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How NOT to do New York

British journalist and author Toby Young expected to “take” Manhattan when he landed a job at Vanity Fair magazine. He failed spectacularly. As Norwegian launches flights from London to New York, he has some cautionary tips

How NOT to do New York
Illustrations: Lindsey Spinks

 

I moved to New York in 1995 and was convinced I’d have the Big Apple in the palm of my hand within a matter of months. Five years later I returned to London, having spectacularly failed to “take” Manhattan. I steadily worked my way down the New York food chain, starting out as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and ending up road-testing sex toys for a now defunct lads’ mag called Gear. Along the way I got banned from the hottest bar in the city, shot at in the East River and sued by New York’s most influential power couple, as my funds slowly drained. For me, America wasn’t the land of opportunity.  It was the land of the unreturned phone call.

I wrote a book about my adventures called How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, which was turned into a film starring Simon Pegg. For those planning to spend any time in New York, I’d recommend it as an indispensible guide to what not to do. Twelve years after it was published, Graydon Carter, the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, still hands a copy to new recruits and says, “Read this book – and do the opposite.” But for those who don’t have time to read it, here is my list of the top things you really, really shouldn’t do if you want to have any chance of making it in Manhattan.

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