Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On the LES

This interview with third-generation Lower East Sider Chris Quinones from The Lo-Down is too good not to excerpt. (Thanks Goggla.) He loves the Cup & Saucer on Canal and Eldridge because "it’s authentic and it doesn’t come with some lame-ass foreign name. You say, 'Can I get a cup of coffee,' large or small, milk or sugar – that’s it. Not 'Venti,' 'Fettuchini,' 'Lamborgini' or whatever they have at Starbucks."

And here's his answer to the question "What sort of changes have you seen in the neighborhood in the last few years?"



"Are you serious? Dude, it went from Heroinville to art school hipster dudes with ugly flannel shirts and lame-ass facial hair. But I have to say, I can come home from work without having to worry about a junkie sticking me for my sneakers. The food and bars are all cool, the neighborhood has a lot of hot girls now – it’s safe, I can get Thai food, vegan food, get a quick workout and go to a bar themed after Detroit all on the same block. So that’s cool. But, the looks I get from these fuckin’ out-of-towners like I don’t belong in the neighborhood are infuriating.

It’s hard to find New Yorkers anymore; everyone came from middle fucking America for the 'Big City experience' and in turn gave me a 'everyone from outside of NYC is fucking lame' experience. (Disclaimer: I’ve met some amazing people from outside New York. It just pisses me off every time I try and (get lucky with) a chick, she’s telling me about some lame art/dance school degree and how she misses Cleveland or Michigan or fucking Pennsylvania or whatever else.)

It would be refreshing to talk to someone who was actually BORN in Bushwick, not someone who just moved in with three white girls from Utah and thinks they can shout out, 'Brooklyn!' every time a Notorious B.I.G. song comes on at the club. Not cool.

Another thing – when NYC was dangerous, it was cheap to live and party here, only because none of these assholes wanted to live here. Then they found out how lame it is everywhere else in the world outside of NYC and they realized if they want that bullshit art degree to get them any type of money, they had to try and get a slice of NYC pie. Now none of us locals can afford to live in the very same city…that we made awesome. Now we all have to move to lame-ass New Jersey or the fucking Bronx?!?!? Keep your fucking Asian fusion and vegan restaurants. Gimme New York the way it was before."

To read the rest, visit The Lo-Down.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

i moved here in the 80's because i liked new york the way it was then...it had excitement and a hard edge to it..you could get an apartment in chelsea or east village for $400 per month,,unfortunately i moved away for 20 years and now back. now i have to live out in Bensonhurst because of the silly prices that have occurred by those moving in that you were talking about...little by little everything that made NY what it was is being replaced by nonsense...i miss the old doughnut shop on the corner of 23rd and 8th ave. where a real glazed doughnut was 35 cents....you're right about all of the generic people moving in...i wish newcomers would have to take an "attitude test" to qualify to move here...even though i am an outsider, i moved here because i finally found a place that i fit in...unfortunately, new york being made safer also means making it boring...i remember when suits were poked fun at in the west village. i remember when landlords were more interested in what kind of person you are rather than your last year's income....i remember when landlords wanted to meet with you before they rented to you-rather than only meeting with you after they saw a copy of your last year's income tax papers.
thank you for your stories,,,i read everyone of them.

Anonymous said...

"hot girls" that are lame ass boring.....especially the ones that say they're not into drugs but can't wait to get off work and get obnoxiously drunk on $18 cocktails.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the article, from a native of Hell's Kitchen.

Little Earthquake said...

This man seems to know a lot about how cool or lame everywhere and everyone else in the world is. Not only that, but he's one of the people who made New York awesome! What a great story. I'm so glad someone interviewed this arbiter of coolness, by virtue of his birth coordinates.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

My apartment, which I got in the 60s and lived to the 90s, was about $160 a month, with 4 rooms in the front on 13th St between 1st and 2nd Aves. Now that was living! Of course over the years I had to suffer burglaries, junkies and other rip off creeps but in the end it wasn't bad at all. Had to be taken out after I suffered a stroke (I drank too much) in 1997 after living there about 35 years. Was a great place in the 60s,70s and 80s but hardly is what it professes to be. Those days are gone forever.

Bill Lee said...

He was born in Feb. 1989. He is 22.
The heroin scene was being wiped out of the EV and LES by the early 90s. By 1997, Giuliani's second term, it was history.

He was worried at 8 years of age that the few remaining junkies would rob his size 6 sneakers? Get real, stop the BS.

This guy is relating the life his older relatives and friends related, not the life he lived.

Anonymous said...

This 3rd gen east sider, whoever he is, should take a shit in his hat. He's essentially correct in his characterizations, but he's slightly north of douchey himself. Dude, exactly which of your contributions helped make nyc awesome?

Anonymous said...

The most interesting anecdote he provides is about the girls saying they miss their Middle America home. It leads to the question, why did they come here?

Because if you have the money to do so, you just do so. It's like with a fashion choice. These people are robots. Country club robots.

I am glad to say that the out-of-towners I know generally don't miss where they are from, which is why they are here. And they like to identify with New York and what WAS here.

Though I did meet an overaged hipster one time who wore Southern pride shirts "ironically" because he hated where he was from. That guy was a tool.

Ed said...

The interview is worth reading. Though my first reaction was "wow, I am almost twenty years older than this guy". But I was born in New York too, so some things clicked.

I think he gets too worked up by coffees being called fancy Italian names. This is really just cultural churn. We've been using foreign sounding words to attempt to signify "class" in this country throughout its history. As long as you can still get the basic dollar cup of coffee, having more expensive gourmet options is fine. And the larger point is that there is nothing wrong with the fancier businesses and people as long as they co-exist with, and don't drive out, the other types.

And the main blame for the higher rents is with the Federal Reserve. The boring hot girls from Ohio are really just a symptom.

However this guy has found a group of bars and restaurants here and there which he likes and which that have managed to survive overgentrification. I have too, and that is one reason I stay in New York. However, this group gets sparser every year and I worry about eventually getting pushed off the island.

Ed said...

The Lower East Side on the whole weathered overgentrification much better than the Meatpacking District and its adjacent neighborhoods, and I suspect resistance from the local population itself had something to do with it. Every so often some beloved old school business closes or a new place opens obviously catering to the frat/ suburban/ eurotrash crowd opens, but the in the LES the process always seems to stop for awhile right when things are about to get pushed over the edge.

I'm not so sure I can say this about things north of 14th Street, and I suspect that NYU and Cooper Union is the difference there.

Brendan said...

You say, 'Can I get a cup of coffee,' large or small, milk or sugar – that’s it. Not 'Venti,' 'Fettuchini,' 'Lamborgini' or whatever they have at Starbucks."

And airplane food, am I right?!

Anonymous said...

While many like to poke fun at artists, they're the first wave of people to move into an ungentrified neighborhood because they can't afford to live anywhere else. Once the real estate leeches see this they start promoting those neighborhoods. The rich trustafaris and frat/sororitards wait for the creative class to make something happen and once they think it's "safe" they come en masse.(i.e. the LES)

Anonymous said...

He does sound a bit young to have experienced all those 'hood-y street incidents but his heart is in the right place and I want him to run for mayor. He's speaking from a well-informed place of what has been lost and thank god there are a few left like him. He's definitely an old-school soul and that's what counts.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, as a chick with a lame-ass art degree who grew up here in the 1970s and 80s, I found this interview pretty dumb. Dissing young women who have the guts to leave home and live (as artists!) in the Big City and larding one's prose with "fucks" and "heroins" doesn't make one a noble native.

Erika said...

Some dude calling himself a "grown-ass man" born in 1989?! What. He's just a kid! While I empathize with some of his points, I kinda rolled my eyes a bit.

James Campbell Taylor said...

I agree with most of what Mr. Quinones is saying. However Cup & Saucer is one of the few authentic places I've visited (along with Village Yogurt and A&A Coffee Shop) that doesn't make an egg cream.

Anonymous said...

bwaha, anyone who has a problem or disagrees with anything in the interview is just hurt because he called out exactly what you are as a transplant.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i also qualify in several ways as one of the people he calls "assholes." still, i like his style.

James Campbell Taylor said...

New York is what it is because of so-called "transplants" (I hate that term — sounds like a nasty procedure). I've said this before but I think a lot of "native" New Yorkers wear the fact like a badge of honor. Nobody can control where they were born, but at least the ones who moved here did something about it.

Space Pope said...

The interview was interesting, sure. The guy's a bit on the young and foulmouthed side but I won't hold that against him. You can jam a lot of living in 22 years around there.

I mean, by the time I hit 22 I had already been run over by a van, set on fire, had my girlfriend die right in front of me, spent 6 months at Bellevue from that, had my building dynamited while I was still living in it, and don't even get me started about the 'Bronx is Burning' era. That was hellish but fun in its own 'scrambling to survive another day' kind of way.

But don't knock The Bronx, man. They're under the same cultural assault as the LES right now, and they're PO'd about it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Fontana's a hipster haven? So basically, he hates hipster and transplant dudes but would try to 'get lucky' with a white female hipsters and transplants. I bet you he would turn away these natives if they were to try to get in to Fontana' s, since they have no business being in that neighborhood. And what's wrong with The Bronx? It has more edge and with less hipsters than the LES today

Anonymous said...

I was born in NYC in 1973 and I even feel like I missed the really bad times in NYC. Yes, I was technically alive, but I was not coherent. Born in 1989? Give me a break.

I was raised in Queens, and remember going with my parents to the LES to shop for items (fabric especially). I remember the bums lined up on Delancey and the Bowery. This kid does not. However, this city has gone to shit with all the newcomers. No character. No identity.

David said...

this guy sounds like an inauthentic schmuck. c'mon are you really going to compare the Bronx with New Jersey in one breath and i'm supposed to believe your some kind of oldschool NYC vet thats seen it all? 22 years old sounds about right.

Caleo said...

Yeah, I moved to this town 1 year before this guy was born, and serious changes in "quality of life" started in Giuliani's second term. So there is no way this kid, excuse me, grown ass man, saw anything other than a town scrubbed clean by Giuliani.
He's repeating everything he's heard from older relatives and co workers, but he definitely didn't see it himself.
Other than that, he hits the bullseye, and his heart is in the right place. But he's definitely full of bravado and bluster. He's selling it just a little too hard.

lrs said...

i was born after ww2. new york was good untill the mid 80s. it trickled down slowly since then. the 80s brought the great social shift of america. it was the time of outsourcing, one size fits all, political correctness, & the big mergers. in NYC condo/coop fever. studios rented for $350 zoomed to $1000. the new world order had began. the colleges are corporations, expanding like malls & box stores. in the 80s they added so many absurd degrees & studies, that it created a "credential" oriented society. it created needless resumes & thousands of grads whose degrees went no where. how many jobs are there for art degrees, or gallery merchandising, or photography? i had a job in 1978 in a small museum, now you need a masters plus to get in there. i literally walked in off the street. they handed me a research assignment. (i was research asst to director, & worked on a very important show). SO, the schools expand, more students now, more housing needed. rents can be raised. students stay on to get jobs. maybe if they went to college somewhere else they would be california. maybe more corporations are making NYC there home base now. there is also training in new york for asian executives. they are transient. come & go need apartments, the company pays. there are reasons why NY is different, has all those boring people, where you never saw them before. thank globalizations BS. the new people do not want "cup & saucer" they want their morning coffee@ starbucks. they want a duane read in their building on ave. A. different crowd.

Claribel said...

The Bronx comment is silly, but kind of classic. My first reaction was “Seriously?!” then it made me laugh. I enjoyed the interview, because it’s his take on newbies and what he does and doesn't love about his neighborhood. Born and raised, it’s his hometown! Sorry, but a working-class union guy majoring in finance who has opinions does not get covered in Time Out New York, that’s for damn sure (unless, of course, his jacket is from uniqlo and he’s wearing vintage Adidas or something like that). So refreshing. And I think every town (and clearly every borough) has its own brand of provincialism, why should ours be any different? I'm no fan of provincialism, but people who come to NYC and are easily wounded by being read wrong, or observations that hit a nerve are not going to last long here. Every time I'm outside NYC, I'm constantly dealing with my hometown being misunderstood and have to put up with that. Natives and non would get more out of the city if they mixed more, I just find that the newer nons are less appreciative and considerate. Could very well be a symptom of their generation.

Little Earthquake, I wish you'd lose that chip on your shoulder, I'd learn more from your contributions here. The only difference in maturity between your comment and Quinones' interview is that when he used the word “awesome” it was almost endearing.

Michael Simmons said...

This cat was asked questions and he answered them. His answers reflect many of the same concerns that Jeremiah's readers express. He's a native New Yorker and he's a working man. He sounds like a man -- a young man, yes -- but a man, not a kid. He's got moxie, a sense of humor and he loves New York.

I like him.

Profjoe223 said...

Seems like the world, and by extension, the Lower East Side, did not exist before the 1960's.

You want NYC the way it was? Which, "was"??? There have been lots of them. Just because you came to adolescence during one period does not mean it was the best. In fact, it was one of the worst. I remember a Lower East Side that was clean (eh. . .) safe and filled with families, relatives and friends. A very rich, NEIGHBORhood. The shit hit the fan in the sixties and everyone romanticises about it. The Lower East Side of the post-60's era was hell. Thank God Guiliani put a torch to it.