Sunday, June 12, 2016

Where the action is

AVI writes of New York and why some people love it.
One thing that jumped out at me was that few of the listed attractions of the city have to do with family. The list has things you can do together, but most of my evenings are spent at home, not going out to eat or listen to a concert. I don't go "down to (cafe I didn't recognize) and have a coffee and a bagel" every morning--I eat with my family. Many of the attractions are consumer attractions.

History: I can see the attraction of living in a place that has a little history behind it, but the history is more important if the place is also home. I visited the little church where the Red Cross was founded. No, I worshiped there, attending English language services when I was in town. There's something different about how the history feels when the history is not the reason you go there.

"Where the action is," though--that does make a big difference.

I work at UW-Madison. It isn't one of the great physics centers like CERN or Fermilab, but it is one of the big ones, and there's a lot going on. Day to day stuff for any given project is typically pretty boring, but with enough projects around something interesting gets announced pretty often.

This is even more dramatic at CERN. There is always something new being reported (hmm), and people making plans and freewheeling ideas. It is exhilarating, and you can learn a lot, and sometimes find a way to make a contribution yourself.

A place with a similar critical mass of dance academies and venues would no doubt be just as exciting--but I'd be at sea. Ballet is fairly opaque to me. It might be a good status inflator--I live in Danceville--but I'd get no other benefit, not even as a consumer.

"The best is here." My palate cannot reliably distinguish the best chocolate in the world from Lindt. (I can tell Hershey's from the good stuff easily enough.) The top tier opera baritones sound very much like the third tier--in some cases it seems to have been luck that made the difference in reputation. In fact, as I've said before, technology (simulcasts etc) make it harder and harder for performers not in the A-list to have scope to show their skill. Do you go to a movie palace for a simulcast of the NY Met Opera or to the theater for a local performance of the same thing?

I'm unlikely to ever spend much time in NY. I think I'll live.

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