07 December 2013

cultural missteps

Light snowfall in the air, off to the BFA senior shows and then the AU Symphony Orchestra concert. I ran into Lydia at the BFA shows. She had posted a note in Facebook on the listing for a show by Adam Katseff so I had assumed she was in New York City. But there she was, having returned in the last 24 hours. We compared notes on recent trips to NYC: where we stayed (Ridgewood and Bushwick), what we saw (Chris Burden, Mike Kelley), neighborhoods, where we ate. John and Ellen joined us and we sadly got into a bit of Brooklyn name-dropping as John and Ellen groaned. Both Lydia and I would love to live in the City, the art is so exciting and invigorating, so "sparkly" as Daniel said.

And then off to Miller for the concert. The house wasn't open so I took out Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie, my current reading. The next story was "Gentrification" wherein a white guy is living in a black neighborhood, the only white, but they're all just folks. Then the white guy does something that he perceives as neighborly, contrary to the customs of the majority black population. He becomes the unwanted. Culture is so inborn and it is easy to go astray.

Getting an apartment in an affordable neighborhood might very well mean living in a minority-majority area. It would be so easy to be "wrong." As I was walking home, thinking about the carol sing-along during the concert, I contemplated how, for some, singing Christian carols could be wrong. I certainly bristle when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited before Alfred Town meetings or the national anthem is played before village band concerts in the summer. No one from New York City would tolerate that. And I'm a child of the 1960s when those emblems of American allegiance got tangled up in the Vietnam War.

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