Dylan Jones: 'New York is still very old-school'

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The Independent Online

The first time the receptionist at New York's Graceful Services had a call asking if they offered BlackBerry finger massage, she slammed the phone down. "She thought it was something dirty," says the owner, Grace Macnow. Now, like many places in the city, they charge 60 bucks an hour for the service. "BlackBerry Thumb", "Tech Neck", "Tech Hand" and "Cell-Phone Clog" are just some of the repetitive-stress "injuries" that are now catered for here, using acupressure, hot compresses and light-emitting diodes to kill bacteria, diffuse skin irritation and get rid of any unseemly activity in your ear. Obviously in Manhattan communication has never been quite so hazardous.

Elsewhere in the city, gluttony is still the best way to meet people. Go downtown to Graydon Carter's neo-Dickensian Waverly Inn and you'll see the literati, the glitterati, the arty-ati and the party-ati all chowing down as though at some sort of multi-media communion. While over at Gordon Ramsay's much-maligned but rather brilliant new place, The London Hotel, you'll see a bunch of people wondering how New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni got it so wrong (he slammed it). This is a little bit of Claridge's in midtown Manhattan, and frankly brings a touch of class to the area. Money will never go out of fashion here, yet in Ramsay's restaurant the customers were spending it like they hadn't had the opportunity to for ages.

Of course the crowd at these places is incredibly well-heeled. A friend of mine who works in the film business here - a Brit who got executively hauled over from Europe 18 months ago - says that the city is still very old-school, still extremely hierarchical. "You have the money up here," he says, raising his hand up to his head. "Then just under the money you have opera, then the theatre, and then some way below that you have film."

And when I tentatively asked which of the lower rungs was reserved for journalists, he said nothing, and then ever so slowly and politely nodded at the floor.

The obvious way to work off the gastro delights is by running round Central Park, or at least the Jackie O Reservoir bang in the middle of it (as once famously used by Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man). Twenty thousand people make use of it every day, but as I dutifully ran round it, instead of bumping into an army of Niked-up runners, I was confronted by that strange breed of New Yorker employed to walk the canine offspring of the great and the good at all hours of the day and night.

It was eight below zero, and I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't have my BlackBerry, but only because my BlackBerry fingers were buried beneath three layers of thick fleece. In New York, frostbite still has the edge on tech neck or cell-phone clog.

Dylan Jones is the editor of GQ