Tuesday, September 15, 2009

David Byrne’s Perfect City

Not only do I like it when nutjob rock-n-roll types talk business, I like it when they turn out to be normal people. Okay, maybe David Byrne isn't a nutjob rock-n-roller but you may still be surprised to find his essay in the Wall Street Journal about what would be his perfect city:
There’s an old joke that you know you're in heaven if the cooks are Italian and the engineering is German. If it's the other way around you're in hell. In an attempt to conjure up a perfect city, I imagine a place that is a mash-up of the best qualities of a host of cities. The permutations are endless. Maybe I'd take the nightlife of New York in a setting like Sydney's with bars like those in Barcelona and cuisine from Singapore served in outdoor restaurants like those in Mexico City. Or I could layer the sense of humor in Spain over the civic accommodation and elegance of Kyoto. Of course, it's not really possible to cherry pick like this—mainly because a city's qualities cannot thrive out of context. A place's cuisine and architecture and language are all somehow interwoven. But one can dream.

Epcot's a perfect city for me but that shows you how out of touch I am. The one time I've been to New York tells me that might make a good second choice, if I could afford to live there. Ditto for Washington D.C. But maybe I should just be happy where I am. OKC has a lot going for it.

Byrne is also an avid bicycler and has a book coming out about that. You may also like his online journal. I first came across, and was utterly charmed by, it about two years ago when he was writing about the most normal of occasions for a father: taking his daughter on a cross-country driving trip to college. One of his stops was Dollywood and he wrote extensively, and honestly, about Dolly Parton's influence on pop music. Really. Of course, he takes the usual lefty jabs on occasion but, well, what are you gonna do? Skip over that stuff if it bothers you; you'll find something else you'll like, I'm sure.

Anyway. Rock-n-rollers acting like normal folk. I can dig it.

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