Lovely piece in the NYTimes today about a particularly unlovely road, Coney Island Avenue.
I'm working these days deep in New Jersey, past the Mall Belt.. This means I get in my car every morning in Brooklyn, point it north and west, and drive 30 miles. Besides the distinct lack of physical activity (and the welcome acquisition of paycheck), the major change I sense in my life is that on a daily basis I'm seeing fewer people than I used to -- and those I do see are in a vastly compressed cultural range.
It's not like New Jersey is monocultural; Hudson County (Jersey City and environs) in particular is spectacularly diverse. But you sure don't see it from a car on the highway. That's one reason I find Los Angeles such an antiseptic place; I see and the cars and buildings, but where are the people?
This business of having so many different cultures pressing on each other in such close quarters cannot be anything but healthy and exciting for the cultures themselves, and the nation (and world) as a whole. It's why Coney Island Avenue is one of the most important places in New York.