Is The New York Times just another self-loathing New Yorker?
The Times, which we all love, published a rather astonishing piece a few weeks ago.
In case you missed it, here is the CliffsNotes account, under the heading, naturally, of “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”
The Old Gray Lady tried to persuade us that LA is the new NYC. It seems that so many creative types have abandoned New York — with its exorbitant housing costs, demoralizing lifestyle, and lousy winter weather — and flocked to area code 310, which is now (presumably) the hub of burgeoning U.S. popular culture.
Never mind that The Times could have printed the same (silly) story in, say, 1962. People have been moving out to LA for decades in search of an easier life, haven’t they?
The Los Angeles Times responded by noting that New York is, you know, actually kind of a highly livable place. Who knew?
This is a tough time to be a happy New Yorker. Our mayor has pissed off more people than he has wooed. More and more, the City is breaking down along socioeconomic lines. The cops are scary. And the weather, even in mid-May, is often no great shakes. We now officially have two seasons, you know; Autumn is a girl’s name and spring is…whatever.
We can be cynical and suggest that The New York Times ran its piece because they liked the controversy. Provocation equals big page views online and a likely splash in social media. So, what else matters?
It’s hard to imagine that any thinking New Yorker (or, for that matter, Angelino) could take this argument too seriously.
I recently spent three delightful days in Santa Monica, loafing around, seeing friends, and escaping bad March weather in New York. Everyone in LA was very pleasant. The weather was terrific and I got to renew my love for the Pacific Ocean. I always make a point of sitting on a bench at Wilshire Boulevard and facing the majestic ocean.
I think Woody Allen got it all wrong in Sleeper when he famously responded to Diane Keaton’s question of “What’s it like to be dead for 200 years?” with “It’s like spending a weekend in Beverly Hills.”
It’s a hilarious concept, to be sure, but not quite fair. LA has a lot to offer. NY has a lot to offer. The Times’ story didn’t have a lot to offer, though. It regurgitates a tired argument: LA or NY?
Of course, you’re going to vote for your hometown. As John Lennon, who came to New York under trying circumstances in his life and came to love the town, once said, ”A lot of people complain about it but not many leave.” Or, as Randy Newman has sung (notably at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony), “I Love LA.”
Perhaps, ultimately, The New York Times is guilty of stirring up a false controversy just to achieve sparkling results on Facebook and Twitter. It’s not a journalistic or societal crime to do this — it’s just too bad.