The essay "A Non-Delirious New York," by author Mark Helprin in the Wall Street Journal, is gorgeous, urgent, and vividly true. A few choice quotes:
"In Manhattan the knock-the-wind-out-of-you rich used to be a relatively silent freak of nature who could easily be ignored, but of late they are so electrically omnipresent, jumping out of every flat screen and magazine, that they indelibly color the life of the city. Having multiplied like Gucci-clad yeast, they have become objects of impossible envy..."
Cooper Square Hotel car party
"The right may envy by competition and the left by expropriation, but the objects of such envy are not worthy of its ruinous influences, and the city is at its best when the fury of acquisitiveness is least.
Now that New York may be exiting yet another of many eras of irrational exuberance, it presents an opportunity in the midst of defeat, for when it is quiet it is far more lovely and profound than when it is delirious."
I Bought NY
"...it would be nice if, as in the quiet during and after a snow storm, Manhattan would reappear to be appreciated in tranquility; if cops, firemen, nurses, and teachers did not have to live in New Jersey; if students, waitress-actresses, waiter-painters, and dish-washer-writers did not have to board nine to a room or like beagles in their parents' condominia;
if the traffic on Park Avenue (as I can personally attest it was in the late 1940s) were sufficiently sparse that you could hear insects in the flower beds; if to balance the frenetic getting and spending, the qualities of reserve and equanimity would retake their once honored places; if celebrity were to be ignored, media switched off, and the stories of ordinary men and women assume their deserved precedence; and if for everyone, like health returning after a long illness, a life of one's own would emerge from an era tragically addicted to quantity and speed."
Amen to that--and all from a political conservative.
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New York Pentimento