Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Meatpacking Vernacular

A new building is rising in the Meatpacking District, stretching across the block from 410 West 13th to 15 Little West 12th, where now a big dirt hole sits and waits.

They tried to make it bigger, but luckily that didn't fly in the Historic District. Approved, somewhat begrudgingly, by the HDC, it's being sold as an "incredible big-box opportunity." Just perfect for a flagship. What do you think? Blue and Cream?

The architects' renderings show the building filled with high-end retail, people in black, shiny people with handfuls of shopping bags, and always some sort of Jaguar or Porsche parked outside. They note that the building has been "designed to echo and honor the neighborhood's gritty past, harmonizing with the adjacent industrial vernacular."

I find something troubling about that language, the way "grit" has been co-opted for use as a selling point. A past once accessible to many gets sanitized and turned into luxury style for the very few. It's what Varvatos has done to CBGB. It's a Disney idea pumped up with money steroids. "It looks real, but it isn't," they say, "It's better than real." Where's Baudrillard when you need him?

As for what's left of the "vernacular," a ragged tooth stands amid the vanishings, shivering with fear, knowing it only has so much time before it, too, is pulled. Trust me, in a few years, there will nothing original in the Meatpacking District, all of it a purified reenactment of what used to be.


esquared said...

Law of diminishing marginal utility: "a generalization that the perceived value of, or satisfaction gained from, a good to a consumer declines with each additional unit acquired or consumed."

I surely hope that this economic theory would apply (soon) to the ever-increasing disneyfication, or, in your words, vongerichtification of NYC.

I'm seriously thinking of moving upstate, maybe all the way upstate, like Canada. But since my job is located here in NYC, I must therefore live here still, and just take this with a grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

Some years ago, I would photograph the MP District on early Sunday mornings; it looked like a Wild West town or another planet. It'll turn into a Vegas theme park or another mall in this, One Nation Under Malls. Sad. Where are the trannies these days? Will they be allowed on the High Line? Bet not. The High Line will be on the SATC Tour, thus filled with screeching harpies, their phones, their Cosmos! Progress!

Anonymous said...

The original Travis Bickle quote from "Taxi Driver" is: "...whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets."

I believe that rain had already come -- in the form of the yunnies, yuppies, hipsters, Gen 0's, Carrie Bradshaw wannabe's, hipsters... *It's raining yunnies, hallelujah, it's raining yunnies, hallelujah...*

Anonymous said...

NYC died in 911. It's been bought by banks and is now a giant resort/theme park where you pay an admission price and stay in one of thousands of luxury hotels. Studio hotel stays start at 3,000 a month.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Travis Bickle didn't do lunch at the Harmonie Club on E.60th. That's where the real estate biggies dine. Travis would see something he never saw on the Big Deuce: hubris. Hubris so unmitigated it would scare the Ancient Greeks.

Anonymous said...

OMG! Rats may invade Pastis. Do cockroaches like faux French fare?

felisa said...

I've heard a rumor that The Soho House is taking over the upper floors of that new building.