I’ve spent most of my life in one city, blind to its faults. It’s only when you go someplace new that you notice the worse thing about cities: the morons who live there. I have vowed not to step foot in Newcastle again for at least twenty years. I’ll attend family funerals by Skype. I want to leave enough time, to next see the place through the eyes of a newcomer, and recognise its people as the troglodytes that they are.
I lived in Singapore in my mid twenties, where the average Mr Tan is a numb-scull as well— any of my Singaporean friends would high five me for that one. If he has the means, Mr Tan will squander a fortune for the prestige of owning a car, only to creep about the island in traffic that averages half the speed of a bike. If he is frugal or poor, he will spend his spare time below ground, walking past shops, making himself an expert on the price of designer name shirts.
The next place I spent any considerable time was New York, a place idiots clamber over each other for the smallest abode, just for the honour of saying they live there. The net effect of this rent race has been to fill New York with squandering heirs to great fortunes who sit around doing nothing, while the talented people for whom New York is meant to exist, are forced to commute to Manhattan from Queens. It would be better for everyone if more people faked it.
Would you like to join me in a little deceit? 4 of us should fly to JFK, enter the US on 90 day tourist visas, buy a camper van, and take turns at the wheel driving around Midtown and Chelsea. While one of us drives, another can sleep, one can go to meetup events, and the other can pop out to Barbados just for the stamp in their passport. This would be far cheaper than buying or renting, and I swear, we would go undetected as frauds. So long as we had a dog to take with us to dog runs, and a bike to chain outside of cafes, no one will know we were not locals. Take your guitar, unpublished manuscripts and any paintings you did in high school, and I promise you will be knocking back publishing deals by the end of the year, and laughing at those try-hards with their apartments. You have to admit, that’s somewhat more sensible than Laurie Anderson’s suggestion that we should all press ourselves flat into billboards.
My latest move has been to Tasmania, where the average Joe is so docile he cheerily accepts having to walk to a town tank for clean water, because the stuff coming out of the tap is loaded with lead. Don’t believe me? Read this. In his car, Joe forces pedestrians to give way to him when he drives across footpaths, and pedestrians simply stand back and smile. Bus drivers here have been on strike for two days, and Joe doesn’t care. Joe has not finished high school, has not been overseas, and is not about to go anywhere either; he’s hanging in for the national broadband, when he will have boundless sport and porn on his pooda. If only we could get Richie Porte to read a statement about the need for safe cycle tracks, without any clothes on, then maybe a few Tasmanian Joes would admit they do not live in paradise.
Wherever you go, cities are ruined by locals. Their espoused pride in their place, however that place happens to be, wins the support of people rationalising their enslavement to employers and over-invetsment in housing. These local heroes find themselves running the joint, and running it down.
It would be far better, I think, if every place were ran by outsiders. So I’ll go and be the mayor of New York, Bloomberg can take over the running of Singapore, and Kim Jong-un can be in charge of Tasmania, and lob bombs at Melbourne and Sydney. The only alternative that I can see, is educating the next generation of leaders—which reminds me, I must prepare a few lectures.