I am officially not a New Yorker anymore, since A) I don’t live there and B) the city has added a tourist attraction since I left. The Astor Place Building was bad enough, but now that the 9/11 memorial is finished I have to accept that my mental map of the city is not only imprecise, like a dream, but inaccurate, like the dream where Catherine Keener says I’m pretty. It’s fitting that it should happen this way. The September 11th attacks—more specifically, the baffling torrent of people who did not live in the city on September 11, 2001 but still consider 9/11 a personal tragedy—were what made me feel like a New Yorker in the first place. The feeling is an odd mixture of loyalty and cynicism, which you can simulate for yourself after the jump by reading a quote from this New York Times article.
“I fly first class,” Louis CK notes near the beginning of Live At the Beacon Theater. “It’s only for another year at the most. Believe me, it’s not gonna last.” It’s funny because it’s true and, as an associate used to say, it’s true because it’s sad. You could argue—by you I again mean me—that here is Louis CK’s métier: things that are funny because they go unacknowledged, paradoxically because they are depressing. It is a project of recovering funny from the dumb and brutal world, the way the early naturalists used to talk about beauty. I submit that this process of reclamation offers a decent working definition of art.