cur. We haven’t elected one of our own governors sincen1920. (The cousin-marrier of Hyde Park doesn’t count.)nWe last elected a senator in 1958. We last had a candidatenfor governor in 1954. Estonia has more influence innMoscow than we do in Albany. (At least they’ve let us keepnour accents.)nAs the republican ideal dims, We are becoming more likenThem. Henry Clune’s fine unknown novel Six O’ClocknCasual (1960) describes an Upstate hamlet in which thenprominent men gleefully loot their patrimony. A nativendaughter, returned from New York City, discovers nothingnbut sickness and cupidity in her hometown. At novel’s end,nshe again flees’ to the city, which is at least frank in itsncorruption.nMr. Clune will turn 101 in February, and for all hisnpessimism he remains in the village of Scottsville, justnoutside of Rochester. He tried New York City once or twice,nbut opted to cultivate a literary career in hardscrabble localnground. He explained: “I longed for Main Street and thenfriendly nod, the warm greeting, the buttonholing by this,nthat, and the other passer-by. I wanted to be where I knewnthe folks. . . . Rochester becomes, not the small centernaround which the world revolves, but almost the worldnitself”nClune is sadly unlaureled, but he has lived a life richernthan a thousand PEN benefits. We are a “culturallynundernourished hintedand,” according to Norman Mailer,nand while Upstaters do exhibit a deplorable ignorance ofntheir heritage, I’ll gladly pit Edmund Wilson against AlfrednKazin, William Kennedy against Jimmy Breslin, JohnnCardner against Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Gates against anynNew Yorker miniaturist, and, in the historical novelistncategory, Walter Edmonds against Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.nFace it: New York City has hit its cultural nadir. Thenmagnet that once drew William Dean Howells now repelsnus with the subsidized juvenilia of Karen Finley. (And whatndoes that say about the decline of their Midwest matrix?)nFree spirits. Jack Kerouacs cruising jazz clubs, are long gone.nThe underground has a factitious, sham quality. New YorknCity’s two punk celebrities were typical: David Byrne was anRISDE brat and Joey Ramone has a rich psychiatristnmother. By contrast, Buffalo’s best punk band, the Enemies,nwas led by a swimming-pool cleaner and a cabbie.nThe dark-eyed poet of the 60’s demimonde, Lou Reed,nnow finds Manhattan unlivable. “I’ve really got a lucky life,”nhe sings, with “my writing, my motorcycle, and my wife.”nAnd his house in New Jersey. Rank and File, an incendiaryncowpunk band out of Seattle by way of Austin, visitednafter-midnight NYC and didn’t like it one bit:nDid you ever see a sheep in a porkpie hat?nEver seen a lemming dressed all in black?nYou might have been there but I’ll tell younjust in casenJust take a walk down St. Mark’s Place.nRank and File were angry populists, probably harboring allnsorts of phobias. The bumpkin bewildered by the din andnpageantry of Cotham is a stock character in Upstate/nDownstate literature. Stanley Walker, in his jocular 1935nessay, walked a mile in our shoes: “Every other citizen isneither a pickpocket or a sybarite. . . . The City reeks withn20/CHRONICLESnnnJews, Catholics, atheists, communists, nudists. Republicans,nPublic Enemies, chow dogs, Rolls-Royces, and HeywoodnBroun.”nThe conceit is that anyone who bridles at Downstatenimperialism is a rube, a racist, a redneck, an anh-Semite.nWhat wonderful weapons with which to sdfle debate:nsubmit, Upstater, or face the Hate Crime tribunal!nSo where do we turn, O Lord, where do we turn? TonNorman Mailer, of course, whose 1969 mayoral campaignnis a fulgent star in our pitch black night.n”Power to the Neighborhoods!” was Mailer’s slogan. Henwanted to abolish the present city government and permitnblocks, tracts, sections to manage their own affairs. SoHo,nHarlem, Bensonhurst: each neighborhood would be responsiblenfor its own welfare, trash pickup, policing, etc. He alsonwanted to cut Upstate loose, to end our “marriage of misery,nincompatibility, and abominable old quarrels.”nMailer averred that he was to the left of the liberals and tonthe right of the conservatives: wisdom’s place! He gotnclobbered, but not before diagnosing the modern malady:n”The style of New York life has shifted since the SecondnWorid War (along with the rest of American cities) from anscene of local neighborhoods and personalities to a large dullnimpersonal style of life which deadens us with its architecture,nits highways, its abstract welfare, and its bureaucraticnreflex to look for government solutions which come into thencity from without (and do not work) . . . Our condition isnspiritless. We wait for abstract impersonal powers to save us,nwe despise the abstractness of those powers, we loathenourselves for our own apathy.” Has any candidate in postwarnAmerica been as eloquent?nMailer’s essay, “An Instrument for the City,” reprinted innExistential Errands, is a brilliant and shamefully neglectedndecentralist manifesto. If New Yorkers had listened tonMailer, Paul Coodman, and Dorothy Day instead of JohnnLindsay, Abe Beame, and Ed Koch, perhaps we’d benfriends.nTwo years later, Bella Abzug picked up the statehood ball.nThe floppy-hatted harridan — who had opposed the hightestosteronenMailer candidacy — raged against Upstaten”appleknockers” who did not understand the historicalninevitability of a centralized welfare state run by Manhattannsocial workers. Abzug’s plan was poorly designed: shenwanted an urban state, without the buffers of Long Islandnand Westchester. (We don’t want ’em either!)nYet Abzug struck a nerve. Ambitious pols who thoughtnthey were too urban, too Jewish, too black to win statewidenelections hopped on the statehood train. Brooklyn boroughnpresident Sebastian Leone took Bella one step further andncalled for an independent Brooklyn, asserting, “We’ve livedntoo long in the shadow of Manhattan.” The Buffalo CitynCouncil passed a “good riddance” resolution. Petitions werencirculated to force a citywide referendum to authorize thendrafdng of a new constitution, the first step toward statehood.nLiberal activists were reinvigorating the torpid Americannideal of self-rule, and they were, justly, proud ofnthemselves.nThey were also naive. The hack City Clerk rejectedn20,000 of the 55,398 signatures they had collected. Therenwould be no referendum. Governor Rockefeller and then