Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What will a return to 1970s NYC be like?: "Well find out when we get there"

Over at the Village Voice, Roy Edroso responds to Nick Paumgarten's New Yorker essay on Wall Street's collapse and a possible return to the 1970s NYC:

Paumgarten avoids going all the way with this, suggesting that we can have the sweet side of the 70s cup without tasting the bitter. The collapse has unloosed something in him; for a long time such as he could not mention New York's bankrupt days without a show of revulsion, as old-world types could not mention the devil without crossing themselves. But the Wall Street debacle tells him that those prayerful gestures have come to naught: the bubble's burst and the wolf is at the door. Now he can admit that there was something cool about those old days, and he can even be glib about them.
But when that 70s show really goes into re-runs, we won't be able to edit out the unfunny bloopers. There was never a chance that we'd get cheaper rents without a crash, and as of now the market fluctuations are only ruffling the high end of the market. We're a long way from the vintage conditions of that last renaissance. Before you can have the Ramones, you have to have rehearsal spaces that even glue-sniffing slackers can afford. Before you can have Taxi Driver, you have to have urban moonscapes that don't need to be built by film crews. And you only get those in the wake of real catastrophe.

Joy-popping the 70s is a fun pastime, but be not deceived: playful speculation is nothing like the real thing. We remember fondly our $125-a-month railroad flat in a forsaken neighborhood called the East Village, and the good times we had there. We also remember nightly gunfire, mugger money, and Etan Patz. Are we willing to accept one to get the other? It's not worth wondering about: we'll find out when we get there.

[Photo of 216 E. 7th St. in 1979 by Marlis Momber.]

Bonus: Are you ready for 1974 again?

And! If you don't have time to watch all of the 39 Death Wish movies, let's just get to it:


Anonymous said...

Best. Movies. Ever. It's important not to romanticize what, for many people, was a situation they wanted to escape.

However, I must say I detest what these hipsters and yuppies have done to my city.

Anonymous said...

There are 39 Death Wish movies?

You should come to the Gawker's commenter's meet-up tonight, and perhaps pull a deathwish (not literally-- figuratively, via words) on them tomorrow, in your blog.