I'm Not Going Anywhere...Yet
I've been hearing alot of talk lately about how shitty New York City has gotten in recent years. And lot of that talk has been coming out of my very own yap. Since I and most of my friends are artists of some kind, this gripe is entirely understandable. Surviving in NYC is hard enough when you're a musician, writer, actor, dancer, sculptor, or what have you -- but watching your city get co-opted by obnoxious, moneyed, boring, uncreative fuckwads with trust funds and/or corporate expense accounts makes it much, much harder to carry on.
Plus, it's flat-out depressing -- didn't we all come here to escape these kinds of people?!
The Lower East Side has become a joke -- it's like a corny university campus, teeming with overfed GAP monsters waving their credit cards around as they run in herds from one bar to the next. Not that it's any better where I live -- Williamsburg Brooklyn is now about as hip as the Jersey shore in July -- these days I can't even walk down N. 6th street on a Friday night without having some dull-eyed, puffy-faced frat boy in a shiny button-down shirt shouting "FAAAG!" at me while waiting in line with his happy-hour-drunk posse to get into Sea (you know, "that place that was in Sex and the City or something...").
Yeah, I've watched New York change in the nine years I've been here. Herr Guiliani's oppressive, whitewashing, nu-Disney reign and aggressive anti-nightlife campaigns (which continue under Bloomberg) have bullied many of our favorite venues off the map and made NYC safe for rich white people and inhospitable to the rest of us. Uber-moneyed corporate yuppie types have priced most of us out of our East Village and Lower East Side apartments and across the river into Brooklyn (it seems like we'll just keep getting chased further East each year, until we all wind up in the ocean).
I'll tellya what, though -- I am still amazed by this city. This place is filled with some of the most committed, creative, intelligent, colorful, hard-working and progressive-minded human beings anywhere. You have to look a little harder to find them but they're here, I meet them all the time and they continue to blow me away. In New York City there is a kaleidescopic confluence of people from all over the world, the likes of which I have yet to see anywhere else. There's an electricity that comes right out of the pavement here, a restless hum of ideas and creativity coursing through the air.
New York may not be quite what it once was, but that doesn't matter, because we're here now -- and NOW, as always, is the time to either realize your visions or don't. It's easy to get jaded, especially if things aren't panning out for you the way you'd first dreamed when you arrived in the Big Apple -- but blaming it all on the "yuppies" is all too easy...and a bit of a cop-out, I'm afraid.
We all romanticize the seemingly utopian bohemia of Downtown New York in the mid-to-late Seventies when the Ramones and Television walked the earth. Do you have any idea what kind of a crime-ridden shithole the East Village was then? Me neither, cuz I wasn't here -- but by all accounts, it was one rough place to live, an urban no-man's-land populated solely by junkies, criminals and dirt-fucking-poor artists and musicians who simply could not afford to live anywhere else.
I have a strong feeling that those guys n' gals suffered a hell of alot more for their art back in those days than we do now; and what's more, they created brilliant, revolutionary scenes out of pure will in a place where it simply didn't exist before and in an environment that was quite literally hostile. Which makes me wonder....what the fuck are we complaining about? Starbucks?!
So here we are in 2005, a time when you're more likely to run into the Olsen Twins than Iggy Pop if you stop into 7B for a beer on a Friday night. It's a different city now, and probably not as "cool" or "edgy" as it once was. Warhol, Haring and Basquait are dead, as are most of the Ramones. Madonna, well past her Alphabet City days, lives in England, probably on an estate the size of all of Manhattan. So, what do we all do, move somewhere else?
Some of you will, but not me. Despite everything, I still love New York and in a bizarre way, I want to defend it. I would hate to leave the "Greatest City in the World" to rot in the hands of the soulless cretins who happen to be using it as their personal playground at the moment. These people annoy me, sure enough -- but I don't want to let them win. Do you?
And, who knows? -- maybe one day I'll give up on this crazy lifestyle and move to the suburbs with a broken will and a bunch of wistful stories about the "good old days" -- but man, oh man, that would be lame.
I came to NYC nine years ago with an idea, and as much as the city has changed since then, my idea is still a good idea, and I plan to stick to it. So all you assholes are gonna have to deal with me for awhile.