Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Big Shrill

I moved to Loisaida in 1978 because it was hidden from mainstream New York, abandoned by ownership, undiscovered by commerce. The storefronts that weren't lived in were empty, aside from a very few store survivors from the past. No one thought the lack of commerce was a problem. To the contrary, anarchists railed against the threat of gentrification, although their target was the police, go figure.

Today the community board worries about filling every storefront as if the welfare of landlords, who most benefit from commercial rents, were a matter of public community concern. And what moves community activists today is SantaCon, as if a single day of silliness merited anyone's trouble. SantaCon is good for a laugh, but at least the Santas don't throw eggs as the kids used to decades ago on Halloween. This neighborhood sounds like the Upper East Side complaining about an ethnic parade down 5th Avenue.

The sign that the LES is truly gone and buried is this character of its activism. When did the defense of anarchy and difference turn into defending middle-class vaules of quiet, normality and the absence of disruption?


Scuba Diva said...

The problem is that some of the anarchists of the 70s stayed in the neighborhood and raised families, and then other people saw that the neighborhood was "family-friendly" and flocked here.

My block near Tompkins Square is a perfect example: in the late 70s half the buildings were empty and/or burned-out (so I'm told) and my roommate who moved here in 1976 reports that our building was populated by mostly welfare families. (A few who were here when he moved in—or their families—are still here. I've been here since about 1990, and have been in the neighborhood since 1980.)

At the time he moved in, there was no background check and no one even took his credit history. The element of this neighborhood I miss most is what brought me here in the first place: it was the end of the line, and I had nowhere else to go. So I stayed.

MindGrapes said...

Neighborhoods aren't neighborhoods without businesses that support the residents. A neighborhood full of empty storefront is a blight.

Anonymous said...

People making noise at all hours of the night was not "embraced" in 1981 when I moved into the EV anymore then it is now. I recall the squat next door that turned on their amps and started to jam at 3:00 am most mornings.
Being an artist does not mean having thought or consideration of others, that's what an asshole is.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand what the Rob Hollander has againt the 7/11's on the LES. Why not dunken donuts, MacDonalds, 2 Brother pizza . I 4 one love the 7/11's or maybe Rob Hollander would like another bar in it's place?