Monday, August 6, 2007

Metro Interview

I've been interviewed by Paul Berger, Englishman in New York, for his blogarithms column in the Metro. Here I am, lamenting the demise of New York City.

Blogarithms: Writing the city’s obit?
by paul berger / metro new york
AUG 6, 2007

Interview. New York is a city in flux. Restaurants, bars, stores and buildings are always coming and going. Jeremiah Moss, who has lived in a rent-stabilized apartment in the East Village since the early ’90s, has watched these changes happen around him. Moss, 36, has started a blog, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, which reads like an obituary for a disappearing city.

What’s your take on how the city’s changing?
Some people say New York has always been in a state of flux. I say that’s true. But what’s happening now is unnatural change. It’s like the way people argue about climate change and say, “Well, the climate’s always changed throughout time.” Yes, it has, but climate change is dramatic, it’s overpowering, it’s overwhelm-ing and it’s certainly sped up. I think in New York we are seeing change on an unnatural scale.

How so?
We are seeing the destruction of the city rather than actual change. I personally find it terrifying. When I moved to New York I felt like I had found a home. But I don’t feel like I am at home anymore, particularly in the East Village. Over the past five years, there are times when I’ve been walking around and I don’t know where I am for a second. Yesterday there was something familiar on the corner and today it’s gone.

What do you miss about the way the city used to be?
You used to be able to walk through the city — and Times Square is a good example of this — and things would be layered. You would see the original building and then you would see something on top of that and something on top of that. But developers now are razing everything straight to the ground and building new. So you don’t have the sense of continuation. You’re just left wondering, where did it go? I wonder what that does to a human sense of place and belonging and time and constancy.

What about the effect it has on the whole city?
People used to come to New York because they were hungry and that hunger drove creativity and art and positive change. If you don’t have space for people who are hungry, you only have the well fed and nothing of value can really be created here. I don’t think there is a happy ending to this. What keeps me going is looking for those little places that still exist and those people who are hanging on by their fingernails.

No comments: