Brooklyn-based songstress Sharon Van Etten paused for an intermission after almost every song she played last Friday evening at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. She filled these interludes with declarations of her love for “Mr. Show” and her sister, as well as banter with loud-mouthed audience members. She often adopted an exaggerated tough guy Jersey accent.
During one break in the action, she mentioned she had played Boston the previous evening, flashing a knowing grin to the crowd. They lustily booed, as if a crime against their intelligence had occurred. “Boston sucks,” they might as well have chanted.
I, meanwhile, being a Southerner by birth, and a Cajun at that, longed for her to move along and play another melancholy song. The New York-Boston faux beef/pissing match is so passe. I am convinced the rest of the country, like me, rolls their eyes when someone lumps the two cities in the same sentence, like they are the Clash of American cities. That is merely a hunch.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the spectacle, kineticism, and intellect each city affords, when I visit them. I just don’t need to hear more about either’s greatness, particularly in the context of its rivals’ inferiority. I appreciate their greatness. What I don’t appreciate is when people make it seem like they are, in effect, on a higher plane than other American cities, and are thus the only cities capable of being compared to one another.