New York – A Complicated Love Story
For years all anyone in New York talked about was how much it cost to buy an apartment here. And how would they ever pull off buying one?
Then the tides turned and now people are talking about how much they want to get out of New York and they want to do it before the housing market crashes.
Too expensive; ” Long Island City is now a million plus” is a constant complaint.
Brooklyn became the new Manhattan. Philly became the new Brooklyn and Manhatten became the new Dubai.
My lifelong love affair with New York, New York, the New York of Woody Allen in the 80’s and 90’s Nora Ephron’s New York, the city that didn’t sleep, started to diminish. “The battery of the world” started losing its charge.
It was/is too expensive. The traffic is horrendous. Neighborhoods are filled with empty storefronts. And the quaint neighborhood diner, pharmacy, bookstore, shoe repair, local restaurant, quirky shop are pretty much gone. Read Jerimiah Moss book and blog Vanishing New York and you will see.
Suddenly I had fallen out of love with the city that had been my faithful lover for decades. No matter what kind of mood I might be in or whatever was going on in my life, every day I would wake up and say “good morning New York – I am so lucky to live here.” I did. I didn’t say it every day. But I said it many and I thought it every day. And I have lived here on and off for thirty years. I have lived here single, sort of single, married, sort of married, then married again. I fell in and out of love with humans but through it all remained in love with New York.
If you let it, New York had a way of taking you by the hand and exposing you to things you never knew. A Ukranian Church, nestled up against a transvestite bar. A quirky gallery next to an authentic Greek Bakery. The Celestial beauty like The Cloisters and bucolic yet frenzied beauty like Central Park. And the stores – legendary. The food – the high and low – it had it all. Now it just seems to have the high.
New York educated you daily. It tickled your brain and alerted your senses. It made you want to be smarter, funnier and faster to keep up with it and its inhabitants. You had to have seen plays, read all the magazines and new books. Seen the latest foreign film and tried some new restaurant you could brag about or share with others.
Then one day that all changed. Broadway was reminiscent of Vegas, the skyline looked like Dubai and all the small charming places were gone and most of the legendary ones were sold off for the land and replaced with yet another global architect’s version of his penis in our skyline.
Every neighborhood suddenly looked the same, empty building, empty building, CVS, Chase bank, Chipotle, empty building, Starbucks.
Of course, it’s not entirely the city’s fault, blame it on Amazon, the demise of the book culture and the rise of streaming. Blame it on Steve Jobs. Blame it on whatever or whoever you want but it broke a lot of hearts and suddenly more people were leaving than arriving.
Young people can’t afford to come, and people of all ages don’t really want to stay.
Glenn told me I was just cranky. So, I found a ton of people who agreed with me. Nothing feeds crankiness like other cranks reinforcing your position.
But, then last week I had one of those old-fashioned New York weeks that made me suddenly look at my city with goo- goo eyes again.
It started the day I had lunch with my friend Arnold Margolin. No. No. No. You know it started the night before when we attended a reading of a wonderful new play Arnold has written called The Rock Island Line.
The rehearsal room in Times Square was packed; everyone was laughing or on the edge of their seats. Arnold is in his 80’s! It was so wonderful to be entertained and in a room of play lovers, who liked going to a reading. It didn’t need the second cast of Cirque de Soleil doing tricks and sets that blew up during the final act.
We sat enraptured listening to words come out of actor’s mouths, actors who were just sitting in chairs. Suddenly I felt like it was 1989. I left exhilarated, both by the play and by the fact that at 80 plus Arnold sat down and wrote it.
Then the next day I had lunch with Arnold. I asked him if he wanted the usual or something fun. The usual being something really original like Pain Quotidian; easy as there is one on every other block.
Arnold wanted to go for fun. So I said, “meet me in Koreatown.” We went to a place called Jongro BBQ on the 2nd floor. It was filled with Koreans, always a good sign and it was really good. Now I think there was a better one across the street as when I got there and looked out the window I saw at least a hundred people in line. It looked like they were auditioning for the Korean version of The Voice. I went to get my phone to take a picture and within seconds they had disappeared inside. Arnold pointed out it was a restaurant too. It is called New Wonjo. The line seemed to move fast so you might want to try it.
After a lively couple hours talking about everything, we said good-bye and I took off to wander. I can’t tell you how long it has been since I wandered a neighborhood. But Korean Town has beauty bars and they have Korean beauty products. And I love those! And I was alone so I could go to as many as I wanted to.
But they also have really cute little coffee bars and pastry shops. And everything is written in Korean and nothing has been torn down and the bank is not Chase, it’s called The Bank of Hope. How fabulous is that? I was holding hands with New York again. And it felt really good.
To be Cont…..