07 June 2007

That Sinking Feeling


Writing this blog, I'm used to tracking attacks on New York City's cultural legacy, and steeling myself against the often disheartening news I'm forced to report. But, I'm sorry, this week week has been a bitch.

DiFara's has been closed by the DOH again. The Parks Commissioner is menacing the Red Hook Ballfields food vendors. Kurowycky Meats shut down for good. And Katz's continues to listen to offers from a bevy of salivating developers. Add this to the continued fact that Astroland will be gone with summer's last breath, and Chumley's remains shuttered, and it's too much. I feel myself being sucked into the vortex of our crumbling cultural infrastructure. Is there to be no relief?

Every decision made in the town today is made with money foremost in mind. Now, don't call me naive. I know it was ever so in New York City. We're the city of Peter Minuet and Wall Street. But, I think, rarely has it been carried to the current heartless, blinkered extremes. The five boroughs are just a Monopoly board for the millionaires, a place to pile their building blocks one on top of each other.

Will the toothless Times, Post and Daily News do nothing but objectively report each landmark as it topples? With no one raise the red flag? Will Bloomberg continue to see every god-awful-ugly-inappropriate, make-it-yourself condo tower as a sign of the rightness of his economic plan for the City? Will the Landmarks Commission ever retrieve its backbone from that pawn shop on Fourth Avenue?

If Robert Moses came back from the dead and was reappointed building czar, you can bet he would get his highway through Soho, his Brooklyn-Battery bridge marring the view of the harbor, his thruway dividing Brooklyn Heights—all the horrible ideas of his that were stopped in their tracks by right-thinking, civic-minded citizens like Jane Jacobs. He'd get it all and City Hall would sit back and say, "Ah, progress!"

7 comments:

Ed said...

This seems to have been caused primarily by the real estate bubble, which has taken its most extreme form in New York City, and caused commercial and residential rents to rise to the point where the city simply can't support a middle class population and a diverse mixture of businesses.

The secondary cause was the Bloomberg administration, with its love of discredited late 50s urban planning ideas, and its hostility towards small businesses.

The good news is that the housing bubble is deflating everywhere else in the country and soon it will by NYC's turn. Its just a matter of seeing if the federal government will try to reflate it. The bad news is that the Bloomberg administration is a manifestation of a corrupt local political and business culture, and that's not going away. His successor is not likely to be much better.

Anonymous said...

Bloomberg is by far the best mayor this city has had since LaGuardia.

Low crime, unemployment, clean parks.

Yeah -- bring back the small business loving mensch Koch era. Those were some good times. Riots in Brownsville, Garbage strikes . . . ahhh I miss it already.

The complainers either weren't here when that was going on, or missed the boat on the boom.

You are the last to come and the first to leave . . adios!

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Hey, Anonymous, I arrived when Koch was still Mayor, and I've seen a lot of different New Yorks. The current one is the worst, because it least resembles a great city. Take your idea of progress and move to Houston or Atlanta. I've said it before and I'll say it again, when all the unique things about New York are driven out, you're welcome to the city. Get you morning coffee at Starbucks, work each day in your cubicle, have lunch at Au Bon Pain, shop at Rite Aid and Ikea and return to your faceless condo and live your fantasy that you're a New Yorker. You're lost, man

Anonymous said...

hey Brooks - exactly, you *arrived* some of us were born here, and still live here, and see the many great things about bloomberg.
Yaknow what capitalism is?
If people didnt use the places, they would not be built.
Im very sad to see alot of things go, but the absurd notion that not profitable ventures should be somehow kept because thats what makes a 'great city' is absurd.
I love rite aid, and like starbucks from time to time.
And Im not moving away from the place I grew up.
Eh whatever, you idealism is laughable. When you become a philanthropist you can keep places in business, until then, ill take my capitalism and cheaper shampoo.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Whoa, Anonymous. Hard to know what to say to that post. You like Rite Aid and Starbuck's. You think being able to buy free shampoo is worth trading in NYC's cultural heritage. Talk about do-it-yourself character assassination. I hope you and unquestioned capitalism with very happy together. But do me one favor. Never read this blog again. You will find nothing you like on it.

Anonymous said...

Brooks:
Your just another small minded person who thinks any chain is evil. I guess you hate wal-mart too.
What I said had nothing to do with preservation, I was pointing out that you equate starbucks with bad, and that bad with other cities, and not your beloved NY, where your not even from.
Bloomberg, and low crime are a good thing. Keep living in your tunnel world of black of white.
I like preservation, I like starbucks, I realize they are not always one in the same.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

You keep writing, Anonymous! Stop already. Anyway, Bingo! I don't like Wal-Mart. I don't think I'm alone in that. And I was super-happy when the company recently announced they had given up on opening a store in New York. If you give me one good reason to change my mind about them, I'll listen. And I don't just think Starbuck's is bad because they put mom-and-pop coffee shops out of business (on purpose, mind you; don't pretend this is an accident), but because they make bad, burnt-tasting coffee, charge to much for it and give the sizes silly names. Finally, true, I wasn't born here. But I've lived here 20 years, and most people use the 10-year yardstick as the mark after which you can call yourself a New Yorker. So I'm a double New Yorker! My voice counts, my friend.