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When it was announced that Taylor Swift has been named the new welcome ambassador to New York City, everyone had the same reaction: what the fuck is a welcome ambassador, and why the shit is it Taylor Swift?

The only thing I buy Tay-Tay welcoming people to is a tea party with her favorite stuffed animals, each dressed in an ex-boyfriend's T-shirt and propped up in front of a hot cup of air.

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They've been hoping to be broken up with for over 20 years now.

As if the fact that she wasn't born or even sort of raised in the city isn't bad enough, it also doesn't bode well for our new "welcome ambassador" (seriously, this has to be a made-up thing) to show her city pride by completely skipping over her new "hometown" on her upcoming world tour. You're doing a banner job already, Taylor.

I'm not sure of the process involved with choosing this esteemed designation or how long her rule will last, but, as someone who's lived in and around the area my entire life, I can tell you there are many people who deserve the pretend title of ambassador to New York City way more than Swift does. For example ...

Dan Smith, the Guy Who Wants to Teach Everyone How to Play Guitar

Half of New York has seen one of Dan Smith's fliers. For almost 20 years, Smith and his homemade marketing campaign have adorned the walls of delis, laundromats, and just about every other small business in NYC. His message is simple; he will teach you guitar, and his grass-roots effort is earnest yet effective.

So many fliers, you guys.

Granted, I don't think I've ever met a single person that has taken a guitar lesson with Smith, but obviously it's working since Dan the Guitar Man has upgraded to a website and a YouTube page. Also it's highly unlikely that a person would continue to persistently flier the city for 20 years if the fliers weren't working, unless he was crazy. This being NYC, of course, means insanity is a very distinct possibility.

But Smith isn't crazy. He's just a dude with a guitar who wants to teach you how to play. And that's a pretty welcoming kind of thing, you know? He's trying to make the city a better place through the magic of music, instead of trying to get on some reality competition show to become the next big star. Besides, once you get parodied on The Daily Show ...

Foreshadowing alert!

... you are a star, buddy.

Dr. Jonathan Zizmor, Dermatologist to the Poor

The city's most famous dermatologist has been wallpapering the subways with ads since 1991, promising millions easy-financing options for Botox, chemical peels, or any other damn thing you can think to do to fix your broken face. Zizmor's message is one of hope that the poor commuting masses can afford the luxury of perfect skin, a dream that was once obtainable only by the type of people who lived in a Classic Six overlooking Central Park. You know, rich people who've probably never taken the subway and therefore have no idea who the hell Zizmor is.

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Or how much money they could be saving!

I always imagined Zizmor's office to be a bit like the DMV: desperate and lonely, only decorated with art that looks like a Lisa Frank folder, and with a cougarish receptionist dressed in the kind of nurse's outfit you see people wearing on Halloween. In other words, it would be the most glamorous place in the whole city and should be turned into the official welcome center immediately.

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Jimmy From Trash and Vaudeville


Once upon a time, St. Marks Place was filled with crusty punks, heroin addicts, metal heads, and hookers. It was a block you avoided even during the daylight, unless you were planning on scoring drugs or hepatitis. Or both. Basically, it was fucking awesome. Nowadays the street is peppered with udon spots and karaoke bars, but there's still Trash and Vaudeville, and there's still Jimmy -- the buyer and manager for the conjoined stores.

You may not know about the infamous double-decker clothing mecca, which means you have no idea who Jimmy is. But everyone in punk rock and rock 'n' roll knows, and that's really all the street cred that's needed.

Also, it looks like this.

Jimmy is a living artifact of what New York's East Village, and St. Marks, used to be. He came to NYC when he was 14 and had the kind of fucked-up, fast-living lifestyle that one expects from a member of Motley Crue, but he managed to survive it and move into a life as a fashion icon. Sure, he seems like a crazy, aging punk-rocker (because he is), but the dude gets this city. In a 2011 interview with the Village Voice, Jimmy eloquently called NYC, "an Iggy city," because "it is the kind of city where you fall to your knees, you scrape them up, you stand up, and you keep walking." That's exactly the kind of honest information people should be getting when they visit New York City for the first time.

Jon Fucking Stewart

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The most trusted man in satirical news (that ironically is more accurate and honest than most straightforward news) is basically the Prince of New York. And as anyone will tell you, no one is more New York than a native Jerseyan who spent his entire life in love with the gigantic Island of Misfit Toys across the Hudson. Trust me, I know my own kind.

Stewart is the quintessential New Yorker: he's sarcastic, self-deprecating, witty, and he loves this city more than anyplace else. But he never lets his love get in the way of mocking it when that's what the situation calls for. That's a very New York thing to do. Plus he's a Mets fan, which means, though he enjoys a successful professional life, he also knows how it feels to be a perpetual loser in this city.

The official logo of misery.

It's that kind of balance that keeps the man humble.

Nothing is ever good enough for a New Yorker, but being a New Yorker is still better than anything else, and that's the kind of message people should be welcomed by. And that welcome should be issued by a man who has no problem inviting you to the party but will call you out on your bullshit if you act like a dick. Jon Stewart is definitely the man for that job.

For more from Cher, follow her on Twitter @TheCherness.

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