13 November 2007

The Dragon Wins

Brownstoner reports the ongoing demolition of St. George's Church at 203 York Street in Vinegar Hill. It's coming down as we speak. The Roman Catholic Diocese, which is not a sentimental outfit, despite the whole Christmas thing, sold the building, parish hall and the land beneath them to the Tocci family for $3.2 million, which sounds pretty cheap to me for a structure that would have been 100 years old had it lived to 2009.

There's an interesting conversation over at Brownstone about the item, led by a well-meaning, but blinkered "let progress progress" dude named Benson. I stopped reading his comments after he wrote: "I appreciate your comments, but they are telling, and go to the heart of my problem with today's preservationists. You are assuming that all beauty lies in the past. You are assuming that this former church building represents the ultimate aesthetic achievement for this site. In other words, we are incapable of progressing. Why is it assumed that we are no longer capable for achieving further advancements in the use and aesthetics of land in this city?"

I'll say what some others on the comment board were afraid to say, for fear of looking too reactionary: Yes! I do think all beauty lies in the past! And I don't assume it, I know it. And I don't know it because I made it up. I know it because it's proved to me every day. It's proved to me by developers like the Toccis, who throw up (and I do mean throw up) Big Uglies on our street again and again. The church that is being torn down was not the be all and end all of beauty and aesthetics. But it is for sure—and I will bet all of my earthly goods on this without a second's thought—better and more beautiful and more life-affirming that whatever it is the Toccis have on their mind. Wake up!, Benson. Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake UP! Stop fighting the bad fight. Stop being Devil's Advocate when the Devil is already winning and has been for years. Stop making the case for the buck-chasing, brick-laying vulgarians, who contribute to the beauty this City the way the Soviets added to the allure of the major cities of the Easter Bloc.

And, Benson, I like Venice. Anyone but a dumbhead loves Venice. And I'd move there tomorrow if I could. A dead city in one respect, yes. But alive with beauty. Alive with history. Like New York should be, but is increasingly less so, every single day.

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