Thursday, November 18, 2010


I didn't know there were any Magyars left!

Do you like things the way they are, or do you wish they're like the way they were. If you wish they'd be more like the way they were, is this a personal remembrance of things past, or is this a past that came and went before you ever came on the scene? Are you looking at your own past through rose-colored glasses, or do you just wish you were young again?

I suppose these questions could apply to anyone, anywhere, but I've been thinking more in terms of this ever-changing New York City (remember those words, "ever-changing"). There's been a lot of noise lately about the changes going on in the city, most recently it's been the closing of Ruby's on Coney Island, and the ongoing "revitalization" project the city has been imposing on the ass-end of Brooklyn. People say they're killing NYC, taking the soul out of it block by block, turning it into some kind of Mall of America. People who weren't here 20-35 years ago (or weren't even alive in that time) lament that the creativity has been ripped out of the city, and that it was better when the streets were empty, the rents were low, and crime was rampant.

I'm not making the case here to say that it was better or worse then or now. What I'm trying to say to all of these Jane Jacobs-come latelys is that whether you like it or not, CITIES CHANGE. And it's not just cities. People change. People live and die and move (not in that order). I have a friend whose favorite quote was "The only constant is change," said by none other than Karl Marx. These people who yearn for the NYC of yesteryear think that the city only existed between 1973 and 1993, when Rudy got elected. These people wish that they could hop in a Delorean and see Jayne at Max's or the Dolls at Mercer and hang with Nomi at CBs.

Guess what. It ain't gonna happen. You're not going to bomb NYC with Freddy, Samo, and Keith (and not just because two of them are dead). You live in a different age. It's not just the city that's changed, it's the world that's changed. And what I was trying to say earlier is that it was always changing. I bet if you asked Ken Jackson up at Columbia, he'd tell you that NYC wasn't the same in 1850 as it was in 1880 as it was in 1910 as it was in 1940 and so forth. And in 30 years, the city will be different still. And who's to say that NYC is "better" or "worse." Just stop bitching and in the words of Russell Simmons, Do You.

People applaud Jane Jacobs for keeping the Lower Manhattan Expressway from being built, and allowing the empty Soho factories to become loft space for burgeoning artists. But my guess is that even if the LME were built, the artists would still have found places to create. If CBGBs had never existed, the Ramones would still have found a place to play their music. The point I'm making is that creativity is inside us. We have to take the initiative to use it, to do something with it. Who gives a fuck if Disney bought up Times Square, or that Coney Island is going to become Fremont Street? Do You. Do You, or get the fuck out of town. You don't like what NYC's become? Goodbye. We don't need you bitching and moaning that you can't get mugged in broad daylight on Avenue A anymore.

The city changes because the world changes. NYC doesn't exist in a vacuum. NYC was already an international center of commerce and culture even before the internet, before cell phones, and before those things got combined and you were able to exchange lewd texts with people across the world. For 400 years buildings have been built and destroyed. The city was terraformed. Businesses have come and gone. Nothing ever stays the same. Nothing lasts forever. We live in a constantly changing, moving, evolving environment. It's the state of the universe. Everything you touch (including yourself) is made up of atoms which have electrons constantly whizzing around them. Every level of our existence is in constant motion.

Don't worry if you think NYC is becoming too whitebread. It's just another day in another chapter of this ever-changing gotham that I call home.

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