The Supposed Tyranny of New York

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25 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    I have only a small quibble. Toronto? The great big bland white bread of Canada’s cities is the cultural capital of that country? I have been away from Canadiastan for a while but surely not that long. Montreal, Vancouver, hell even Ottawa has more character than Toronto. Toronto is big, sure, but culturally weighty? I think not.

    As for New York, well if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. San Antonio, San Antonio just doesn’t scan right into that song.Report

    • Avatar David Schaengold in reply to North says:

      @North, point taken.Report

    • Avatar JonF in reply to North says:

      I have to agree about Toronto. A great place, and in some ways iconic of Canada. But the political capital is Ottawa, and Montreal is equally weighty in terms of culture.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to JonF says:

        @JonF, This is true. But, when I lived in Toronto, most of the people I met there believed it to be the cultural capital of Canada, so at least they see themselves that way. Also, it’s a “world-class city”- I heard that at least ten times.Report

    • Avatar Derek Pearce in reply to North says:

      Alright, have to stick up for my city here. Yes, Montreal is more franco-glamoureux and Ottawa is where Parliament is. But Toronto has the vast majority of head offices, is the headquarters of the English-Canadian media and has the largest theatre scene. If you’re experience of TO is just the narrow strip of downtown around the bank towers and Eaton Centre then no wonder you think it’s dry. There’s waaaaaaay more to it. I mean, Ottawa, more character? If you have a civil servant fetish I guess.Report

  2. Avatar RWBoyd says:

    New York’s relative weakness as a cultural capital is typified by the fact that the film industry is not headquartered there (as it is in other countries’ cultural capitals). Sure, we read a lot of stuff published in NYC and about NYC, and view lots of images of NYC. So what? When you boil water or fuel up your car, you end up helping to pay the salaries of thousands of people in Houston. New York is dominant in some ways, but just another city (albeit a great one) in other ways.Report

  3. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    Didn’t Madonna do a self-parody song about this a few years ago? Actually, I’m not sure it was a self-parody, which is why it was so brilliant.

    Baltimore is far from being a cultural capital, but its influence isn’t limited to The Wire. There’s also John Waters — and the fellow in my Gravatar, who still influences so many, even though they don’t know who he is.Report

  4. Avatar Paul B says:

    But Buenos Aires accounts for a third Argentina’s population, London and Paris are both about a fifth of their respective countries, Toronto checks in at 15% of the Canadian population, and Lagos is a little over 10% of Nigeria (and apparently there’s some controversy that the last census undercounted its share of the population). Those are all based on the metro area figures from Wikipedia.

    The Census Bureau’s most expansive definition of NYC, on the other hand, accounts for a mere 7% of the U.S. population — so the very fact that you’re grouping it in with those more-demographically-dominant cities emphasizes Conor’s point that it exerts disproportionate influence.Report

    • Avatar David Schaengold in reply to Paul B says:

      @Paul B, it’s also additionally the most important city in the world. And actually I don’t think it’s as dominant in the U.S. as those cities are in their countries.Report

      • Avatar Paul B in reply to David Schaengold says:

        @David Schaengold,
        I think “most important” is too broad a claim, even if we’re just talking culture. There are plenty of facets, from movies to architecture to symphonic music, where New York lags noticeably behind other cities.

        Anyway, I’d say (speaking as a transplanted Ohioan) the best thing about New York is incidental to its influence on the larger culture: it’s big and diverse enough to support all sorts of cultural niches that don’t and maybe can’t thrive anywhere else. That’s the best kind of parochialism.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Paul B says:

      @Paul B,

      I wonder though what percentage of the creative class lives in New York? The definition here is squishy, but I’d guess that it’s a much larger share, and that New York’s only real competition here would be the Los Angeles area.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Oh, you use that operating system?
    You should use a *REAL* operating system.

    Oh, you prefer 15th Century Japanese Poetry?
    You should read the Japanese Poetry from a *REAL* Century.

    Oh, you went to the 1st Methodist Church in Austin, Texas?
    You should go to a *REAL* Methodist Church in Austin, Texas.

    (left unstated is the connection that the *REAL* one is the one I happen to favor.)Report

  6. Avatar trumwill says:

    I don’t begrudge New York and Los Angeles getting a lion’s share of the attention. I think fixating only on NYC isn’t particularly fair.

    My only real complaint is that sometimes I would like to see shows on television that don’t take place in NYC or LA. A while back I did a scan of the setting of the TV shows on at the time. Of the 34, 21 took place in NYC, LA, Chicago, or DC. Twenty-five took place somewhere other than on the east or west coast.

    New York City as The Most Important Place makes a degree of sense. New York City as The Only Place That Matters is a lot more obnoxious. Truthfully, though, it’s not a particularly common viewpoint.

    I don’t think it’s particularly good that so many influential people come from a single city. Particularly a city that’s as different as the rest of the country as NYC is from the US. Diversity can be a good thing. Be that as it may, though, a lot of people in NYC are from somewhere else and so I don’t worry about it as much as I otherwise might.

    I don’t worry at all about the “brain drain”.Report

  7. Avatar Gus says:

    “But why did Conor pick a list of cities unusually famous—justifiably or not—for their blandness?”
    That’s a telling quote. Outside of NYC, LA, SF, New Orleans, Chicago and maybe Austin what cities would you not consider bland?Report

    • Avatar David Schaengold in reply to Gus says:

      @Gus, of the cities I’ve been f0rtunate enough to visit, I mention at random ten of my favorites: Savannah, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Seattle, Baltimore, Santa Fe, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and St. LouisReport

  8. Avatar Julian says:

    Hmph. There’s nothing “provincial” about Houston or Dallas of San Antonio or Austin or El Paso. You have one great city; we have 5! Cultural capital my eye. *Comic Yosemite Sam stomp-off*Report

  9. Avatar Endevour to Persevere says:

    Thousands of hours of television has driven one message home when it comes to New York, it’s a crime riddled shit hole.

    I’ve never seen an television show set in new york that didn’t make the city look like a post-apocalyptic hell hole.

    Maybe I’m just watching the wrong television shows.Report

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