Start spreading the news. I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it …
I grew up in a big city with billboards and litter and bellowing horns. We lived in a concrete jungle with beggars and highways and smog — and we vacationed, naturally, in charming, palm tree-punctuated beach towns.
Now I live in this charming, palm tree-punctuated beach town. It’s lovely — a safe, peaceful, pretty place to raise kids. And yet a part of my urban-bred brain wonders if there’s something missing from the soul of children who don’t know how to hop a subway turnstile or sleep through the blare of constant, distant sirens. Are they too content? Too … untested?
So when the tourists began pouring into Santa Barbara for spring break, I dragged my family to Manhattan for a lesson in culture, congestion, and crabby cabbies. We needed grit, I felt. Too much sustained simplicity makes ya soft in the head.
But could two laid-back pups from paradise really glean value from a week in a city that never sleeps? Could my dyed-in-the-wool country mice ever truly appreciate the bracing bedlam of Gotham?
Most of what the boys knew about New York came from Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind”: “Yeah, I’m up at Brooklyn, now I’m down in TriBeCa, right next to De Niro, but I’ll be ‘hood forever. I’m the new Sinatra, and since I made it here, I can make it anywhere …”