I think it's time to add a new category to Chickarina. I'm probably the last one to realize that I like blogging about two things: 1. my book and its attendant categories; and 2. NYC, specifically my neighborhood, aka the East Village, specifically the Bowery, aka the fastest gentrifying patch of real estate in the universe, aka a sort of pretty, sort of horrifying sort-of-quartier, sort-of-mall.
I tend to blog my NYC inspirations on my Tumblr blog in effort to keep this space sort of me/Girl's Guide-centered. But I can't do it anymore. So I'm adding an NYC category. Huge news, I know. I considered issuing a press release, but you know -- August, my people are all "out East."
Without further ado: Ew.
"The Bowery is what the Meatpacking District was three years ago...With the opening of new retail tenants in [nearby] Avalon Bay, the level of luxury is getting very high. Within the next six month to year, the neighborhood will look more like [the West Village.] Within two years you'll see that almost all the retail businesses there will have changed."
-- Some Cocky, Life-Ruining broker [Via Racked]
Can I say just a couple small things about this "Bowery" you may be hearing more about as it becomes really hip and cool and a great destination for all you jackassy unreformed fratboys and tourists tourists tourists looking for a fat slice of this chronicle of a louche life foretold?
As I've established I'm hardly an olde-timer here -- I've only put in 11 years on the Bowery, but in blog years, that's like two millennia.
Anyone legitimately complaining about the gentrification of the Bowery really needs to be over 40. I'm complaining about my quality of life now that the Berlin Wall-as-oceanliner is being erected a millimeter from my window, but this whining has nothing to with gentrification. Because I'm part of the gentrification of the East Village, and I know this. This was a safe block when I moved here in 1996. My cohort did not party 'til the sun came up with Joey Ramone. We did not shoot up in Tompkins Square or live in squats on Avenue D.
What we did was brave the exotic frontier of Avenue B where, next door to the farthest-east ATM in the city, which we thought made it badass, we caught the very tail end of Save the Robots' existence. We hung out with equally over-educated white kids at the Kiev, and considered Lakeside Lounge, Bar Thirteen and later, an "upscale" dive called Drinkland "our places."
My god Drinkland was a really ugly bar. It was like "Alice in Wonderland Bar Theme From a Kit You Buy at a Halloween Shop".
So this is what I'm saying: I am the gentrification. I own it. The gentrification happened for me and my ilk, as a service to us. So I can't complain (too loudly) about the hordes of drunken idiots hailing my cabs on Bowery and 2nd Avenue because I was just a stepping stone to making this their playground. I was them. Now I'm a young/old fart, but I used to be a young asshole, just like the young assholes who will definitely be stumbling out of the hotel next door in their ridiculous shoes and their flat-ironed hair and their over-gelled boyfriends (Confidential to twentysomething guys: The wet look is not working for you) when it opens next spring.
That doesn't make me like it any better. I can't set foot in the Meatpacking District like ever. I once attempted to go to a birthday party at the Gansevoort Hotel and I lost one of my nine lives trying to squeeze my way through the crowds. And to think, once upon a time, I worked there, in the Chelsea Market, and there wasn't a single place to get a drink after work besides the Red Light bar across the street which was a total fleabag. Ah, the bad ol' days. Which were like five minutes ago.