Monday, October 7th, 2013
11

New York v. London

This interview with Alfonso Cuarón is so great:

"There’s more a sense of a fun intellectual community in New York. Here [in London] it is not. This is a city supported and made by the banks. And also, British upper classes are very philistine, while in the U.S. you can have an upper class that is cultivated, not necessarily good or bad, so that they support the arts. And because of that, with all the flaws of the U.S., something it keeps that is great is the sense of possibility. Look, I can be critical about a lot of stuff around U.S. politics and stuff, and something I hope it doesn’t lose, because it makes the country great, is the sense of possibility. Europe, in general, before you even throw the idea out, they are bored. It’s an old continent attitude of been there, done that, where in the U.S., there’s a sense of possibility, and maybe it’s part of this school of capitalism that nobody wants to suddenly say no to something that may be big later on, might make money. It creates an energy. New York is buzzing. I think it’s beautiful. You can go to dinner and there’s a master painter from the sixties or seventies, a philosopher, actor, and then that kid that is 18 and you say, What is that? 'Oh, he’s an up-and-coming painter and he just arrived from New Orleans.' And because of that sense of possibility that maybe he’s going to make it, then there’s this blend of ideas but also social classes. In L.A., that doesn’t happen. But you never know if that black kid who just arrived from New Orleans is going to be an amazing artist — at least for two years, then you dispose of him. [Laughs.] But they give the benefit of fate, of the doubt, so that is great."

1. How much do you love Alfonso Cuarón? 2. How happy do you think Mayor Smaug is going to be when he leaves New York City at the end of the year for his new life in London?

11 Comments / Post A Comment

LondonLee (#922)

He's not wrong about the upper classes in England being philistines who don't support the arts but, you know, the museums in London are still free.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@LondonLee And no less importantly, so is BBC. Plus, there are reasons why European cinema is so superior to American. Sure, in New York you can be a nobody and still given respect by the "establishment", heck I'm sure they treat the wait staff much better here too. But in the end, you will be left on your own to make a living in the market (this is why everyone is looking at the ratings and box office returns as obsessively as they look at Premiership scores over in UK). While in Europe, once the establishment gives you a pass, they give you "no strings attached" money too. Thus, you can make a movie without having to worry how many tickets it will sell. All you need to do is for the movie to actually be good enough to impress the establishment at the festivals, and you can just keep rolling.

So, yeah, in Europe, you are at the mercy of the establishment, but in US, even though the establishment is more egalitarian and inclusive, it doesn't really matter, because you are at the mercy of middle class, and that's where the philistines are over here.

TGG (#228,557)

With the strange flip side being that, a few mostly very rich neighborhoods aside, London is much more integrated economically in terms of living space. The rich and the poor often live on the same block in London. In New York they hardly live on the same island.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@TGG What in the fuck are you talking about? New York is the most integrated city in the world by far. Just on my street we have millionaires living next door to people on welfare (and my middle-class self the third door over). You may not be able tell a rich person in NYC, because they don't dress or act in ways that would be obvious to you.

TGG (#228,557)

@Niko Bellic Two more anecdotes like that and you'll have a Times pitch. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/08/01/the-rise-of-residential-segregation-by-income/

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@TGG "41% of the lower-income households in the New York metropolitan area are situated in a majority lower-income census tract, compared with 26% of the lower-income households in the Atlanta area."

What a bunch of horseshit. I lived in the South and spent a lot of time in Atlanta. They actively limit the expansion of mass transit there just to prevent the poor being able to physically mingle with the rich (and they are very successful at it). No such thing in New York. In fact, if you consider how spread out Atlanta is vs how dense NYC is, we could argue that the entire city of New York is one single neighborhood, and thus everyone lives together with everyone else. To break down neighborhoods in NYC you'd have to go block by block, where in Atlanta it's a lot wider area possible to traverse only in a car (which you'd then have to park in someone's driveway).

If you think that Atlanta is more integrated than NYC, you are on crack, no matter what "research" you can provide to support that notion.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@TGG Oh, and what the fuck is "census tract" anyway? It's not a natural, organic neighborhood right? I imagine it's more like a congressional district, which in Atlanta is notoriously gerrymandered to divide the predominantly black population in downtown and throw them in with white-majority suburbs. That way, it appears (on paper = in research) that the poor live "together" with the rich.

alorsenfants (#139)

Funny how a certain number of years ago, someone would have been making the same equation about New York and L.A. — only in that scenario, New York was the stodgy town without much potential for breaking through.

Anyway, that window may have passed — at least it's nice to hear about NYC creativity, without any unwarranted references mentioning San Francisco!

LondonLee (#922)

It occurred to me that Cuaron is confusing the English upper classes with wealthy bankers. They're not the same people.

Jack1000 (#253,825)

PS – In terms of Arts funding, a far greater amount comes from Central Government via agencies such as the Arts Council (England). Our many hundreds of museums and galleries are often free, as are the British Library (14 million books and 150 million items) and the 395 local authority lending libraries in London, which are home to 17 million books. London is also home to numerous theatres' and opera houses, and has five major symphony orchestras – the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra , and is also home to world famous companies such as the the Royal Ballet & Opera, the English National Ballet, The English National Opera, The National Theatre, whilst the Royal Shakespeare Company puts on regular shows in London. The Tate Britain has just been totally refurbished, whilst the Tate Modern is currently having a massive extension added, the British Library is also having a major extension added and there are redevelopment plans for the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Design Museum which is moving to the Commonwealth building in Kensington and the Southbank Centre intends to redevelop the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery to form a new festival wing. Whilst a new concert hall will be opening in Milton Court, a skyscraper near the Barbican which will further extend the partnership between the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Barbican Centre and the London Symphony Orchestra, which opened a new rehearsal and community space at nearby St Lukes only a few years ago. In terms of film, the BFI is now pioneering new work to train more young people and to improve facilities, whilst in terms of art conservation the Courtauld Institute and Gallery is world renowned. These are just a few examples in a city that is known the world over for it's arts and spends a substantial amount on the arts.

Jack1000 (#253,825)

PPS – in terms of arts education, London is one of the worlds leading cities with great institutions such as the University of the Arts, Royal Academy of Arts, Courtaulds, and numerous other such institutions and our most famous sculptor was none other than Henry Moore, the son of a Yorkshire Mine worker, and there are numerous other examples of artists coming from humble backgrounds here.

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