Friday, November 19, 2004

cities, part 1

When I was a very young man, I had a very wise boss who pointed out that it was not cool to advertise one's being too busy or overwhelmed. Of course,this was in Austin, a city at that time of major Type-B's, folk who bragged about sneaking off work early to laze around a swimming hole in the hill country. Austin is or was a city of hippy dive restaurants, places to waste a Saturday morning reading a newspaper, drinking coffee, chatting, relaxing.

My first night out in Washington, DC, we went to a little trendy basement restaurant on U Street. Three what looked to me as teenagers were having an animated conversaton about national tax policy. People in DC never bragged about time off -- instead, they wore their 12 hour work days like badges of achievement. The most essential question asked at a Washington party is what do you do. This is not a philosophical question. It's a formality to define the person by his or her job.

Sometime during those years that we lived there, the Post defined the city as a place of self-selected Type-A's. Watching the yuppies running up and out or down and in the Metro stop at Dupont Circle is an amazing experience, in some ways more interesting than repeated visits to the aging, lonely Panda at the National Zoo who later died.

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