Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Tree Grows There

One of my favorite websites (non-political) is a place called "Forgotten NY." Lots of explorations of dark and crumbling places in this city that never sleeps or remembers any of her history at all. The people who run the site go all over the five boroughs looking for remnants of the older city, no matter how old or obscure or tiny.

Tear it down! Build a newer and better and shinier and more expensive one!

I guess it's something of a sore subject for me right now because the theater near where I work is at 46th & 8th, the northeast corner of which once sported one of the great bars of all time: McHale's, featured in the monster Wesley Snipes/Woody Harrelson hit movie "Money Train." Now, instead of a warm, noisy and welcoming bar with pretty waitresses serving the best hamburger in New York City to hungry stagehands, performers and other assorted theater folk, that same corner now has the sleek, cold, glass-paned lobby manned by a scowling security guard of a luxury residential building that is so pretentious the people who built it don't think a mere street address is sufficient. They actually gave it a name: Platinum. It is not a place for rowdies and the common folk, I assure you. This lobby is a gatehouse intended to present to the street the exact income level desired for anyone to even enter. It, naturally, makes me want to camp out in front on the sidewalk (roughly where my favorite booth used to be at McHale's), eat my lunch and smile at the people coming and going.

You see, it's always about class with me. At least when the revolution begins, this building will at least keep the rich fucks corraled and easier to find.

Anyway, I've watched this shiny concrete and steel ugliness rise up over Hell's Kitchen for the last three years and I've resented every foot of its ascent. Now, for the last few months, I've endured seeing the old low-rise buildings (3 & 4-story) on the corner next to my theater and directly across the street from this futuristic architectural atrocity being razed, presumably for yet another luxury high-rise with another austere sidewalk presentation that will naturally rob this neighborhood of even more street-level vitality. I resent it and it makes me pine for an older New York City, one that I can see in little snippets and flashes.

Another interesting and colorful part of New York City is yet again in danger of being paved over to build something safe for the wealthy to enjoy a Disney-fied city and it's history forgotten.

Well, Forgotten NY's latest spread is about Smith Street in Brooklyn. Those of you who have known me for a long time will know that I used to live there and probably visited me there. For those of you who don't know, I got priced out of the place as the yuppies and hipster parents invaded and rents skyrocketed. I sometimes go back just to walk around, but the place hardly looks the same anymore.

The link is here. See pics of where I used to live and then stay at the website for a while and explore other places.

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