The St-Tropez Syndrome
A friend coined the expression “St. Tropez Syndrome” for this phenomenon. A century ago St.-Tropez was a quiet fishing town on the Côte d’Azur (also known as the French Riviera). Then artists and intellectuals began flocking there for the climate. After World War II the town emerged as a stop for the “beautiful people” of the A-list and the emerging jet set. Its bars and clubs were packed with seekers of “whisky à go-go.” La cage was definitely affolée. Well, I haven’t been to St.-Tropez in many years, and it would take a large sum of money to get me to return. Who knows? Maybe after some years of desertion the place is ready for a comeback. I doubt it.
Los Angeles is a gigantic version of the Syndrome. In my childhood there the city had no smog to speak of—-you could actually see the hills. There was even a functioning public transportation system, so that our family didn’t even own a car. Although the orange groves were miles away, symbolically we inhaled their wonderful aroma.
I needn’t emphasize the contrast with LA as it is now. Too many people, too much congestion, too much frustration, and too many frayed tempers.
The triggering of the perception of the Syndrome may be part of a larger problem known as “fading.” In contrast with St-Tropez and Los Angeles, there is an infinite amount of room on, say, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Yet I have heard that warhorse has been so many times that I hope I never hear it again. It may be different for youngsters discovering classical music for the first time. And so perhaps, too, LA.