I've been thinking a lot lately about innovation and change. The subjects of an important three-day meeting I recently attended, they are a constant on the daily menu at this magazine and in the world we cover. An example of the most tangible sort is occurring in Buenos Aires, a decidedly New World city in spite of its mix of European Beaux-Arts architecture and old-world traditionalism. We cover B.A. this month in a feature by writer Mitchell Owens. It's possible to begin the day at MALBA, the museum of contemporary Latin American art; have an unfancy but delicious lunch at Dora, a local classic; spend the afternoon shopping in Palermo Soho's cutting-edge boutiques; forget that I don't eat beef at El Mirasol de la Recova; and then work it off into the post-midnight hours tangoing—in a style very much my own—at Bar Sur. In Buenos Aires, innovation and preservation go hand in hand.
Many places are appealing, of course, because they appear innovation-free: authentic, eternal, and unchanged. It is certainly part of the draw of eastern Quebec's Cascapedia River, where Alex Shoumatoff returns for the salmon fishing ("Mystic River"), or of the somewhat off-the-map Italian islands where contributing editor Michael Gross indulges in earthy (and watery) pleasures. Change happens—inevitably and undeniably—but for some people, nostalgia can ensure that the essence of a place remains the same. This is the case with the Chinatowns that Bonnie Tsui seeks out as touchstones of childhood memories ("My Chinatown") and with Provincetown, on Cape Cod, where novelist Lucinda Rosenfeld retraces her grandparents' history ("Shifting Sands").
The danger of change in our fast-paced and interconnected world is that places begin to run together and a kind of global "blanding" sets in. The shops on Michigan Avenue can be found on Madison Avenue, Rodeo Drive, and Bond Street, but luckily there's more to Chicago—you'll see our guide. I spend a lot of time there just looking up: it's the best skyline anywhere for 20th-century architecture. (From Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House to Mies van der Rohe's towers on Lake Shore Drive to Millennium Park is a logical and organic progression.) And how does one view a world's fair in the 21st century?See T+L news director Luke Barr's article on Expo 2005 Aichi in Japan ("Back to the Future"), where multimedia presentations have replaced the wonders of monuments to the future like the Crystal Palace in London in 1851 and the Space Needle at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. Virtual innovation may be the new frontier.