Monday, June 27, 2005

Things were so much cooler then

Well, despite receiving yards of shit about how bad I am at keeping up with this blog, I clearly have not posted in forever! Work, interviewing for a new job (which I actually did get, yeah me!), writing stuff for class and and an endless list of other excuses have pulled me in enough direction that I just didn't feel focused on writing more about how crappy New York has become. Of course crappy is a relative term. Perhaps because I grew up in a relatively bucolic setting, surrounded by neighborhoods, trees, yards and screaming children, I have always gravitated to environments that represent the complete other end of the spectrum - dirt, congestion, energy, decay, squalor, poverty with dignity. Maybe it's because I feel that this is truth. Stripped down, non-materialistic, have fun anyway because what else can you do, search your mind and explore the depths of your imagination to invent a life not focused on what it is you don't have.

There are still glimmers of this on Loisaida Avenue, my adopted home. The lower end of this Avenue before it becomes Pitt Street is still defined by its strong Latino culture. Salsa music, cherried out low rider bicycles with monkey bars and banana seats; Puerto Rican flags proudly displayed and old style boom boxes strapped to the handlebars or resting in the rider's lap blaring Tito Puente or Celia Cruz. These denizens aren't occupying the new high rises that seem to be sprouting up in a steady and endless stream west on 2nd Street and north on Avenue C. Quite the opposite, in fact. They live in the projects on Avenue D or Barrier Free Living on 2nd Street or any number of fairly run down buildings that still dot the avenues and side streets. What's my point? These folks seem to be able to celebrate life, know their neighbors, paint murals dedicated to fallen heroes or their neighbors' dead children in vibrant, unmistakable colors, to find happiness with just a few bucks in their pockets and a roof over their head. These folks aren't looking for the latest restaurant or hipster club or living in luxe apartments with doormen and T1 connections, and they don't seem to want to. They seem to want to hold on to and celebrate their culture and still assimilate just enough to keep themselves Latino, but Latino in New York.

Avenue C, and in general the East Village, is no longer identified as a melting pot of Jews, Latinos, Blacks, Whites, artists, musicians, performers, writers; people happily living on a shoe string in crappy apartments because their living arrangements meant that they could afford to make art and still live in NYC. The East Village is now a glut of chi-chi restaurants, hipsters living out some glamour filled dream on daddy's dime, gym rats and suits.

This City is disappointing me...