Friday, April 18, 2008

'Ralph Lauren, pas cher!'

When I was growing up in New York, "tourists" referred to American tourists. A touristy spot was a place filled with permed blond hair, fanny packs, and poor street-crossing skills, with those who bitterly cling to religion, guns, and Midtown.

Now, the city is as filled with tourists as ever, but the new batch are thinner than we are, in better clothes, and less likely than native New Yorkers to be spotted in public in white sneakers or on line for the latest diet frozen yogurt. I went to Century 21 yesterday and heard more French than I have in all of French grad school, more German than... than I'd have expected to hear within a few blocks of my high school. If I were better with languages, I'd now know how to discuss one's underwear preferences in German. Which would be quite the skill.

New Yorkers used to be able to look down upon tourists. Now, given how massively popular America is with Europeans these days, we can safely assume that the tourists look down on us. Tourist spots were once places to be avoided; now they're the chicest places in town. And all of this because of New York's unbeatable combination of clothes shops and the $US currency. Meh.


Withywindle said...

Who cares what the Europeans think of us? If they choose to be so rude as to express their negative opinion of America, I will gladly express my negative opinion of Europe. Or sit in silence with a glassy smile on my face. But their opinion is of no value.

Anonymous said...

I gather you are joking a bit , but you sound a bit like a self hating American here.

Next time you go to Europe, keep your eyes wide open. There are plenty of slobs east of the Rhine.

Been to Edinborough lately?

Anyway - cross Atlantic tourists are not a representive sample.

Andrew Stevens said...

Aesthetic elitism. Brilliant. A culture is better, not because of its virtue, or even its intellect and ideas, but because of its sense of fashion and taste in food. This is indeed a common attitude in both Europe and New York, but it's passing strange nonetheless.