The New York Times has an online series called Townies, and according to NYT it is “a series about life in New York — and occasionally other cities — written by the novelists, journalists and essayists who live there”. Last week’s edition saw Cathy Alter, “a contributing editor to Washingtonian magazine and the author of the memoir “Up for Renewal” write about Washington D.C. I stopped reading at the first paragraph:

In the summer of 1995, I left New York to be with my boyfriend in Washington, D.C. We moved into a depressing apartment complex that he said reminded him of Vassar, his alma mater, but to me — with its charred-looking paint job and cars up on blocks in the parking lot — seemed more like Beirut.

Funny enough, the only place I ever remember seeing “cars up on blocks” was in Brooklyn, NYC! A key difference here is that I’ve lived in New York City and while Cathy, most likely, has never stepped foot in Lebanon.

Responses from Both Sides

Of course, Beirut-bashing did not end there. Here is a comment left on the website:

Why the cheap shot at Vassar? Your neighborhood may have resembled sections of Poughkeepsie, some of which are indeed Beirut-esque, but the Vassar campus is beautiful.

Don’t fret, as there is actually hope if you continue to scroll down the comments pages, you will across this post written by Chris from New Jersey:

Clearly, the author has never seen Beirut, a dynamic and beautiful city even in the years after the civil war. The entire article irked me quite a bit, and that first paragraph in particular struck me as glib and jejune.

Jacaranda Tree and Traffic

Jacaranda Tree and Traffic – Beirut, Lebanon
Taken by Much Ramblings via flickr

Looks Like Beirut Certificate

Cathy, I would love to send your very own Looks Like Beirut certificate but I couldn’t locate a physical address so just let me know where I can send you the certificate, I will be more than happy to do it.

Looks Like Beirut on Google Maps


View Looks Like Beirut – Mapped Across the World by Jad Aoun in a larger map