Saturday, May 22, 2010

The New York Minute / The LA Hour

In New York, everyone is in a rush. "The New Yorki Minute" defines a state of mind shared by most New Yorkers; it distinguishes them from the rest of the world.

Here James Gandolfini defines it:

Legend has it that the term originated in Texas around 1967. New Yorkers were credited with doing in a second what Texans would do in a minute. Johnny Carson described it as the interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green nd the guy behind you honking his horn.

The Eagles wrote a song about it.

"In a New York minute
Everything can change
In an New York minute
Things can get a little strange
In a New York minute
Everything can change
In a New York minute"

God forbid that anyone keep you waiting in New York. For more than forty years, I have had a 98% on time rating. If and when I am running late, like everyone else, I call. Depending on whatever your status within whatever heirarchy to which you might belong, you are allowed a five to fifteen minute window. If you are stuck in a cab in midtown, you can get out and walk or run. If you are stuck in a subway, you can't call and you have no options. If you're stuck in a tunnel or on the FDR or Wst Side Highway, it is like being stuck in the sunway. You sweat it out and hope that you have not ruined whatever opportunity might have been waiting for you.

In LA, I have yet to hear anyone say, "I'm in a hurry." No one seems to worry if you are not on time. A freeway traffic jam or accident is always a good excuse and it probably is treue. In 1947, Evelyn Waugh gave a true Brit's evaluation of the Angelenos' sense of time saying that: "it's not the leisure of Mone Carlo or Palm Beach where busy men go for a holiday. It is the leisure of those whose work is quite finished. Here on the ultimate sunset shore they lay themselves down, warm their old limbs and open thsir scaly eyes three times a day to browse on lettuce and avocado pears."

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