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Thread: "The Not So Great Divide"

  1. #1

    "The Not So Great Divide"

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/ny...pagewanted=all

    This NYT article proposes to debunk the myth of "urban" people and "suburban" people. What do you think?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    "Montclair may never be Jackson Heights, nor is Montclair representative of all suburbs."

    hmmm. ok, the author notes the above, but still uses montclair as a typical suburb.
    as a montclair resident of 19 years (age 4 through present) i can tell you that it is absolutely nothing like other suburbs in jersey or in most places. it is much more ethnically and racially diverse and much more tolerant. a ridiculous number of its residents are nyc transplants (my parents included). for this reason, it's just a weak premise for an article. yes, montclair residents--suburbanites--are very similar to urbanities. based on the parameters of the story, she can't make a case for much else. it's just a rambling, kinda fluffy article.

    the question you pose, urbanliz, is definitely of merit. unfortunately, this particular article doesn't really address it in any sort of meaningful way.


    it is worth noting, however, that montclair is getting seriously yuppified, but that's another story for another day.


    Quote Originally posted by urbanliz
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/ny...pagewanted=all

    This NYT article proposes to debunk the myth of "urban" people and "suburban" people. What do you think?

  3. #3

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    Never mind

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ChevyChaseDC's avatar
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    Montclair, like its counterparts in Newton, Bethesda, San Raphael, Mercer Island, and every single other highly desirable suburb of the wealthiest and most desirable cities in the United States, is most definitely not a typical suburb. No wonder the author thought that the differences between "city people" and "suburban people" are weakening - her anecdotal evidence is of a place filled with people who, all else equal, probably would absolutely love to live in the heart of the city if not for the cost, school quality, space constraints, or a whole host of issues. These sorts of people are urban elites who, in the eyes of everyone else in America, are in fact "city people" despite their suburban addresses, precisely because of their cultural elitism, wealth, education, and political outlook. The bulk of people in the suburbs of less exclusive ilk, as well as those that surround less-fashionable or less-expensive urban areas (though not necessarily slow-growing - think of the Sun Belt) most certainly do not share these sorts of characteristics. Urbanity, culture, and tolerance are of little concern to them; rather, they value personal space, safe crime-free streets, good schools, and the presence of people of similar values.

    Sorry for the Kotkin-esque rant, but sometimes I think that authors such as the one in question are blind to the very real differences across class, values, metro areas, and regions of the counrty.

  5. #5

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    Absolutely. This was an incredibly silly article. The author claims to have lived around the country, but shows little understanding of it. Most of suburban American would find her lifestyle virtually as unrecognizable as they would the typical Manhattanite. The latest Almodovar film...does she realize how elitist that sounds There is a big, and probably growing, difference between city culture and suburban culture, despite some points where the two are becoming more similar. I don't think that it is an accident that the political divide between the two is greater now than ever.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    why elitist?

    Quote Originally posted by Kovanovich
    The latest Almodovar film...does she realize how elitist that sounds
    Why?? Almodovar's movies are funny...Why is it elitist?? Is it because it's not an American movie? I used to live in KANSAS but 'even' there it wasn't THAT odd to watch movies other than something with Bruce Willis in it...

    (p.s. I admit I didn't read the article, though)
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  7. #7

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    Way Outta Touch

    I saw the article in the Times and found it absurd. Instead of Montclair (which has more in common with the Upper West Side of Manhattan) why didn't she venture east along the Long Island Expressway to Nassau and Suffolk counties instead?

    The Times has been disappointing me lately with this "puff journalism. "

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ChevyChaseDC's avatar
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    ...not that there's anything wrong with Almodovar or other foreign films, the New York Times, National Public Radio, Whole Foods, Subarus, or any of the other stereotypical attributes of the Bourgeios Bohemian! (Actually IMHO I don't think BoBo's exist. You can be one or the other, but not both at the same time.) Again, though, it's very atypical. I think "urbane suburbanites" only exist in the metro areas of Boston, New York, Washington, the Bay Area, and possibly Seattle, Chicago, and Minneapolis.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ChevyChaseDC
    I think "urbane suburbanites" only exist in the metro areas of Boston, New York, Washington, the Bay Area, and possibly Seattle, Chicago, and Minneapolis.
    Only in the western suburbs of Boston. The majority of the North Shore and South Shore are very much "suburban" and "working class" in culture and style. In Boston, it is easy to pinpoint which suburb someone commutes in from by their style of speech, hair and dress.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Why?? Almodovar's movies are funny...Why is it elitist?? Is it because it's not an American movie? I used to live in KANSAS but 'even' there it wasn't THAT odd to watch movies other than something with Bruce Willis in it...

    (p.s. I admit I didn't read the article, though)
    Is it because it's not an American movie?

    Of course. Plus, there are no 'splosions
    Plus, it's in a ferrin language-and I can't read fast enough to follow the subtitles.
    In my Midwestern upbringing, all Hollywood movies were evil.....EVIL...We only watched Dr. James Dobson Focus on the Family productions.

    (LOL. I am just kidding, of course.)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian spunky2's avatar
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    The comment about both couples being "fit and attractive" implies that one (or both?) are not "supposed" to be. The article was just weird and fluffy.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Isn't the author ignoring the fact that suburbanizatrion has meant greater segregation of race and income? Even older suburbs becoming more diverse seems to indicate the same pattern of white flight as whites move further out from central cities.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller
    Isn't the author ignoring the fact that suburbanizatrion has meant greater segregation of race and income? Even older suburbs becoming more diverse seems to indicate the same pattern of white flight as whites move further out from central cities.
    From the comments here Montclair sounds like Oak Park or Evanston.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian ChevyChaseDC's avatar
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    The NY Times editorial board appears to have recognized the fluff of this article and may publish some interesting responses to it this Sunday...keep your eyes peeled!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ChevyChaseDC
    The NY Times editorial board appears to have recognized the fluff of this article and may publish some interesting responses to it this Sunday...keep your eyes peeled!
    How do you know this?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian ChevyChaseDC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller
    How do you know this?
    My last post was a grandiose way of saying "I wrote a letter to the editor in response to the article and they contacted me and would like to publish it." So there you go.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Good for you. I think they could probably use a new columnist if you're interested.

  18. #18
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    Montclair is unusual in many respects; it's a wealthy town (no white flight here, trust me on this - if anything it's an invasion) but very diverse (albeit still partly segregated) politically progressive and active. It's the kind of town where the churches display rainbow flags.

    There are very few places like that in north Jersey, although Maplewood also has that reputation to some extent (because of spillover by people priced out of Montclair), but what amuses me most about the article is the place where she admits she never ventured out to any local cultural events (out of embarassment apparently) preferring to keep up the illusion that she lived in the city. That might explain the ditzy things she says about suburbia - she's never really been there.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    chevychasedc, did it get published? if so, in which section can i find it?

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