Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Art & Commerce

Williamsburg, 2014

Everyone I know in New York has what I call an 'escape hatch fantasy.'

Sometimes, when it's icy and bitter out, L.A. is a popular escape hatch.

People will say things like, 'I could have an avocado tree in my backyard!', 'I'd go hiking every day,' or 'People go stand up paddle boarding there before work, don't they?'

Sometimes the fantasy centers on somewhere in Europe. It's Amsterdam or Stockholm or Normandy. Somewhere with a gentler pace of life, where people bike a lot while wearing skirts and braids. Of course, people bike a lot in skirt and braids in Brooklyn, but that's another story.

The escape hatch fantasy is an ongoing brunch or dinner conversation here that usually starts with someone announcing: 'Austin has a burgeoning art scene,' and ends with the cautionary tale of a friend of a friend who moved to a farm in Vermont and hated having to shop at Target and had to return to Brooklyn.

So I don't think these conversations are really about leaving, even as the circle around things like the insane price of real estate or the manic tempo of city life. Generally, for us, they tend to be about affirming what it is we love about living here, when it's obviously a challenging place.

One of the biggies for me is the meeting of art and commerce in the city. I grew up in Washington, D.C., which was a leafy, worldly, international place, certainly. But when I was a kid, my friends' parents were all judges and lawyers and doctors, or did vague financial things I didn't entirely grasp.

For Axel and Oscar, I love the fact that they are surrounded by people who make a substantive living doing creative things. There's an Oscar-winning screenwriter who lives in our building, for one. Axel's schoolmates' parents are collage artists, musicians, fashion designers, photographers, perfume executives, advertising gurus, real estate agents, news producers, and small business owners.

These kids will one day, I think, take it for granted that if you want to write a book, open a restaurant, or chase some kind of elusive dream, it doesn't have to mean living on the fringes.

I love the thought of our boys looking around and going, 'Yeah, I could be a chocolate maker.' Even at two, I feel like Axel is exposed to so many interesting ideas and visuals that I didn't happen upon until I was eighteen or so, discovering cities in my own right.

And if it turns out they want to work at Goldman Sachs, so be it. I just love the diversity of possibility here.

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