We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, January 20. 2015
A number of people, mostly born-and-bred New Yawkers, have recently been suggesting to me that New York is in decline. With Mayor Bill, I have a hard time refuting this. On the other hand, their 'evidence' is a host of articles and commentary about the closing of this deli or that dry cleaner, some other diner, or the changing cultural makeup of some community which they'd prefer never change.
"That deli was iconic, how horrible!" "Landlords forced them out by raising rents!" Oh the horror! To me, New York is cool because it doesn't stay the same.
Face it, who wants it to stay the same? Sure I love Carnegie Deli and Katz'. If they closed tomorrow, sad as I'd be, something else would come along. Jack Dempsey's was gone long before I arrived in 1985, should I regret it's passing (I'm sure many did)? Though I haven't been in McSorley's since our hike last fall, and only to use their restroom, I admit I'd fight tooth and nail to keep it open...though probably not. Better to have one last beer and let the past go, if I must.
Bond's is a great example of the idea that New York is improving rather than getting worse. I've eaten at Bond 45 a few times. The food is good, though I consider it comfort food. Still, for a business or friendly lunch in the heart of Times Square it's good to know there is a reliable and reasonable place to eat.
Even so, isn't it lamentable that Bond's is gone? Sort've. I mean, the clothing store and "international casino" are long gone. So is the concert venue, which was iconic because of The Clash in 1981. Well, really iconic because those 'greedy' concert promoters sought to fill overwhelming demand to see a red-hot band (everyone won in that transaction, if I remember correctly...fans like my brother-in-law got to say they 'were there', promoters made some good coin, Bond's made a pretty penny, and The Clash got their cut and made a name for themselves - wait, where was the "greed" again?)
I am reminded of a fellow at a recent event I attended for my alma mater, Syracuse University. This schmuck, after hearing of all the very positive changes the university was implementing, stood up and asked "But what are you doing to preserve traditions, places, and buildings from my past?" The chancellor gave a good, pat answer. As we walked out, I commented to my wife "I don't think that question has any meaning to me. I wonder how someone who graduated in 1880 would feel if he walked the campus today? Would he wish it looked and felt exactly the way it did in 1880, or are students better having things which suit them in this day and age?"
I love standing on campus, making note of the changes, and then commenting about what I did in that building, or how I used to sled down that hill, or how we once sneaked chickens into Bird Library (a feat unlikely to ever be duplicated). The past is the past, and keeping a building around simply because it's always been there isn't a winning idea anymore than it is for me to continue to wish I could still be on the Quad throwing a football.
Progress is painful, especially on our emotional ties to the past. But progress is a net positive, and we shouldn't simply let the past get in the way of progress. Even if it is because of some 'greedy' landlord in a city that epitomizes (or used to) progress. I like the fact I saw several games in the old Yankee Stadium or even Shea Stadium. But the new stadiums are still a great place to see a game, regardless of their limited history.
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I would consider the loss of the old Penn Station to be terrible.
There is no "progress," - only change. My opinion...
Penn Station was long gone by the time I got here, but I'd agree. Some things are nice to keep around, and certainly that was one building which probably could have been saved, somehow.
Not all change is progress. But progress is a subjective term, so I'll stick with it as it pertains to New York. The city is vastly improved over the model I was utilizing in the 80's and 90's.
Sure, I miss Famous Ray's Pizza. I miss Original Ray's, too. I miss Famous Original Ray's. But New York pizza is still better than any other pizza I've had, even if it's not at one of the old haunts.
I don't want to live anywhere, and especially not New York, if everything is as it was 20 years ago.
I used to vacation in a town in the mountains of Pennsylvania. It was a tiny little place, and nothing much changed there. One ice cream shop, one bar, one store. It was fun to visit once a year. I can't imagine ever living there. As far as I know, and I haven't been there in 7 years, nothing has changed since my last visit. There is a charm, no doubt.
The college example changes a bit when William & Mary is one's alma mater.
Memory misrepresents. *Ye Good Olde Dayes weren't, I know.
*I am aware the actual letter was a thorn, not a "y" and pronounced "th." Small joke on my part. Ha ha.
Ah, the conceit of NY, NY. As if it, is the only arbiter of worrisome change.
The majority of the country, from that clichéd New Yorker cover, not important. Though perhaps, nowadays that may be sadly true.
XRay - just look at an electoral map from the recent election to see how important the rest of the country is. Tough to choke down, from a New Yawker's point of view, perhaps.
I'm not sure it's the conceit of NY, NY (though this certainly exists, and I've got plenty of examples of it) as an arbiter of change. My mother tends to say the same things about our old hometown.
Like my examples of things I miss in "old" New York, I miss many things from my old hometown which are no longer there. I don't lament them, however. It's just part of growing up.
I've never been a nostalgic. A bit of a romantic of course as most men and no women ever are. I never regret a lost business or a torn down building because what replaces them is wanted and hopefully successful. I don't get historical (hysterical?) societies. The past is past. Let it go.
I've seen many perfectly functional buildings razed or abandoned for reasons unknown. My suspicion is a tax code and credits for depreciation. Decades ago in Germany we ate in a building that was 400+ years old. It wasn't preserved because of law that I know of. I believe it still stood because it was sound and useful.
As for businesses - if they're not profitable the market should govern and they should go out.
Personally I don't throw things out because they're old and I'm tired of them. Doing so is wasteful and indicates a short attention span; an immaturity if you will.
Have you ever noticed that the deaths of great people are mentioned in the newspapers, but almost never their births?
"I attended Warren G. Harding High School where we learned about our glorious past, our bright future and the crummy now."
A great line from the movie Atlantic City:
Lou: You should have seen the Atlantic Ocean back then.