(For mah peeps living the bohemian novelist’s dream.)

A Moveable Feast is Hemingway’s memoir of life for the young ex-pats who enjoyed the first blush of American global economic dominance in France after the end of the First World War. Though he and Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and John Dos Passos complained about being poor and put on a show of living a bohemian lifestyle, they were all supported by the strength of the US economy and money sent to them from the states. The fact that the French franc was close to trash compared to the dollar supported their artistic ambitions.

Almost one hundred years later the situation is exactly reversed. On my way to NYU’s library yesterday I passed by several street fairs, and the language spoken by 95% of the kids pushing past me to buy a sausage or an “I ❤ NY” T-shirt was French. Though South Williamsburg has been the home of Latinos and Hassidic Jews for many decades, a giant English ex-pat community has moved in to the new loft-style apartments being thrown up faster than you can say, “recession coming!”

This article in todays AM New York says it all:

The city reached the tourism milestone, reported by the economic analysis and forecasting firm Global Insight, thanks to the record 7.6 million visitors from overseas in 2007, who generally stay longer and spend more money than people visiting from within the United States. In all, 46 million visitors came to the city and spent more than $28 billion last year.

“They’re coming with one suitcase and leaving with two,” Haywood said. “Or they’re coming with an empty suitcase and leaving with it full.”

A look at the statistics shows New York is emerging as a playground for even the developing world. Indian visitors were up 46 percent, according to NYC & Co. figures. The city is opening its next overseas tourism bureau in Mumbai, India, in the fall, Haywood said.

However, Europeans and Brits continue to storm the city and spread their euros and pounds. French visitors increased by 39 percent last year.

“I guess it’s the right time to visit,” said Erwan, who didn’t give his last name but is visiting from Paris. “You think less so you spend more.”

By many accounts, tourists are having the most fun in the city, spending as they like while New Yorkers are in the midst of economic meltdown. While job growth increased just 0.6 percent over the last year, the leisure and hospitality sector grew 2 percent in the same period, according to the Department of Labor.

One thing we Americans have taken for granted for the last hundred years is our cultural dominance. The great writers in the 1920s for most literate Americans (and Europeans) were Americans writing in English. Can you imagine a literary renaissance in England in the next decade as the bohemians today return to the Europe of tomorrow and start memorializing the begining of a new European century? English is pretty well established as the dominant cultural medium. I remember nostalgically the fears of folks in the 80s that we would all be speaking Japanese in the 21st century and how quaint that sounded in the 90s. But is it possible that the next great “American” novel will be written in French, Hindi or Chinese? You bet it is, Poppa.

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