The question to me is not whether centers of power or culture or economy are good or bad, but whether there are appropriate checks and balances on their influence, and whether that influence then results in (cultural/political/economic) growth across the country or whether it simply saps the rest of the country of its resources. Is New York robbing the rest of the country of its art and culture? Probably not. Likely quite the contrary occurs. Wall Street, on the other hand, is a lot more culpable when it comes to our financial situation and the drain bad finance has placed on people on Main Street as it were and there is certainly a problem with letting one industry, largely centered in one city, become so dominant. And in that regard, DC is also culpable. The two cities are partners in that crime, and they really have become tyrants in a way, or at the very least the relationship between the two between our financial sector and our political elite on both left and right has become incestuous and unsustainable.
On that I agree. I've lived in DC for twenty years or more and I always find myself defending it - usually in Manhattan. Its theater and fine art are world-class; it's easy to get around everywhere on a bike; we have marriage equality and medical marijuana; there's the Great Ape House at the zoo (better viewing than the Senate); the men are beautiful, if somehow unsexy (the white ones, that is); the general level of education and smarts is extremely high; and vast expanses of it have nothing to do with politics at all. Really. I couldn't live there if it were the way outsiders see it.
Yes, there are a lot of future Elena Kagans, punctiliously networking their twin-set way to total elite acceptance.
But there are also oddballs and eccentrics, musicians and actors, potheads and tech-nerds, old soldiers and drunk spies, a litany of ethnic groups that reads like an index for the failures of American foreign policy, and more folks straight out of Middle America (and not always escaping it) than most places I've lived in. I'm a rural boy at heart, except for the boredom. But this is the best way of being urban in a very green and lush and low-storied gully.
The swamp thing is why I found myself a place in Provincetown years ago. I figured if I had only a few more years to live, I sure wasn't going to endure another unbreathable pressure-cooker atmosphere for three months of the year (but the late afternoon thunderstorms had their moments). I'm not sure if I would have survived DC intact for decades without the annual safety-valve of Ptown. But Ptown has the same combo as DC: in the summer, it's essentially a tiny slice of deeply urban living on a deserted sandbar. And sixteen years later, I find myself today on a ferry to the little town of award-winning fudge and mannish women. In fact, as I write this, I can just see the awful Pilgrims Monument on the horizon as the ferry approaches the harbor.
At last, as a friend of mine once said, some normal people.
And my husband and my beagles. It's been so long.
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