Because the rest of the world doesn't seem to exist.

American Exceptionalism, writ into the urban fabric.

The City, as of the last twenty years or so, is now again seeping into cultural relevance once again. In The City with cultural institutions and pop-culture references on every block, it is interesting to think that only a generation or two ago, the sitcoms, characters and plots that America paid attention to were out in the suburbs. We never really knew where the Brady Bunch lived, other than some newly minted ranch-style house in suburban California somewhere. A generation or two before that, American storytelling used The Great West as a setting, with cowboys and indians and all sorts of other cultural constructions to sell cigarettes and live in the appropriate setting for wherever the American Dream was taking place. Now, with Seinfeld, Sex in the City, Friends, and now Gossip Girl, and the Disneyification of Times Square and TRL and Dave Letterman and Jon Stewart and Real World Brooklyn and even popular blogs all using Manhattan as an address, one can't help but wonder if the American Story has moved back into a small condo on the Island. Other cities too have seen this rebirth of cultural significance through television and pop culture references: Seattle now sells coffee and Grey's Anatomy, Chicago is cool again, and every once in a while some deadbeat character from some show is from Portland. I'm writing this kind of quickly, without tons of research on the matter, but as I pass Tom's Restaurant on the Upper West Side every day, I can't help but wonder if it represents a larger cultural appreciation of the relevance and "cutting edge" of cities.

I leave Thursday for the Pinheiros neighborhood of Sao Paulo, Brazil. I should probably start to learn some Portuguese.

1 comment:

Jerry said...

Hello, Aaron. Have a good trip. Your blog is terrific, I hope you have the time to continue to attend to the detail of your observations in Brazil. I am looking forward to reading new episodes. All the best and Godspeed. BTW, the last film I saw which was shot in Portland was "Untraceable" (not nominated that year for abundant reasons). The scenes of our familiar city and landmarks such as the Broadway Bridge were the principal attractions, decidedly not the story.