Thursday, August 30, 2007

Like Pigs in Shit


Balazs hotel rises over buckets of bloody, rotting meat

When did the affluent become attracted to shitty locations? It used to be that a neighborhood was safe from luxury development if it had (a) crazy, drunk homeless people, (b) housing projects, (c) undesirable tunnel, bridge, or expressway traffic, or (d) an all-pervasive bad smell.

A VanishingNY reader sent in this satire from the Onion, which I think is poking a bit of fun, but does beg the question: When and why did the wealthy start desiring to live, work, and play in the city's most undesirable locations?

A glassy undulation is coming to the malodorous Gowanus [Gowanus Lounge], Balazs' Standard Hotel squats over buckets of bloody offal in the Meatpacking District [my flickr] [NYMag], and in the midst of Holland Tunnel onramp traffic sprouts the Zinc Building [my flickr] [Curbed].


Fashion model and photogs saunter past buckets of melting animal fat

When the Diane von Furstenberg store opened recently in the now super-chic Meatpacking District, abutting a packing plant that hauls giant buckets of bloody, fly-buzzed offal to the body-fluid-slick sidewalk each day, I am sure that the DVF people just figured the meat would be gone in no time. Meanwhile, just pretend the air doesn't stink of rotting death. And they'll be proven right.


DVF Store (with Bentley in garage) abuts fetid, blood-smeared packing plant

7 comments:

king of new york cabbies said...

Like the Old Testament figure whose name you share, your raging prophecies have the aura of truth to them. As a fifteen year resident of LIC, a yellow cab driver nights for 14 (and a resident of Hoboken in the early '80s), I've witnessed the inexorable march of "progress," New Millennium style.
The reason these a-holes want to live in seemingly godforsaken areas is because the payoff will be the greatest: cheapest (comparably) to get in initially, then--once the profesional buzzmeisters and hipsterati blanket the media with breathless tales of a new Paradise Gained--banging the neighborhood out for maximum simoleons.
That they will have destroyed all vestiges of what was there before--what actually made a place worth living in--can come as no real surprise. When as Americans have we behaved any other way? It's just that those of us who sought refuge in NYC thought it untamable--now there's no place left, except the Big Easy.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thank you--you hit on something so important: we thought nyc was untameable. in this way, i often think there is an interesting switch, that the city has become Nature--more natural, anyway, than the suburbs. it's the untameable forest--threatening to puritans, but idyllic to natives--we see in early American lit, like Hawthorne. and because it's untameable, it attracts the type of people who enjoy the challenge of wrestling nature to the ground. true, this is so very american.

king of new york cabbies said...

Very interesting premise in your comment, although when I hear the word "native" I think of indigenous types about to be steamrolled by somebody from somewhere else. Globalism is the final form of empire, and once its flag is hoisted from all four corners of the globe, the rest of us will have zero options. New York is being colonized, and one thing about colonization, it never works out for the "natives."

Jeremiah Moss said...

true. i did not grow up here, so can't claim to be native other than in spirit, but have friends who did and who cannot afford their family homes--when their parents die, those rent-controlled homes will fall to the colonizers.

i think of non-native people like myself not as colonizers. there has to be another name for people who move into a place and want to live in it and with it, without wanting to change it or eradicate it.

The Bowery Boys - Greg said...

I think part of the problem as far as the Meat Packing District is concerned is that, on top of ever-present rotting animal parts and slaughterhouse smells, the MPD was also home to a truly underground (often 'alternative') set of nightclubs in the 90s -- the types of seedy places that would be at home in such a surrounding.

In fact, the Al Pacino movie Cruising (which is getting re-issued and released, incidentally) clearly locates its gay leather clubs in the neighborhood and makes the area look like a candyland of gay S&M fantasy.

I personally used to go to Mother, a crazy club full of costumed freaks and weirdos in the 90s, the kind virtually nonexistent in New York today. You frequently had to step over unusual smelling pools of dark liquid and pieces of carcass to get in. (It certainly didn't hinder the ambiance!) And dont forget Hogs and Heifers, the trashy Coyote Ugly wannabe, which I think may still be open, and must certainly play for camp now.

Condo development -- and the adjoining hip upper class culture that comes with it -- often descends on areas with underground cache, effectively destroying it. Although cheap real estate is a primary concern, I think an area's sub-cultural influence greatly assists. It happened to Soho in the 80s, its happening to the Lower East Side now, and I see Meat Packing as an extension of that as well.

I consider the cans of smelly animal shit to be a lasting revenge of the dying alternative scene. A stinkbomb, as if lingering ghosts of the trannie prostitutes who used to hobble along the cobblestone streets in stilettos

Jeremiah Moss said...

i like your imagery--and i also remember mother, walking to the MD at night was terrifying and thrilling. it allowed you to feel brave.

tomorrow i am posting more on the MD--check it out.

St. Elmo's Fire said...

A friend in NC recently is thinking of moving to NYC and I ask her why, she said because it's dark, dirty, and dangerous -- an artist's haven -- and that too many condos are being built in Charlotte. Well, those three d's definitely described the EV LES and MD back then. I guess she'll be in for a shock when she finally gets here.

"Hast thou, spirit,
Perform'd to point the tempest that I bade thee?"