Where our cities are heading.
PRAGUE, Czech Republic- The job of the traveler is to look at what everybody else is doing in a certain place at a certain time, jump in, try it, and evaluate and share the experience. What is everyone doing in the central core of Prague? They’re eating beet burgers.
“Our countries remain identifiable and distinct, but our big cities are all becoming the same.”
The streets here are lined with vegan restaurants, organic cafes, bio shops, salad joints, and raw food bistros. There’s more health food in the trendy residential core of this city than fast food.
The people who live here are a mix of the middle echelons of the world: expats from Britain, America, and Canada, other Europeans, well to do locals. Except for the wealthy Indians and Chinese, it’s the admixture that has come to dominate cities all over the world:
Our countries remain identifiable and distinct, but our big cities are all becoming the same. The people of the world have been mixed about. Countries that were once aid-dependent backwaters are now kicking out moneyied, educated classes who jump ship the fist chance they get. The urban centers of the planet have become beacons for anyone from elsewhere trying to make it. The ones that do stay, and become part of the ever churning matrix.
“We’re moving into an age where each city will have a central, local-free zone virtually devoid of multi-generational residency. Where neighborhoods are in constant flux. Where the property owners will all be landlords. Where there will be an abject lack of identity — the cultural core of New York will be the same as London will be the same as Prague.”
It’s becoming more and more common to hear quips from people visiting London, Toronto, Vancouver … that they didn’t see any locals. Take the tube in London, listen to the languages. “You hear more Chinese than English” I recently heard someone joke.
New York City has become the model for what big cities are becoming. But rather than being a new city rising up on successive torrents of migration, they are existing cities where well-to-do foreigners are displacing — out-pricing — the locals. All big cities are descending (or arising) into entrepots — places where people from all over the world are shipped in, sorted, warehoused for a while, and then sent out again like a shipping container of printer parts. Like the core regions of NYC, the concept of being a local is dissolving in non-existences: people move in, do their thing for a handful of years, and move out. Those accents that we attribute to Brooklyn or Staten Island or the upper whatever side, will disappear.
We’re moving into an age where each city will have a central, local-free zone virtually devoid of multi-generational residency. Where neighborhoods are in constant flux. Where the property owners will all be landlords. Where there will be an abject lack of identity — the cultural core of New York will be the same as London will be the same as Prague.
And we will all eat beet burgers.
And fight the eco war with our plant-based diets.
And have small dogs that we confuse as people.
And speak what will be called Standard International English that will sound different than what I grew up speaking in WNY.
What is a beet burger?
A beet burger is an odd, raw foods play on a hamburger. It is fully uncooked, it is vegan, it is gluten free, it is organic. It is a slice of raw beet, tomato, and leafy greens wedged between two “buns” that are made up of beets smushed up with seeds and other stuff that I can’t determine.
I ate my first beet burger as a why-not? type of proposition. My apartment is surrounded by raw and vegan restaurants and it wasn’t expensive.
I’d feel a lot cooler here to make fun of it — to tell a tale about how I asked the server to take it back to heat it up because it was cold or some other joke that would show how I’m not one of “those” people.
I’d feel even cooler to say that I only ate it once as a novelty, rather than the reality that has seen me eat around six of them in a week and a half as I became a regular in the restaurant.
(Disclaimer: I have a love for beets and generally eat multiple servings of them each day.)
But this did bring up some questions for me. I like vegetables. I like organic. I eat one of those high protein, nutrient dense, low filler-carb, low sugar, no gluten diets. I like trendy little cafes where I can sit out at tables on the sidewalk and type blog posts on my BlackBerry.
“This place is the kind of person that you are,” my wife inserted the shank.
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