Sitting at my new kitchen table (Thanks Bernie & Phyl!), still rummaging around in Castells.Â Wild news about Cory LidleÂ all over the papers this morning.Â I heard first from my dad last night, though he failed to put together the fact that the building Cory hit – The Belaire – was where he stayed in 2000 when I was at Hospital for Special Surgery for a spinal fusion.Â The hospital was a couple blocks over from my apartment on the Upper East Side.Â So many reminders ofÂ my old ‘hood lately!
Including here in Castells.Â In his critique of Louis Wirth‘s seminal work (if you haven’tÂ noticed, I’m working my way through the planning and sociology “bestsellers” in anticipation of my exams this spring), Urbanism as a Way of Life, he points out that in Wirth’s emphasis on the density of cities as instrumental in shaping urban culture, “cohabitation without the possibility of real expansion leads to individual savagery…and consequently, to agressiveness.”Â Castells thinks Wirth has it all wrong, that urban culture is a misnomer for a specific kind of social life borne of capitalism (broadly defined).Â Â
Who knows – NYC would be the ideal-type city to support both arguments.Â But as anyone who has ever been jostled by rude, plasticized, tightly-wound, and elder New Yorkers in line for coffee, meds or groceries on the Upper East Side knows, Wirth was right on the money.Â Â And though it seems they’re usually women haranging and elbowing us at Eli’s or Starbucks, my worst experience with this was a thin, older, ascot- and blazer-wearing jackass who mimicked me in a cafe on E 79th St this spring until I got off my cell phone.Â Â Originally getting my coffee to go, I took twice as long in the store after this, since I threw that first latte in his face.Â
(Ok, so I didn’t really throw my coffee at him.Â I live in Boston now, where we are a civilized bunch.)