Ya know, people complain a lot about how much their neighborhood has changed. From San Francisco’s Mission District, to The Marigny to my own East Village, gentrification has altered the face of many cities. It’s most pronounced on a Friday or Saturday night, when these areas become “destination neighborhoods” for mobs of marauding hipsters, hell bent on finding the hottest watering hole. Or artisanal bitters. Ahem.
An article on Papermag.com, “Why There’s No Better Time to Party in New York Than Now,” follows only a few weeks behind Ada Calhoun’s piece about why your city may be gone but it’s still there for those who came after you. Both reenforce the idea that if you’re over going out, of course it was better “back when.” I was one of those people out on the sidewalks last night. I was looking for cheap beer instead of artisanal bitters, but hey, I was out! Because New York is definitely not over!
Anyway, this is what I was thinking about this morning when I went to the local bodega for my usual, egg and cheese with avocado on a croissant, which, bee-tee-dubs, the guy behind the counter knows I want before I even open my mouth. It was a beautiful fall day here in Manhattan, leather weather, I like to say, and as I walked to the bodega and back, the people I passed on the street were anything but marauding mobs of hipsters. They were pretty much everything but. Young and old, speaking a dozen different languages, pushing their shopping wheelies, carrying their dry cleaning, holding their kids’ hands. The nighttime may be for the fun-loving and, perhaps primarily, the young, but the mornings are definitely for the locals. Who, from the look of things, haven’t changed all that much.
Which brings me to my fabulously talented friends! Given my little morning reverie, I thought I’d spotlight two of my oldest friends.
Amy Shapiro and I go way back, all the way back to The Deviant Playground, still one of the best parties I’ve ever attended. She’s lived on the Lower East Side all this time and is one of the last Manhattan hold-outs. Amy’s an artist in many mediums; I was especially moved by her performance piece reliving the trauma of 9/11. She’s hung from the ceiling as a bat, been the many-breasted Artemis, acted in a serial play and painted pieces for Art Around the Park. She came with me to Burning Man in 2003 and created big art installations in subsequent years. Her current project is “Medical Panoramas,” a photo project “about being a cancer survivor and waiting to see the never-ending stream of doctors.” I’m very much looking forward to the eventual gallery showing! And having Thanksgiving dinner at her place!
I met Edie Winograde in the early ’90s, when I was working at New York Press and she was pursuing an MFA at SVA. She became part of my Downtown Beirut crew: Birthday Bar Crawls, pitchers at Sidewalk, those “Best Of” parties in the Puck Building. It’s the time that I’m referring to whenever I say “those were the days.” She told me about Burning Man a bunch of times but I never listened to her. She went back in the way early days and got to say, “I told you so” when I finally did. While at UC Santa Cruz, she was friends with the boys of Camper Van Beethoven and photographed them. A few weeks ago, she posted, “I contributed a bunch of my old 35mm photographs for illustrating the 1980’s in Santa Cruz in the documentary film Get Off This about David Lowery and the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven” with a link to the Blurb book she created from the photos, “We Are The Baddest: Santa Cruz and CVB in the 80s.” The gallery shows of her work are mostly giant prints of sweeping vistas. Her “Sight Seen” series “depicts juxtapositions of the present and the past in the experience of iconic landscapes.” She used to turn an entire room into a camera obscura. I love her shots of Civil War re-enactments. And I wish she didn’t live so far away!