With further evidence that New York is going suburban, the Observer reports on the rapidly growing car culture of our city and Streetsblog gives their analysis on this process of Californication.
Who are these car-lovers? They're young people from the suburbs who like everything to be easy, convenient, and under their control. And, perhaps most shockingly, they don't want their lives to be too urban. Says one: "I don't think you need a car...but I think it's definitely a plus. And it definitely makes me feel more...well, not like such a city person." Writes the Observer, "For reasons both deep and ineffable, these young transplants just can’t help bringing suburbia with them."
This is clear from their love of not only cars, but Home Depots, Cold Stone Creameries, golf, anti-intellectualism, conservatism, and all the other trappings of suburban life that currently plague our streets. But what I find most baffling is why anyone would move to the city if they explicitly did not want to be a city person. And what exactly does "city person," uttered like a dirty word, really mean to these people?
American Apparel ad: L.A. Curbed
When I think of driving and New Yorkers, I think of the scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen's character, Alvy Singer, regresses to his bumper-car youth. Real New Yorkers, he was letting us know, are too neurotic to get behind the wheel of a car. Real New Yorkers walk or ride the subway or take cabs. If you want to drive, move to L.A. -- about which he famously said, "I don't want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light."
The people who drove cars in Annie Hall were WASPs who loved or longed for suburban life. Which brings me back to my burning question: What keeps New York's new masses of suburban transplants from wanting to be city people? If Alvy Singer could speak from that American Apparel billboard, he might answer with these lines from Annie Hall:
the failure of the country to get behind New York City is anti-semitism… Don't you see? The rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing Communist, Jewish, homosexual, pornographers. I think of us that way sometimes, and I live here.