New York and Paris go toe-to-toe for the ur­ban heavy­weight cham­pi­onship

Paris and New York en­gage in a bare-knuckle bat­tle for the ur­ban heavy­weight cham­pi­onship

The Australian - The Deal - - News - John Con­nolly Il­lus­tra­tion by: John­son Andrew Con­tact:

LADIES and gen­tle­men, wel­come to the main event. In the red cor­ner, with an area of 87sq km, a pop­u­la­tion of 2.3 mil­lion and a his­tory stretch­ing back thou­sands of years, the ro­man­tic cham­pion of the world, from Europe, please wel­come Paris “City of Light” France. His op­po­nent in the blue cor­ner with an area of 790sq km, a pop­u­la­tion of 8.4 mil­lion, and a Euro­pean his­tory of 390 years, the cham­pion of the free world, from the US of A, please wel­come New “City that Never Sleeps” York.

Ladies and gen­tle­men, our op­po­nents are cel­e­brat­ing big an­niver­saries this month. New York is mark­ing July 4, 1776, the day the US legally sep­a­rated from Bri­tain and in­vented the bar­be­cue. Paris is pumped be­cause on July 14, 1789, the French of­fi­cially be­came re­volt­ing. This is a no-holds-barred, no gloves or other girly-boy pro­tec­tion, fight to the end over three rounds.

The first round is eat­ing, the sec­ond is vis­it­ing and the third is cre­ativ­ity. Let the match be­gin. The French­man comes out first with more than 70 Miche­lin-starred restaurants in­clud­ing a set-price din­ner at one-Miche­lin-star L’Agapé in the 17th district for 39 eu­ros ($56). He fol­lows up with a favourite (al­though in­vented by an Aus­trian), a crois­sant and cof­fee from the 155-year-old Mai­son Pradier on Av­enue Franklin De­lano Roo­sevelt. New York reels but comes back with 66 Miche­lin­starred (no irony there) eater­ies in­clud­ing a $38 meal at my favourite win­ter stop, the one-star Minetta Tav­ern in Green­wich Vil­lage. And New York has the an­swer to Mai­son Pradier’s crois­sant. It’s a hand­made, nat­u­rally smoked pork and beef hot dog from Crif Dogs in the East Vil­lage. Not only is this the city’s best sausage, but owner Brian She­bairo’s web­site (cri­f­ leaves the Parisian’s for dead. But it’s not enough and at the end of the fi rst round Paris is ahead on points.

We’re back for round two, which will de­cide the best city to visit. Paris doesn’t even bother with churches, arches and tow­ers, go­ing straight to the chin with La Pagode, the world’s most beau­ti­ful theatre. Cre­ated as an an­tique Ja­panese pagoda in 1896 by Le Bon Marché and Ho­tel Lute­tia di­rec­tor Fran­coisEmile Morin as a gift for his wife, and res­cued from obliv­ion in the 1970s, this dance hall turned movie theatre is the home of in­de­pen­dent films in the city and it’s Woody Allen’s favourite cin­ema. But none of that helped Frank; his wife met a busi­ness as­so­ciate at a work func­tion and ran off with him.

Kapow! New York lands a one-two com­bi­na­tion with The High­line and The Clois­ters. Like Paris, New York has ig­nored the usual tall build­ings, stat­ues and sta­tions. Built on an old freight rail line 9m above the ground, The High Line runs from Gan­sevoort Street in the Meat­pack­ing District through West Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen to West 34th Street. A model for pub­lic space in cities, this pub­lic park takes you be­tween apart­ment build­ings, cars stacked five high and rail yards.

Bam! In up­per Man­hat­tan on 27ha look­ing over the Hud­son, is The Clois­ters. Cre­ated from five Euro­pean abbeys and lo­cal brick­work, it’s got more than 5000 old Euro­pean pic­tures and was the work of Johnny Rock­e­feller, who didn’t do it for his wife or girl­friend.

Com­ing up to the end of the sec­ond round, Paris re­alises he’s made a mis­take not go­ing with the big guns of the Lou­vre, the Opera and the Musee d’Or­say, but the bell rings and New York is win­ning.

The ten­sion is mount­ing. Ladies and gen­tle­men, this is the third and de­cid­ing round for the heavy­weight world cham­pion city of the world. Straight­away New York lands a near knockout punch with even the French ad­mit­ting the city that never sleeps is the new fash­ion cap­i­tal of the world.

Paris is strug­gling but he comes in low with what he hopes will be a killer punch: Paris ar­chi­tec­ture. It’s all here: from the ear­li­est build­ings to the Re­nais­sance to mod­ernism back to neo-mod­ernism, Paris de­liv­ers its birth­place, Ile de la Cité, L’Ho­tel de Cluny, a jump to Saint-Eus­tache church, Palais Bour­bon, then into the 19th century with the cov­ered pas­sages of La Ga­lerie Vivi­enne and Ga­lerie Col­bert, and fi­nally the at­tack of mod­ernism with the Fon­da­tion Le Cor­bus­ier and Leon Azema’s Palais de Chail­lot. Man, the crowd is go­ing wild. But has Paris done enough?

New York is in charge. With one mas­sive swing in one mas­sive week he de­liv­ers an Ital­ian Fu­tur­ism ex­hi­bi­tion at the Guggen­heim, Neil Patrick Har­ris in Hed­wig and The An­gry Inch on Broad­way, Balan­chine’s Jewels at the Lin­coln Cen­tre, Ozu’s last film, An Au­tumn Af­ter­noon at MoMA, Madama But­ter­fly at the Con­nelly Theatre, and Ricki Lee Jones at Joe’s Pub.

The bell rings. The ref­eree takes cen­tre ring. “Ladies and gen­tle­men, in the three-round match to de­ter­mine the new heavy­weight cham­pion city of the world, the um­pires have made their de­ci­sion.” He lifts New York’s hand. “The win­ner is the city that never sleeps, the Big Ap­ple, Hong Kong on the Hud­son, the Mod­ern Go­mor­rah, the Em­pire City, the cap­i­tal of the world, New York City. The French in the au­di­ence go wild. Berets and baguettes, snails and sauternes are hurled into the ring. Paris, sob­bing, grabs the mi­cro­phone from the ref. “Mais je suis la cap­i­tale de la cul­ture du monde,” he cries.

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