Saturday, June 10, 2006

Worlds collide

Can it be? While both NYC on the whole and TriBeCa in particular have gotten awfully posh in recent years, I find this description of Stuyvesant hard to believe:

It’s the only school that’s ALL the way down there and close to a despicable and embarrassing Century 21, which every socialite has secretly and shamefully visited. Anyway , it is heaven for brilliant outcasts who are willing to use plastic things called Metrocards and experiment with other sexes as seen in New York Magazine. Among high contention form Flushing, Queens there are tons of rich kids who go on to make their liberal parents proud in Harvard and Yale, while partying on weekends with other kids of their own leveling. Famous alumni (besides multiple Noble Prize winners) are Lucy Liu, Tim Robbins and hot porn star Asia Carrera.

OK, some of this is true. The school is in fact downtown, is definitely "heaven for brilliant outcasts" (or, as Gary Shteyngart once put it, "a holding pen for nerds") and has students from both Flushing and upscale parts of Manhattan. As for the "willingness" to use Metrocards, I'm not sure anyone at the school sees this as a matter of choice. The sexual experimentation is of course an invention of New York Magazine. As for the "tons of rich kids who go on to make their liberal parents proud in [sic] Harvard and Yale, while partying with other kids of their own leveling," is it really now "tons"? There are a few private-school types in each class--rarely Harvard- or Yale-bound, however--which does help to make the school different from other public high schools in the city, which have none. But it's never a remotely "social" contingent in the sense that this list suggests, it's always the children of rich eccentrics, upper-middle-class far-leftists, parents whose openness to public schooling differs tremendously from that of their peers. I know of only one person other than myself who actually knew about socialites, who unlike me seemed to care about that society a great deal, but I never met him while at the school; he lasted a year or so, then transferred back to his private school. I wrote a short story in 11th grade with some characters who travelled in those circles, and my teacher found it bizarre that I'd have heard of that world. But who knows, it now costs a trillion dollars to live in a three-square-foot basement room in an unfashionable part of Staten Island, so maybe a school that was once several degrees away from socialitedom is now the next, err, Spence. Once again, Papua New Guinea awaits...

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