Sunday, January 31, 2010

"It's all falling indelibly into the past"

When I started this blog almost three years ago, it was never meant to be a nostalgia blog, a "those were the days" kinda thing. It was meant to be a dynamic forum capturing life in the world's most dynamic city. I still think it serves that purpose but, increasingly, it's turned more and more into a nostalgia blog.

Perhaps it was inevitable. And I'm the first one to dismiss people who carp about the old days being better than the present. But recent events make it seem like the city has accelerated in a direction that I don't recognize. And as a life-long New Yorker, I'm scared.

Last week I wrote multiple entries about how Old New York Charm (the closings of Tavern on the Green and Cafe des Artists, the ruination of the Plaza Hotel) and Old New York Grit (the cleaning out of Canal Street, Frank Serpico) are disappearing. Then this past week, JD Salinger died (a great NYC writer) and the sale of Stuy-Town officially became a debacle. Also, the great New York movie studio Miramax closed last week, now basically a studio in name only but not practice (remember the Miramax hey-dey of the 1990s? The Crying Game, The Piano, Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, Chicago. Gone now.).

I feel like I'm looking out the back window of a car gaining speed as the city I once knew and loved is shrinking and disappearing into invisibility.

And what are we heading to? A city of soulless wealth, boring glass buildings, bad Yuppie taste, super-expensive real estate prices, and pockets of poverty and despair. At this rate, in twenty years, New York will be like Cleveland. Egads.

"It's all falling indelibly into the past." Don Dellilo wrote this as the last sentence of the opening chapter of his 1997 book Underworld. Indelibly -- not easily moved or erased. But increasingly the past is being erased and replaced with a new scary future. Instead of "indelibly" I would say it's inevitable. It's all falling inevitably into the past. Where do we go from here?

Talking about NYC in the past, there's some new books about the city during WW2. They sound interesting.

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