The Soul of New York City

Kurt Andersen: I think having grown up in Omaha – specifically Nebraska, the Midwest – has shaped me quite a bit. I think going from Omaha essentially to the east – and New York, specifically – made me feel a little bit like a permanent outsider. If not an outsider, at least somebody who could see the strangeness, and magnificence, and ugliness and of New York with a certain amount of awe that hasn’t quite left me.

I think also there is a cliché – but like most clichés a true one – that there’s this thing in the Midwest which amounts to a kind of enforced humility. Sometimes a mock humility, but the nevertheless a sense of you shouldn’t toot your own horn too much. And I think that has stuck with me.

And then of course the particulars of my parents and my family background entirely apart from the Midwest – or Omaha particularly – has had a dramatic influence on my life.

Recorded On: July 5, 2007

An Omahan humility gives Andersen a different perspective on the city.

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