DONATE HERE

By Penny Arcade

Lately I am surrounded by a feeling of irrevocable change.

On a day-to-day basis I notice changes that stand out as lines of demarcation in the street culture of NY. Lately they have been adding up. For one – people cueing up: long lines of people waiting to be let into one unmarked emporium or another. It seems that some people have never seen a line they can’t wait to join. Then there is the shrieking. The high-pitched voices that fill our streets as groups of people publicly socialize on our sidewalks – their voices piercingly ricocheting, ringing off the old tenement blocks. This is mostly when they are standing still, at one sidewalk bar or another because when they are moving , also in groups of five to eight people, they are mowing down everyone in their path or else they are standing stock still blocking the sidewalk, unaware of the presence of other pedestrians, expecting you to walk around them. In another column I mentioned the bicycles – the latest acceptable bike lanes seem to be located on our sidewalks – any attempt to admonish the rider that the sidewalk is for pedestrians is met with indignant disbelief and verbal abuse.

People have always had personal reasons for wanting to come to New York City but the sight of groups of people on street corners, careening their necks to look at the facades of buildings where they believe TV shows like Seinfeld or Friends were shot or posing for photos on the West Village staircase where Carrie of Sex In The City lived is a far cry from the desire to wander the streets where Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsburg or Jack Kerouac walked or to sit in the cafés and bars where Edward Albee, Anais Nin or O. Henry sat and talked.The history of our streets is just an anonymous backdrop for establishing shots for shows filmed in LA. No one seems to blink a date night eye at the bacchanal excesses that are now an accepted aspect of carousing on a weekend – public puking. Even when the old Bowery was packed with winos stumbling blind drunk or passed out in doorways you rarely saw what the common occurrence of people is now: vomiting in the streets. Then there is what goes on inside and in front of our buildings – the huge piles of Amazon, FedEx and UPS boxes that almost no one flattens to discard and at least in my building, the garbage bags filled with pizza boxes and take out containers left on each landing – a sight which used to symbolize the slums of NY but now is practiced by people with six-figure incomes.

My perceptions could be the result of age – as one gets to their 8th decade, the future arrives and the past recedes into the distance even though 1990 still seems recent to me.

But mostly it just feels like the new New.

Leave a Reply