Tuesday, August 7, 2018


A lot has been said and written about the New York/Los Angeles Kulturkampf. There are more clichés than truths in this repetitive, often hilarious saga. Let's stick to the essential: in New York people still walk, in Los Angeles they drive. In the former the streets are too clogged anyway, in the latter people are not "born to run" but to sit.

When one is in Manhattan, one senses Europe is close but one is mostly aware of the proximity of the formidable American cultural multiplier. When in L.A., one feels the breath of Asia and a spontaneous, deregulated new home-grown  creativity which no longer feels the need to be legitimized by others.

The visitor who travels the eastern Washington DC/Boston corridor finds him or herself often lost in a page of Dickens and suburban decay. California, even when boring (the Valley), overwhelms by size and opportunity.  When at its best, California is over the top, be it in natural beauty or in the realm of the new generation "intelligence".

Both share the same problems and challenges and are in the forefront of social, environmental, and political engineering. While there is a wide-spread strategy of vote and issue suppression in large parts of America, both states champion changes for the better in race relations, gender equality, minority rights and dignity.

At the end of the day humor is probably the best equalizer but they share also the prevailing worry regarding an endangered American democracy. The lies and alternative facts are being stockpiled at their doorstep.

Both suffer the onslaught of awful movies, abysmal food and outdated infrastructure. They are nevertheless the best laboratories for social change and research. They are the proof that America is not just a Utopia but an attainable working experiment.

A zone of high pressure commentary covers both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Their strength lies also in their contempt for needing to prove or demonstrate (the favorite routes for the insecure). They cannot wait for Trump's grandiose military parade planned in Washington D.C.   SNL and the comedians will have an opportunity of a lifetime to lambast, spook and kill.

Remember Annie Hall when Woody Allen poked fun at the East/West coast divide? Everything was made clear in what was then his best Voltaire-like satire. Not much has changed. Those two halves thrive on their mutual envy. They would feel diminished if they were deprived of their twin to rally against the other America (which will not be named).

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