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PRINT May 1997

LETTER FROM LONDON

the New Smoke

I’M TOLD BY Newsweek, Vogue, and Vanity Fair that I’m living in the “coolest” city in the world. This journalistic revamp of London makes me feel self-conscious, like being congratulated by a friend on the “terrific new” jacket that in fact I’ve been wearing for years. For me, London is still, in Ezra Pound’s phrase, “that old bitch gone in the teeth,” a city that, despite its ersatz finery, I love.

Vanity Fair’s March number describes a town catering mainly to people in their mid twenties with a lurch upward to the thirty-somethings—a public born for the most part in the 1960s, when London had its last big cultural facelift. VF contrasts the two eras, pitting Stones and Beatles against Oasis and Blur, Blow-Up and Darling against Trainspotting and Fever Pitch, Mary Quant and David Bailey against Patsy Kensit and Alexander McQueen. The London scene in the ’60s was pretty restricted, as

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