Friday, August 31, 2007

Meatpackers & Meat

VANISHING


meatpackers with bloody aprons vanish under luxe towers

Visiting the Meatpacking District, I skipped Pastis and ate some fresh meat at Hector's, where the burger is bought twice a day from local packers. Hector's has been tucked under the High Line for more than 20 years, the owner (whose name is not Hector) told me, but the building has been a restaurant for close to 100. They used to serve a crowd of meatpackers, but the meat guys are vanishing. Now the place is filled with construction workers, all of them laboring to wipe out the meatpackers, replacing their plants with luxury high-rises. When the building is done and the meat guys and construction workers have gone, who's going to eat Hector's burgers deluxe and piles of roast beef?



This area has been the site of overwhelming, lightning-fast, preposterous change. The punks, leather-daddies, and transgender hookers have all been swept away. Not everyone is happy about it. Chelsea Now reported that residents of the area are sick of the “Gaggles of drunk girls in those heels,” and being "overrun by screaming, drunken children all night long." The tranny hookers provided protection and camaraderie to a once-quiet neighborhood where now it's every screaming girl and boy for themselves.

What else, besides meatpackers and sexual outlaws, is being lost in the destruction of this neighborhood? Heaps and heaps of exposed meat. Why is this a loss we should mourn?



Because when you walk past a bucket of meat, buzzing with flies, when you breathe in the stink of death--a biting, visceral odor that lingers in your nose for the rest of the day--when your shoes slide across cobblestones slick with blood and liquified fat, it feels real. It feels real because it is real. And it reminds you of your own meatiness, your own mortality. It reminds you that you are human and not a glittering piece of plastic. You are vulnerable and won't last forever.

These are important facts to be reminded of, but they are being bulldozed under the sleek glass and steel of hubris, under oblivious spiked heels, under the precious perfume that the new boutiques furiously pump out from their front doors, trying frantically to cover up the pervasive stink of a reality their customers cannot bear to face.


the face of hubris

more meatpacking pics on my flickr

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hilly Kristal of CBGB's

VANISHED


tonight i passed by this spontaneous memorial at the shuttered CBGB's

CBGB's founder Hilly Kristal has passed on to rock heaven. (Read his last interview.) According to AM New York, the East Village is quickly following him to his grave:

"When owner Hilly Kristal opened the club in 1973, his rent was about $600 per month.... By 2004, Kristal was paying $19,000 a month. Last year his landlord...evicted Kristal and raised the rent to $65,000 a month.

'The Bowery is what the Meatpacking District was three years ago,' [the broker] said. 'With the opening of new retail tenants in [nearby] Avalon Bay, the level of luxury is getting very high. Within the next six months to year, the neighborhood will look more like [the West Village.] Within two years you'll see that almost all the retail businesses there will have changed.'"

10th Street Gallery Buildings

VANISHING?

Some very scary news--or, hopefully, "wildly unconfirmed rumor mongering," from Curbed: The low-rise buildings at 90, 86, and 84 East 10th are being bought by a developer to be razed for big-box construction.

That block of buildings between Third and Fourth Avenues was the epicenter of the Abstract Expressionist movement in the 1950s. Willem DeKooning lived and painted where the Jillery gift shop is now. Franz Kline was there. The block was filled with avant-garde galleries like the Tanager (now Danal restaurant). Is this another piece of the East Village's soul being demolished for condos and Starbucks?


DeKooning by Fred McDarrah

Dick's Bar

VANISHED: July 2007



Made a visit to Dick's the other day on my personal tour of the MTA's list of doomed buildings, slated to be snatched by eminent domain for the new Second Avenue subway line.

Dick's shutter is down and it's down for good, according to a tip from Eater, and the phone's been disconnected.


Photo from New York Magazine

I guess that's it for Dick's, a good old gay dive bar, described by New York Magazine thusly: "With its concept-free amalgam of bar, pool table, jukebox and pinball machine, Dick's is to most East Village gay bars what Edith Piaf is to Cher."

Porn, Pics, Domino Sugar

Take a tour of 8th Avenue's porn shops before there's nothing left to see [Forgotten NY]

See NYC pre-1996, before it all started going to hell, in the Midtown Y photo gallery show -- includes the work of Peter Hujar who captured the meatpacking district when it still packed meat, not fashion models, and the East Village when (in the words of Gary Indiana) "it still had the narcoleptic desuetude of downtown Detroit" [NYPL]

Take a surprising look at NYC from on high [kottke]

Read about the nuptial love between two anti-Atlantic Yards activists -- the Voice reports and No Land Grab sets the record straight

Immigrants an easy mark as Hotel Breslin's tenants get the boot [Chelsea Now]

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

10th Street Baths

RENOVATING

I've been wondering and worried about what's happening at the Russian & Turkish baths on 10th Street. New York reports they're getting prettied up after 115 years. Which hopefully does not translate to "robbed of all that was wonderfully decrepit so the carpetbaggers of the new East Village can feel more spa-like when they schvitz."

The Baths certainly got trendy in recent years, but let's pray they don't lose their steamy soul in the process. I'd hate to walk by and find the place covered in undulating glass.



Here's a bit of history from the New York Times:

Steaming to Serenity At the Turkish Baths
by Douglas Martin
May 10, 1991

Timelessness because nothing seems to change in the dank, dark room. People move up and down the tiers of seats, but somehow don't seem to really move at all. Some leave to jump in the cold water pool just outside, or the more civilized whirlpool. Others enter, gasping at first. The bare light bulbs seem ancient enough to have been installed by Edison. Water runs continously into the plastic pickled herring buckets placed around the room. The wet floor glistens like a million diamonds.

It is easy to remember the legends of this place, some of which may even be true. How in the old days all the masseurs could neither hear nor speak so presumably they could tell no tales. (One remains.) How there was a special room for gangsters to check Tommy guns. How Jake, a chef and John Belushi's treasured chum, would concoct feasts with a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

The place changed when Big Al Modlinz, the last owner, died on the job, while scrubbing a patron with oak leaves. He was unbelievably rude, but had clung to the old Lower East Side ways....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Coney Island with Charles Denson

This past weekend may have been my last chance to enjoy a summer day at Coney Island before it falls to Thor’s mighty hammer. I visited my old favorite spots and one new spot, a little storefront wedged beneath the Cyclone. It used to house the two-headed baby in a jar, but now it’s the exhibition center of The Coney Island History Project.

Charles Denson, native Coney Islander, historian, and author of Coney Island: Lost and Found was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time.


Denson with authentic Steeplechase horse

We sat in a back room where the window looks directly onto the underbelly of the Cyclone’s tracks. Periodically, as we talked, the room would tremble Annie Hall-style as the cars roared down from overhead. I asked Denson what he thinks about what's happening to Coney -- and what he wishes would happen. Here’s what he told me:

“Joe Sitt is holding Coney Island hostage. Historic preservation is not in his vocabulary. He’s a shopping mall developer. He's not an evil guy, but he is a liar. He says he’s going to have blimps landing out here. That's illegal. I called the FAA and they told me that 747’s have a better chance of landing on Surf Avenue than blimps.

Sitt wants to put up 40-story high-rises. Coney Island should be all low-rise: restaurants, theaters, amusements. I’d like to see historic rides come back. Whip rides, Thompson rollercoasters, the old arcade games—simple mechanical games would be a real novelty. I’d like to see the Henderson Building and Grasshorn Building restored. The city is negotiating right now to bring back the B&B Carousell. They bought it at the eleventh hour and it’s in storage out at the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

I’m not opposed to change. We want new and wonderful things for Coney Island. We want evolution. Low-rise amusements permit evolution, but nothing will change if you put up high-rises. High-rises are there forever. Once you put them up, it’s over.”

Ruby's Bar of Coney Island

VANISHING?

Ruby’s Old Time Bar was opened by Rubin “Ruby” Jacobs just a few decades ago, yet it looks like it’s been on the boardwalk forever. Maybe that’s because Ruby had been there all his life, first selling knishes on the sand then operating Coney’s last bathhouses, Stauch’s, Claret’s, and Bushman’s. Souvenir ticket stubs and photographs from the bathhouses line the walls of Ruby’s bar, along with hundreds of photos from Coney’s glorious past.

Ruby died in 2000 and now his legendary bar is about to join him, thanks to Joe Sitt, who sees himself as comic-book hero Thor, "protector of the cities."


painting in photo by robert leach

When you ask Coney people if they'll be there next year, they shrug and say, "Who knows?" A counterman at Gregory & Paul's responded by calling out, "Who knows, who knows, only the nose knows! Step right up for ice-cold beer here!"

At Ruby's, I asked Frank the bartender if he thought they’d have another season on the beach. He told me, “Sometimes I get a good feeling and sometimes I get a bad feeling. Maybe we’ll get another year, but I wouldn’t put my money on it. Why would someone pay millions of dollars for this property and then let us stay? I’m just taking it one day at a time. Like an alcoholic, or a drug addict.”

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mrs. Stahl's Knishes

VANISHED: 2005...or maybe 2004


photo credit: michael frucht

Since 1935, Mrs. Stahl's served knishes under the El at the corner of Coney Island Ave and Brighton Beach. It's been awhile since I was last there and I went in search of it today. I asked a couple of older Jewish ladies if they knew where I could find it.

"Oh, Mrs. Stahl's," said one wistfully, "I've been taking her since I was a little girl."

"It's gone," said the second lady, "It closed two years ago."

"No, it was three years ago."

"Was it three? Well, it's a Blimpie now."

"It's not a Blimpie. It's a Subway."

"Blimpie, Subway," the second lady shrugged, waving her cigarette, "What's the difference?"

Enough said.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Suburbanization of New York

This week, The New York Times City Room hosted a Q&A with Jerilou Hammett and Kingsley Hammett, the editors of The Suburbanization of New York: Is the World’s Greatest City Becoming Just Another Town? I asked a couple of questions and they answered.



Jeremiah Moss: I run the blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, which chronicles the changes that have been steamrolling New York for the past several years. Like global warming, this trend is not just the natural shifting the city has always managed, but a major demolition that is, in large part, irreversible.

The fantasy that New York is not changing any more than it ever has is an illusion, just like the illusion that the global climate is not taking a cataclysmic nosedive. It’s a fantasy that people use to comfort themselves or to justify their way of life.

People ask me what can be done to stop the overwhelming destruction of this city. I hope the editors of this book might offer some solutions.

Mr. and Mrs. Hammett: Thanks for your great comments. The first step is to analyze what this change is really all about, who is benefiting, at whose expense, and how the city’s largess is being used to support change that serves only a small percentage of the city’s population.

Jeremiah Moss: I own this book and enjoyed reading it. I wish the writers had gone further in analyzing why New York is being suburbanized. What is the psychology of this new wave of suburbanizers? What do they fear and what do they desire? Why is it happening to the city now?

Is it due to a generation of narcissists moving in? Is it the ultimate triumph of free-market capitalism? It seems like a quintessentially American evolution. Just when did New York become Americanized and provincialized? Did 9/11, when New York was embraced by middle America, push it over the edge?

Mr. and Mrs. Hammett: We too wish the analysis had gone further. But at the time we started the book few people were openly critiquing the changes that have engulfed the city. So we felt that opening the debate was the best we could do. We hope it will deepen. As for why New York went in this direction, you have to look back to the post-war era when much of the white population fled to the suburbs and the city was left for dead. In 1982, Mayor Koch was already trying to lure that suburban money back when he said, “We’re not catering to the poor anymore … there are four other boroughs they can live in. They don’t have to live in Manhattan.” What you’re seeing today are the results of that strategy.
...
And with that in mind, here's a quote one of Vanishing's readers sent in recently:
"The city has twice been humiliated by the suburbs: once upon the loss of its constituents to the suburbs and again upon that constituency's return. These prodigal citizens brought back with them their mutated suburban values of predictability and control." --Harvard Project on the City, Mutations


astor place: here's a barnes & noble, a walgreens, & a starbucks in one shot -- can you find all the cell phones? (hint: there are at least 5)

Manhattan Apocalypse


Planet of the Apes

Sometimes, in my darkest moments with this vanishing city, when I am deep into grief over my lost love, I wish New York would just disappear completely. We all feel it from time to time, that collective, usually unconscious death wish that finds expression in those many New York destruction movies, from Planet of the Apes to this year's I Am Legend.


I Am Legend


Independence Day

The terrible events of 9/11 roused within many of us an unspeakable guilt -- our most unacceptable repressed wish for this city was reified. We can deny it, but while we may not be conscious of it, the wish is there, deep below the surface. Or else those cathartic movies would not exist and could not make millions of dollars.



Now we can watch this apocalyptic slideshow. I've been looking forward to reading Alan Weisman's The World Without Us for months. There is something oddly relieving to imagine our city empty of humans, as if in the wake of the apocalypse our dreamed-of ideal New York might rise from the rubble.


Art by Kenn Brown, mondolithic media
(this image reminds me of the old thunderbolt coaster at coney, how green it was in summer, like a hanging garden, its rails blossoming with white moonflowers.)

This New York Times article states it well:
Who dreams of the apocalypse? Why do they dream of it? Polls indicate that up to 50 percent of Americans believe that the Book of Revelation is a true, prophetic document, meaning they fully expect the predictions of “Rapture,” “Tribulation” and “Armageddon” to be fulfilled. There is a paradox built into end-time theologies in that imminent catastrophe often brings comfort; according to Paul S. Boyer, an authority on prophecy belief in American culture and an emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the apocalypse is an appealing idea because it promises salvation to a select group — all of whom share secret knowledge — and a world redeemed and delivered from evil.

Update:


Watch Unclear Holocaust for an "ultraviolent, over-edited orgy of every Hollywood movie in which New York is desecrated, attacked, destroyed, in anarchic narrative unity."


Unclear Holocaust from anti banality on Vimeo.

And check out Hollywood Vs. New York for a short montage of New York's destruction by Hollywood:



Sunday, August 19, 2007

Clover Barber Shop

VANISHING? Not yet.


my flickr

"I been a barber since seven," Ercole Riccardelli tells me in his thick Neapolitan accent as he holds a buzzing set of clippers over my head, "I was short. My grandfather gave me a step. I stood on it and put on the soap with the brush. When I was fourteen, I shaved the customers."

He's 84 now and plans to live as long as his grandfather, a man who made it to 99 (and 7 months) by never once seeing a doctor and by drinking a glass of Brioschi with lemon every morning then smoking a pipe while he watched the Naples fishermen fish before he opened his barber shop for the day.


photo by axlotl

If you go to the Clover Barbershop in Park Slope, be prepared to spend some time. Mr. Riccardelli moves very, very slowly. But his lines are straight and his hand is steady on the razor blade. When he finishes the hot-foam shave, he slaps your face with Osage oil and fans you coolingly with his towel. There aren't many places left where you can get treatment like this for little money.

Italian barbers might be the best. I used to see Sal on Mott Street, but a few years ago he closed up. First he stopped giving shaves because his hands got shaky. The next time I went back, he was gone. An upscale salon took his place. Then there's an amazing shop run by Harry Fini, but you have to go all the way to Philly for his hot towels, talk of Frank Sinatra, and the sign outside that says, "Enjoy barbering as did your dad."


Sal on Mott from Mr. Beller's


Harry's Shop from my flickr stream

Back in Brooklyn, Mr. Riccardelli's daughter has been urging him to close up shop and move to Florida, where he can enjoy the beach and swim in water as warm as the Mediterranean he longs for. But he's not ready to go just yet. "As long as my hands are good," he says, "I'll be right here."

Let's hope he lasts as long as his grandfather did.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tower Records

VANISHED


Painting by Sharon Florin

I feel a bit of ambivalence memorializing a chain store here, but Tower was sort of special. Quotes Wikipedia: "The store in Greenwich Village was famous in the 1980s for selling albums of European New Wave bands not yet popular in the U.S. and was a noted hangout for teenagers from throughout the metropolitan area."

Now Racked reports the 4th Street site will become a Toys R Us.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gregory & Paul's of Coney Island

VANISHING?



In yesterday's Daily News, Charles Denson, author of "Coney Island: Lost and Found" and director of the Coney Island History Project, writes about the fight Coney has fought to survive over the years:

"Power broker Robert Moses declared Coney an urban renewal site in 1949, opening the door for Mayor John Lindsay's infamous high-rise housing projects. In 1966, Donald Trump's father, Fred Trump, demolished historic Steeplechase Park for a housing project that was never built. And in a 2004 court case, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani was finally forced to admit under oath that he had ordered the demolition of the derelict Thunderbolt Roller Coaster after publicly denying that he had been responsible."



Now Coney is threatened again and this may be the last season we have to enjoy it. Who knows what the future of Coney will be? It all hangs in the balance. One day, it's being leveled for a Vegas-style nightmare, the next, it may be saved. (See Kinetic Carnival for the whole scoop.) But like all good New York things, it's already vanishing, bit by bit.

If the developers have their way, one of the treasures we could lose is Paul Georgoulakos's fabulous Astroland food stand Gregory & Paul's.



Opened in 1970, the stand serves up classic Coney fare--clams, dogs, burgers, corn--and advertises on magnificent signage painted by local legend George Wallace, profiled here in Gowanus Lounge.



For The Brooklynites, a book of photos by Seth Kushner, Mr. Georgoulakos put it simply, "I like this place because it is something that you own and built from scratch and used my hands to make a living."

Someday (too soon!) few New Yorkers will be able to make such a statement.



#20 from Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A Coney Island of the Mind:

The pennycandystore beyond the El
is where I first
fell in love
with unreality
Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
of that september afternoon
A cat upon the counter moved among
the licorice sticks
and tootsie rolls
and Oh Boy Gum

Outside the leaves were falling as they died

A wind had blown away the sun

A girl ran in
Her hair was rainy
Her breasts were breathless in the little room

Outside the leaves were falling
and they cried
Too soon! too soon!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Brooklyn Army Terminal

VANISHING? (not any time soon)



According to the Historic Districts Council and the Daily News, "Brooklyn's northern waterfront has been placed on America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.... Maritime properties that stretch from the burned-down Greenpoint Terminal Market to the Brooklyn Army Terminal, where Elvis was shipped off to the (Cold) war, are in danger of being overrun by development.... 'It sounds the alarm for Brooklyn's historic district, which is disappearing faster than you can say Domino Sugar.'"

The Domino Sugar refinery has been "saved," if you can call luxury condo-minimizing salvation. Lost City and Brownstoner report on the slim chance it could become an art museum.

So I thought I'd visit Brooklyn's waterfront by starting at the Army Terminal, which The Municipal Art Society of New York says is threatened.

Seems the best way to explore freely is to pose as an Elvis fan--a memorial poster to the King's Army days is just inside the door--and this is the perfect time to do it, as August 16 marks the 30th anniversary of his death.

From here, walk straight through the lobby and out the back door to view the huge glass-ceilinged atrium and cantilevered poured-concrete balconies that surround the train tracks and platforms from which soldiers and munitions used to pass through on their way to bringing democracy to foreign countries. It's an eerie, haunted place and well worth the trip.



7th Ave Books

VANISHING: August 31, 2007



This Park Slope indie may not have been around for eons, but the demise of any good used bookshop is cause for sorrow. This time it wasn't rent issues, but personal reasons. As Brooklyn Paper reports, the owner was hoping for a buyer. A recent visit to the store confirmed that no buyer has materialized and the store will be closed August 31. Brooklyn bloggers like OTBKB, BIB, and Bklyn Stories, mourn the loss.

This after I just finished reading Paul Auster's Brooklyn Follies, which takes place in and around a Park Slope used bookshop.

If anyone worries, like I do, about what might take the store's place, I think you'll be relieved. It won't be a Starbucks or a Pinkberry or a bank. This weekend the cashier told me it will be a vegan restaurant. That's not so terrible.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Atlantic Yards Footprint

VANISHING



Went out to Brooklyn today to visit the Atlantic Yards footprint, the area blighted by Bloomberg and handed to Ratner on a silver platter.



Had a beer at Freddy's Bar & Backroom, the one-time speakeasy and Dodger-fan hangout, now a beloved dive bar fighting to survive demolition.





Enjoyed watching Donald O'Finn's video montage of Busby Berkeley girls and burlesque dancers over a cold pint, then headed out to tour the footprint.

The area is quiet, desolate. In one tenement window, a doomed woman dozed in front of her television. The lovely terracotta Atlantic Art Building looks empty; most, if not all, of the condo owners have already sold out to Ratner.



The Ward Bakery building was covered with plywood, prepped for demolition, but its waves peeked out. Guess this petition didn't save it.



Everything there is to say about this evil development is already being thoroughly said by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards Report, Fans for Fair Play, No Land Grab, and others.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Shopsin’s

VANISHED: Yes...and then No



The Greenwich Village Shopsin's that struck fear and joy in the hearts of many closed last year. Calvin Trillin pretty much said it all about Kenny Shopsin and his restaurant in a 2002 New Yorker essay. Here's my favorite excerpt from the Trillin piece:



Defying the odds, Shopsin's reopened (in a smaller size) last month in the Essex Street Market. Today's positive New York Times review warns away the weak of heart (and the stupid):

...some aspects of the place, like Mr. Shopsin’s brand of extemporaneous philosophizing, will sit better with some than others. Holding court from a chair in the hall outside his stall on a recent Thursday morning and addressing his comments to no one in particular, he asked, “Did you hear that Whole Foods sold out of those ‘I Am Not a Plastic Bag’ bags in 15 minutes?"

"I guess people really aren’t that smart,” he glumly summarized before rousing himself to return to the kitchen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Young Urban Narcissists

Original post: 8/8/07
Revised: 10/08

"Yunnie" stands for Young Urban Narcissist
. An obvious play on the outmoded "yuppie," this neologism is my attempt, using applied psychoanalytic theory, to grasp a mass cultural shift currently generating and feeding on tremendous change in New York City--and much of the country.

While "yuppie" was aimed at professionals, describing people of a certain socioeconomic bracket, "yunnie" describes a characterological type. Malignant narcissists exist across all socioeconomic strata, but may be more prevalent among the upwardly mobile.

I originally introduced the yunnie idea in this post in August of 2007. Since then, my ideas about the narcissistic personality and its effect on New York City have evolved. One benefit of a blog is that it's rewritable. Using some of that original post combined with new material, I'll be revising the description of "yunnie" here, filling in the blanks and fleshing it out in better detail, and adding links from outside sources.

As of 3/09, the idea of An Age of Narcissism has caught fire in the media. This Slate article provides an excellent overview.

A 6/12 cover story in New York magazine outlines research into the ways that having money, pursuing money, even thinking about money reduces one's empathy and makes you more, basically, narcissistic.

In 1/13, Consumer Affairs asked, "Are today's young people deluded narcissists?"

May 2013 TIME cover: "Here's the cold, hard data: The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that's now 65 or older..."



My following posts pretty much sum up my ideas on the topic:
YUNNIPOCALYPSE NOW!



From the original post:

New York City is being destroyed, block by block, building by building. Who are the people responsible for this? What do they want and what do they fear?

They are terrified of the unfamiliar and cling to the known. When in unfamiliar settings, separated from their soothing cellular phones and forced to stand in line with nothing to do but think, they become extremely anxious. This anxiety, an irrational fear of annihilation, sends them into a primitive, infantile rage.

These people are Young Urban Narcissists, or Yunnies. A narcissistic personality is essentially created by inconsistent, frustrating parents. It makes sense that Yunnies would be attracted to the consistent and the gratifying. Chain stores like Starbucks and Walgreens promise both--the Yunnies always know what to expect and are rarely disappointed. The giant condo complexes they live in offer round-the-clock services and gratify their infantile needs.

Yunnies are the perfect neighborhood destruction machines due to their lack of empathy, sense of entitlement, and contempt for those "beneath" them. Their rage against mom-&-pop shops, I believe, comes in part from the very name "mom & pop," which arouses their envy, reminding them of the "bad object" parents of their infancy. The fallible humanity of these shops inevitably disappoints and frustrates the Yunnies. "What do you mean you're out of skim milk?" they tantrum, and "I can take my dog wherever I want!"

Watch out. Arm yourself with the facts about Yunnies:
- They feel cut off from real human connection so they create constant pseudo-connections via cell phones or Blackberries.
- They feel empty and express their aggression through oral rage, shopping compulsively and consuming aggressively.
- They are grandiose and believe the world revolves around them.
- They demand constant attention--shouting into cell phones and making dramatic scenes is a favorite way to draw attention to themselves.
- Their hidden, deep belief in their own worthlessness makes them strive for high-status jobs and condo lifestyles, where a false sense of power temporarily lifts them up.
- At the extreme end, Yunnies are sociopathic, without conscience and without remorse--these are the most dangerous and, I believe, the fastest growing subgroup.

Note 1/2/10: Maybe the ultimate end of this solipsistic personality type is autism, a narcissism so extreme, it becomes locked in. Maybe it's in the brain. From The Smart Set: "Our contemporary culture, with its loneliness and its materialism and disjointed nature, is typical of left brain dominance. As such, we have autism, which is an almost total dysfunction of the right brain: an inability to read facial expressions, a lack of empathy, failure to recognize metaphor or irony."


A few NY Times articles:
Narcissism on the rise?
Everyone's a narcissist (and misunderstand the term)
Situational narcissism

Tenants of Carnegie Hall & Breslin Hotel

VANISHING


AP photo of 95-year-old photographer Editta Sherman

By now, we've all heard about how the artist tenants of Carnegie Hall are being pushed out. The New Yorker has a great Talk of the Town piece about the people who live in the Carnegie Hall Studio Towers, "one Manhattan commonplace: a band of artist-occupants whose tenancy is venerable, tenuous, and probably doomed."

This week, Chelsea Now reports on a lesser-known locale, The Hotel Breslin, where the same thing is happening. Says one of the tenants, "We’re under siege, here."

When did we declare war on our artists? What city is this? New York, I hardly know you.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Jewish Delicatessens

VANISHING

Save the Deli shared this story from the New York Times about a recent panel discussion on "Every aspect of the Jewish delicatessen — from the declining popularity of kishka to the rise of online sales to the gentrification of the Lower East Side"

A few snippets from the Times article:
Food historian Joel Denker, author of The World on a Plate: "You find this sort of yeasty combination of intellectuals, writers, leftists, sitting together over tea and cottage cheese and fruit, talking about the issues of the day at a place like the Garden Cafeteria."


photo from my katz's flickr set

Alan Dell, owner of Katz’s Delicatessen: "''When the Second Avenue Deli closed, we kept getting calls: ‘Are you open? You’re still open?’ The original rumor started when the show ‘Cats’ closed years ago.' Mr. Dell said that rising rents were the greatest challenge in keeping the store open –- not to mention the rising price of meat."


photo credit

Jack Lebewohl, of the Second Avenue Deli, "said his son Jeremy would reopen the deli in Murray Hill — on East 33rd Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues — 'sometime in the fall.' The audience erupted into applause."



Mark Federman, owner of Russ & Daughters: "The type of people who live on the Lower East Side now has gone from the immigrant to the investment banker.... The employees have gone from family acting as employees, to employees acting as family....The Lower East Side has gone from pushcart to posh.”