Sunday, May 27, 2012

Metronalysis – On Fairytales and Freedom

I like politics – the drama, the clash of ideas – not so much the score-keeping (I’m not a sports fan). One piece of the ever-interesting political puzzle has always eluded me – why is it that you can look at a political map and clearly see that the bastions of left-wing ideology are the giant cities.  What is there about City-ness that produces that frame of mind? This last trip to New York finally coughed up some answers. I’d like to know what you think – these are my thoughts:

·      Big cities are fairytale worlds. The ramparts are beautiful, sparkly, gold-tipped. Food just appears. Water is always hot. Transportation – I’m thinking subways here – is magic – hectic and uncomfortable, but fast and no one seems to be driving the thing. It just goes. Maggie and I, as we visited modeling agencies, kept finding ourselves in Narnian places – elevator doors in questionable looking buildings opening into splendiferous spaces with ornate red chandeliers and white leather furnishings. Enchanting. Under those circumstances it would be easy to go on imagining a completely utopian existence. Why not? Is this not already Neverland?

·      Go back to transportation; in big cities going anywhere distant independently requires the punishing expense and fuss-n-bother of owning a car – to say nothing of the nerves of steel it takes to drive through LA’s freeway tangles or the clogged capillaries of New York --- or you hail a cab and pay twelve prices for the thrill of hyper-aggressive driving by someone who’s only been in the country for 3 months. Your only other option is public transportation – cheap, available, but here’s the effect: you lose the idea of being in complete control of your own movement. You wait patiently for the vehicle to appear. You sit obediently in your seat (or stand and hold on for dear life) and you go where the thing takes you, which is rarely exactly where you want to end up. The idea of independence would get shaky after too many years of that. Some freedom gets sacrificed for the advantages of living in a phenomenal city, making it easier to give up a little more, and a little more, and a little more.