New Yorkistan Notebook
"New Yorkistan" is an original design that became the cover art for the 10 December 2001 edition of The New Yorker magazine. It was created by longtime REMO friend Maira Kalman in collaboration with heræfriend, illustrator Rick Meyerowitz, and is, according to the American Society of Magazine Editors, #14 on the list of the top 40 magazine covers of the past 40 years.
The design depicts the boroughs of New York City, as well as individual neighborhoods within the city, giving each a name a "funny mixture of Yiddish, Farsi, and New Yorkisms" based on the history or geography of that area of the city: Lubavistan, Kvetchnya, Irate, Irant, Mooshuhadeen, Schmattahadeen, Yhanks, Feh, Fattushis, Fuhgeddabouditstan, Hiphopabad, Bad, Veryverybad, Khakis and Kharkeez (in Connecticut), and so on ...
The response to New Yorkistan was overwhelming. The magazine disappeared from newsstands in two days, becoming the best selling issue of The New Yorker in history.
Some Background: By early November 2001 the people of New York had settled into a deep funk. The ramifications of September 11 had set in and the war against the Taliban had begun in Afghanistan. "When their cover came out, suddenly a dark cloud seemed to lift" ... according to a glowing piece by Sarah Boxer in the 8 December edition of the New York Times. She went on:
"New Yorkers were mad for the map. They laughed. They shared it. They recited their favorite joke names on the map, making sure you had the proper Yiddish: the name Gribines (for the Hudson River) means chicken cracklings. They checked out your cultural knowledge: Blahniks (the Upper East Side) is where everyone can afford Manolo Blahnik shoes. What? You don't understand. Youdontunderstandistan? You should be banished to Outer Perturbiaæ(somewhere on Long Island). Perhaps not since Steinberg's drawing had New Yorkers pored over a magazine cover so long. Of course, the maps are totally different. Steinberg's is a delicate drawing done in perfect perspective, with fully realized cars and little witty dotted lines separating Canada from Chicago and Mexico from Washington. The drawing by Ms. Kalman and Mr. Meyerowitz is flat and na¥ve. Aside from a funny perplexed camel standing in the middle of Stan (Staten Island), the humor is all verbal."
According to Maira, the inspiration for the cover arose in a car on the way to a party. She and Rick were talking about tribalism. At one point she came up with the idea of "Bronxistan", to which Rick replied "You know, we've got a map here." Originally, the picture was to be run on the back page of the magazine, but editors liked it so much that it was decided to make it the cover.
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