Tag Archives: New York

19 Important Differences Between Long Islanders And New Yorkers


1. Long Islanders are better at basketball.

2. Long Islanders root for the New York Islanders. New Yorkers wait until playoffs, and if the Rangers make the playoffs, then they root for the New York Rangers.

3. New Yorkers think they’re eating the best pizza and bagels in the world. Long Islanders actually have the best pizza and bagels in the world. And Chinese food. And gyros.

4. Long Islanders and New Yorkers alike head east every summer to enjoy a hot day at Splish Splash water park out in Riverhead, but you can always tell which ones are the New Yorkers: they run around barefooted. Long Islanders always wear flip-flops.

Read the rest at Thought Catalog.

I was born and raised on Long Island

I grew up on Long Island, and like everybody else that grew up on Long Island, I feel like I developed this natural chip on my shoulder. It’s nothing that any of us did on purpose, it just happens automatically. I remember one of my friends from grade school had a cousin that lived two towns over. “Man, I hate Long Island kids,” he always used to say. And I didn’t get it. “What are you talking about?”


“I’m from Queens.” And that was it, I don’t think he really knew what that meant either, but I was left to sort of figure things out for myself. And I’m not even kidding you, I remember being in like fourth or fifth grade and finally looking at a map. And it was Long Island, my town somewhere in the middle, and Brooklyn and Queens clearly a part of the same geographical landmass.

And then my grandfather explained it to me, the boroughs, how New York City is more than just Manhattan. But cut it any way you want to, Long Island isn’t New York City. It’s Nassau County, that’s where I grew up, and Suffolk County farther east. And you’d never really think it makes too much of a difference. I mean, I grew up in the suburbs, I’m not trying to make my upbringing something that it’s not.

But why am I writing this, why am I trying to justify myself anyway? It’s what I’ve been conditioned to do. When I went away to college, I found out the hard way that I couldn’t just say I was from New York the same way some guy from the suburbs of Cleveland gets to say that he’s from Cleveland. Because any time that question comes up, wherever I am in the world, it doesn’t matter, there’s always going to be at least one or two real New Yorkers ready to put me in my place, to out New York me.

If you’re from Long Island, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and it’s really annoying. “Oh, you’re from New York?” the real New Yorker will cut you off, “What part? I’m from (insert New York City neighborhood here), born and raised.” Notice how they don’t even give you a chance to give an answer before throwing their origin story in your face.

Also notice the phrase “born and raised.” You’ll hear it a lot from people who grew up in the city. They must teach it at all the public schools. “OK class, if you ever hear anybody from Long Island trying to say that they’re from New York, make sure that you let them know where you were born and raised.”

I lived in Ecuador for two years and I couldn’t escape it. I met several expats who, after hearing me drop the NY, they’d kind of just appear, get in my face. “Where? Long Island? That’s not really New York.” I swear, I’d been living in Queens for two years before I went abroad, and I still felt pressured to display my bona fides, all while this guy from Staten Island and some girl from Brooklyn shook their heads at me in disapproval. “I’ve never even been to Long Island,” some lady from Manhattan once boasted to me. And I had to just stand there and smile and try not to get into a screaming match with a random stranger. Because really? That’s something to brag about? That you’re born on a tiny island and you’ve never once made the trip to the slightly bigger tiny island that exists fifteen minutes to the east?

Over the course of many years of bullshit New York conversation, I’d try to make the argument that, outside of Manhattan anyway, a lot of the outer boroughs are pretty much identical to suburban Long Island. But whatever, I’m not trying to defend myself, or Long Island. Long Island shouldn’t have to defend itself from New York City. One, it’s not fair, because a lot of Long Island towns are bigger than actual cities across the US. And two, who cares? For real? Who gives a shit? Why don’t you pick on Westchester? Huh? What, making fun of Jersey isn’t good enough for you? You have to take a dump on Long Island? By the way, don’t bother explaining where the Hamptons are. If you’re getting bent out of shape because of a conversation with someone who grew up in New York and vacations in the Hamptons, just leave, just do yourself a favor and make sure you never talk to that person again.

And for real here, a lot of the stuff that New York is famous for is better on Long Island. I’m talking pizza and bagels. New York City staples, right? Yeah, well they’re both better on Long Island. Go ahead and deny it. Start throwing down the names of all of those world-class New York pizzerias you found on a BuzzFeed list while you should have been working. Sure, maybe there’s like one or two city pizza places or bagel shops that do a really good job, but in terms of consistent quality at basically every location, Long Island has NYC beat nine times out of ten.

That’s basically it. If you’re one of those real New Yorkers, do me a favor, and just save it, OK? I don’t care where you were born and raised, and nobody else does either. There’s no trophy. And you sound like an idiot. Also, if you ever say “Strong Island” to me like you think you’re making fun of me, or that I’m going to get upset, you’re not, and I’m not. In fact, I take it is a compliment.

This article was originally published at Thought Catalog.

Sheena is a punk rocker

Sheena is a punk rocker. Sheena didn’t want to go to college because she wanted to move out to Chicago with her punk rock boyfriend. His name was Steel and he was in a punk rock band called Glamalglamate. She was in her own punk rock band here in New York called the She-He-Hulks, but they’d only had like two shows together, really basic sort of opening acts, and when she was really honest with herself, she knew it wasn’t going anywhere, the guitarist hadn’t returned anybody’s calls in over a month.


Sheena wanted to start a new punk rock band in Chicago, she had this idea that they’d call themselves the Punk-15, inspired by an obscure lyric from a random Bad Religion song. When she came up with the name, she almost got a little dizzy from the rush of creative potential, but when she told Steel about it, it wasn’t like he was discouraging or anything, but she could tell that he didn’t get it, and he was one of the most punk rock guys she knew, so if he didn’t get it, would the greater Chicago punk community get it? Because even though you’re not supposed to get it right away, you’re supposed to get it eventually, right?

Sheena got upset with Steel when he flatly said, “No way,” when she asked if she could maybe join Glamalgamate. They already had a somewhat impressive following, somewhat impressive for an underground Chicago post-punk band.

“We’re a post-punk band now,” Steel cut her off one time when they were out at the bowling alley and she was trying to tell some punk rockers four lanes down about Glamalgamate. “What does that even mean?” she wanted to ask, but she was glad that she didn’t, because everybody on lane sixteen just kind of nodded along knowingly.

Sheena is a post-punk rocker. “But seriously, why can’t I at least fill in for you guys once in a while?” That was Sheena and Steel fighting about the band again. Glamalgamate’s lead singer Larry had gotten really annoyed at their last show when Sheena showed up with a tambourine. Everybody was a little annoyed, but only Larry really made it obvious, which was, whatever, it’s not like she tried to get on stage or anything.

But yeah, Steel and Sheena had a post-post-punk rock breakup. That is, he gave her like five days to call somebody back in New York, neither of them had enough money to send her back, and she refused to make the call, she was just crying and not leaving the apartment. So finally Steel got on the phone.

“Hello, Mr. Pangrowski?” she thought he was faking it, that no way would he have the balls to call her dad. But two minutes later it was like, “Yep. OK. Thanks. Bye.” Click. For just a second her heart stopped, like it was beating, beating, beating, and then click, and she swore she felt it stop. And that moment kind of lingered for a while, suspended, she actually felt a little relieved, like this wasn’t such a bad way to go, she wouldn’t have to get angry or cry or face her dad when he got to Chicago.

But then it started beating again right away and all of that blood skipped her cheeks and her ears and went straight to her tear ducts, which were already pumping out tears in overdrive, and so this only had the added effect of adding a weird level of physical pain to her incessant crying.

“Steel, come on,” she managed to get out in between sobs, all while he kind of just ignored her and started collecting all of her stuff, laundry mostly, laundry and various punk-rock memorabilia that she had schlepped over in her punk-rock backpack.

And on the drive back to New York she couldn’t even say anything, she just sat in the backseat, crying, now not even wanting cry. Before she wanted to cry because she wanted Steel to know that she was hurting. Even when her dad just kind grabbed her duffel bag and threw it in the back, those tears were helpful in communicating a non-verbal level of despair. But now, enough was enough, these tears just felt pathetic, really.

And it was a long drive back to New York, she hadn’t thought to maybe tweak her playlist a little bit, when that Ramones song came on, it was like a big joke, like the universe just pointing and laughing and spitting and kicking dust into the spit and spitting again and then punching and kicking and stomping and laughing.

“Sheena is. A punk rocker Shee – ee – na – ah is. A punk rocker yeah – ee – yeah – ee – yeah.

Cause she’s a – a punk punk. A punk rocker. A punk punk …”

My bike

Something like three or four years ago, I had a bike stolen in the city. I was always really good about chaining it up to wherever I chained it up to, I had a U shaped lock that went around the frame, and then I wrapped a flexible chord lock around the two wheels. Other than this one time where I came outside one day to find my seat missing, I never really had any sort of theft problems.


But then one day I rode my bike to work. By the time I left the building at around  six in the afternoon, it was pouring rain. And I mean, I’ll ride in a little rain, I live close to work, I have rain pants, it’s doable. But this day wasn’t doable. It was really coming down. I thought about it, I thought, should I take the bike down on the subway with me? I’ve done that before. It’s not that easy, but you’re allowed to, like, there’s no rules against it like there is on the PATH train or the Long Island Railroad.

But it’s a huge pain in the ass. You’ve got to carry your bicycle down a flight of stairs, and then you’ve got to put it down somewhere while you get your Metrocard out. After that it’s more stairs, and then you’re waiting on the platform, you and a giant bike, all while everybody else in the city is just trying to get home, just them and a bag, usually, not a lot of other bikes.

And think about it, it’s pouring rain, so everybody’s making a rush to the subway, there aren’t any cabs available, the system’s running a lot slower because of water leaking into the tunnels, because of people crowding the cars. That’s another thing, I’ll be waiting with my bike and a full train will roll into the station. If I were by myself, sure, I could push myself in there. But with a bike? It’s not happening. And everybody’s just getting more and more pissed at me, throwing a wrench into the system, making it hard for people just to walk around me.

I thought about it, I said, you know what? I’ll just leave it outside for the night. I’ll just pick it up in the morning. And you know, in retrospect, I can look at the whole situation and tell myself that even back then I had a bad feeling about it. But did I really have a bad feeling? I’m not so sure. That’s how I remember it now though, like I reluctantly left my bike to the fates, to fend for itself for the night. And this version of the story drives me crazy, because I always think, Rob, if you had a bad feeling about it, why would you go through with it? Why roll the dice?

Yeah, so you can imagine where this story’s going, right? I showed up in the morning and the bike was gone. And I just stood there for a while, I couldn’t believe someone had stolen my bike. I wanted answers, I wanted some sort of an outlet for my anger and disbelief. But there was nothing to be done, nobody to complain to, I just kind of stood there with my hands out, like I was pantomiming to the world, “Are you kidding me? Someone really stole my bike?”

And that bike was awesome. I mean, you wouldn’t know it just by looking at it. This thing wasn’t any sort of nice bike. I bought it on craigslist for seventy-five bucks, and right away I had to replace one of the tires, some brake pads, over the course of the next few months I probably dropped like another hundred, a hundred and fifty.

But it was more than just money. I bonded with this bicycle. As I made small hardware upgrades here and there, it came to feel like a part of me. Over an especially adventurous winter, I took the whole thing apart, sanded the frame, and gave it a brand new paint job. After two years or so, a lot of my identity was wrapped up in this piece of junk I kind of just happened upon on the Internet.

So when it got stolen, it was just this cold slap in the face, the world giving me a harsh reminder that I’m nothing, that the things that I care about aren’t necessarily important in the greater scheme of things. I tried to spin it into a whole life lesson, but no, part of me hardened that day. I’d eventually buy another bike, but a lot of the joy I got out of pedaling around town just wasn’t accessible to me anymore.

Which was why, a few months ago, I couldn’t believe it, I was in the passenger seat of my brother’s car when we stopped at a light. I looked to my right and, there it was, my bike. Sure, it looked a little more beat up, I mean, three or four years of city riding will do that to a bike. But aside from what looked like a new set of reflectors and maybe some new handlebars, that was my paint job, nobody could have done that exactly like I had, it was totally my bike.

So I just jumped out of the car and pushed this guy over, hard. And yeah, that was totally an overreaction, I get it. I mean, I didn’t think about it right away, but there was almost no chance that this guy was the dude who stole my bike. Whoever did it probably took it, cleaned it up a bit, and maybe sold it on craigslist. (Although, right after the original theft, I had spent hours for weeks, combing through the thousands of bikes available for sale online, hoping that my bike might have shown up, somewhere.)

And now here I was and this guy was on the ground, it looked like he was a delivery guy, and there were all of these take-out trays of rice and noodles spilling on the street next to him. The better part of me wanted to help him up and try my best to explain the situation, but a different part of me knew that, if I pursued that course of action, there would have been a good chance that I’d have to let him keep the bike.

So I just started pedaling. I didn’t even look back to tell my brother. I picked up the bike while that delivery guy lay there kind of stunned on the ground and I just took off. And this was kind of far away from my house, I was looking at like a two, two and a half hour ride back to my house.

The ride wasn’t the same as I had remembered it. In my mind, I had glorified this thing as some sort of a miracle machine. But after twenty minutes or so heading back to my house, I had to admit that, my newer bikes rode a lot better than this thing. I tried desperately to at least get some of that sentimental mojo going through my head, but again, aside from a really base lingering admiration of my paint job, there was nothing there, nothing that was strong enough to overcome the intense feelings of guilt that were starting to get even stronger as I really thought about what I did to that poor delivery guy.

I turned around and rode back to where I stole my bike back, hoping even though I knew that it was beyond unlikely, that he’d still be there, that I’d find him, apologize, pay for all of the food I ruined, give him the bike back. I didn’t really need it anymore, I had two more bikes back at my place.

But yeah, he was long gone, and I waited around for a few more minutes, but there was nothing I could do, my act of malice had seeped into the earth, it was like a deep stain on a white carpet that I knew would never really come out.

And all of this time, all of these years, I always thought about that bike, me and my misfortune, how I wished that I still had it, that I can’t believe I got robbed. And now I have it back and I never even ride it, it’s just lying in my garage, collecting cobwebs, unused, I’m too ashamed to even look at it.

Can we stop saying Western Queens?

I’ve been seeing it a lot lately, the term “Western Queens.” And I don’t think that this is one of those instances where I just noticed something that’s always been there, and now I’m seeing it everywhere. No, I think this is a trend happening, that we’re in the very early stages of the creation of a buzzword. And I don’t like it.


What purpose does Western Queens serve? None. It doesn’t serve any purpose. Whenever you see it used on blogs or in conversation, it’s almost always in reference to Astoria or Long Island City. And that’s it, Western Queens. I guess it should be a little more encompassing, right? What about Sunnyside, Woodside, or Jackson Heights among others? I mean, if you look at a map of Queens, those are all definitely western neighborhoods.

I think what happened is that people who moved to Astoria and Long Island City started going around talking about how much they love Queens, how it’s such a great place to live. And then they probably ran into a friend or a coworker that grew up in Queens, but somewhere else, like Bayside, or Jamaica. And they did the whole, “Don’t you just love Queens?” thing, and after about two or three sentences of awkward conversation, it became painfully obvious that they didn’t know anything about Queens, not really, just Astoria and Long Island City. And so, determined not to make the same mistake again, they latched onto the term Western Queens. “Isn’t Western Queens great?”

I just picked up a copy of BORO magazine, it’s the free circular they give out at all of the cool coffee shops and paninierias around here. And on the cover, it just said, “LIC.” Inside, the editor-in-chief wrote his whole introduction, and he kept saying it, over and over again, Western Queens, it’s such a community, what a sense of place.

At my restaurant in midtown, we just started serving Singlecut Pilsner on tap. They make it right here in Astoria. And when the managers told the wait staff about the brewery and how to describe this particular beer, we were encouraged to read a particular script, to say something along the lines of, “It’s local, it’s from right over the bridge in Western Queens.”

Why does it bother me so much? Because I can just hear it, when you say Western Queens, what you’re really trying to say is, Cool Queens. And you really don’t even care about saying the Queens part, it’s the Cool that you’re really going after. It’s fad terminology, like when East Williamsburg was all anybody could talk about around five or so years ago, before everybody started making fun how ridiculous it was, East Williamsburg, just a clever marketing trick to get people to move to Bushwick, and now it doesn’t matter, go ahead and say Bushwick, that’s trendy as hell too.

But at least Bushwick is an actual neighborhood. Western Queens is just dumb. I’m telling you, just keep your ears open. Maybe you’ve never heard it before, but I guarantee that you will, over the course of the next year or so, one of your friends or coworkers is going to casually slip it into conversation, maybe they’ll invite you out for a drink at one of those cool beer gardens in Western Queens.

You know the New York State government actually tried to make a law a while back that would have prevented real estate agents from just making up trendy neighborhood names for random sections of housing across the city. Why? Because it’s just a cheap way to invent bogus prestige, to drive up rent prices in an already inflated market, yes, but it’s also just really lame.

Western Queens just sounds really stupid, and I’m hearing it a lot lately, and I wish that I wasn’t. But what am I going to do, right? I’m just some random guy complaining about an ever-changing city, and I guess that’s pretty lame too.