New Yorkistan

Rohit Khare khare at
Tue Apr 15 19:01:37 PDT 2003

Archived copy was found on a very intriguing site,
> Cartome ,          a companion site to Cryptome , is an           
> archive of news and spatial / geographic documents on privacy,  
> cryptography,          dual-use technologies, national security and  
> intelligence -- communicated          by imagery systems: cartography,  
> photography, photogrammetry, steganography,          camouflage, maps,  
> images, drawings, charts, diagrams, IMINT and their           
> reverse-panopticon and counter-deception potential.

Go explore the site!

In the meantime, I had to print out the cheat sheet to my new shower  
curtain... :-)
($35 at the site) 
08NOTE.html?ex=1008820507&ei=1 December 8,    2001

Critic's Notebook
    A    Funny New Yorker Map Is Again the Best Defense

A quarter century ago, on    March 29, 1976, a simple, pastel map of  
New York City appeared on the cover    of The New Yorker. Drawn from  
the perspective of a low-flying bird looking west    from Ninth Avenue,  
you could see the world receding from the city: the Hudson    River,  
New Jersey, Kansas City, then the Pacific Ocean and Japan. It was Saul   
   Steinberg's famous "View of the World from Ninth Avenue," a drawing  
reproduced    and imitated countless times. Every city wanted a version  
of its own. Steinberg    once said that if he had gotten the proper  
royalties, "I could have retired    on this painting."

This week, another simple    pastel map, a flat, bird's-eye view of New  
York City drawn in pen and wash,    appeared on the cover of The New  
Yorker. It showed the names of the city's neighborhoods     
Afghanistanicized: Lubavistan, Kvetchnya, Irate, Irant, Mooshuhadeen,  
Schmattahadeen,    Yhanks, Feh, Fattushis, Fuhgeddabouditstan,  
Hiphopabad, Bad, Veryverybad, E-Z    Pashtuns (leading to New Jersey),  
Khakis and Kharkeez (in Connecticut) and,    most touchingly,  
Lowrentistan, where the World Trade Center once stood.

The map was made by Maira    Kalman, who grew up somewhere near Upper  
Kvetchnya (she did the pen work) and    Rick Meyerowitz, who is  
originally from around Ptooey (he did the watercolor).    Both now live  
in Artsifarsis.

When their cover came out,    suddenly a dark cloud seemed to lift. New  
Yorkers were mad for the map. They    laughed. They shared it. They  
recited their favorite joke names on the map,    making sure you had  
the proper Yiddish: the name Gribinez (for the Hudson River)    means  
cut-up chicken parts. They checked out your cultural knowledge:  
Blahniks    (the Upper East Side) is where everyone can afford Manolo  
Blahnik shoes. What?    You don't understand. Youdontunderstandistan?  
You should be banished to Outer    Perturbia (somewhere on Long Island).

Perhaps not since Steinberg's    drawing had New Yorkers pored over a  
magazine cover so long. Of course, the    maps are totally different.  
Steinberg's is a delicate drawing done in perfect    perspective, with  
fully realized cars and little witty dotted lines separating    Canada  
from Chicago and Mexico from Washington. The drawing by Ms. Kalman and   
   Mr. Meyerowitz is flat and naïve. Aside from a funny perplexed camel  
standing    in the middle of Stan (Staten Island), the humor is all  

So what, if anything, ties    these covers together? Maybe the clue  
lies in the one true bit of real estate    on the new map: Harry Van  
Arsdale Jr. Boulevard (O.K., so the real one is an    avenue), which  
runs from Khkhzks in Queens to Outer Perturbia. What is this    piece  
of reality doing in this Afghanistanicized city? And why, of all New  
Yorkers,    should Van Arsdale have been designated for post-jihad  

Van Arsdale (who died in    1986) was the president of the New York  
City Central Labor Council at its peak.    His last big hurrah came in  
1975, when he helped put together a plan to lift    the city out of its  
fiscal crisis. That was the year of the famous Daily News    headline  
"Ford to City: Drop Dead." It was also the year Steinberg drew his     
famous map. (It was published a year later.) So maybe here's the tie:  
both maps    are pictures of New York City at its darkest hour with its  
back to the wall,    digging in its heels.

Actually, neither Ms. Kalman    nor Mr. Meyerowitz knew precisely who  
Van Arsdale was. But Mr. Meyerowitz said,    "The name never failed to  
make me laugh when I approached it."

The whole map began in fun.    "We were on our way to a party in  
Westchester County," she said. Driving through    the Bronx, she  
suddenly called out: "Bronxistan." And the names started flowing:    Le  
Frakhis (a pun on LeFrak City). Some places on the map have the ring of  
truth.    Lubavistan is roughly where the Lubavitchers live. And parts  
of Fashtoonks (which    derives from the Yiddish for "stink") really  
did stink once; there were pig    farms in New Jersey.

"The beauty part of New    York," Ms. Kalman said, "is that it is a  
mishmash. Everybody is running around    with a different costume and a  
different story." New York, like Afghanistan,    is made up of tribes  
with a bunch of exotic names that mean nothing to outsiders.

New York City should take    second place to no one, as Mr. Meyerowitz  
said, not even Afghanistan. We are    as tribal as anyone.

Steinberg's map is tribal,    too, but different. His New York is a  
self- absorbed city. It is us versus them.    In the all-important city  
you can see that taxicabs, people, water towers and    windows matter.  
And far, far away are all those places that don't really matter:    the  
Midwest is yellow, and somewhere out there must be Afghanistan.

You can't say those places    don't matter to New Yorkers now.  
Kandahar, Kabul and Kunduz do indeed matter.    So do all the -stans  
and all the -bads. The new map clearly shows that change.    It looks  
like a map of the Middle East has been laid over the whole city.

But if you look carefully    at New Yorkistan, you'll see New York,  
resistant as ever. Seventh Avenue is    still in Schmattahadeen (the  
rag district), and La Guardia Airport is still    Taxistan. Staten  
Island will always be just plain vanilla, a place that deserves    the  
name Stan, even if there is a camel standing in it.

So the new map is like the    old. It is still us against them that  
wants us dead. If the world gives you    Kandahar and Chechnya, send  
them back Khandibar and Kvetchnya.

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