If you ever find yourself in Western Mass, go spend a day in Amherst. It’s a town that has its own foreign policy and a weekly anti-war protest that was happening years before I ever arrived and we were years away from Iraq & Afghanistan. But if you spend part of that day at a bar on the outskirts of town, you’ll see the transition first hand. Go in around 4:30 and you’ll see blue collar workers coming in to have a drink after a hard day of work. They clear out by 7 and then the college kids come in and the hip hop comes on. Talking to some of the students, you’ll find they have no clue about who was sitting in their seat an hour before, nor do they have any interest. You could argue it’s that way with all kids, but the difference is that in Massachusetts, those kids stick around as part of elite liberal crowd and they never learn to care about the guy who was sitting in their seat an hour before.
When I was in the Army, I was stationed inside the Beltway at Ft. Myer, Va. A mile or so off post there was a little cafe in Arlington. The food was awesome, and I swear they had the best corned beef hash in three states. But that wasn't the true appeal of this cafe. The people were. At 6am you had blue collar workers having breakfast. 8am was suits and ties, all reading the New York Times. This process was repeated all day, every day. They were(or are) a 24 cafe, and it was a great place to go grab a bite at midnight if you felt so inclined. The people always got along, even to the point of the punk rocker having a discussion with a suit, or a soldier with a hippy. This was all normal behavior, and I enjoyed watching (and some time participating in) the discussions taking place around me. It never became heated, or overly loud, a respectful atmosphere was always around. And this was inside the beltway! Now, I wonder if all that has changed, or if I'm just not hanging out in the right places.