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Posted July 21, 2022

Sean Ring

By Sean Ring

Piss and Vinegar and Weed

  • I started my banking career in New York City in 1997.
  • By then, Rudy Giuliani had turned the place into Disneyland.
  • Now, the whole place stinks of piss and weed.

Good morning on this fine Thursday.

I’m still in New York City.  The state of the place…

It’s incredible how people inside the fishbowl can’t see what’s happening.

That’s true of us all to a certain extent.

But this is a city of millions, and you’d think someone would notice the deterioration.

Asia spoiled me with its pristine hotels, clean streets, and rule of law.

Yes, the rule of law exists, and it’s a beautiful thing.

So I suppose it’s easy for me to notice what a hole the place has become.

October 1999

When I was 23 and working at Credit Suisse at Eleven Madison Avenue, I met a gorgeous intern.

She was a 20-year-old Korean who had a body to die for.

J was my first girlfriend on Wall Street.  My other relationships were of a more transient sort.

I’ll never forget our first date.

I took her to a bar just off Union Square for a pre-dinner drink.

Then, we went to a lovely new Italian restaurant in Alphabet City, a formerly dangerous place.  We had a lovely meal.

And she kept up with the drinks.

Koreans are called “Asia’s Irish” for a reason.

To top off the night, I took her to The Greatest Bar on Earth, at the top of the World Trade Center.

As we sat at the bar, she leaned over and kissed me.

It was a sloppy, drunken kiss, but I didn’t care.  I was on top of the world.

After, she said, “Sean, this is the greatest night of my life.”

Then… she promptly threw up on the bar.

I almost shit myself.

I yelled over to Frank, my all-time favorite New York bartender, and he quickly got the cleanup materials.

The patrons lifted their glasses in perfect synchronicity as the vomit oozed down the bar like a molasses tidal wave.

I escorted her to the bathroom, where she proceeded to fall asleep on the toilet for an hour.

Not wanting her to go home alone - she lived just off Kissena Boulevard - I tried to book us a cab to Queens for her and then back to Joisey for me.

I couldn’t find one, so I wound up hiring a limo to do it for $140.

Cost of that date: $700.

Dating that hottie for two more years: Priceless.

When I informed her that I was moving to London, she was angry, to say the least.

She couldn’t understand why I’d leave the greatest city on earth to go to England.

Even when she visited me in London two years later, she hated the place.

NYC was her home.  It was the best, and that’s that.

We eventually broke up because I refused to return home.

NYLON (New York-London) relationships never last anyway.

But at the time, her claim that NYC was the greatest city on earth was well-founded.

It was clean, practically crimeless, and heaps of fun.

Christmas 2005

A few years later, I brought my Hungarian girlfriend home for Christmas.

N was also a hottie with a rack that brought tears of gratitude to my eyes.

But it was different this time.  It was post-9/11.

Unbeknownst to me, New York had changed, and not for the better.

I brought her to Madison Avenue, where I used to work.

We stood at the intersection of Broadway and 5th Avenue, right at the base of the Flatiron Building.

I held my arms out wide and said, “What do you think of this place?”

She looked at me and said, “It’s really quiet.”

My head snapped around at her, and I was like, “What… are… you… talking….”

I stopped mid-sentence.

She was right.  I could hear a pin drop.

An eerie silence pervaded Grammercy.  I didn’t like it at all.

Christmas 2013

Pam and I were married in the Raffles Hotel two-and-a-half years earlier.

But I was smart about bringing her to the US.

I knew that most people fall in love with the first genuinely foreign city they see.

So I brought her “home” to London for the 2012 Olympics.

We had a wonderful time with all my friends.

I took her on the Eurostar to Paris, as well, for a bit of romance.

I wanted her to fall for Europe, not the States.

It worked.

When I finally brought her home to meet my parents - yes, after two years of marriage - we went to New York City.

She hated the place, which I found charming.

A few years later, English friends who’d moved to NYC started to hate then-Mayor Bill DeBlasio.  

They promptly moved back to the UK.

I didn’t think one man could cause so much damage.

Since then, I’ve been proven wrong.


This entire town smells like piss (and vinegar) and weed.

It’s an angry place, that’s become downright dangerous.

There’s a frantic pace about it, though.  Much louder than my previous visits.

I’m glad to see that.

But at nights in Midtown, the place is empty.

My guess is that crime drives the money spenders inside their homes.

Last night, I sat in a lovely little pub called The Wheeltapper, under the Fitzpatrick Hotel near Grand Central.

It’s a quiet place where one can enjoy a decent pint.

Except the pints now cost $10 apiece.

But I remember the days these pubs were packed on Wednesday nights.

Even Grand Central Station itself was much quieter than I ever remember it.

Today, I spent $21.83 on two hot dogs and a bottle of San Pellegrino for lunch.

Perhaps it’s not the crime; it’s the expense.

Wrap Up

I long for the safety, affordability, and fun of Giuliani-era Manhattan.

The beers were cheap, the nights were long, and the ladies were safe (and gorgeous).

Now, it’s a hodgepodge of dope, open-air urinals, and idiotically expensive booze.

Having the New York Fed print money on your turf is good.

But when it gets out of control, the city loses its soul.

Until tomorrow.

All the best,


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