[New Yorkers] make less separation between private and public life. That is, 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 and that coats their transactions in a smooth, shiny glaze, making them seem empty-headed. New Yorkers have not yet gotten the knack of this. That may be because so many of them grew up outside the United States, and also because they live so much of their lives in public, eating their lunches in parks, riding to work in subways. It’s hard to keep up the smiley face for that many hours a day.
And here’s how New Yorkers deal with celebrities:
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.