Friday, August 31, 2007

Meatpackers & Meat


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

1 comment:

NYC taxi photo said...

no tranny hookers?? me thinks you need to go and visit greenwich st in the late late summer night, and I'm not so sure about that offering protection bit either.

but hey, who am i to judge, I'll miss all the rest for sure, that juicy slippery muck on the sidewalks and cobblestones, my friend used to live right there on the corner, center of all the hub-bub nowadays, kicked out of his huge full floor apartment of course. now some yuppie family lives there, and I probably drove them right to their home too. this post was beautifully written.