Sunday, February 24, 2008

Times have changed

These are Ess-a Bagels. Ess-a makes my favorite bagel in NYC, and I will miss them. Today I ate what I believe will be my last Ess-a Bagel, a sesame, my favorite.

When I first moved to New York, I lived right around the corner from the Ess-a on 3rd Ave. I went there a lot, and usually got two at a time. Nowadays I go by only when I am nearby, and I only get one. They are huge, some bagel purists might say too huge, but for me they are the quintessential bagel. No other bagel in NYC is as satisfying and--I am sorry to sound like an obnoxious New Yorker, but it's true--no bagel I've had outside of NYC is even a bagel.

When I went in today, I noticed that Ess-a Bagels now cost $1. I think they were $0.95 last time I went in, but I could be wrong. Back when I lived around the corner from them, the bagels cost $0.60. I guess I have been in NYC a long time that I can track such significant inflation!

Other things that have gone up: movies. Movies were $7.50, I think, when I came to NYC in 1996. Now they are $10.50, $11 in some theatres. I remember when they went up to $8.50 (about six months after they'd gone up to $8) I was so annoyed I boycotted movies for a year. I go occasionally now, but nowhere near as often as I used to.

The subway was $1.50 when I first came here; now it's $2, and they're talking about raising it to $2.25. I actually think the subway provides a heck of a lot of service for a relatively small fee (heck, compared to Ess-a, the inflation rate on the subway is only 33% versus 67%), so I don't mind this. While I appreciate the NYC mindset that vocal complaining keeps city agencies on their toes, I do think the people who squawk loudest about how much the subway sucks and how outrageous it is should take a trip outside of NYC once in a while.

The suggested entrance fee for the Metropolitan Museum of Art was $8 in 1996. Today it is $20. Seriously. I blame MOMA: they renovated the MOMA a few years ago and reopened with a ticket price of $20, to much outrage from all sides. But people are paying it, so how could the Met not follow suit? The Guggenheim is $18. I've never been there, and will not go before I leave.

Do I sound like a crotchety New Yorker yet? Boy am I old, complaining about how much things used to cost! I mean, while I'm at it, I might as well complain about postage ($0.32 compared to $0.41), although like the subway, the post office provides a service that is easy to complain about, but is pretty darned impressive if you really think about what is provided for the price. But they might have done better to increase the rate all at once instead of bringing out another increase so soon after the last one. It's a PR problem as much as anything.

Finally, to get back on the subject of round bread, even more than bagels, I will miss bialys. Bialys are kind of a cross between English muffins and bagels, and they are pretty unique to New York. I once read that bialys are not made anywhere else in the world but New York; no one really knows where they came from, but the theory is they were brought here by Jewish immigrants, possibly from Bialystok, Poland. But if you go to Bialystok today, you will not find bialys, because, well, the bialys were lost along with the Jews. But if you go into any deli in NYC, even ones run by Koreans, you will find bialys.

In some ways that are not always obvious, New York City is very, very cool.

No comments: