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Simon Majumdar

Cities We Love, Cities We Hate

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Adam, people in France care whether you live or die; it's just that they favor the die side of the equation. Americans for some inexplicable reason seem to like everyone.

Macrosan is right, you can't learn all that much about Judaism from an online food discussion group. You can probably learn more here than you can learn from reading the Bible, though! You can't just separate Judaism from the Bible, but it's also probably true that the doctrinal, Biblical aspects of the religion are among the least significant of all the influences on Jewish culture. I'd argue that's even true of the Hasidim, who like all religious Jews look to texts outside the Bible for Biblical interpretation -- so reading the Bible without these accompanying texts doesn't really tell you much about Hasidism. Okay, that should do it for now. Let us know how you like those books.

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steven and jhlurie--what can i say?  thanks  to both of you for indulging me.  i think macrosan wants to make sure that i'm not just indulging in voyeurism for voyeurism's sake.  fair enough.  but to read about a concept like zimzum from lurianic kabbalah, to walk through borough heights--i'm like a sponge, and helpless.  a few years back even the great madonna was purportedly "studying kabbalah."  maybe she really dug it--who knows?  i'm not jumping on a bandwagon, though, i promise.  i know very few jews willing to discuss judaism with me.  maybe this isn't the best place to start

the discussion.  one of these days i'm flying to new york for an eGullet dinner--i checked out the pictures in the new jersey section and i'm seething with envy.  everyone looks so NIIIIIIIIICE.

speaking of nice, adam:  americans aren't necessarily nice--jut friendly--and that all depends on whom you're interacting with and why.  you've heard the stereotype of the new yorker--rude, brusque, won't give you the time of day.  i happen to think new yorkers are about the nicest, most sincere people i've encountered anywhere--if you look lost they stop and point you in the right direction.  they answer your questions when you ask for info, and they never waste your time.  i didn't want the french--er, parisians--i encountered to care about me so much as i just would've appreciated a smile, or even a blank stare, as

opposed to a sneer.  what's up with that?

and then of course there are the brits, who, instead of thank you, respond to the simplest transactions with "cheers."  i LOVE that.  it makes my spine tingle.  I feel like i am being toasted, even in the safeway.

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Adam, I'm all for breeding bulldogs that are free of health problems. But I don't think that requires creating a new breed. I'd rather see people work within the established breed standards (and push for incremental changes to those standards) than strike out in new directions. I have an AKC-registered purebred bulldog from 5 generations of AKC-registered purebred bulldogs, but he's from some old lines that emphasize length and agility. He's nosier than average, doesn't have breathing problems, and he's damn fast when he wants to be. At the same time he has that great bulldog disposition, which you just don't get as reliably from the mixes. They haven't gotten all the Demodex mites and other problems out of the line -- those problems are still ubiquitous among bulldogs, unfortunately -- but dogs like mine are I think the future of the breed.

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I'll get off the religious issues (where at worst--at least here on eGullet--those who disagree can at least agree to disagree in peace) and focus on the much deeper issue of New Yorker friendliness raised by stellabella.

Unlike religion, this one is complex.

New Yorkers are both the friendliest and least friendly people in the world at the exact same time.  Hold this concept in your mind--they are less class conscious and generally less race conscious (with a few notable exceptions) than most of the world, but at the same time have less patience for "nonsense".  Offend a New Yorker and you'll get the worst treatment of your life.  Ask a New Yorker for help in earnest, and in most cases you'll see something extraordinary.  The list of contradictions goes on and on, but the pattern is pretty simple--with a New Yorker you'll get back what you give, but magnified, since that's the essential nature of the place.

This is as oppossed to many parts of the midwest, where they are certainly very nice, but in a less conditional way.  Sometimes, as A Balic said, it can be a bit irratating, because in my experience they don't always react in accordance with your own mood--and that difference may be the key to why so many people find New York surprisingly refreshing.  In New York, as I said, they more often project back at you what you emote, so when you see the pleasantness, it's reactive and thus not as irratating.

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...with a New Yorker you'll get back what you give, but magnified, since that's the essential nature of the place

That sounds right to me. My favorite "New Yorker joke" :-

Stand-up comic starts his routine in the Comedy Cellar, Greenwich Village. As always, to get the audience warmed up, he points to a man in the audience and asks "Where are you from?" The guy stands up, stabs his finger at the comic, and replies "No, where the f**k are you from ?"

New Yorkers aren't "polite", they're generally direct, and without pretension. They expect the same from others. New York is my favorite city in the world because of the people.

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That's because New York is the only city in the West where everybody is Jewish.....whether they're Jewish or not.

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Wilfrid: Where did you go?

Oh, I'm here.  I was just getting measured for my new toga and practising speaking with a pebble in my mouth.

I think I must be scarred from my experiences on certain other threads, but I just couldn't face a potentially endless debate about North American v. European cities.  I have family in Vancouver, and it's very pretty and friendly.  I believe there is also a bar there.  And some shops.

I agree with Tommy and others that the secret to France is to learn a little of the language and manners.  My French is rough, but it's enough for people to treat me like a normal customer (which is essentially the role we're playing as tourists) rather than as a potential headache.  And before we get all het up about having to do this for the French, reflect on just how tolerant anglophone Americans are of people who can speak no English.

Finally, I am glad the rudeness of the English is finally being recognised.  We have never had enough credit for it.  I think London is an infinitely ruder city than New York, for example (although I am ruder in New York than I used to be back "home" - less inhibited, you see).

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okay...somebody, anybody....London cabbies....?

ok, i'll take a guess:  ummmmm, not jewish?

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London cabbies not Jewish?  Tommy, you are the weakest link.  Also, they range from the polite and informative, through the garrulously chummy to the rude and difficult.  Takes all sorts, mate.

Now, pulling all the disparate strands of this thread together...

Er...

I forgot.

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London cabbies not Jewish?  Tommy, you are the weakest link.  Also, they range from the polite and informative, through the garrulously chummy to the rude and difficult.  Takes all sorts, mate.

Now, pulling all the disparate strands of this thread together...

Er...

I forgot.

jimmy's at 6?  :raz:

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If I can be out of there by seven, then yes, damn you, a thousand times yes.  I will try to send you one of those private message things.

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If I can be out of there by seven, then yes, damn you, a thousand times yes.  I will try to send you one of those private message things.

damn.  and i was looking foward to calling you a "wuss"!

and yes, those london cabbies are a fine bunch.  even though ours was pulled over for speeding on my way to dinner.  i think we were going to that seafood place.  hmmm, the place looks like a bathroom.  forget the name.  over that bridge there.  near that tall factory featured on the inside of Quadrophenia.  oysters and crabs and such.  damn this memory!

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Funny thing is, I know exactly where Tommy means.  That fish restaurant in Waterloo.  But I can't remember it's name either.  Hold on, was it Livebait?

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Funny thing is, I know exactly where Tommy means.  That fish restaurant in Waterloo.  But I can't remember it's name either.  Hold on, was it Livebait?

indeed it is.  Livebait.  good thing someone's memory is working.

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okay...somebody, anybody....London cabbies....?

ok, i'll take a guess:  ummmmm, not jewish?

tommy, i have had a very bad week.  be nice to me.  or else.

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