1920’s guide to NYC etiquette might, just might be, chauvinistic

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Over at Kottke, he posted about an NYC etiquette guide called, “Valentine’s City of New York: A Guide Book” by Henry Collins Brown. You can enjoy it here.

The main points that Mr. Kottke posted were some of the dos and don’ts for visitors, which included:

  • Don’t hand your baggage to a porter outside Grand Central unless he wears a red hat.
  • Don’t take the recommendation of strangers regarding hotels… Don’t get too friendly with plausible strangers.
  • Don’t gape at women smoking cigarettes in restaurants. They are harmless and respectable. They are also “smart.”
  • Don’t forget to tip. Tip early and tip often.
  • Don’t block the sidewalk. New Yorkers will gather in crowds to see a young lady demonstrate a new razor in a shop window or a safe going up the side of a building. Ignore such gatherings; show our ex-hicks that you come from a real town.

These were abbreviated as you can see above.

But I did some further investigation, and my favorite parts came from the opening chapter titled: How to see the City Inexpensively. 

Now, mind you, you might expect the writer to deliver information about saving money whilst traveling in a large, beautiful city like New York. But by page 11, there are no piece of advice for the cheap traveler.

Henry isn’t that bold.

Henry, instead, is bent on making sure women, that weaker sex in which everything bad that happens to them is their fault, explains this very inexpensive advice:

New York is not perfect, but any woman who encounters unpleasant situations in our city has, to a very large extent, her own self to blame for it. Nevertheless, a certain amount of caution is necessary; common sense is still a valuable possession and should not be left at at home while traveling. Experience shows that two women together are practically immune from embarrassing experiences, while the solitary visitor is more exposed, especially if the hours is late and you happen to be in certain localities.

Abundant protection is afforded the lone young woman on every hand. Almost immediately upon arrival representatives the Travellers’ Aid Society will direct her to a suitable and respectable hotel or boarding house. In spite of all these precautions, however, some sad happenings are matters of frequent record, most of which are mainly preventable. A very good rule is to pursue the same line of conduct you would at home. You do not permit strangers to become familiar an when you want information you ask a policeman. Do the same here. It is useless to provide bureaus of information, uninformed attendants and other conveniences if the stranger will calmly ignore them.

So there you have it. A woman who experiences unpleasant situations … that’s her fucking fault. So if you want to be immune from embarrassing experiences, find another girl and walk around New York like holly jolly lollies. But make sure you stay out of neighborhoods that are unsavory.

And make sure that you stay in lodging provided by the “Travellers’ Aid Society” who will greet you when you step off whatever form of travel you arrived onto Manhattan island.

Tah dah.

Mind you, we haven’t come very far. I’ve heard very similar language emit from modern men and women whose values aren’t so, say, current.



random thoughts by, well, me

At the gym, every time you sit on a weightlifting machine, ostensibly it shows the settings for the person who last used it.

I don’t know about you, but — after finishing on one machine — I do the occasional, place the pin into a little heavier level of weight as to avoid the embarrassment of how flipping weak I am. 

Yesterday at the gym, I got the feeling that the person who used the machine was either the strongest, shortest person alive. Or maybe, just maybe their mission was to fool everyone who followed them to think that the strongest person at the gym preceded them.

I knew this person was short, because the seat was always on a position of 1 or 2. I sit at 5 or 6, and tall people sit at 9 or 10.

My prejudice assumes that a woman was the previous workout person when it’s seated at the 1s or 2s. But the level of weights being so high either meant that woman was the hulk, that the short man sitting there was the hulk, or maybe, just maybe, the person completed their reps, then took the pin out and plunged it into something a lot more impressive.

I made a joke in my mind that the person was treating the machines like old video games. Their signature was the height of the seat. Their high score was the amount of weight, closest to the floor. That’s where all the best weight lifters land.

Or maybe, it’s the gym’s management acting as some kind of influence to get its membership to increase their weight.


Another thought I had was last night during the State of the Union Address. The president did okay. I watched it completely absent of commentary, because all that shit the news networks throw in is inane.

It all sounded like loads of pipe dreams.

There were many moments that made me stop and think, but one in particular was the discussion of women’s wages, equality in the marketplace, etc.

All President Obama said was, essentially, women should have equal pay. They should have the right to care for a sick child or a sick loved one. And men should have the same rights. Cut to the wide shot showing who is clapping, who is standing and who is sitting down, and low and behold, almost all the goddamn Republicans are sitting there, not clapping.

Okay, I’d get it if the president talked about abortion or gay rights. But women’s rights to equal pay? That’s worthy enough an issue to give the old, “Fuck you, POTUS. We’re sitting here, arms crossed, with sourpuss faces!”


And the Republican party wonders why it has trouble wooing women into its fold?

Women’s rights is not rocket science.

And any woman who stands up (or keeps sitting) for the principles of the conservative movement is, well, seriously, that beats the hell out of me. What kind of woman are you when you don’t want equality, to be treated fairly and equally.

But for the guy who lost his faculties, his regular life, as a result of a roadside bomb in war … he gets a universal standing ovation.

War is better than woman.

Violence is more important than women in the marketplace.

Murder is wrong as abortion, but dandy when the kids are in their late teens/early twenties.

Okay. That’s it. Enough of these so-called random thoughts.