F E A T U R I N G * 7 0 * B O N U S * S E C O N D S
Little known fact: Charlie Dickens was a travel writer. He did a romp across the US and summed up his whining take in a book (I have it, but haven’t read — I only assume he whines) called ‘American Notes.’ But more associate him with the head-rolling ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’ which opens up with Dickens’ own Gettysburg Address-esque sound-byte: ‘Things were pretty good, and at the same time not so good.’ More or less.
The equivalent American two cities, at least on most people’s travel-dream radar, are New York City and San Francisco. Huge draws for visitors, and a less-talked-about bounce between New Yorkers longing for a slower pace, coastal drives, great wine — and some semblance of city life.
The usual routine goes — New Yorker in late 20s, dissastisfied with career, moves to San Francisco, then guts new friends by constantly comparing things to New York. In some ways, the Ugly American gone domestic. ‘This restaurant closes at 9pm — are you serious,’ said with only slight earnestness. ‘This would never happen in New York.’ And it wouldn’t.
Most move back to New York within five to eight years. (I did.)
Sometimes I liken New York to a boss (gets things done, and sends you blissfully reeling when it, on occasion, notices you), while San Francisco is a pizza buddy (comforting, always there, great coffee and burritos, plus a ‘robust’ theatre organ scene featuring the priceless David Hegarty, no real risks — other than grossness of large men at that nude beach beyond Golden Gate Bridge).
So, which is better?