a5d9/1243396359-kissel.jpgThey usually do. When New York critics come for Spoleto, they’re usually astounded by our historic churches, regal buildings, and the corporate logos that are conspicuously absent from streets on the peninsula.

One of these is Howard Kissel, a critic for the New York Daily News. This was his first time to Spoleto even after decades of covering New York’s art and classical music scene. I happened to have read one of his blogs before going to see Story of a Rabbit today. I recognized him from the photograph on his blog and he invited me to watch the show with him.

The first thing he said was how beautiful and dignified Charleston is. The architecture, the urban design, the whole she-bang. Then he talked about the food, how many top chefs there are in the Holy City, how many of them are tapped by magazines like Esquire. And then we got to brass tacks — how much does it cost to live here? I said it’s a lot to live on the peninsula. Like Manhattan.

Kissel politely demurred. If you know your way around Manhattan, you find cheap places to live. Because Charleston is so tourist-driven, and so concerned about keeping up appearances, he could imagine that’s not the case here. Bingo. I couldn’t think of anything more to say. -JS

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