Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Progress Is Disturbing My Peace

What New York City Needs...Another Hotel
I came to New York City because I didn't want to go to Los Angeles. Where I come from it's natural if you leave home you go further West, and if you think you're talented or if you want to cop a good-paying job you go to L.A. Since I grew up doing the opposite of what my parents wanted for me, rather than be a top scientist and going to Stanford so I could get a job at Livermore, I decided I wanted to be a writer and a musician and all the writing and music I was into was coming out of NYC--the best jazz was up here and the best publishers were here and NYC represented the highest level my ambitions could carry me to. I mean when I came to NYC, the Village Voice was still an independent "Greenwich Village" newspaper, started by Norman Mailer and another guy down on Seventh Avenue right before you came to Sheridan Square, the heart of the serious Village. The Village was still affordable, though it already was going up in real estate value, but for $400 a month you could still get a cool apartment down there.

When I moved to NYC, there was also an alternative newspaper going, The East Village Other, or the EVO, right up the street from the Fillmore East, still in business then, and I went there a couple'a times, once to see Miles, and another time B.B. King (wild!)-- and Slugs was still in business, and Jaki Byard was the house pianist at an East Side drinking establishment called Stanley's.

When I moved to NYC, SoHo (South of Houston Street) and the A.I.R. (Artists in Residence) lofts were just coming on-line as the old factories and industries moved off of Greene, Mercer, Prince, West Broadway streets--leaving all those wonderful old tin-facade buildings vacant. After the machinery had been removed, you were left with big wide and high loft spaces, with tons of great windows letting in great light and high ceilings with fancy tin insignia, and underfoot, wonderful plank wood floors--and SoHo soon was cooking with artists and musicians--a bar called Nick's on Broome, just down from Kenny's Broome Street Bar (still going), and the Prince Street Bar, and then on over by Broadway the fabulous Fanelli's, and old Mike Fanelli was still alive and always standing at the end of the bar, and there was always crackers and great cheese available as tapas or you could order great Italian dinners with tons of garlic bread--and the walls were still full of boxers's glossy 8 x 10s or race horse-related paintings and photos. Fanelli's is still going but it's now a trendy, show-offey, full of cell-phone-important nerds and nerdettes, stars and streaking comets place, a gathering of fools who consider themselves all-important, which they express in overloud jabber palaver and exaggerated body language. What I'm trying to say, this new freaky breed in the Apple sees NYC as a mountain of gold and come here to live lives of conspicuous consumption, going into where the artists and musicians had created a great community with these fabulous lofts, and taking them over with wheelbarrels of cash, which, of course, when the artists and musicians made these lofts popular, hell yes, the F-ing greedy Old World European landlords began selling out to the highest bidders, the corporate lawyers and stock exchange crunchers and hustlers and the young interns that work the Stock Exchange floor--big money quick during stock markets that are propped up like the current stock market, currently topping off at a Dow that is through the roof--12,760 today--which means that 100s of millions of shares of stock are trading every damn weekday--it seems impossible to me how one can base anything on such numbers to crunch--there must be at least 5,000 ways to scam and swindle at the Stock Exchange--you know, it's all computerized so some computer nerd must know ways to hack into large accounts and skim off maybe cents--or you know, make phony sales and shit, charging coming and going fees by selling and rebuying and reselling several times during a 100 million share day. Surely somebody down there does this, don't you think? I mean, check out something as simple as your phone bill; look at the ways the phone companies can scam you for pennies--you wouldn't know if your phone bill was padded, would you? Just a couple of cents maybe. I accused a world-renown bookkeeping (euphemistically now called "management consultants") firm of skimming pennies off my paychecks. I once naggingly asked a human resource person why my checks were'n't exactly the same every two weeks; why one check would be for $3, 256.36 and the next check might be for $3, 256.29. Dig? A difference of seven cents. Multiple 7 cents times 5,000 employees. Aha, a tidy little sum if you know anything about creative accounting.

The Lower East Side is pretty much being ruined by speculators as I type on this. There's still a community down there, though not like it used to be when it was Polish, Jewish, and Ukrainian, full of great delis and the Janette Diner and the Kiev with its great pirogies, but now...well, it's a lot of Buffalo wing places, a lot of bars and nouveau cuisine joints--no punk bars anymore; no Electric Lady freaks boogie-ing around stoned out of their gourds. Now there are nerd bars on St. Mark's Place and where there used to be poetry readings there are now loud cell-phone conversations between the bourgeoisie self-important. The Lower East Side will soon be getting its 55-story luxury apartment buildings--oh the developers love the Lower East Side; it's a low-level building area, free of gaudy skyscrapers--but not for long. The developers have their eyes on all of the Lower East Side, especially over along the river, over below where back in the 70s they built a shoddily built old ex-Mitchell-Lama apartment complex with affordable apartments based on people's incomes--most of those early tenants there were school teachers, Con-Ed employees, social workers, city workers, you know, union people, too--but now, oh no, now, it's under new management and apartments go for way over 2,000 a month--but they'll get it because those towers have magnificent river views and soon the money-soaked foreigners, the Saudis, the Asian kids, the Euro-trash will be buying NYC apartments and selling them in Europe as time shares--yeah, they do that; New Yorkers don't know that though; we're stupid and so busy trying to make big bucks so we can continue to live here. You have to make at least 100,000 a year to just survive in all of NYC. I just read that Manhattan County, that's Manhattan Island, has the highest salary levels in the US of A at $738.00 a week--I don't know if that's take-home pay or not, but if it's take-home pay, yes, that's damn good, though not if it's before taxes pay. Taxes in NYC are triple high since they take city, state, and federal taxes out of your check (the government stealing from your earnings--very unConstitutional, but Amuricans are total wimps when it comes to standing up for their rights)--you end up getting robbed of around 25 to 30% of your gross--which, based on $738 a week, comes to about $225 a week OUT, leaving you with 500-plus bucks a week, chickenfeed in NYC, I guarantee you.

Young people come here and gaggle up in some of these luxury buildings 4 to a great high-story studio with great views, great for partying, $3500-a-month, but divided by four it becomes $900 a month, and, hey, that's an amount Love Me Daddies won't mind paying at all--I mean, hell, he's paying 20,000-to-30,000-a-year for NYU or Columbia tuition so what's another $10, 500 a year to him. Besides, there's student loans and Love Me Daddy has given them cell phones and credit cards, so, shit, that's who has the good life in NYC now, STUDENTS! Kids of very rich parents; and there are thousands of these kids coming to NYC from all over the world; NYC has tons of colleges, man, all up and down the Island, City University and all its branches; Columbia; Baruch; John Jay; Pace; the Fashion Institute; Parsons School of Design; Hunter; Fordham-Manhattan; NYU--and across the East River is Brooklyn College, Queens College, LaGuardia--God-damn, and all these students romping all over the Village now, the Lower East Side, spending money like it's water--the scene in this once-great city has totally changed, from one of great culture, great neighborhoods, great chance, and great industry to one of service jobs, sales jobs, highly competitive creative jobs in advertising or publishing--it's all SERVICE--SERVANTS--SERVANTS to the lucky rich or the established rich or the corporate rich. Artists? Yeah, there are still artists working in NYC, but there is no movement alive here anymore--it's art for art's sake. The music--NYC has regressed so much Irish music, Latin music, and Reggae are still going strong. Rap is, too, but that's another extension of the music I came to NYC to learn and learn to appreciate. Classical music here? I don't know; last classical event I attended was Eliot Carter's 90th Birthday Concert with thedailygrowlerhousepianist, many moons ago now. I haven't been to Carnegie Hall since the 70s. I haven't been to the Metropolitan Art Museum in 35 years. It's true. I find old art boring now--oh, yes, don't get me wrong, I'm still amazed by Van Gogh and Gauguin; and, yes, Turner still amuses me; and, yes, I really was into Claude Monet and the French Impressionists at one young time. I must admit I never got totally into Picasso. Vlaminck? Yes. Man Ray? Yes. And I loved Ravel. Some Debussy. Honneger. But, I don't need to go gawk at them any more--except maybe for some of the old, old masters like Fra Lippo Lippi, especially a nice little one Hemingway introduced me to in one of his books that used to be in the Metropolitan.

The worst thing that has happened to Manhattan, however, is our little billionaire mayor and his developer giveaways of land that really, according to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of New York State belongs to the people of the State of New York--yep, New York is a Commonwealth state, like Massachusetts--in a commonwealth state, land is owned by the citizens of NY State and leased to developers who either improve it or lose it--instead, the current private land ownership in NYC leads to total areas abandoned by land owners and left sitting fallow and unproductive for years and years as it's held by the city or county--Jesus, it's complicated--but anyway, our mayor has visions of building his own Bloomberg Mall, which is going to gut the West Side of Midtown Manhattan and his redeveloping of the Jacob Javitts Center area--he wants seven or eight luxury hotels overthere around that white elephant piece of crap architecture that was the folly of our great "How'm I doin'?" mayor, Ed Crotch, an old gay who stayed in the closet--he did try to come out straight one time by dating nutjob American Jewish Princess princess of the year first Jewish Miss America Beth Meyerson--later becoming a famous shoplifter, but that failed to gain the seriousness of anybody, so old Ed kept his gayness in closet and is now, though ancient, living a swell life, worth millions of soaked bucks. Ed Crotch got beat by NYC's first black mayor, David Dinkins, who tried, but NYC is a racist town, it's a brown town ruled by whites who think they're superwhites because some of them are among the richest human beings in the world--our little man vulgar mayor included--and the head of the MTA and the heads of the Port Authority, filthy rich white swindlers, and scammers, and bullshitters, lining their own nests, living well off the stupid conspicuously consuming tax paying New Yorkers.

I am looking away from New York City these days and I thought I'd never say that when I first came here. It's still probably the best city in the world, but these rich M-F-ers are determined to ruin it. Our little man billionaire pompous mayor--he's giving away NYC development rights and changing zoning laws for and shit like that to his big developer friends, like the bullshit rich asshole who's forcing the mediocre New Jersey Nets basketball team on the citizens of Brooklyn. The Nets were once the New York Nets--residing out on the Island as the basketball side of the New York Mets baseball team, the New York Jets football team, and the New York Islanders hockey team. Doctor J was the star of the New York Nets. But then they decided they could scam more money off the fools of New Jersey and they moved to the Meadowlands out in the middle of a great old wetlands--full of mosquitos--oh no! (The Meadowlands even put the great old Yonkers Raceway (harness racing) out of business.) Well now, they're comin' back to NYC, to Brooklyn, and not just to Brooklyn but right in the smack-dab middle of downtown Brooklyn, wiping out huge chunks of square blocks of that mellow old downtown--putting up the tacky basketball arena--Madison Square Garden is a terrible eyesore right up the street from me--and, of course, the hotels and luxury apartment buildings that will be developed around it--hey, it'll put Brooklyn on the map again, the mayor is saying. He doesn't really give a shit about what the citizens of Brooklyn think and want--he's forcing it down their throats. He tried to force the New York Jets back on us, too, wanting to build a 57,000-seat stadium right in the smack-dab middle of West Side Manhattan (57,000 is the statistically correct number of seats a sports team needs these days to pretty much meet every game in order to make a profit on season and general tickets--check it out, every new stadium foisted on the people of sports cities every 20 years or so, is now of 57,000 capacity. I remember when Yankee Stadium held 75,000; so did horrible old Cleveland Muni Stadium--the one they built facing Lake Erie--one of the coldest ballparks ever; so did the Polo Grounds. Teevee changed that. It doesn't look as good on teevee when 57,000 fans are in attendance at a 75,000-seat stadium--I mean that's 25,000 empty seats--it looks bad on teevee. Only the rasslin' shows use graphic-art fan fill ins to make it look like their events are packed to the gills--they also run canned crowd noise during their phony shows.

And now, the number 1 industry in NYC? The Tourist Industry. Oh shit. That's it. NYC is now a tourist trap. Why would anyone want to come to this city on their vacation? I mean the average hotel room goes for $575 a night and a cheap meal in a restaurant is $25, which means tourists all eat mostly at Burger Kings and McDonald's, the same food they eat out on their corn farms or pig farms or meat-processing plant areas of the old bald prairielands; I'm not kidding.

Tourists can also get rooms in these old remodeled crack hotels that dot every block of this city, most now bought up by Indians (they're expert hotel operators; they were taught well by the snooty Brits when they were woggy native boy servants to them--Gunga Din! Gunga Din! Bring me water! "I say, woggy lad, where's my tea, dammit? You will hurry or I'll whip your smarmy ass white." "Yes, sahib!" Walking out backwards bowing. We'll soon be doing that in our New World Order State that will soon be formed by Georgie Porgie, our phony president, and his puppetmeister, Unka Dick, who is crowing vulgarly loud against the pansy Dumbocrats not wanting to increase our troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan and back our nuclear war attack on Iran. You are a terrerist to these guys if you are for peace.

As a result of the Tourist Industry and the progress it is making taking over this city my peace these days is being shatteringly disturbed--they are starting construction of a billion-room skyscraper hotel off behind me two blocks over on Sixth Avenue, but the site is totally opened to the view out my windows and the sound from the site, the blasting, the jackhammering, the explosive rackets that go on from 7:30 am to 5:15 pm every day come dancing madly right straight in through my windows. My neighborhood will sound like a normal day in current democratic Baghdad for the next year or so.

I'd say something totally put down about Winston Churchill here, but I'll save that for another attack on the Brits.

for The Daily Growler

1 comment:

Bobby D. said...

NYC is the best place on earth but it also vacuums up your even sucks up the coins. I really miss living in the city, but I still work there a few days per week so I feel OK about the move. The city is always under construction. 3rd Ave used to be all these sweet little brownstones, all the way up to 53rd street--and now look at it. Author Maeve Brennan had the same complaint back in the 1950's and 60's.
It is just how the city is--