23 December 2007

East Village, Southbound Lights

Despite the encroaching Citywide gentrification and homogenization, New York neighborhoods still have their differences, even when it comes the Christmas decorations.

In Dyker Heights, if you'd struck by the holiday mood, you blow $10,000 and erect a giant electric snowman on your yard. In Brooklyn Heights, you adorn your door with a wreath and some classy, traditional evergreen boughs, and make sure your stately tree is visible from the street. In the East Village, meanwhile, you buy a few strings of lights at the local Duane Reade, plug them in the outlet nearest the street and fling them out the window. Job done!

I first noticed this particularly lazy, but charmingly raffish way of decorating back in the late '80s and early '90s, when I lived in the East Village. There would be no elaborate looping or draping of lights. The strings would simply dangle out the window, reaching down two or three stories. When there were several such strings on one block, the effect would be strangely magical, as if a row of buildings was being pelted with neon rain.

I reasoned that this was the work of East Village hipsters, who felt a slight urge to get into the holiday groove, but didn't want to exert themselves too much, as that would be highly uncool.

Last night, I was happy to see that this peculiar tradition had persisted. I spotted several tenements so adorned. The strings pictured here were on E. 3rd and E. 4th Streets.

No comments: