Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Slick City Touts

An accomplished urban man of distinction,  who likes to answer to the description of 'flaneur' (which Webster's translates miserably as 'an idle man about town'), can be easily engaged in a name game about cities he has known and loved. He fancies ranking them in terms of the 'it-ness' of the moment - their individual allure based on what might in other people's minds be simply subjective impressions from a recent visit. He appears very firm in his judgments and by no means volunteers them to gain effect. He has traveled the world, lived at separate times in a number of celebrated places, and feels justified in his conclusions.
Take heed then: Paris is 'over.' The city stifles creativity chiefly because government policies and regulations discourage innovation. The talented young especially are all going to London. He says a friend reports recently that the language she heard most often in London was French. Berlin has replaced Paris as a continental city worth inhabiting. More verve and excitement. Sydney has it in spades over Melbourne, the latter being "tired" and mainly a refuge for - well, he can't exactly say but it isn't really alive. Forget Rome, Lisbon, Madrid, Moscow, Tokyo - though he might give the latter some praise.
 His own choice is New York - and the upper East Side of Manhattan, which has lost its allure for the luxe crowd  (Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue excluded). Rents are cheaper, live is easier since small service businesses still exist in the neighborhood. He can close his small apartment at any time and leave without regret for any wanderings he fancies. He is giving away most of his possessions and relying on digital devices to make his way. "Seven bus lines between New York and Washington," he exclaims - a lark for the last minute unencumbered traveler, even one on a day trip. 

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