21 October 2009

Lost City Goes Euro

Nearly a year ago, I met a very nice Swiss couple in Cafe Pedlar on Court Street in Cobble Hill. She, Albertine Bourget, was a free-lance journalist from Switzerland, and he was her photographer. They had someone found Lost City on the Internet and decided I would make a good story. They were perhaps disappointed that I couldn't take pictures of me, or refer to my real name, but they abided. I found them to be very thoughtful and probing, and understood quite completely the woes of an ever-gentrified, richified New York.

I forgot about the article until recently. I assumed it had been published and they had neglected to inform me, or that the piece had been killed. Then, today, I got a not from Albertine, saying the article had appeared today in Le Temps, one of Switzerland's leading dailies. It's a French-language paper and published in Geneva and is only 11 years old. I see she also found time to meet and interview Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing New York.

It's funny to think of what the Swiss, sitting over their no-doubt-wonderful morning coffee and Müesli, must think of my quixotic enterprise over here. The things I want to save must seem as young pups next to their ancient monuments and businesses. Anyway, here's the piece. My college French is a bit rusty, so I'm just hoping Albertine said largely nice things about me. (The title, I believe, translates to "Neighborhoods of the Big Apple on Canvas" and somewhere in there I think I'm called a Knight.) And, if she wrote anything negative, well, she wrote it in French, which is kinda cool.

Quartiers de Pomme sur la Toile

By Albertine Bourget

C’est un chevalier qui milite pour l’ancien temps. Mais qui fixe ses rendez-vous par e-mail. Ses textes sont rédigés sous le titre de Lost City, la cité perdue. Mais ils sont publiés en ligne, sous forme de blog*. Rendez-vous a été pris avec lui dans son quartier de Brooklyn. Il se fait appeler Robert.

Utiliser la technologie et les moyens de communication actuels pour critiquer la modernisation. Comme passablement d’autres, Robert a donc choisi la Toile pour raconter, de manière obsessionnelle et fascinante, les changements, les disparitions et les bouleversements – mais aussi les lueurs d’espoir – urbanistiques qui affectent sa ville de New York. Les cafés de quartier qui ferment pour de bon. Les «delicatessen» qui rouvrent par miracle. Les démolitions. Les boutiques standardisées qui remplacent des lieux de vie du coin. Des merveilles architecturales, des trésors mal connus et dénichés au coin d’une rue. Sur la Toile, Robert et ses pareils se sont mués en géographes de proximité, en cartographes du monde connu.

Amoureux transis de la Grande Pomme, Robert et ses collègues blogueurs ne reconnaissent plus leur belle, en train de se dérober et de perdre son âme sous leurs yeux, disent-ils. Pourtant, New York n’est-elle pas le centre du changement? Oui mais cette fois, c’est différent, clament les blogueurs. La ville, flétrie, pourrait ne pas s’en relever. «Bien sûr que le changement est la nature même de New York. Mais ces dix dernières années, elle s’est transformée beaucoup plus vite que d’habitude. Aujourd’hui, tout ce qui compte, c’est l’immobilier et l’argent. Les New-Yorkais se divisent entre ceux qui pensent comme moi, et ceux qui veulent un nouveau Starbucks au coin de la rue», résume Robert.

....Read more.


Jeremiah Moss said...

i ran it through Google translator and you are, indeed, called a knight. not bad.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Better than a lot of other things I've been called, I'll tell you.

Unknown said...

"Le Journal de Genève" has been for the first time published in 1826 and was revamped in 1998 to become "Le Temps". Despite his apparent youth, he is a venerable and reputable Swiss newspaper. They always keep for the last page an interesting topic or story. It's always a pleasure to read it.

Don't worry Albertine refer to you as a modern Knight, using emails and Internet as you sword. You're a witness of NYC transformation (gentrification) and the invasion of Starbucks!

Well I'm sad to tell you that you have unfortunately reasons to be worried, as Starbucks is also colonizing the old Europe, Geneva being one of the latest example.

Oh! You make me think to prepare a muesli, it's been a while!

Paul, 33, Geneva

Adam said...

The headline reads "Big Apple Districts on the web" (toile also being a spider's web).

It's a very nice article. Why the need for such secrecy though?