I have to say I'm a little at a loss for words...which strikes me as an excellent way to start a blog post.
I'm about a month late, coming to the party, but I just discovered via Gawker this article by Stefanie Marsh for Times Online. I won't try to restate her premise, 'cause frankly, I'm really not sure what it is.
She starts off lovingly waxing nostalgic about a friend, who at age 13 was hanging out with friends one night when they were "...leapt on by a gang who robbed them not only of their money but all their clothes. For good measure the gang spray-painted their tag across the naked chests of the three boys, who were forced to walk home naked, petrified and yet altered." The paragraph goes on to conclude, “That day” Roger likes to reminisce, not altogether ironically, “we became men.” "
WTF? No, really! WTF! She goes on to deride a NYC in which: toughened post 9/11 border controls have dissuaded some people from moving to NY and settling, instead in London or Berlin, Rich bankers and investment brokers who made the city expensive and then, after the bubble burst, are now pariahs, and the morphing of CBGB's into a high-end boutique (that -- gasp -- kept some of the murals from CBGB's heyday). I think there's something in there about modern architecture with lots of glass and no exterior walls, and she finishes off with a quote about there being a Whole Foods Market (OMFG,) on Bowery.
Now, I'm on record as thinking that post 9/11 security is more window dressing than anything else, but if it kept some people in London or Berlin, am I really supposed to mourn that. Is she really longing for a time when three 13-year-olds could lose their money and clothes to a gang of other kids? Or is it the creativity of tagging the naked kids with their gang signs? I've got news for you. You can still get robbed really easily in NYC. I wouldn't even really have to point you toward the wrong (or would that be right) neighborhood to get the job done. Here's just the highlights for crime in my precinct from a couple of weeks ago. (I have to admit that I always think I live in a really safe neighborhood until I read the weekly roundup on that blog.)
And if you think NYers have lost their flair for the creative, I'll point out that just a week or so ago, the cops arrested a guy for breaking into closed parking lots and then charging people to park there! And then there were the guys who wheeled their dead friend to a check cashing store so they could cash his social security check. You want creativity? Take that, you prat!
I'm not sure which good old days she's longing for. Would that be the 70's when the city was dead broke but the Ramones were playing CBGB's or the 80's when Greed was Good? And speaking of CBGB's, even CBGB's wasn't CBGB's every night. For every night that Patti Smith, or Blondie, or The Talking Heads played, there were a bunch of nights when the band playing...uh..wasn't Patti Smith or Blondie or The Talking Heads. Hey, the place had a great run, lasting until 2006, but by the time I moved here in 1986, it was already starting to coast. I went there three or four times and I never saw anybody memorable play. That's fine. I had fun. I drank a lot. I danced around to some bands nobody ever heard of before or after. But the place smelled like beer and piss the second you got to the door, and, God-forbid you ever saw what it looked like in the light of day.
And what's wrong with having a Whole Foods on Bowery? Is this somehow so much worse than stepping over passed-out drunks in dark doorways? Did you prefer when trash blew down the streets (even when it was being picked up), and the pre-cellphone days of trying to find the one payphone in 12 square blocks that worked? Did you like it when gunshots rang out so often that nobody even bothered calling the cops anymore?
WTF are you talking about? Oh, and posted on the same day, you've got your "Six Cities that beat the Big Apple" article. (Was a concierge or limo driver here mean to you on your last visit? Is that what this is really all about?) I can't claim to be well traveled. The closest I've been to London is a one-hour layover at Heathrow -- lovely airport, that. And I loved Tel Aviv, but I haven't been there since 1978, so I'm guessing things have changed. I'd love to go to all of those cities. And I'm ecstatic that they meet your qualifications for being cool places. Good for them.
But I live in New York. And I like walking the streets at night with just a modicum of cluefulness. I like being able to buy groceries in a decent store. I don't care where investment bankers are now persona non grata -- I was never at the top of those places' guest lists to begin with. I may not be the target audience, but I can assure you that New York still has its share of cool places to go, populated by hipsters, artists, disaffected youth and just plain lowlifes. The spots have just moved around...like they always have and always will. Or maybe you're just missing your youth hanging out with the Dead Rabbits?