What I like about walking around old cities like Philadelphia (or especially, Detroit) is the age and reality of the streets of buildings. There are blocks of businesses which look exactly as they must have in the 40s or 50s. There are some in Philly which appear much older. One gets a sense of the many generations of people who lived here. I used to walk through Detroit's Cass Corridor and see old carriage house garages like the ones in which, in the same neighborhood, Ford and Dodge had built from bicycle parts their first automobiles. Who knows-- maybe the same ones. I could breathe in the air of human history and the tragedy contained therein-- tragedy because each generation passed away as it must inevitably quickly pass away, as so must we. The idea being to leave some quick mark on this world while we're here. To understand history is to know the deepest tragedy, because the most fascinating wonderful beautiful people have all left-- Caesar to Cleopatra to Shakespeare to George Washington to F Scott and Hemingway, Pound and Plath, every one of them.
I loathe new exurban business streets which are so new, clean, falsely quaint, yuppified and pink and green fake-- like a Bennigan's monopoly chain restaurant. Veneered.
I love zeens for their simple reality, these handmade products of love and affection, expressing such individuality; done by "grubby pamphleteers," as someone once characterized myself and my friends. I like underground prose produced by the likes of Blackolive because there's no pose, no veneer to it-- it's direct and real.
The reason I have such instinctive antipathy-- revulsion, really-- to products like McSweeney's and The Believer-- is because they so well represent everything I hate about the falseness of our contemporary world. They show the same con-artist fake-sincerity pose as do the just-put-up veneered yuppie buildings on an exurban street. In the same way as when you get to know these people (McSweeneyites) you realize they're the same way; friendly to your face yet catty the instant you turn your back. It's the only way they know how to be. It's why they skulk around in the shadows under "Anonymous" names. Facades are all there is to them-- as with the cute but empty facades of their writing.