Book Review, If You can’t make it Here, GET OUT by Stephanie Jane Potter and G. E. Feldman MD, MBA, MPH, MHA
This book is so darned funny, it was hard to put it down. I did though, because I can’t read fast enough to read 180 pages in a single sitting while napping through TV reruns and muting the commercials.
On the paperback’s back cover, Rayna Ghadipek, author of I’m Already Perfect, writes, “The Best Self-Help Book Ever Written.”
“Scathing, hilarious, practical...I couldn’t put it down,” writes R. H. Blumberg, author of Surviving in NYC on $3 million a day.
Published by WingSpan Press, Livermore, CA with the address given as www.wingspanpress.com, it carries the subtitle of The TOUGH LOVE Guide to New York City Living. On the back cover, a web address is listed as www.IfYouCantMakeItHereGetOut.com.
Hardly ever being in New York City except on my high-school trip, rides on the Circle Liner and the boat ride up to Poughkeepsie, and a few very brave drive-throughs over the years, it caught my immediate interest.
Driving along Route 95, surrounded by tractor trailers and tall buildings and passing broken-down cars on the road shoulder, I did ask how one does survive in NYC?
On one trip, when our ancient Subaru was stalling badly, my then-eighth-grade son put it another way.
“Dad, we aren’t going to make it!” he hollered.
But we did, and we lived to wonder how one does live -- alive, that is -- in NYC.
After all these years of pondering that question, this “tough love” guidebook arrived in our mailbox in rural Maine. (From where, by the way, I have no plans of an additional drive through NYC.
Ellsworth and Bar Harbor are bad enough. (Not to mention the Maine Mall way down in The Other Maine.)
In the acknowledgements, the authors enlighten us with, “We especially wish to thank our parents for their financial support, and our siblings for assisting in making us who we are today (middle children).”
They add, “Special thanks to our healthcare providers who enabled us to get this far as well as the discoverers of alprazolam, lamotrigine and fluoxetine.”
That explained a lot to me, so I read the book. Now Dolores wants to read it, and we are in a quandary about to which unsuspecting friend or relative to pass it on next. Dolores is from New York State, so she has more potential recipients among her relatives than do I, who, thankfully, am not from New York anything.
She has a brother and sister-in-law not far from NYC, who will probably be the first on our passing-on-the-book list.
Her brother is also a cynic, which boosts his status in terms of being eligible to next receive it.
In a “Warning,” the authors make clear their intention in writing the book, “This book was written with the intent of providing entertainment, and as a FOR-PROFIT business venture for the authors.” Explaining that a “portion” of all NET profits will be donated to (here a list of charities) ...we choose,” the authors conclude this first paragraph of the warning, “So you must buy several copies of this book even if you read it through only once, in order to fully alleviate your liberal guilt.”
In Chapter ZERO, Why YOU Need This Book, one of the reasons why we need it is, “Again, we wrote this tome because we care about YOU, the book consumer.” That paragraph concludes with, “So remember, we care deeply about YOU, especially now, since you took the time to purchase our book. Of course, as to whether or not you actually reap any benefit from reading it once purchased, we couldn’t care less.”
Which explained why I should read If You Can’t Make it Here, GET OUT. And having read it, I thought I should pass along to you some of its very valuable (maybe) advice.
It has illustrations, such as the picture of an unreadable document with the caption, “Original purchase receipt for the island of Manhattan for 60 Guilders. Two years after this paper was signed, Holland’s sub prime market collapsed and the Dutch had to be bailed out of the ensuing derivatives crisis. The Indians had the last laugh in the end when they cleaned up at the toxic asset auction.”
All of the book’s illustrations are captioned with such educational expression.
The book is addressed to people who are thinking of moving to New York City. The writers explain, “...virtually all people that are made in America can be broadly classified into three major groups: Perfects, Regulars, or Irregulars.”
As you can probably guess, most of us fall into the Irregulars grouping.
Most people living in NYC are Perfects, the authors explain. They continue, “Regular people really only need to read this book so that they can understand the occasional Irregular they may run into on any given day and to raise their sensitivity levels to the Irregular minority.”
They warn us, the Irregulars, to not move to NYC.
Chapter One states, “That’s right, in the end, Irregulars are NOT going to change a whole lot or improve their adaptation skills all that much. That fact and that fact alone, is what makes acceptance of one’s Irregular status in New York City so critically important. Medication or shock therapy may help alleviate some of the voices in your head telling you otherwise, but in the end, HIs (Highly Irregulars) will still be unable to fathom how the rest of society survives living in New York City. Which is why everyone, including you, should not only read this book, but you also should go back to your bookstore and buy some extra copies for your Highly Irregular friends and relatives.”
We are told the importance of our buying extra copies of the book numerous times as we read along seeking whatever it is the authors are attempting to share with us.
The book lists how Irregulars are generally described, “...for better or for worse; usually for worse. Actually, always for worse.
“Partial List: immature, neurotic, burnout (not substance related), insecure, slacker, loser (not ‘The Biggest’), underachiever, wears larger than a size 2, mediocre, emotional, unemotional, intelligent, unintelligent, snarky, introverted, frumpy, highly sensitive, nerd, geek, nice guy, oddball, quirky, savant, oxtard, non-billionaire, depressive, lamo, nebbish (ette), beta male, cluck, schlemiel, drip, mousy, slug and yultz.
“There are at least 100 more terms, like ‘dummie’, ‘idiot’ and other politically correct, incorrect, or copyright protected words we can’t use or just don’t like.”
That’s a part of the first chapter. Other chapters carry such names as, “Should You Move?” (answer is no), “Housing,” “2nd Warning,” “Hobbies and Recreation,” “Dating,” and a few more.
The book includes “quick” quizes to help you along the way. Three questions from one such “Quick Quiz” are, “1. Do you feel reasonably satisfied with your current city’s weather and overall climate? 2. Do you feel reasonably satisfied with your current job, school, cult, rehab clinic, or witness protection location? 3. Do you feel reasonably satisfied with your current bed buddy?”
If these questions don’t precisely help you decide to not move to NYC, you’re probably a normal reader.
In “Should You Move,” the authors offer economic information, “The City’s Irregular Newcomers Center (‘INC’) sets the basic Irregular survival salary at $98,000/year (2011 USD), while Highly Irregulars will need $113,000 a year (2011 USD). Keep in mind that $113,000 is TWICE the median salary of the average worker,and is equivalent to the base salary of an elected New York City councilperson. Survival costs are inflated for the Irregular because of their excess healthcare needs and aggravation and avoidance expense.”
That chapter concludes, “For the Irregular person thinking of moving from your present, possibly manageable location to a place like New York City, we will continue to warn you often -- DON’T DO IT! -- but if you do, -- DON’T -- don’t even think about it without first reading this superbly crafted, so affordably priced, for-profit tome.”
The book gets better, or worse, or about the same as it leads you through the disadvantages of moving to NYC.
At the end of the book, the authors provide some encouragement for Irregulars, by writing, “You may not find THE one, your soul mate, your passionate prince of princess or someone who gives you butterflies, but be comforted by the fact that there is humane contact all around. And remember, even a poor Irregular is entitled to some happiness. Keep that in mind. Don’t give up. Things could be worse. You could be twins.”
What a thought!
And what a book.
Different than anything I’ve ever read before or hope to read in the future.
I thank sincerely whoever mailed it to our address and enabled me to pass on my view of its good -- or not -- advice to those unfortunate enough to come across this book review.
Stay away from New York City.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at email@example.com.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012