Cord Jefferson’s piece is actually much more convincing about the delights of New York than about his need to leave. While his description of Los Angeles pretty much boils down to ‘there are interesting people here too, you know,’ his Brooklyn recollections are lovely:
I drank a lot of vodka in those days. Tecate, too. Harrisons at Enid’s, and Budweisers and shots of well whiskey at Matchless. I hung out with jazz musicians, architects, and furniture designers, most of whom, like me, had left behind their families and friends to come to New York. I saw art and movies that wouldn’t be in other cities for months or years, if ever. I casually lit cigarettes in Lit’s basement, not for a moment considering the smoldering death trap that place would become in event of a fire.
At a small dinner party celebrating a friend’s friend’s Oscar nod, I talked pot quality with the actress’s father, who would later reject the joint being passed around. I had sex in the bathroom at Union Pool and walked out feeling rebellious while my girlfriend adjusted her bra. In the summers, when others fled to Montauk or the Hamptons, I would buy to-go margaritas from a little place in the Lower East Side and drink them while walking home across the Williamsburg Bridge. I’d stop halfway over the East River, sweat forming a Rorschach pattern on the back of my shirt, and let the breeze give me goosebumps.
Oddly, though, his most touching recollection could have happened anywhere.
On a whim on St. Marks one night, following a six-hour brunch in SoHo, I got the word “bro” tattooed on my thigh in my friend Rudy’s handwriting. He got “bro” in my handwriting on his neck, and I cried a little bit after I hugged him goodnight and watched him amble off down a Chinatown street littered with fliers for massages.