Saturday, April 27, 2019

Further Thoughts on Urban Angst

A former head of a formerly ranked top Washington museum is asked why he chose to stay in the city after leaving his director's post. He is a New Yorker by birth and inclination and, presumably, could have settled anywhere he chose. His ties to New York still are solid. He pauses for quite a while, then answers 'Washington is exotic.' Hardly the most common qualifying statement about out capital city. What can he possibly mean - apart from the presence of so many international representatives in residence, offering a multitude of cultural choices for anyone so inclined to seek them out?
"Trees," he says.
Surprise but no surprise. A favorite slogan of DC is 'city of trees,' that by contrast with Manhattan streets he points out, is true. Of course he happens to live in one of the most leafy upscale sections of the city, well away from commercial invaders. He tries to explain how he does miss the intellectual life of New York, as he knew it well and then dismisses that city by saying "it's all business." Yes, the financial capitol of the world, a haven for the moneyed rich, squeezing out anyone with less than a million to spare.
Take your compliments any way they are given.
A recent survey published last December found that, while Americans are more and more driven to life in urban areas, at heart they hanker for rural enclaves. Jobs and other necessities create cities. Rural life offers solitude - privacy. A conundrum. By rural, they mean rustic - not the suburbs. Quixotic - hah, exotic! - this yearning for what might have been or could be. Typically the restless populace, a storied tribe in our still young history. Always washing for what might have been or could be. Pushing westward for escape.

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