Saturday, June 16, 2012

Everybody's Talkin

Whenever the discussion of New York comes about (often from the mouths of visitors), I've noticed there's a pattern of declaring what is or isn't the real "New York" while IN New York.
Rush and grime go back and forth between being declared the real New York or are pushed aside by the smoother (though still rushed), polished quality of midtown. Areas filled with tourists simultaneously are viewed as being the real New York or a facade.
Note: I am not against tourists. I even like some of you. I've taken plenty a photo and given directions. No, I'm not thrilled by their presence nor am I ever thrilled by the prospect of being a tourist...Is anyone? My issue with tourists in this Bloomberg era is that New York seems to be excoriated to cater to their comfort. I have a reoccurring unfunny joke image of New York becoming a zoo. The natives in their neighborhoods sectioned off into glass boxes, just past the safety of Midtown, Times Square and the High Line. The friendlier (more personable?) New Yorkers could reside in a petting zoo where you could feed them hot dogs, gyros and maybe a stale pretzel...But enough about that."Bahhh!".
By the way, has anyone ever met an actual New Yorker who loves Bloomberg? I don't, though I regularly hear from non-New Yorkers how wonderful he is. But actual New Yorkers? "Bahhh!"
It's hard to peg exactly what New York is. It's unnecessary to. In fact, as a native, it's much easier to relentlessly bitch about what isn't New York. It isn't 7-11's on every corner, it isn't the Chelsea Hotel gutted mercilessly or the heinous expanse of NYU.
It certainly couldn't be the Coney Island boardwalk selling for 10 dollar slivers. That image would hurt too much. Or maybe it is? Maybe New York, the New York that we can't put our fingers on and can't stop from changing so rapidly is like the Coney Island Boardwalk. Taking away something beautiful, important and yes, " really New York" and replacing with something cold and without artistry. So what do you do? You take what's left over, in chunks or slivers and you make something with it. A frame, a box or a buck.
If it is exploitation, does it matter? In some ways it feels like the essential New York is reduced to fragments and slivers. In others, it's the need to own the chunk, the fragment, the sliver. The need to remember and "have" New York, protectively...Even if you can't put your finger on it long enough before it starts spinning again.
But knowing New York? Knowing New York is another story.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New York in the Movies Part 1

“Chapter 1.
He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of, make that: he - he romanticized it all out of proportion. Yes. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin.'
Er, tsch, no, missed out something.

Chapter 1.
He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else. He thrived on the hustle bustle of the crowds and the traffic. To him, New York meant beautiful women and street-smart guys who seemed to know all the angles...'. No, no, corny, too corny for a man of my taste. Can we ... can we try and make it more profound?

Chapter 1.
He adored New York City. To him, it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. The same lack of individual integrity that caused so many people to take the easy way out was rapidly turning the town of his dreams in ...'
No, that's a little bit too preachy. I mean, you know, let's face it, I want to sell some books here.

Chapter 1.
He adored New York City, although to him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. How hard it was to exist in a society desensitized by drugs, loud music, television, crime, garbage...'
Too angry, I don't want to be angry.

Chapter 1.
He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat.'
I love this.
New York was his town, and it always would be...” 

Woody Allen "Manhattan" 1979