I thought everyone read the New York Times. I did. In the United States anyway. I mean not everyone, obviously, but people who have Internet access, or a Facebook account, or an interest in the news.
And not like the whole New York Times, just maybe the book review, or the magazine, or the arts section, or the cooking section, or something specific like, the Eric Garner verdict, or the “I Can’t Breathe” protests. You know, the stuff that is of interest. But I kinda figured everyone on the Internet, at some point in their day, ran across a New York Times article or two in their sphere of interest.
Apparently this is not true.
Like when I went to a very cool downtown restaurant here in Vegas, and congratulated the front of house on an excellent mention and recommendation from Pete Wells. Pete Fucking Wells.
Blank stare. No idea what I was talking about.
It went like this:
“Hey, congrats on the mention from Pete Wells in the New York Times! Excellent!”
“Yeah, the New York Times recommended you guys as one of the go-to downtown restaurants in Vegas, you know, like in the New York Times.”
“He recommended your pork jerky and the short rib fried rice.”
Big smile, but still the blank stare.
“Anyway, that’s amazing to make the list. I mean, you saw what the guy said about Guy Fieri, right? This is good. You’re in the New York Times…in a good way!”
And then I took Edie to violin this week – and asked the violin teacher, the children’s violin teacher, the Suzuki children’s violin teacher – about the New York Times piece about the violin instructor waging war on Suzuki and trying to impugn his name. The New York Times entitled the piece, “Violin World Yowls at Challenge to Fabled Teacher.” Yowls. This is big, right? Violin educators are YOWLING.
So I asked our violin teacher about the controversy, expecting a rant, like “Yes, of course, I saw it! It’s been everywhere. We are simply yowling about it!”
But it was more like this:
“Hey, heard about the big children’s violin controversy in the New York Times…”
“Yeah, the New York Times did a whole piece on Mark O’Connor and his war on the Suzuki method and Suzuki himself.
“He called Suzuki a liar, and his method a fraud…”
“Anyway, it was in the New York Times….”
“Uh, wow, yeah, I should check that out.”
Blank stare. Not even a hint of yowling.
I reported all of this to David.
“Really? Doesn’t everyone who reads the news, reads the New York Times, or at least, some tiny part of it?”
“News flash: New York – not the center of the universe,” he said, looking over his laptop, and then returning to his email.
What? New York – not the center of the universe?
I had no idea. I mean, I lived in New York City for 25 years and I was pretty sure we were the center of the God-damned world.
It’s the tiny little lie us New Yorkers tell ourselves – that living there is worth all the hardship and insanity, and cramped spaces, and windowless kitchens, and cold-ass winters, and un-manageably ridiculous rents, and the madness of subways and buses on the packed-like-sardines commute, and three deadly-depressive months of zero sun, and the hours spent doing nothing but shuffling our cars around for alternate side parking – that all of this is bearable because we have art and museums and shows, and that we aren’t just culture, but there is the fertile ground where culture is created, and all that hardship, that we either experience or we see around us, breeds the most desperate and beautiful kind of art, that the energy, the freneticism of banging off of so many other people makes us better creators. We know more for living there.
That’s how we justify it all.
But it’s a lie. Don’t get me wrong, NYC will always be dead-center in my head in so many ways. It’s special. It’s intertwined with me. I will always be a New Yorker.
But downtown Vegas reminds me of old NYC. And I want to stay here. I need sun. I need space. I need an herb garden. I need to meet all the downtown artists, writers, cooks and musicians. I need to walk and hear nothing but the sound of my own steps and my own breath when I walk the dogs. I need the kids to take off on their bikes and not know where the hell they are and not care that I don’t know. I need to know every single one of my lovely, slightly off-beat neighbors. I want to feed people, because there are people here who need to be fed. I want peace.
But I’m still going to keep reading the New York Times.