Tuesday, February 12, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Mysteriously, after no light for a long time, Jade Mountain's old Chow Mein sign was aglow yesterday (half of it anyway). Is this a sign that it will soon vanish?

Is Chelsea Now being condo-fied like the neighborhood it covers? [Blog Chelsea]

More confirmation that the East Village has gone suburban. [NY Times]

Check out a reading-screening by poet/filmmaker Stephanie Gray: Feb 16, 7 p.m. (free) at Vox Pop Cafe & Books in Ditmas Park. Some of her films feature Super-8 collages of vanished New York like Gertel's, Zito's, and Jon Vie Pastries. If that's too far to go, she'll also be at Bluestockings on the LES March 21. [Vox Pop]

The city moves in once more to shutter Moore Street Market. [NY Times]

Some accuse me of nostalgia for NYC's brutal, crime-strangled past. Not so. There is a middle ground between abject poverty and abject wealth. But for those who might be nostalgic, here is a fascinating collection of photos, many of the poor Harlem that local businesses survived, only to be crushed today by wealth. [Skyscraper City]

Also take a look at the pre-Giuliani LES in pictures from photographer Marlis Momber. [SBTA]

One of my early readers, Michael of the blog One Foot in Front of the Other, passed away recently. I only knew him through the blog. I enjoyed his photographs of East Village faces. Please take a moment to enjoy them, too: Click here.

My last meal from La Casalinga, the lovely Insalata al Pesto. I chatted with the owner, a 20+ year resident of the East Village. She hopes to reopen in the neighborhood soon. Let's hope she can find a place that hasn't been bought, like her building was, by Croman realty.


Anonymous said...

after reading those comments on the thread of old pictures of the south bronx, harlem, lower east side, easy new york etc. i realize how many people are completely oblivious. yea those areas were shit holes and most are still shit holes with new paint jobs but what bothers me more is that they had no idea of what the city was like before they showed up. they just came in after the change had already taken hold and now think it was always this way. also the comments on crime drive me nuts. if you believe nyc has had less than 500 murders or whatever number ray kelly put out this year i got a bridge for you. every crime in ny now gets dropped down to something less, 2 commanding officers in pcts were lifted last year for doin just that fudging the numbers and getting caught.

Anonymous said...

Those photos of "old" New York are amazing. I came here in Fall '05, clearly after the change, and I knew it had changed, but I have never seen such emotional pictures.

I agree with you on most of what you write, but now that I see these... I think the condition we've came to is probably better than that which we left.

Sure chain stores are infesting every corner, but the crack epidemic and classrooms of children that have all been in a cross fire are something thats an easy sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

the problems havent been solved, theyve just been moved to new locales, away from the sensitive eyes of people whose only reactions to new things is a) gawking and b) looking away as quickly as their eye and neck muscles allow

Jeremiah Moss said...

anon #2, i hear you, but can't totally agree with you re: chainstore proliferation vs. crack epidemics. i think the "powers that be" (politicians, developers, corporations) really want us to believe in this either/or thinking. it keeps things simple and makes people afraid. but it's not so black and white. it is possible to have a thriving city in which people and businesses of various income levels can co-exist without chaos. it's just not happening here.

aka Victoria Lucas said...

Even though it goes without saying, chain stores equal more capital and happier tourists whereas solving crack epidemic does not. Even though I'm a recent arrival here, I can't look anywhere without seeing so many things that are actively being excised because of greed.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this blog for a while now, and I'm struggling to understand the crowd that thinks the old LES was better than the current one. I can completely understand wanting the various local businesses that made up the economic fabric of that area to remain open, but who in their right mind would want to go back to the days where drug dealers openly sold on the streets and junkies shot up in burned out tenements all over the LES? I'd much rather deal with yuppies (or yunnies, or whatever) any day of the week. And on that subject, the main argument of this blog seems to be that the real character of New York is slipping away, but I think the author and everyone who rallies behind him has failed to realize that with the influx of people to the New York metropolitan area in the last decade, the "ownership" of New York has largely transferred to those newcomers who have bought houses/started businesses. That's how it works in any area across the country - if a collective of property owners or business people with interests in a specific area decide that they want things to change, they will. It's just how things go. The LES you all remember so fondly is no more, and whatever incarnation it takes in the future will be based on the hipster haven it has become today. Sad, but it's the truth, and there's not much to be done about it.

Jeremiah Moss said...

anon #3, you speak to the misapprehension that I/we are advocating a return to total misery. again, don't we have more choices other than burned-out wastelands and total condo proliferation?

for the record, i would love to have enough money to buy myself a home, preferably in an older building. i also want to be safe. who wants to live like a stray dog on the streets? but is that really the only alternative?

the starbucks/glass-tower people would have us all believing that they are our only salvation. not so.

Anonymous said...

Anon #3

I was here during the old LES days and, no i would not prefer yuppies to junkies or drug dealers. (who do you think were some of the dealers biggest customers? Wall Streeters who would have their town cars pull over so they could cop) I lived on Ludlow when it was the biggest heroin block in the city, is it "better" now? Is a drunk frat boy vomiting all over the sidewalk preferable to a herion addict doing the same thing? Last time I looked, alcohol was a drug, too, and one that has caused as much, if not more, misery as dope.
Now I live a few blocks away, in court with my landlords who are trying to evict our entire building to satisfy their "fix"-real estate. There are still dealers & junkies in the neighborhood, but they have names now like Massey-Knakal, Corcoran, Croman, Ohebshalom, Shaoul & Yatrakis.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anon #4, well said.
Jeremiah, in regards to the simplistic (I’d say rather naive) thinking about crime and it’s causes that tends to float around anti-gentrification web sites, a good thing to point out is that those who think the dichotomy is between Yunnie Paradise and total misery, assume that social misery is somehow alleviated by gentrification. I know it’s strange that they think 500% rent increases alleviate poverty, or an influx of upperclass drug addicts somehow stops the drug trade (to say nothing of alcoholism), but they really seem to. Likewise their odd statements about pre-2000 NYC (did we really do nothing but murder each other all day long?). They have some very strange ideas about the yunnie role in urban existence.
Well, I suppose it doesn’t really matter anyway, since Annon #3's advice to us is: whether good or not, it’s happening so we should all get used to it. Once again, this is a strange idea that seems to crop up a lot, that we have the “option of acceptance” you might say. Personally, if the yunnie and his parents can go around and around forever playing the real-estate game, aggressively attacking every affordable neighborhood that catches their eye (with the usual results), I don’t see how this is going to work for those of us who can’t keep up their pace, but still have to live somewhere within 20 miles of the city in order to work (forget about owning a business). I myself don’t think we have much choice about fighting it.

Jeremiah Moss said...

"if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it." so said bobby knight to connie chung back in 1988.

thanks for your good points, joshua, and you're reminding me of how much this notion that "gentrification is happening so get used to it" sounds a lot like this "relax and enjoy it" notion.