Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The East Village and Other Shadows of Their Former Selves

So as I mentioned before I moved to this City 13 years ago. Well, almost 13 years ago, actually. I moved here on November 15, 1992. I stayed in NC to vote in the '92 election, and in case you're wondering, yep! my guy won!

So nearly 13 years ago I moved to the Rotten Apple (as my Father actually quite lovingly refers to it). I landed on the edge of SoHo in a loft that was occupied by two friends and a cat. I lived in this set-up for about 6 months when my friend (and I use the term loosely), we'll call her Francis, announced she wanted to live alone. Well, fair enough. I had gotten over my initial agoraphobia and had long since abandoned searching faces on the street for one that looked familiar. I was ready to take the training wheels off. And besides, her hard-assed notions of "friend as sycophant suck up" were starting to chap my ass.

So I packed my shit and moved to the East Village. I found myself in an apartment on 9th Street and Avenue A living with two incredibly messy and slightly unhinged boys. But I was out of my previous situation and in a new neighborhood that seemed edgy and a little dangerous and I started to fall in love. This was May of '93, and back then Avenue A was sketchy. The saying went: Avenue A is awful, Avenue B is Bad, C is Crazy and D you're dead. But I felt vey "City" living in the East Village. The shittiness and squalor with dignity vibe around it made me truly feel that I had triumphed over bad circumstances. I could pull this off. I could live in NYC and run with scissors. I had not lost the will to fuck shit up and the EV fueled that sensibility. And that is why when I take a look around my nabe now I am sorely disappointed.

Cool buildings have been razed. Clubs that played great music where you could dance through a nicotine and pot-smoke filled haze are gone, replaced by trendy overpriced restaurants. Squatters and homesteaders and the crusties from Tompkins Square Park have been overrun with Toms, Dicks and Sallies from Sheboygan littering the streets and driving up rent prices. The EV is no longer apartments with bathtubs in the kitchen and artists who live there because it's the only place they can afford. It's hip and trendy and gulp...SAFE. It's so enamored with its own trendiness that landmark places like CBGBs are in danger of losing their lease. Mom and Pop shops with interesting and individual aesthetics have been run out of the neighborhood on a rail by the KMarts, Gaps and Quiznos. And this is progress?

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