Saturday, February 16, 2008

Take Me Off Your Mailing List

I don't live in New York, but it's a place represented in the media often. I used to think of it (and at heart still do) as the ultimate city. Where anything and everything possible. A cultural home. One of the most liberal states in a country I honestly cannot stand. But recently it seems that people are keen to turn against New York City. Whether it's Jodie Foster's concerns in The Brave One, which perhaps can be construed as an attempt to mask her own characters' self-doubt, but admittedly is fairly scathing about what is intimidating people today, to things such as LCD Soundsystem's stunning song, 'New York, I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down', a hint at the recent New York 'clean-up' serving a distinctly promotional purpose. The lyrics 'Take me off your mailing list, for those who think it still exists' suggesting that New York has lost its identity altogether.

My brother lives in New York. I've always thought of it as a grander London, and having been there twice it feels strange how everyone seems so reliant upon things that, in the small town in the North of England where I come from, feel a distant and alien triviality. My brother's mother-in-law (I don't know what that makes her to me) Kiki Maria, a respected professor of English, recently had an essay published in the New York Press which tells about the reaction of her fellow New Yorkers when her ankle buckles beneath her near Union Square.

People are people. I get that. Perhaps this is because I've lived in a small town for most of my life, but whenever I visit a big city it always seems as if people are possessed or controlled. Systematic, characterless. But this essay clears things out of my mind, and makes me open to the way community is affected through circumstance. New York City may be the craziest place on earth, its inhabitants towered over by corporations, but anywhere you can call home must be crazy to somebody. That's culture.

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