27 September 2006

Meatpacking District, Sans Meat

The Meatpacking District has never been my "scene," as they say. In my 18 years in New York, that social mileau has always been about clubs and the nite spots you go to after trolling those clubs. And I was never a club man, even in my (not too distant) youth. But, I've always liked the general feel of the place, the zig-zag of crumbling, cobble-stone street, the peculiar street names, the grungy meat wholesalers, the lonely, dead-end aura. It was unique.

I haven't been there in years—aside from an occasional dinner as Pastis or Markt (sue me—I like frites)—mainly because of what I hear about the district, that it's become overrun with the bridge and tunnel crowd and trendoids racing to keep up with an every increasing number of dance joints. If I want to drink until I fall down, I'll do it where I'm less likely to land in a puddle of cow blood. So it's not surprising to see that Gawker has spent much of the week detailing how the neighborhood is officially ruined. In particular, Markt and Western Beef—one of the few remaining buisnesses that gave the area its name—are moving out to make way for "410 West 14th Street," a three-story retail box with all the charm and character a bunch of glass and concrete can muster.

Which brings up an interesting New York phenomenon. That is, the tendency of developers to move into hot neighborhoods and remove the thing that made them hot in the first place, while all the time believing the nabe will stay hot in the same way. Soho is full of art galleries and artists? Move in with Pottery Barns and Apple stores until all those artists are chased away to Chelsea, Williamsburg and beyond! Brooklyn has a low-key, low-slung, neighborhoody feel that's hip and cool? Get in there with as many faceless CVSs and Rite Aids as you can until it looks like outer Akron!

And so, the Meatpacking District don't pack meat no more, no more, it's dont pack meat no more. Maybe Carey buses can soon start shipping in tourists to shop. We're a three-industry town, folks: restaurants, retail, residences. We don't make anything here except money.

1 comment:

april said...

Man, you nailed The Three R's in Nuevo Yawk just perfectly. I left 24 years ago after my initial 33 there for the new frontier of Central Floriduh: rednecks, real estate and, soon enough, ruin. The longer I rue my error in judgment, the more my hometown (Queens/LI) has followed suit, leaving the bare bones of treasured memories. "You can never go home anymore" - Justin Hayward/Moody Blues. Amen.