Of course, the rule with celebrities, which forbids involvement, is different from the other expressions of common cause, which dictate involvement. And since few of us are celebrities, the latter are far more numerous. As a result, New Yorkers, however kind and generous, may also come off as opinionated and intrusive. Living with them is a little like being a child again and having your mother with you all the time, helping you, correcting you, butting into your business. And that, I believe, is another reason why New Yorkers seem smarter. Your mother knew better, too, right?
Joan Acocella is a staff writer for The New Yorker.
Photographer Bob Sacha is based in New York City.