Thursday, December 2, 2010

NYC: The Dignified East Village

I didn't really take many pics of the East Village where I was staying - Walking around the East Village, to me was like walking through a mine field - I never knew when I was going to come up on a memory.

There was the night I was walking back from Whole Foods (I know! A Whole Foods on Houston Street! Crazy, right?) And I made a right, and there it was:

The building I had rented a studio in when I was 19. The same apartment I retreated back to after my cousins wedding.

The same apartment I was in  on that awful, awful freezing cold day.  My mother came to visit, and little did I know the phone was wonky- for whatever reason the incoming calls were not ringing; the building had no intercom. The only way to get into the building was to call the tenant and they would come down and let you in.

I assumed My Mother had a change of plans. I tried calling her at home, and there was no answer.

A few hours later, My Mother called me crying. Crying because she had been out in the cold running back and forth to a pay phone as well as waiting outside of the building in hopes that someone would come down. So, my poor cancer riddled Mother had been outside FREEZING.

I know, why didn't I go down just to check? Who the hell knows. I was 19. I was probably busy reading a magazine or something equally important.

I still shudder about that memory. My mood that night shifted considerably - my walk from Whole Foods went from elation and awe to one of deep sadness in a nano-second.

I realized soon enough that almost every block had a memory.  Flashes of memories were assaulting me at every turn. And most, were not happy memories. I thought about the girl I was then. I thought about how damn YOUNG I was, and really, only how the young could go through those kinds of life experiences and not fall apart.

On the real estate upside, the East Village really is about Avenues A, B, and C. That's it. You walk around and the area is just brimming with activity and people - families, young couples, older people - it's vibrant. The shops, boutiques, the restaurants - it's very much hipster-ville - with MONEY, or those who are your run of the mill  pretenders to the throne.

In the meantime, it appears that 1st 2nd and 3rd Avenue are the dregs.

I almost feel like one of "them" as I attempt to run to the park with my dog; Back in the day I would have been heckled for being one of "them"  - the establishment, the yuppie, the monied hipsters, whatever you want to call the mainstream.

Now, it seems I fit right in.

There are those that lament the loss of the down and dirty dangerous days of the East Village; I for one, am not one of them. There is nothing romantic about people so down on their luck resorting to petty crime (notice I didn't say just crime - as in the crime world, just like the straight world, there are different levels to aspire to..) There is nothing romantic about 3rd and 4th generation welfare recipients, there is nothing romantic about buildings with squatters with no plumbing and no heat. There is nothing romantic about fearing for your life as you walk home.

Show me someone who romanticizes those days and I'll show you someone who is emotionally stunted.

Veselka's - a favorite when you're young and broke.
Not the Veselka's of my youth.
Veselka's got a SERIOUS face lift
And I say, good for Veselka's!

They have erected a brand spanking new police station on Avenue C - pretty snazzy, right?

Down the street from the police station is a new, well designed public housing building that looks like it would put dignity back into the lives of those that need it. It's about time they changed the aesthetic of these buildings which are homes to families who need a roof over their head - whether due to financial, physical or mental limitations, there is one thing we all need as humans: dignity.

No comments:

Post a Comment