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There's no place like home, or IS THERE?
October 18, 2004 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Do you live in your nation's largest city? Do you feel like you are on a totally different planet when you leave?

Please note: This is not about one option being better than the other.
posted by dame to Society & Culture (73 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
News Flash! Aspiring American elitist relates everything to New York! Because the largest city is the only one that could cause a difference in perception when you leave it.

More at 11, including human interest story about a generic street weirdo who could only be from New York!
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:52 PM on October 18, 2004


Yes. No.
posted by falconred at 1:53 PM on October 18, 2004


Yes, Toronto. But no to the different planet part (although when elsewhere I miss the subway and 24-hour grocery stores).
posted by Robot Johnny at 1:57 PM on October 18, 2004


No. I live in Boston, and I'm always on Earth. Even when I'm in Easter Island or Idaho or London or Meat Cove, Nova Scotia.


And I love the Toronto subway with a wild, unholy passion. It rules the Earth's molten core.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:11 PM on October 18, 2004


Well, one doesn't have to live in New York to understand the painful separation between urban and rural in the United States. A quick trip from Chicago to rural Michigan or Indiana puts on in an entirely different world in every sense - politically, culturally, socially, racially, etc.

The real contention in the US, in my estimation at least, lies not in Republican vs. Democrat, but in this vast gulf between the urban and rural mindset.

To answer the question: Yes, I do feel as if I'm on a different planet when I leave a large, urban area.
posted by aladfar at 2:16 PM on October 18, 2004


Well, assuming Mayor Curley's right, and this is really about New York, I don't live in NYC, but I have visited there and absolutely love it. (I don't agree with the aphorism, "New York is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." I'd love to live there.)

I can very much see that someone living in New York, going most anywhere else in the country, would feel out of their element. However, I do not believe this is due to New York's status as the most populous city in the U.S.. It's that NYC has its own, very distinct character. In Manhattan (admittedly, most of my experience in NYC is in Manhattan, and I'm potentially making a grave error by trying to generalize from Manhattan to all of NYC), you can walk through a dozen very different neighborhoods in the space of an afternoon. If anything, this is only a secondary effect of New York's population--if anything, I think it's more closely related to the high population density in Manhattan, rather than the high population, if you see what I'm getting at.

Most of the large U.S. cities I've been to are more or less interchangeable. No offense to them--I love big cities, and yes, each of them has their own attractions--but there's not that much difference in character between most of them. NYC does have a distinctly different character. But I don't think that's really an effect of its population, at least not directly. The one other city I've visited which I consider to have a very distinctive character, not interchangeable with other large U.S. cities, is New Orleans, and it's not particularly big as big cities go. From what I've heard of them, I suspect San Francisco might also be a non-fungible city, but I've never been to either one. All of the preceeding IMO, of course.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:18 PM on October 18, 2004


No. I live in Boston

No, see, you don't get it. In America, only New York encompasses that sense of total, enveloping uniqueness. Boston simply isn't BIG enough. Boston is cow town, lady! When you leave Boston, you're glad. Because it isn't New York. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get to my Pretentious Book of the Month meeting. I'm stopping in Prospect Park on the way. To do a photo essay. Because I think that the hicks in Boston, Philadelphia and (shudder) Cleveland will benefit from my sharing my unique view of it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:19 PM on October 18, 2004


I suspect San Francisco might also be a non-fungible city, but I've never been to either one it.

Also, note aladfar's answer and my previous answer go to two different interpretations of the question, and we don't know which one you mean (or maybe both). aladfar's answer goes to "...when you leave a large city for a rural area," while mine goes to "...when you leave the largest city in the country for other large cities."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:23 PM on October 18, 2004


Yes. Yes.

>...a totally different planet when you leave?
Sometimes moreso returning to Toronto than when I leave.

>...this vast gulf between the urban and rural mindset
>...cities I've been to are more or less interchangeable
There's some theory about people of large metropoloi (London, Paris, Tokyo, etc) having more in common with each other than do the urban and rural people in the same nation. I see the point. I felt more comfortable in Paris than in Sarnia.
posted by philfromhavelock at 2:28 PM on October 18, 2004


I live in Toronto, and I'm not sure it's an aspect of it being the largest city, but just a very large city. I grew up in a very small town (less than 275 people most months) near a small city (pop. 100K or so), and then moved to Toronto after high school. The two places are completely different worlds when contrasted with each other directly. But there's a continuum between them that keeps them grounded in the same world.

I've become a city person in the last 9 years that I've been here, so when I go to Vancouver, Montreal, New York, etc, I feel relatively comfortable.

When I go to Barrie, which is a city of 100K or so, an hour North of here, I feel both completely alienated and like I've gone home. Barrie has so much in common with Prince George, the 100K city I lived near growing up that it's scary. But it's vastly different from Toronto, especially in it's freaky lack of multiculturalism.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:43 PM on October 18, 2004


Yes. Not really.
I do feel much more comfortable in any large city than in any small town, along the lines of what p.f.h. said previously.
Lived for a year in Napa, CA (booooriiiiing). Trips to San Francisco always felt like coming home. And you could hardly find a large city more unlike S.F. than my hometown of Santiago, CL.
Guess I missed the cement.
posted by signal at 2:43 PM on October 18, 2004


I've lived in two areas: L.A. Metro and Utah County. OK, I lived in Phoenix for a summer too. They all seemed very different, yes, often to the point of being somewhat alien. Although the difference seemd much more exaggerated to my 20 year old mind than my 30 year old mind.

It's interesting to note, though, that even going from suburban Utah County to a truly rural community (say, Treemonten Utah) is a big shift. And even climbing up to a mountaintop puts one in a really different environment. The first time I did it, 6-7 years ago, I felt like I was visiting an image from fantasy games I'd played as a kid... not even a different planet but a different reality entirely, the kind where I could seriously expect dragons, trolls, or spirits to suddenly manifest themselves.

Place and environment and what they do the narrative of experience are interesting things.
posted by weston at 2:52 PM on October 18, 2004


weston: know what you mean about mountaintops, specially when you're high enough to see the Earth's curve.
posted by signal at 3:04 PM on October 18, 2004


I feel like I'm on a totally different planet when I come home, actually.

That's ok - I grew up on SF, I like exploring different planets.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:13 PM on October 18, 2004


I notice that if I even slightly leave Tokyo--and this sounds really bad I know--but people are unfashionable slobs. In Tokyo people put on makeup to go to the convenience store but if you go 50kms out basically everyone is walking around in sweatpants with visible buttcrack.
posted by dydecker at 3:20 PM on October 18, 2004


My situation is the opposite. I've lived in small towns for five years (since I moved to Canada). Any time I venture into a large town (Vancouver, BC or Seattle, WA) I feel I'm on a different planet. I'm almost certain that the locals are pointing and giggling at the wide-eyed provincial.
posted by deborah at 3:29 PM on October 18, 2004


i miss san francisco so much.
posted by fishfucker at 3:38 PM on October 18, 2004


I think the "largest city" thing is a red herring (though you don't have to be such a dick about it, Mayor) -- living in any serious city (by "serious" I mean having a historic core and urban culture, not one of the conglomerations of suburbs and malls that clutter the landscape) is going to produce the kind of jolt you're talking about when you leave it. I imagine the citizens of Ur felt the same way when they visited the country cousins 5,000 years ago.

There's some theory about people of large metropoloi

If you want to go the classical route, the plural is metropoleis.
posted by languagehat at 3:44 PM on October 18, 2004


Please note: This is not about one option being better than the other.

Newsflash: Mayor Curley snarks again! Can't hear himself talk & ignore thread content enough!

My answers: No, and no.
posted by yoga at 3:46 PM on October 18, 2004


I used to live in NYC, but I don't anymore. I didn't have that feeling when I did live there because I lived my whole life prior to that in smaller cities, and adapted fairly well to both.

Dame, were you born and raised in New York? If so, that probably accounts for your discomfort elsewhere. As difficult as it might be, I do recommend trying to expand your horizons; there's a lot of good stuff out there to be seen and experienced. If you're a transplant to New York, it's probably just part of the learning curve. New York throws a lot of people for a loop at first. Either way, are you interested in abating that feeling, or were you just sort of polling the populace to get an idea of everyone else's experiences? Just curious.
posted by boomchicka at 3:53 PM on October 18, 2004


My situation is correlate to dydecker's. I live somewhat outside Tokyo, about 20km or so. Out here, kids and people who work out here (at the gas station or convenience store or whatever) dress in matching sweatshirts and sweatpants (with butt crack), but the people who have jobs downtown or even go down there a lot put on makeup to go to the convenience store. I'm right on the line, and it's kindof a weird feeling. To me, I feel equally out of place visiting the rural areas and the heart of Tokyo. I'm too casual for Tokyo (uniqlo) and I am too fashionable for the country (uniqlo).
posted by donkeymon at 4:01 PM on October 18, 2004


I've lived in small towns for five years (since I moved to Canada). Any time I venture into a large town (Vancouver, BC or Seattle, WA) I feel I'm on a different planet.

I've lived in small towns [where small = less than 5,000 people] all my life except for a decade off in Seattle. I love going to visit the big city, but I feel like I'm on a different planet when I walk around outside and don't recognize all the people I see, or don't see trees/rivers/wildlife. It's hard to not go to a mall or a big movie theater or some big event in an urban area and say "wow, this is more people than live in my whole town!"
posted by jessamyn at 4:10 PM on October 18, 2004


I live in LA. When I leave, I feel skinny. When I come back, I feel fat. Needless to say, I try to leave LA as much as possible.
posted by herc at 4:30 PM on October 18, 2004


I notice that if I even slightly leave Tokyo--and this sounds really bad I know--but people are unfashionable slobs. In Tokyo people put on makeup to go to the convenience store but if you go 50kms out basically everyone is walking around in sweatpants with visible buttcrack.

Hey, that's what I hated about Tokyo and loved about the inaka. What's so good about people wearing make-up at the nearest Sebun-Ereben?
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:32 PM on October 18, 2004


Different planet? Gainesville is a completely different dimension. Can't wait to leave for somewhere with non-football culture and more than token diversity.

Scratch that. I just want public transportation that doesn't shut down on Sundays.
posted by casarkos at 4:50 PM on October 18, 2004


The largest city in the U.S. appears to be Anchorage, Alaska.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:04 PM on October 18, 2004


not sure it's about cities, for me, as much as leaving the rich area of the city for a country that is otherwise generally rather poorer. going to the poorer parts of santiago is as much another planet as going to some village.

i'm currently in tucson, which i guess might be a city, but it's all too spread out to feel like one. so that's yet another world - rich but sparsely filled.

hmmm. so there's rich and densely packed - which feels like home. then there's poor and densely packed, which feels scary; poor and sparse, which feels kind of "quaint"; and rich and sparse, which is just odd.

(and, of course, those are all relative - my chilean partner probably comes from a higher local social percentile than i do, yet is used to worse living conditions, and while i consider myself rich, most people in tucson seem to have much more stuff than i do).

it's class and politics, not geography.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:09 PM on October 18, 2004


I live in a smallish town (<40k) that's very... unsophisticated, we'll charitably call it. I really enjoy going to big cities (ie. Vancouver mainland), but I do find that within a few days I'm all too ready for the peace and quiet of my town.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:44 PM on October 18, 2004


Yup, but any city with diversity and thriving streetlife at all hours anywhere seems comfortable to me. It's the empty streets and no one else walking around thing that freaks me out in many places. (psst--Philly people! walk more at night downtown, ok?)
posted by amberglow at 5:57 PM on October 18, 2004


I'm with the snarky Mayor. This post is too Yorkified.

Is it really the supreme size of New York City that makes you feel out of place when you leave? What has "the biggest" got to do with it? In some countries, the largest city really is the cultural and economic center. In others (China, I think), it's not. If we're just asking about a nation's larger cities vs. smaller ones/the countryside, I think that's a question with fewer confounding factors. I guess lots of others have already made this point.

Here's an add-on to the question for those who answered yes to part B of the post: how far out of town do you have to go before you feel like an alien? Where does the hinterland start?

In any case, no to both for me.
posted by tss at 6:19 PM on October 18, 2004


Second biggest, and yes. But if you grow up in Montreal, anywhere monoglot seems parochial by comparison.
posted by zadcat at 8:06 PM on October 18, 2004


Living in Tokyo. And everywhere else feels like a different planet compared to Tokyo.

Actually, Tokyo is more like a huge self-contained, overcrowded spaceship. Everything is so convenient. Everything is available at a moments notice 24 hours a day. All our needs are taken care of.
posted by Meridian at 8:15 PM on October 18, 2004


I currently live in the country, grew up in the country and in the intervening years have lived in a number of large cities.
Said cities being in the US.

I feel pretty much at home whereever I am, as long as I have my internets.

Being a kamylyon (chameleon) helps a lot, even though I AM still shy.
posted by kamylyon at 8:42 PM on October 18, 2004


I live in Los Angeles, and there are parts of this elephantine metro area that feel like you're in New York, Chicago, Mexico City, Toronto, Peoria, Mayberry or the Simpsons' Springfield. And there are parts that are unique (because no other place would WANT to be like them). None of the other places I've ever visited (including London, Baja, Ottawa, Maui, Albuquerque and Bangor, Maine) have felt 'like another planet'. A lot of that is because parts of the L.A. area have been passing as other places in movies and TV for so long. (And now, locations in Canada are passing for L.A.) Still, I can sing Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." at the top of my lungs without irony (partly because of a time when I actually did cruise down Imperial Highway with a big nasty redhead, and I'd reccommend it to all my friends). As for New York City, it ranks on my list of "Places I'd Like to Visit" just below Turkmenistan.
posted by wendell at 8:57 PM on October 18, 2004


This brings to mind one of the funniest things I recall from my youth here in Nebraska. We were out detasseling (a distinctively midwest rite of passage wherein kids go through corn fields and pull off the uppermost part of corn plants to prevent self-pollination) and there was one particularly nervous girl visting from New York very close to being panic-stricken. As we walked the rows, her glance darted right, left, up down; she was wide-eyed, distracted and obviously spooked. Seems that some hometown kids had convinced her that the local Indians were on the war path and conducting raids on farmsteads in the area, burning fields, taking scalps and kidnapping women. She evidently expected an arrow to come whizzing by any second.
posted by RavinDave at 9:22 PM on October 18, 2004


I love the Toronto subway with a wild, unholy passion

Why? It's kinda limited compared to a lot of other systems, and it's not particularly funky. The stations are nice enough; certainly nicer than NY the last time I was there (mid 90s), or Philly, or Chicago, or Boston, at least on the lines I've taken there. Is it just that it doesn't smell like piss?

To me, it doesn't have that YOU ARE IN THE HIVE feeling that I get in the DC Metro, in all its austere concrete glory, or the sheer abundance of funky peoplewatching you get in the larger American city subways.

My fave: a real no-kidding crazy dude on the line in from O'Hare whose rant went something like
HOT DOG?!! *mumble mumble* JUST TWO PIECES OF BREAD!!! *mumble mumble mumble* CAN'T CALL THAT A MOTORCYCLE!!

And you know, you can't, can you?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:23 PM on October 18, 2004


I grew up in Toronto, and lived there until a couple of years ago. I've felt pretty much at home in most cities I've been to (not like Toronto, but at least I fundamentally understand them), and I like the country, but the suburbs feel like a different planet. A planet whose strange customs confuse and frighten me.
posted by biscotti at 9:52 PM on October 18, 2004


People who live in one community feel alienated when they leave it and enter another community. You're feeling the same thing when you leave New York that someone from Lost Springs, WY (pop. 3) feels when he leaves his home: anxiety as a result of the loss of the familiar. It is nothing special, and has nothing to do with big cities or small towns.

And I agree that this question, as posed, has a bit of an odor of New York-centrism to it. My threshold is admittedly low, given that I glare at the television whenever CNN tells me about something happening "out west", but still, if you're not being a snob, it still smacks of snobbery.
posted by Hildago at 10:24 PM on October 18, 2004


I've lived in all sorts of places and visited many more. I've yet to find one that doesn't have something to offer, so I try to remain open to it all. Have yet to find anywhere I'd be willing to settle permanently, though.
posted by rushmc at 10:28 PM on October 18, 2004


no
posted by angry modem at 11:01 PM on October 18, 2004


I live in London, and yes, when I've left London it feels like the rest of the UK is a completely different country. That's no great surprise though - London really is the centre of pretty much everything here, and is well on its way to becoming a city-state.
posted by influx at 1:16 AM on October 19, 2004


Hidalgo: "Out west" makes perfect sense, considering the fact that this country grew from east to west. On the other hand, people who say "out east" when they mean "back east" are just misguided.
posted by oaf at 1:50 AM on October 19, 2004


I lived in London many years ago, and now don't. When I go there, I find I'm on a different plant: one of dirt, rudeness, selfishness, over-haste, cash-obsessed horror. The only good thing is the history. I'm glad to get out into the sticks.
posted by Pericles at 4:10 AM on October 19, 2004


Hey Curley, the chip on your shoulder is showing. You might want to get that thing checked out. Also:

"Ask MetaFilter is as useful as you make it. Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer. Wisecracks don't help people find answers. Thanks."
posted by Irontom at 5:02 AM on October 19, 2004


I think the "largest city" thing is a red herring (though you don't have to be such a dick about it, Mayor)

languagehat, it's clearly not a red herring. She went out of her way to say "nation's largest city" not "a large city." I'm glad that people from merely large cities skewered the pretensiousness by weighing in with their experiences, but this question was clearly more about saying "New York is so rich and unique and (by nature of specifying "nation's largest city") better than everything else in the US that I feel like an alien when I leave it. Are Londoners and Parisians as caught up in their sophistication as I am?"

I have an irrational love of my city, too. But unlike a subset of New Yorkers, I know that my perceived air of superiority is best kept between myself and my fellow New Englanders. I know that you live in New York and probably really appreciate it. And that's great-- life is much better when you're in love with where you live. But the smug scenesters (like the author of the question) who think they're too cool by nature of NYC ZIP code and like to suggest that everyone else is unwashed and missing out need to shut the hell up-- even if they do it and then deny that they're doing it.

(And yeah, the extreme way in which I've taken excepton might have something to do with baseball. But I would have taken exception to it in the dead of winter, but with less vitrol.)

irontom- no shit I have a chip on my shoulder. A couple of generations of unmerited smug dismissals will put a big one there. And I'm not making wisecracks-- I'm trying to deflate an ass who put up the equivalent of "No Irish Need Apply" sign.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:25 AM on October 19, 2004


I'm hoping you didn't see the Daily Show's Boston segment last night, Mayor. (and it's a permanent, enduring thing, for you foreigners reading this--Boston people think they're better, even tho they live in a small town; us New Yorkers know we are.) ; >
posted by amberglow at 5:32 AM on October 19, 2004


I've (briefly) lived in both cities and Boston is my favorite (the goddamn Green line notwithstanding), and one of the reasons is exactly that it's not a megalopolis. but I perfectly understand that other people may like New York more. and anyway the 5-month winter thing disqualifies both cities when it comes to my ideal place to live
posted by matteo at 6:52 AM on October 19, 2004


The weirdest change I notice leaving my city (Boston, again) is that cars will actually stop to let you cross at a crosswalk. That and the wild variations in soda prices are the weirdest parts about leaving the city (well, that and the ever spooky Route 2 - One time we saw that spooky roadside mill on fire!).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:56 AM on October 19, 2004


M C, if you're going to bitch about people's reactions to questions on AskMe, you might do yourself a service and not make a conscious effort to jam your foot as far down your throat as it will go.

The question's a good one- it just asks "do you feel this way?" News flash- a lot of New Yorkers feel this way. I'm one of them. I've also found Parisians to have a similar position. Not so much Londoners, however, and that's where my experience ends.

I'd imagine this sentiment applies to a few other U.S. cities- LA, SF, and to a lesser extent, Seattle. Chicago, though, despite being the second-largest city (is it still?), seems to retain it's "Middle America" character- it's the most non-cosmopolitan city I've been to.
posted by mkultra at 6:56 AM on October 19, 2004


Yes and often yes.

I grew up in Manhattan and currently live in Tokyo.

I do best in either dense cities or the true wilderness. Anything in between and I start to get antsy after a while.
posted by gen at 7:05 AM on October 19, 2004



Hidalgo: "Out west" makes perfect sense, considering the fact that this country grew from east to west.


Sorry, that doesn't make sense to me at all. I don't think they're giving me a history lesson, I think they're using relative geographic terms because their studios are in New York. If their studios were in Los Angeles, they wouldn't say "out west", despite the fact that the east was settled first.
posted by Hildago at 7:12 AM on October 19, 2004


M C, if you're going to bitch about people's reactions to questions on AskMe, you might do yourself a service and not make a conscious effort to jam your foot as far down your throat as it will go.

mkultra, I'm putting my foot in my mouth for A) calling someone an "asshole" and then B) taking exception a pretentious question that exists just to say "the rest of you, you're not in our league. We're special"?

I'm sure you do "feel this way." Because you're a snob. Do us all a favor and don't lower yourself to leaving your citadel and feeling like you're on another planet. If we can keep your attitude quarantined to its point of origin, I won't have to hear another lecture about how much better your museums are than ours, how your subways are superior because they run all night and you need that because you're 35 and still kicking it to all hours, and how you can't get a decent bagel in Boston like it was a valid measure of a city's worth.

(For the record, yes, you can't get a decent bagel in Boston. You have to all the way out to Brookline. Which is the town abutting it-- I know you wouldn't stoop to learning anything about the geography of a lesser city. Now get a pretentiously-named cup of coffee with your hipster buddies in Park Slope, talk about a local artist that I couldn't understand and, most of all, don't lower yourself by leaving your perfect Metropolis. No need- you've got it all there and the rest of us are just shadows.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:18 AM on October 19, 2004


Yes and no. I currently live in NYC but spend all summer in St. Augustine, FL (the nation's oldest city!), which has a permanent population of about 13,000.

Rather than feeling alien or out of place, I just feel like I'm a different person, capable of different things. Being in NY is empowering somehow, and it breeds in me a serious desire to do things, to meet people, to see and be seen, to have big, important arguments about critical issues, etc. When I'm in St. Augustine, by contrast, I'm perfectly content to fall asleep on the beach at 10 pm, to drive around aimlessly all day, and to say "That shit'll tear you up," by way of explaining some foreign policy decision to a friend.

I love both 'me's, and a large part of my sanity hinges on my being able to split my time between the two.
posted by saladin at 7:19 AM on October 19, 2004


M C, you're the only one here who seems to have an issue with the question. You might ask yourself why this is so. The question is very straightforward- you're the one who's reading all sorts of subtext regarding "superiority" into it. Anyone versed in the most rudimentary aspects of psychology would attribute that to your own feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.

Just sayin'.
posted by mkultra at 7:36 AM on October 19, 2004


"(And yeah, the extreme way in which I've taken excepton might have something to do with baseball. But I would have taken exception to it in the dead of winter, but with less vitrol.)

And I'm not making wisecracks-- I'm trying to deflate an ass who put up the equivalent of "No Irish Need Apply" sign."


You've admitted you're being a dick. Not only that, but a bigger dick than you'd normally be, because of a fucking game. Do us all a favor, and stop. You're wrong, and you know it.
posted by Irontom at 7:41 AM on October 19, 2004


M C, you're the only one here who seems to have an issue with the question.

Do I have to link to the posters that agreed with me or can you scroll up and read a bit more carefully?

You've admitted you're being a dick. Not only that, but a bigger dick than you'd normally be, because of a fucking game. Do us all a favor, and stop. You're wrong, and you know it.

I've admitted that I wouldn't have put so much effort into this if it was a different time of year. I'd still think that the "only in New York" crowd should be gassed even if it was, as I said, "the dead of winter."
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:51 AM on October 19, 2004


I live in New York, and after having spent the weekend in St. Louis, I can honestly say: yes, I felt like an alien.

It's funny, but I have never had an issue in places like Paris, Cairo or Hong Kong. However, put me in any "metropolitan" area of the US besides New York and L.A. and I am counting the seconds until I can go home.

And M.C.: the fact that you can't get a decent bagel in the cesspool of Boston is only one of the many reasons that I hate that city. It's pretty sad when there are better bagels in Lincoln, NE...
posted by hummus at 8:27 AM on October 19, 2004


Do I have to link to the posters that agreed with me or can you scroll up and read a bit more carefully?

Yeah, that'd be good. There's a difference, you see, between disagreeing with the position put forth in the question (which several people have done, and done well) and thinking the question itself is without merit (which you've done, and done poorly).

I'm trying very hard to overcome my desire to bag on Boston for being a has-been city, but every whiny post of yours brings me that much closer...
posted by mkultra at 8:30 AM on October 19, 2004


Wow, and I thought nationalism was petty and ugly... :::shakes head in disbelief:::
posted by rushmc at 8:57 AM on October 19, 2004


I'm trying very hard to overcome my desire to bag on Boston for being a has-been city, but every whiny post of yours brings me that much closer...

Ooh! Do it. I'm sure that I'd become so disillusioned that I'd move to New York. And then I'd post loaded questions here about how taken in I am by it and how the rest of the world are philistines that can't relate to my lifestyle.

And M.C.: the fact that you can't get a decent bagel in the cesspool of Boston is only one of the many reasons that I hate that city. It's pretty sad when there are better bagels in Lincoln, NE...

hummusYes. Why am I living in a city that makes me take a trolley to get good bagels? Your point is well taken-- a city should be judged on baked goods. Baked goods and how condescendingly high its residents are on themselves. I shall make plans to leave this "cesspool" immediately. See you on the scene or in Fort Greene Park. I'll be the guy wearing the very new black plastic frames.

(A disinterested third party could well get the impression (rightly at this point because I look obsessive for refusing to just walk out of your New York Uber Alles! Look at the farmers! circle jerk) that I am asshole with a chip on my shoulder. But they'll know that you're quite possibly mentally handicapped because you insist that a city is measured in a significant sense by its baked goods. I reiterate-- you are either confused about decent criteria or just retarded.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:05 AM on October 19, 2004


But they'll know that you're quite possibly mentally handicapped because you insist that a city is measured in a significant sense by its baked goods. I reiterate-- you are either confused about decent criteria or just retarded.

On the other hand, as you've implied, some might judge a city by the attitudes of those who live there. Congratulations, you're doing a bang up job.

This is like shooting fish in a barrel...
posted by mkultra at 9:15 AM on October 19, 2004


This is like shooting fish in a barrel...

You like to congradulate yourself. And you insist that you're not a snot.

Now I'll appraise my own retort with the same bias:

Wow! I am showing him! Oh, I'm so clever!

Seems like my appraisal of you being high on yourself was pretty spot on, eh?

(and for the record, I never said, and tried not to insinuate, that all New Yorkers were arrogant, masturbatory hipsters. Just the ones defending the phrasing of the question that started this. But if you want to judge all Bostonians by one person in one forum, you're welcome to be that short-sighted.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:33 AM on October 19, 2004


MeTa.
posted by signal at 9:58 AM on October 19, 2004


Mayor Curley- don't be a fucker. The original question was not about New York. You just assumed it was, and then jumped down the poster's throat.

i could not care less about some sports team or other and think it's reprehensible for someone to use that as an excuse for bad behaviour.
posted by Miles Long at 10:13 AM on October 19, 2004


M C, you're the only one here who seems to have an issue with the question

I thought it was snotty to ask about "THE LARGEST CITY!!!" instead of A Big City, but I didn't want to make a scene.

If leaving NYC is weird, that's not because NYC is the largest city in the country. It's because NYC's culture is, more than most places, set by its long-term and multigenerational inhabitants. And these long-term and multigenerational residents -- the no-shit New Yorkers -- seem to be disproportionately insular and parochial, at least with respect to the rest of the US. This leads to a more distinctive local culture than you'd see in the sorts of large American cities where the predominant culture is an amalgamation of where everyone came from.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:17 AM on October 19, 2004


Mayor Curley- don't be a fucker. The original question was not about New York. You just assumed it was, and then jumped down the poster's throat.

Then what was it about?
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:29 AM on October 19, 2004


But they'll know that you're quite possibly mentally handicapped because you insist that a city is measured in a significant sense by its baked goods. I reiterate-- you are either confused about decent criteria or just retarded.)

You can trivialize the bagel argument down to 'baked goods' if you like, but cities are often, and very reasonably judged on the strength of their culinary scenes. Quality and variety of the food available in a city's restaurants reflects on many other aspects of life in that city - ethnic diversity, standard of living, etc.

If you really can't find decent bagels in a city, there's a good chance it's not got a strong and central Jewish community. If you can't find any place with that'll sell you jerked chicken, you probably also won't find a Jamaican community center, a reggae music festival or a carribbean oriented religious congregation.

Then what was it about?

There a couple hundred countries in the world, each one of which presumably has a largest city. It seems rather like the question was about all of them. See frequency of answers regarding Toronto and Tokyo for more on this concept.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:39 AM on October 19, 2004


Mayor Curley- don't be a fucker. The original question was not about New York. You just assumed it was, and then jumped down the poster's throat.

Then what was it about?
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:29 AM PST on October 19


my read was that it was about the differences between city and country. Seemed pretty general to me.
posted by Miles Long at 10:51 AM on October 19, 2004


Your city sucks and YOU suck for living there.
posted by Eamon at 1:21 PM on October 19, 2004


The question annoyed me for the same reasons as MC and others mention. But knowing it was Dame who posed it makes a difference. That's why it's hard not to read it uncharitably.

Here's a tip: if people were so incredibly different depending upon where they live, we'd each be able to guess where others here live just on the basis of personality. But I can't tell the Canadians from the Americans from the Europeans, or the urban from the rural.

Exceptionalism when coupled with elitism, either implicitly or explicitly, really rubs me the wrong way.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:17 PM on October 19, 2004


Related: NYC has 10 sister cities.
posted by swift at 6:22 PM on October 19, 2004


I moved from a smaller city to a larger one (Hamilton to Toronto) and have to say that upon going back to the smaller city the difference astounds and I do feel a little out of place or rather not quite integral anymore. A friend of mine just the other day commented on her friend from Vancouver in Toronto pointing out many differences both seemingly odd or wonderful.

Going across the border to another country, and therefore other cities and towns, I feel like I am on another planet (which is just an expression of course and we don't need to take it literally), particularly in the upkeep of the towns and cities. This is the greatest country in the world?

New York I love and haven't been anywhere like it and would live there in a moment if I could. It's almost like Fry waking up 1000 years later and not minding.

The further south I get the differences increase. I find the differences fascinating in a way that I found the regionalism of England fascinating and at times either frightening or inspiring. Surely this is not unusual, but surely not universal either.

The closest, however, I've ever gotten to feeling totally off planet (if we are to pay pedantic attention to the wording of the question) is in a club having consumed a variety of legal and illegal substances. Songs that were usually 3 minutes were suddenly 30. There appeared to be other worldly people that no one else could see but me and my mates. They were observers and they didn't seem pleased we too could observe. Futhermore, we didn't feel we could exist for fear of stepping out into the vacumn of space. Unfortunately the voyage was apparently cancelled and we landed on Earth a couple of hours later. You can always tell by the duration of the songs and the decreased laughter.
posted by juiceCake at 8:38 PM on October 19, 2004


I grew up living in lots of foreign cities, some of them quite large--Bangkok, Guangzhou and Taipei among them. Traveling back to the US after living in Asia, I recall feeling that I was in a different world just because I wasn't used to being around so many non-Asians.

Now I live in Portland and occasionally go back home to my family in Northern Virginia. I always feel like I'm passing between worlds when I make the journey. Portland is an incredibly vibrant, relaxed, creative city, with interesting people and a discernable soul. And when I go back to NoVa I feel like a lot of that creative soul is subsumed by elitism, wealth and ambition. At the same time, Northern Virginia is a place where people from all over the world and all over the country come together. My hometown has churches, mosques, synagogues; it's racially diverse; and students in local schools speak more than a hundred different languages at home. After a trip to the east coast, for all its creativity Portland feels lacking in cultural diversity. It seems like everyone I see here is a white 20- or 30-something.

As someone with a strong interest in local government, the different ways that cities and states even just within the US operate can also give me the feeling that I'm traveling between planets. Vote by mail!? When I left Virginia, we were still holding caucuses instead of primaries. Land use planning? It's the (often unpopular) law out here, the unobtainable holy grail back there.

I know big cities like New York have the diversity as well as the undercurrent of creativity. But it's so expensive to live there, and the disparities between haves and have-nots are so extreme, that I think a lot of the community feel anyone can get in a place like Portland may only be available to the privileged and the connected. Maybe that's just my personal sensibility. I'm sure not everyone in New York feels that way.

I don't think I could ever feel at home in New York. London or Toronto, however, I might enjoy.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:13 AM on October 20, 2004


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