Wednesday, November 17, 2010

From Rock n' Roll Tribe to Rock n' Roll Mayor

Home Depot, Manhattan
I have been enjoying, a social network for veteran rockers. It has smaller groups, discussions, it's own mail. The people on this social network are very knowledgable and involved. I asked for help in composing a sleazy playlist, and have received about 20 replies. Every time I want to think the discussion is over, someone has uploaded an mp3 or youtube for a song. If you love rock, I strongly encourage you to join.

One of the discussions is whether New York City is cool anymore. I think the cool factor has severely declined under the leadership of Michael Bloomberg. Since he's started, he's done is best to move in people like him: the very rich. This has not only driven out the middle class, but the artists and musicians as well.

I am not going to lie and say I haven't enjoyed a few things since Bloomberg has been in office. When I lived on the Lower East Side in the early-mid 90s, there were no stores there, except for a few drug fronts. When you needed something, you had to leave the neighborhood. Now there are plenty of stores, restaurants and bars. The chocolate and wine bar seems a little swank for me, but I guess a lot of the customers live in the neighborhood. It must be what people who pay $2000 and upward for a walkup that is constantly filled with grit from the traffic on the Williamsburgh Bridge like. At least it's in Manhattan.

NYC 1980 and 1972. By Arlene Gottfried.
From New York Magazine.
Other than some new stores and more people to spend money on them, things have gone  downhill. The interesting people that these rich people wanted to rub shoulders with are gone, taking their "scene" with them. There are plenty of public arts projects that cost thousands of dollars, but they seem out of touch with the city or any deeper meaning or politics. People wonder why they are there. Probably the last great city art project was the dung thrown at a brick wall painted with Giuliani's face.  The air of lawlessness and Gotham craziness has been replaced with the air of homelessness, as spending has gone up on police protection, and gone down on keeping the insane institutionalized and properly medicated.

Mom and Pop stores are mostly gone, and have been replaced by mall stores, especially in Manhattan. It was okay to have a few of these mall stores in the city. Every once in a while, hitting "Home Depot" may be necessary. The Mom and pops gave the city a homey, neighborhoody, down-to-earth feel. They knew their customers and were stable in their community. Now nothing seems stable. Stores come and go every time the landlord feels he can raise the rent. And so do store owners and employees. This also takes the anchors out of the neighborhoods.

There is very little in the way of authentic New York neighborhoods anymore. Little Italy is probably about a block and a half now. Chinatown has expanded down the N,R, and Q lines into Brooklyn, and keeps moving that way. The East Village and much of the coolness of St. Mark's Pl. has moved over to Ave. B, but it is broken up at Clinton St. That is where the swanky places begin.

I could go on and on with examples, but the main answer is to elect a much cooler mayor for a few terms. Joey Ramone would have made a great choice. According to people who knew him, he could balance a budget. People would have recognized his name and elected him. You may think I am being funny, but I am dead serious. Rock n' roll is part of the establishment now, and I think the freethinking, nonjudgmental values of rock n' roll are more important than ever, and are more needed in New York City than ever. If you want proof that rock n' roll is establishment, I just saw a Disney film with my son in which the soundtrack was made up of AC/DC. You can't get more establishment than that. We're awakening kids to those values, and adults are enthusiastic about that.

There have been musicians in politics before, the main one I can think of being Alan Greenspan, who was a bebop guy. And there were lots of drugs in bebop bands. Though I don't think drug use (or not) has entered into New York City politics much.

A rock n' roll mayor is certainly what this city needs, as this city's character follows that of its mayor so closely. I hope someone will step up to the plate.

No comments:

Post a Comment