Mar 31, 2008

Big Apple of My Eye

I'm rather surprised to say that Madonna made a statement that gave me pause for contemplation. In the recent issue of Vanity Fair, Madonna had this to say about New York City:

"It's not the exciting place it used to be. It still has great energy; I still put my finger in the socket. But it doesn't feel alive, cracking with that synergy between the art world and music world and fashion world that was happening in the 80s. A lot of people died."

First let me say she is showing her age by being nostalgic. It's not a sin. Hey, this native New Yorker often says the same thing. I fed off the energy of NYC for 38 years before moving to CT. I always feel the best time for being a New Yorker was in my early 20s. I had a 28" waist and a stamina that enabled me to enjoy all the city had to offer.

As I got older I started to see living in New York was not exactly user friendly. It takes a lot of money to live there, and the pace can wear a person down. It's the younger folks, wealthy and transplants that often find NYC exciting. The 30 and older crowd moves from having a crush with the city to realizing it's a marriage that requires work.

I was part of the 80s NYC Madonna refers to. That NYC was hip-hop, punk, new wave, trendy, avant-garde, sleazy, cruisy, graffitified, and just plain funky fresh. It is now Popafied, Disney-laden, Starbucked, Barnes & Nobled, and multi-tasked to death. It's sad to say but it is even hard to find good Pizza in Manhattan. Too many people have been trying to fix what was not broken.

I truly appreciate her reminding us that the deaths of many New Yorkers really impacted the city. So many artist and unique personalities that made NYC exciting got taken away far too soon. I can't help but to think how theatre, art, music and fashion would be in America, if these gifted and talented folks made it to an age of maturity that allowed them time for growth and exploration.

If you look at history, many a great city dies, and people fondly recall the golden age of that city. In the process of telling stories of the good old days, details are often forgotten or embellished. The fondness for the past might also cloud a person's view of what new things are available and possible.

I've learned to accept NYC will never feel the same for me. It will not feel the same, because, I am no longer the person that took his first train ride into Manhattan from Brooklyn, by himself, at the age of 13. My cherry got popped. And, good people, once a pickle, never a cucumber again.

Recently Marcos and I went to the Met with some friends and then to the East Village for dinner. It was fierce. On the subway ride home, we helped a girl that was drunk and vomiting. She then began to yell at the young boys that laughed at her predicament by telling them to "suck her dick." Only in NYC people, only in NYC. She's my first love and I will never forget it.


Kitty said...

My mother loved/loves going to see theater in NYC but she always waxes nostalgic after a visit that AIDS devastated creativity on The Great White Way.

I stated many times what my feelings are about NYC and what it's become, namely backdrop for the multiple, Sex and The City/Friends fantasies of the less creative and quirky class. The NYC I remember visiting was never like those TV shows.

Anonymous said...

I was just talking about this with a friend the other day. I have even experienced what Lady Madonna is talking about. When I was a teen, the city was rife with fun places. Now, the city's fun, but not as much fun (or maybe I'm just not cool enough to know where the good underground places are, which is a possibility).