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Beverly Hills Falls Short

May 15, 1988

I am replying to Mayor Benjamin Stansbury's attempted rebuttal of Mary Rourke's questioning whether Beverly Hills has any glamour left; alas, the mayor's remarks backfire, and only confirm precisely the sorts of things he wants to deny (Letters in View, May 1).

In attempting to establish that Beverly Hills has allure, Stansbury lists office buildings, shops, restaurants and other real estate figures to try to show that he presides over a "world-class city whose international appeal and worldwide mystique is steadfast." But by limiting himself to such examples of superficial consumerism, he is clearly oblivious to the fact that a true world-class city also points proudly to cultural achievements, not just to real estate prices.

We love to eat at Paris' Tour d' Argent or shop on the Rue St. Honore, but we admire the city for its Louvre and other museums, its architecture, etc. Such sensual pleasures as food and clothes are only distractions in a true world-class city, not its raison d'etre.

We in Beverly Hills seem to have forgotten that in a city where chefs, hairdressers, shopkeepers and real estate agents are considered the cultural icons, while true intellectuals and artists are ignored (except in a few pricey art galleries, which do not exist for altruistic reasons), we have made ourselves the laughingstocks of true intellectuals.

I travel extensively throughout Europe and elsewhere, dealing with writers and film people, and while they are curious about Beverly Hills and have heard of it, most who actually visited us were dismayed by the superficial, overtly shallow ambiance.

If things go on this way, I fear that some day, hundreds of years from now, historians will look back on Beverly Hills as the epitome of the decline of American civilization.


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