileage, but that still means a couple hundred for gas each weekend. Drop 90 grand on a car,
you better use the fucking thing.
The quad tail-pipe finishers come standard, and they do indeed give
the car “more visual ‘muscle'” (as the brochure promises). A quick search online yields a set of
slammin’ six-spoke, 20-inch spinners that look like flames. They’ll run another $400 each, but
if anything’s going to get me laid—it’s the spinners…
Such are the daydreams of a New York Press editor, perched high
above the city in the fourteenth floor of a bland office building in north Chelsea. The come-down
from assembling this year’s Best of Manhattan is clearly kicking in; I’m thankful for the sunny
day. Were it dreary and raining, I might be tempted to imitate an NYU student.
Growing up, a lot of kids I knew lusted after new sports cars. As the middle-class-suburban
son of a gearhead dad, my tastes swung backward, toward muscle cars. My first ride was a ’68 Mustang
(straight-six 200—yeah, what a shame), and my retirement cars are still a ’63 Falcon convertible
on the low-end, a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 on the high.
Point being: Even with sufficient means, I’ll never own a Jaguar. My
daydreaming of the new XKR convertible is actually less dreaming than it is pondering the implications
of a different life lived. I could be in a position to buy a Jag, I imagine, just as I could have a beautiful but bland wife, a fat mortgage and a few yelling, screaming brats to call my own.
I’d be chubby and bald—but I’d be picking up a sick new whip this weekend.
And thus I realize: Reading about six-figure autos on the morning of
the closing of our biggest issue isn’t proof of a spiteful god. Just the opposite.
Within these pages, you’ll find New York City at its best and worst. When
discussing the best, we traffic in the accessible: There are no $5000 dinners, there are no exotic
cruises or diamond earrings set in platinum or designer suits that would look good only inside a
Jaguar. Instead, there are chicken sandwiches served from behind bullet-proof glass. There’s
a cheap getaway to an island in Belize. There’s used photo equipment. There’s a source for a cheap
tuxedo when your high-minded friend insists on a black-tie wedding.
We offer tips on some nice baubles and indulgences, yes, but they’re
reasonable splurges—not objects of lust intended to make you feel inferior to the monied
label-whores who arrived during the dotcom days and never left.
As for New York City at its worst, we’ve done what we do best: identify
the disingenuous, the fraudulent, the arrogant, the lazy.
We don’t claim to be comprehensive, just wide-ranging. We combed the
island and the boroughs, we went uptown and underground, we revisited old friends and made new enemies.
More than anything else, though, we tried to make this year’s issue lively.
Credit Where It’s Due
The incredible Nathan Tabor did a bang-up job with the inside illustrations.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nick Bilton did a bang-up job with the cover and opening illustrations.
He can be reached while shopping at the Express men’s department, where he’s dolling himself up
for his new bosses at the New York Times. (By the way, congratulations, Nick!)
The following writers and artists contributed to this year’s Best of
Manhattan: Laurel Angrist, Saul Austerlitz, Andy Baker, Ernest Barteldes, Lionel Beehner, Joshua
M. Bernstein, Jennifer Blowdryer, Christopher X. Brodeur, Adam Burchard, Alan Cabal, Matt Caserta,
Kate Crane, Mara F. Hvistendahl, Matthew Fisher, Emily Flake, Fredo, David Freeland, Gabriella
Gershenson, Max Gross, Ron Grunberg and the clients of Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services
Corporation, Tim Hall, Danny Hellman, Philip Henken, Melissa Hughes, Morgan Intrieri, Priya
Jain, Howard Kaplan, Mary Karam, Matt Kelly, Jim Knipfel, Wendi Koontz, Jeff Koyen, Brooke Lockyer,
Aaron Lovell, Don MacLeod, Michael Manville, Dan Martino, Judy McGuire, Jennifer Merin, Hector
Meza, Ken Mondschein, Pat Moriarity, Julia Morton, Tom O’Connell, Norman Oder, Steven Psyllos,
Tanya Richardson, Jill Ruchala, Alex Schweitzer, Sarah Shanok, Steve Silver, Russ Smith, Jason
Stahl, C.J. Sullivan, George Tabb, J.R. Taylor, Stacy Tiderington, Toby Van Buren, Ned Vizzini,
Spike Vrusho, Jessica Wakeman, Andy Wang, Mike Wartella, Wayno, Steven Weinstein, Armond White,
Mickey Z, Alexander Zaitchik.
Special thanks go out to Lionel Beehner and the research crew: Laurel
Angrist, Simon Cohn, Andrew Edwards, Shaina Feinberg, Priya Jain, Aaron Lovell, Ilya Malinsky,
Tanya Richardson, Caroline Rudelt and Stacy Tiderington.