The New Yorker's Joan Acocella explains in May's Smithsonian what effect living in close quarters, often in public, has on the behavior of New Yorker. "They act on the street as they do in private. In the United States today, public behavior is ruled by a kind of compulsory cheer that people probably picked up from television and advertising that coats their transactions in a smooth, shiny glaze. New Yorkers have not yet gotten the knack of this." She also totally knows why we ignore celebrities when we see them in the street (no, it's not 'cause we're jaded):

"Another curious form of cooperation one sees in New York is the unspoken ban on staring at celebrities. When you get into an elevator in an office building and find that you are riding with Paul McCartney—this happened to me—you are not supposed to look at him. You can peek for a second, but then you must avert your eyes.

The idea is that Paul McCartney has to be given his space like anyone else. A limousine can bring him to the building he wants to go to, but it can't take him to the 12th floor. To get there, he has to ride in an elevator with the rest of us, and we shouldn't take advantage of that. This logic is self-flattering. It's nice to think that Paul McCartney needs us to do him a favor..."

Well, we may not stare at celebs, but we do excitedly Blackberry their sightings almost instantly to the Gawker Stalker tip line! (Keep up the good work.)

"You Got a Problem With That?" [Smithsonian]

[Photo: Christinabean's Flickr]