Sunday, December 5, 2010

Give It To Me, I'll Keep It With Mine.

It just occurred to me that I am living in an apartment that is very similar to M’s apartment in Austin: open living and dining room/kitchen and half bath downstairs, two bedrooms and full bath upstairs. My house is much older (his is new, very East Austin contemporary green building, mine I’m guessing was probably built in the 20s) but they both have simple clean design, lots of light, white walls and black granite kitchen islands.

Today on facebook, M posted a photo of himself with a man. The man is leaning to rest his forehead against M's, and they're both smiling sweetly. No caption. Several of M's friends have "liked" the photo. I'm not a rocket scientist, just an ex-boyfriend, but it's pretty clear. The guy is handsome. They look happy.

My house sits at the top of a long stairway up to my neighborhood from Broadway. There are two wide sets of concrete steps with a little green space in between, 10 flights. Anytime I want to go anywhere I go down these stairs and up again on the way home. (I could take a longer way around, through the neighborhood, but the stairs are more direct and I like that my legs get a little workout since I don’t have time or money for a gym right now.)

My bedroom window looks out over the top of these stairs, so, if I want to (and I do) I can watch people go up and down all day.

East Village R.I.P.

More fodder for the relentless conversation about how New York has changed. I liked this article because it assured me that my moaning about the transformation of the East Village from a neighborhood of immigrants, artists, poor people, old leftists, Polish coffee shops (and, yes, bars) into a frat party is not just the nostalgia of an old man. Cities change, New York especially, but what has happened to the East Village and Lower East Side (and, then, Williamsburg, for that matter) is unique and very ugly.

A big part of my feeling good about being back in New York has been an almost-conscious decision to let go of my love for the East Village, which was my home for many years and which has been nearly completely obliterated by the sale of large sections of it to NYU for dorms and by its status, starting in the 80s, as one of the hippest neighborhoods in the world. The global East Village.

I knew -- we all knew and had a pretty clear idea of the importance of that declaration ("I live in the East Village") in marking who we were -- that I lived at the epicenter of cool. But it's sort of like, now, no neighborhood can ever have that status again because as soon as you say a place is the hippest it no longer is. I don't think this is true just because I'm older now -- I think it's because news travels too fast and faster and faster all the time. You used to have to wait for the New York Times article saying something was hip before you knew it wasn't any more. Now twitter can have the same de-hipping effect in a day or two. It's not hip if everybody knows about it, and everybody knows about everything immediately now.

I don't have anything against nightlife. Nightlife is one of the things that makes New York great. But the East Village is completely insane. If you know what 6th Street in Austin is like at night -- it's like that. Except that it's a neighborhood where people live. People live there. Y'know?