In the new anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York. contributors share the experience of moving to New York in pursuit of the writing life. In essay after essay, writers describe their experiences moving to New York from Long Island, New Jersey, California, and overseas. Anyone from anywhere can come to New York City in pursuit of fame, riches, and romance, and as a result, Goodbye to All That captures New York’s uniquely nuanced, overlapping landscape of cultures and geographies that for millions feels at once deeply personal and communal.
But while something deeper also reveals itself in the pages, some thread of pure accident runs through the story of each writer’s dream of making it in the big city.
Goodbye to All That features several familiar names from the Manhattan and (mostly) Brooklyn literary community, including editor Sari Botton and several other 20- and 30-something women writers. Through a series of emails, I asked Sari and contributors Cheryl Strayed, Melissa Febos, and Mira Ptacin about the differences and similarities between their experiences in the city of so many of our dreams.
In Cheryl Strayed’s essay for this anthology, “Minnesota Nice,” she writes,
I’d entered the city the way one enters any grand love affair: with no exit plan. I went willing to live there forever, to become one of the women clad in slim pants and killer shoes and interesting coats. I was ready for the city to sweep me into its arms, but instead it held me at a cool distance. And so I left New York the way one leaves a love affair too: because, much as I loved it, I wasn’t truly in love. I had no compelling reason to stay.
This is a phenomenon many of us seem to get swept up in: feeling that our relationship to the city is as alive and intimate as that of fiery, fateful lovers. What is it about New York that compels us to believe the city is a human entity unto itself: one capable of offering earth-shattering sex, endlessly stimulating conversation, and eventual transcendence, too?Related Story
Cheryl Strayed: New York City isn't just a city, it's an idea—a projection of our fantasies and desires, like Paris or California or that beautiful person across the room. Because so many have imbued New York City with such meaning, it's hard not to be a bit over the top in one's reaction to it.
Sari Botton: You'll find earth-shattering sex, endlessly stimulating conversation, and transcendence in New York City, in great multitudes. The sheer number of people—many of whom are looking for the same things, who have similar stars in their eyes— allows for all kinds of possibility. It makes it very magnetic and alluring, like the most charismatic person you'll ever know.
Mira Ptacin: Define “earth-shattering sex.”
No, really, I came to New York City knowing nothing about it other than its reputation. It was about the fame. It was about that sentimental song wisdom. “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” To me, New York was like that popular captain of the football team from high school, while I was the weirdo in orchestra class with Kool-Aid dyed red hair and a skateboard. And, for some strange reason (ego, really), I was determined to convince the football captain to fall in love with me. So it was all about the challenge.
New York did have some to do with my career, too, but it had a lot more to do with my self-esteem. I wanted to see if I could win over this great city. The thing is, it’s been my experience that some years after graduating from high school and moving on, we nerds go on to make ourselves happy and that popular football jock has a drinking problem and is still attending high school parties.
Melissa Febos: New York is an iconic place, and one of the symptoms of iconography is that we graft our identities onto that image, borrow the certainty of its familiar dimensions, at least until we find our own. Also, the city is a kind of human entity, isn’t it? What part of it is not made up of or by humans?
I think it’s natural, even useful, to have an idolized place. The Elysian Fields, heaven, New York—romanticization helps us move through the pains of the place we are in.
We idolize and worship and romanticize the people we fall in love with, and when that fantasy cannot withstand the human reality of the beloved, we either stop loving them, or begin loving them in a more complete way.
Later in “Minnesota Nice,” Cheryl writes,
In the end, I had to realize it was never meant to be. It wasn’t New York. It was me.
I found this exact sentence—It was me— in other essays; it’s a sentiment that echoes throughout the whole collection. Is there a sense that leaving New York—because one’s constitution or circumstances can no longer withstand the city’s exigencies –constitutes a failure of character?
Botton: As Mira said, brings to mind "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere," that famous line from Kander & Ebb's theme song from New York, New York. I think there's also a reverse corollary people subscribe to: "If I can't make it there, I won't make it anywhere," which means, I'm not so strong.
Strayed: I didn’t experience leaving New York City so much as a failure of character as an acknowledgment that in spite of its reputation, I didn't have to love this city. I didn't have to want to stay. For me it was part of growing up, of deciding to seek what I really wanted and who I really was rather than pursuing an idea of myself. I love New York City, but I don't want to live there. It was living there that taught me that.
Febos: I knew that leaving was very much like leaving a lover—a symptom not of failure, but of change.
Ptacin: In some cases, I think it’s actually the opposite of failure. In my case everything vital and healthy about me began to fall apart in New York: my inner peace, my marriage, my health, my sensitivities, my gentleness … my personality, really. But I kept insisting that I wouldn’t leave until I had made it. The thing is, once I made it to one rung on the ladder of success, there was always another rung above to reach for. And another, and another.
As I wrote in my essay, “we go to New York City to make our careers but end up stepping over homeless people on our way to work.” I never wanted to become that person. To me, losing my sensitive nature would be a failure of character. So by finally saying “fuck it” and doing what was best for me as a human as opposed to me as a brand, I think I did the hard thing but the best thing by leaving. The right thing. I am proud of spray-bottling myself in the face.
I noticed certain details starting to repeat throughout the essays, like a kind of collective nostalgia: Interesting jackets (and I know from reading Megan Daum’s essay not to call these jackets chic ), whiskey, and literary readings, as well as places like Citarella or Washington Square Park, and neighborhoods like the West Village, and Park Slope in the 1990s and early 2000s, came up over and over again. And of course brownstones were the most common motif.
When you’re away from New York, what are the details—whether they’re a place, a smell, a season, a particular kind of night sky—that transport you to a place of nostalgia?
Strayed: I love the feel on the streets, of so many people walking and talking and conducting their lives in a shared space of the sidewalk. Of course it can be the thing that annoys me about the city too, but mostly I love it. I'm always entertained by how aggressive the pedestrians are, how they step right out into the street regardless of what the traffic lights instruct them to do.
New York is kind of like the same sentiment behind some religions: The worse you have it, the bigger the reward will be.
Botton: Lousy karaoke makes me long desperately for places like Baby Grand. The smell of pizza takes me right back.
Febos: Autumn. And Christmas. Though, that season and that time of year make me nostalgic for most things. I live in New York again right now, so it’s hard to get in touch with missing it. Right now, New York is my ball and chain.
Ptacin: I miss the way the city feels after a big snowstorm. Everything. Just. Stops.
I miss the food—all food, any time. I live on a small island in Maine now, and if you don’t make it to the grocery store before it closes at 8 p.m. you’re screwed.
I miss getting nervous before going out on the town. I miss going to Prospect Park very, very early in the morning and letting my dogs run off-leash before the rest of the city wakes up. I miss celebrity sightings, and I miss getting annoyed at tourists for walking too slowly. I miss the ambitious humans, and the jazz musicians.
I miss being drunk in a cab and watching the flickering skyline zip past my window while I realize, I’m in fucking New York City.
What is it about New York that compels millions of people to risk everything in order to try and make it in the city?
Botton: It's the greatest city in the world, with the greatest assortment of cultures and culture, and a great variety of experiences that allows each person to have a different set of memories and sentiments. New York offers great opportunities at a great cost. You have to sacrifice a lot to make it there, and the pieces of the pie keep getting smaller as more people throng to it.
Ptacin: New Yorkers are willing to sacrifice and they just accept the hardships of being there by purely just being there because there is just this expectation that it will pay back. And that the harder it is, the bigger the payback will be. It’s kind of like the same sentiment behind some religions: The worse you have it, the bigger the reward will be.
How is it that—despite the projected hopes and adolescent ideals of millions of intelligent human beings—this city still manages, both in love and in tragedy, to exceed our wildest dreams? I guess what I want to know is, do you think New York is an eternal, unattainable romantic, or a deceitful, highly intelligent sociopath?
Botton: Ha! I think that when it's not working for you, you see it as the intelligent sociopath, and when there still seem to be great possibilities, it is that elusive, perfect romantic ideal that you keep striving for.
Ptacin: It’s both! For many people it is livable and it does pay back and make people happy, and for some you just can’t get it to be empathetic or sympathetic. It can flip from romantic to sociopath at the drop of a hat.
In her essay “My City,” Dani Shapiro writes about returning to the city for a visit, years after leaving for Los Angeles. Upon returning, Shapiro takes a taxi with her husband, to the hotel where they’re staying. She communicates a fear of finding herself in New York City not as a New Yorker, but as a tourist. Do any of you share this fear? Have you ever returned and felt like you were a tourist in New York City?
The list of reasons to leave New York grows slowly but steadily as I age.
Botton: This is a great source of anxiety for me. It’s why I carry a Metrocard, and refuse to trade in my 646 cell phone area code for an 845. Moving out of New York City incited sort of an identity crisis in me. Intellectually, I believe that you can never return to being a tourist, or "bridge and tunnel," as I once was, growing up on Long Island. I believe that once you’re a New Yorker you're always a New Yorker. But try telling me that when I try to make plans to meet someone at a favorite old haunt, and the person I'm making plans with, who still lives there, says, "Um. that went out of business five years ago, and has been replaced by a Duane Reade."
Strayed: I return to the city often, and I do feel like a tourist. I don't think I ever got over that feeling when I was living there, actually. I lived there for less than a year and the place felt so different from any other place I'd ever lived that I never truly felt like a New Yorker. I don't mind being a tourist.
Melissa, it may be impossible to predict, but do you think you’ll move away from New York again?
Febos: I do. I’ll admit, this answer is colored by the fact that I am in love with someone who lives 2,500 miles away from New York, but independent of that, my commitment to New York is not what it used to be. The list of reasons to leave New York grows slowly but steadily as I age. That said, having lived here for nearly all of my adult life, it’s hard to imagine New York not being my home, at least in some part.
By the same token, do the rest of you ever imagine yourselves returning to the city?
Strayed: I don't. I live in Portland, Oregon. It's the best city in the world. Don't tell anyone.
Ptacin: HELL TO THE NO. Unless I become a bazillionaire.
Botton: I said this in the intro to the collection, I've said it in several interviews, and I hold it to be true: If I win the lottery, I am so there.The Original Underclass
Poor white Americans’ current crisis shouldn’t have caught the rest of the country as off guard as it has.
Sometime during the past few years, the country started talking differently about white Americans of modest means. Early in the Obama era, the ennobling language of campaign pundits prevailed. There was much discussion of “white working-class voters,” with whom the Democrats, and especially Barack Obama, were having such trouble connecting. Never mind that this overbroad category of Americans—the exit pollsters’ definition was anyone without a four-year college degree, or more than a third of the electorate—obliterated major differences in geography, ethnicity, and culture. The label served to conjure a vast swath of salt-of-the-earth citizens living and working in the wide-open spaces between the coasts—Sarah Palin’s “real America”—who were dubious of the effete, hifalutin types increasingly dominating the party that had once purported to represent the common man. The “white working class” connoted virtue and integrity. A party losing touch with it was a party unmoored.Frank Ocean, Harper Lee, and the Reclusive Artist
After To Kill a Mockingbird. readers didn’t demand more from its author. For fans of the musician behind Channel Orange. it’s a different story.
I was 16 when I first became intrigued with Harper Lee. As an aspiring fiction writer, I was fascinated with the details of novelists’ lives—how they manage to surmount the seemingly insurmountable task of creating and rendering an entire imaginary world. Lee’s biography lured me in before her writing even did: her father the attorney, the trial of the Scottsboro boys and the influence it had on her, her friendship with Truman Capote. In my teenage exploration, one word emerged over and over: recluse .
Lee refused interviews for decades. As To Kill A Mockingbird emerged as one of the most beloved works of fiction in the American canon, she led a quiet life in small-town Alabama, while the second novel she’d hinted at failed to appear. These twin facts—the solitary magnum opus and the life spent hiding from its bloom—coalesced into a kind of mystique, both in my own mind and, it seemed, in the minds of those who studied her from afar. TheTelegraph referred to Lee as having “succeeded in protecting herself … and living a life which is of her choosing.” PBS called her an “enigma.”The Mind of Donald Trump
Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity—a psychologist investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency.
I n 200 6. D on al d Trump made plans to purchase the Menie Estate, near Aberdeen, Scotland, aiming to convert the dunes and grassland into a luxury golf resort. He and the estate’s owner, Tom Griffin, sat down to discuss the transaction at the Cock & Bull restaurant. Griffin recalls that Trump was a hard-nosed negotiator, reluctant to give in on even the tiniest details. But, as Michael D’Antonio writes in his recent biography of Trump, Never Enough. Griffin’s most vivid recollection of the evening pertains to the theatrics. It was as if the golden-haired guest sitting across the table were an actor playing a part on the London stage.
“It was Donald Trump playing Donald Trump,” Griffin observed. There was something unreal about it.How Helicopter Parenting Can Cause Binge Drinking
The way some white professionals raise their children is exacerbating an alcohol problem on U.S. college campuses.
I was a teenager in the 1970s. It was a different time. We did not drink—or do drugs or have sex—in captivity. We did those things in the wild, away from our parents, in the danger and thrill of the dark, sacred night. Our parents understood that it was the beginning of the end: We were leaving them. Some of us had curfews, others did not—but either way, you could get a lot done by midnight. Beyond us, on the other side of high school, was some sort of future, probably more or less in line with our parents’ larger plans for us, but maybe not. The average middle-class kid (as we were called back then, meaning: a white kid whose parents owned a house and whose father was steadily employed) was not burnishing dreams of Princeton. Go to class, show up for the SAT, fill out the applications, and then enroll in the best, or the most interesting, or the farthest from home, or the cheapest college that lets you in. We didn’t need much help from our parents to do those things. Which meant that at night, we were free. And we did many dangerous things. Mothers were not yet against drunk driving; cheerful ladies did not give you condoms at school. It wasn’t an arcadia, and many times things went terribly wrong. But most of us survived.Suicide Squad Is the Worst of the Worst
The latest offering from the DC Comics superhero universe may be the most disastrous yet—and that’s saying something.
Imagine, for a moment, that Marvel Studios had decided to launch its vast cinematic universe with Captain America: Civil War . That is to say, the movie didn’t merely have to introduce Black Panther and reintroduce Spider-Man; it also had to introduce Cap himself, and Iron Man and Black Widow and Falcon and Vision and Scarlet Witch and everyone else all the way on down the line. It needed to set up backstories and narrative arcs and romantic entanglements for everyone involved. It needed to explain what brought them together. And it needed to do all of this in about 15 minutes in order to subsequently come up with a lame supervillain for them to fight.
This is the challenge that Suicide Squad sets for itself early, and it succeeds just about as poorly as you might imagine. Intelligence operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is at dinner with a general, when she slaps down a binder marked TOP SECRET in letters big enough to be seen from space. In it are “the worst of the worst,” an assembly of evildoers whom Waller has managed to corral in a super-secure facility; she wants to form them into a team of on-the-leash supervillains who can do the government’s dirty work with utter deniability.Why Trump Supporters Think He'll Win
How the election looks to backers of the Republican nominee
Perhaps the hardest thing to do in contemporary American politics is to imagine how the world looks from the other side. I’ve made no secret of why,as a Republican, I oppose Donald Trump and what he stands for. But I’ve also been talking to his supporters and advisors, trying to understand how they see and hear the same things that I do, and draw such very different conclusions. What follows isn’t a transcription—it’s a synthesis of the conversations I’ve had, and the insights I’ve gleaned, presented in the voice of an imagined Trump supporter.
“You people in the Acela corridor aren’t getting it. Again. You think Donald Trump is screwing up because he keeps saying things that you find offensive or off-the-wall. But he’s not talking to you. You’re not his audience, you never were, and you never will be. He’s playing this game in a different way from anybody you’ve ever seen. And he’s winning too, in a different way from anybody you’ve ever seen.
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Personal Writing: Living In Both Texas and New York City
Where a person was born or raised often plays an important role in their
There are often comparisons between a urban civilization to rural
civilization. Humans adopt to different environments that would be the most
suitable for their style of living. Society as a whole didn't tell us where
civilization should take place. Choosing the right place for a living depends
on the matters of self preference and comfort. Throughout the last decade, I
was brought up in two different cities that are thousands of miles apart - - New
York City and Houston. The two cities are ranked among the top ten in state /
city population, yet there are structures and mainframes which we can soon
identify or relate with. Although it's located in different regions, it was
beneficial to experience and to taste the variety in culture, way of life, and
the school system.
I was raised in the central Manhattan of the Big Apple, the city that
never sleeps. Mass transit and people had always flooded the streets and
intersections. It seemed like everyone were heading for different directions
and the citizens of New York City are too busy with their own affairs and does
have time to care of what's going on in their surroundings. The citizens of New
York City would care less about the traffic safety and reading the traffic signs.
The smell of the city reminds me of the honey roasted peanut stands, a sweet
scent of aroma that would often fill up the neighborhood. When I close my eyes
and think deeply about NYC, there has been a chime in my head of the messengers
blowing their whistles to fight in the traffic while slicing left and right to
get to their destination. New York City taxi drivers are the "killers" of the
rush hour. Taxi drivers within the city are not afraid to use their horn. I
must give a great deal of respect to the New York City taxi drivers because they
are hard working citizens whom knows what they're doing on the road and they are
always providing the fasted delivery from one place to another. Above all, I
attended private schools in near the Greenwich Village area of New York City.
It's a small area called SOHO, similar to the street of New Orleans. I attended
two different catholic schools within five years span. Because most public
schools in NYC lacked the reputation in academic wise, my parents had to provide
$800 per month tuition for both my little brother and I. Even though religious
private-schools have the reputation of developing good students and teaching the
morals, the academic system had often been short behind compare to the public
schools. People who transfer to private schools often claimed that they had the
text done the material that's been provided a year before.
During the courses of my 7th grade in grammar school. I was informed
that we would move to Texas. For some bizarre reason, the people up north have
always pictured the cowboys and horses in Texas. I was really upset for leaving
my friends and all the fond memories behind. I am a person who is willing to
accept the alternatives and to learn different cultures in life. I think life
is too short and everyone should take a bite out of everything. I moved to
Sugar Land Texas, in the year of 1991. The reason for the drastic alternative
was because of my grandfather, who was a senior citizen living by himself in
Taiwan. He visited Houston once or twice and strongly favored the climate here.
Above all, it's a quiet neighborhood, perfect for retirement plans and elderly.
The neighborhood was a nice place but it lacked the public transportation that I
was used to back in the cities. Down here, almost everyone travel from point a
to point B with an automobile. I was under the age of having a license so I
often biked my way around the neighborhood within the five mile radius. I began
my first year and attended 8th grade at First Colony Middle School. I can say
it was the worst year of my life. I guess I felt homesick and didn't want to
accept the dramatic change in my life. I was a city person, all of sudden I am
stuck with riding bicycle to school. It took me about a year to adopt the
environment. My parents had always stood besides me to walk me along. Not
until my freshmen year in high school did I start making friends and getting
into the social crowd.
The similarity between these two cities are the population density. New
York had always been on the top of the charts on people and immigrants. On the
other hand, Houston had been growing by large sum of in population during the
past few years. Both cities are populated and the high in crime rate. As a
matter of fact, I took a trip back to NYC on my spring break and I was amazed by
the changes of a new major. The streets had been cleaned and there are less
homeless people in the streets. Even though Sugar Land is not considered to be
a city yet, the population had been growing dramatically. Skyscrapers stood tall
in both cities and the office buildings can been seen from miles away as a
symbol of free enterprise and open opportunities.
On the other hand, both New York City and Houston have its uniqueness in
their characteristics. The people New York City are well diverse, unlike the
tradition of the southerner part of the states. People of the south refer to
the northerner to be "Yankees". I can't agree with the fact that the south is
culturally diverse too. I can relate to that because there are more Asians
located on the east and west coast of the states. The feeling of "being with
your own kind" had came across my mind for the first time when I moved to the
south. Up in the northern part of the region, people did not care much about
what racial group you're attached with. But down here, it seem like a defense
mechanism. Transportation was another factor. Subways, taxi, and mass transit
city buses are everywhere in the city. Even though it was at a higher expense,
people of the city have less time to worry about how to get from one point to
another. In Sugar Land, a person without an automobile is just as bad as a
handicap on a wheelchair.
Although I lived in New York City for several years, I had to consider
myself as a Texan because I practically grew up here. From getting my license
to getting my first accident, I was raised from adolescent to adulthood in the
south. Even though there are many conveniences of living in the city, there are
many complications and crimes within. I was happy that I grew up here because I
was raised in a calm neighborhood, away from all the deception and chaos. If I
had would recommend to any people out there where to reside, I wouldn't hesitate
to recommend Texas, the Lone Star State.
Name and section number of course
Instructor 's name
Date City living vs. country living
Country living and city living have their own advantages and disadvantages. Country life is all about relaxation. beauty and peace City life however is characterized by chaos. loud noise and confusion Life in countryside seems to move slowly whereas that in a city moves faster. A city man would never feel the beautiful season changes or the gentle rustle of leaves. At the same time a country man would never
find modern facilities reaching his place in the correct time. It is however concluded by many that country living is better than the city living
In to examine which life is better (country life or city life. we need to find out what is the ultimate aim of life. The ultimate aim of life is nothing but happiness. Happiness is void without peace. Peace and happiness are interrelated. Lack of peace and rush is found to be the most crucial feature of city living. A country man is found to enjoy more peace than a city man. He does not have to find money to buy A /c for his house and does not need car for his traveling. A city man however has to equip his house with all possible facilities to comfort his family and to maintain his status in the society. He goes to work early morning and comes back home late night. Even though he has lots of choices of things to enjoy (compared to a country man ) he seldom has time to take pleasure in what he possesses. It is better to have simple life with peace rather than a luxurious life without peace. The story of the country and town mouse is a simple example for this. Nowadays people of city decorate their apartment in the country style. They bring elements of country style into their houses. They attempt to capture country lifestyle in their houses
Rural birth and life are associated with lower rates of diseases. Major illnesses are more prevalent in urban settings compared to the rural areas. Dense population. noise. environmental toxins and the chaotic social contexts have generated disease causing viruses that bring several dangerous diseases and even prenatal infections. There are several city diseases that have still not reached the country sides Numerous country areas are still unaffected by AIDS
City people as well as country people work for making a living. Country people work outside and give good exercises for their bodies. City people. however. work inside and work on machines (mostly on computer They have less need of hard work and keep their body idle. This makes the city people prone to diseases like hypertension and diabetes which are rarely found in country residents. A body without diseases is the greatest fortune that a man can have. Many of the country people are fortunate enough to have this
Health education and transportation facilities make people choose cities.
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The city of New York has seen suffering and heartbreak, but we are a resilient city. After every tragedy New York has suffered, New York has pushed on through. . By using the twin themes of heartbreak followed by hope, I think that McCann is sending us a message about the twin towers and about New York City. . In this scene it .
Youth gangs have been part of New York City life for a long time. . Youth gangs and gangs in general are a big problem in New York. Living in New York gives a lot of opportunities for youth to fall under the influence of violent gangs. . People are scared to go to some parts of New York because that turf might belong to gang m.
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For this paper, I decided to visit the New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza at 55 Water Street. . Having a spacious structure, the New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza is compelling to visit providing a peaceful environment where one can honor the sacrifice made by others. . The "Walk of Honor for example, contains .
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Many would agree that over the years New York has definitely lived up to its name as "the city that never sleeps." . The New York City Noise Code was recently updated back in 2007 to adjust to the city's changing surroundings. . Pearson recently conducted a research experiment entitled, "Exposures to Transit and Other Sources of Noise amo.
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," by John Tierney, begins with a great deal of emotion based on Henry Stern's statement, who was the New York City Parks Commissioner. . Tierney opens the essay by showing an example of Stern, the commissioner in the 1900s for city parks. . She also adds, "Monkey bars and tall slides are some of the few feature.
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Cities are flooded with people of all types. . Whether its the skyscrapers of New York City or the fifteen-foot trees of the Amazon, similarities lie in both settings. . After thinking for countless hours, one comes to realize that we humans and our big cities are not so different from animals in a big jungle. .
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New York City's mayor, Edward I. Koch, in his "Death and Justice" essay, defends his side of a high controversial debate in which he is in support of the death penalty. The purpose of Koch's essay is to persuade readers to believe that the death penalty is very necessary to maintain social order.
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