The Final Anticipated Blow

As Gawker noted today, the opening of Starbucks on Allen and Delancey signals that the turf and culture war for the soul and space of the Lower East Side is now officially over. Time for Kaddish, Allen Ginsberg style. For though the world has not ended, Downtown has. The yuppies and the hipsters have won. The neighborhood that served as the cradle of Jewish American life, the Proletariat, and was an urban American Bohemia, is no longer just occupied territory, but has been annexed by Uptown and the otherwise well-heeled (vintage, of course), whether earned or parentally subsidized.
It has been almost twenty years since punk rock broke out on the Lower East Side in defiance of uptown wealth and exclusivity. Now CBGB’s has been served eviction papers. It’s been forty-three years since the working-class residents of this “slum” of a neighborhood lined up behind Jane Jacobs to prevent its bulldozing. Rather, it was accomplished by demolishing one tenement building at a time.
There was no need to rush.
And now it is theirs.
Why mourn? Nobody died. Just pour a little Slivovitz into your $5 frappuccino, and make a l’chaim.
Or just try to avoid passing or even looking at that corner.

6 thoughts on “The Final Anticipated Blow

  1. Real estate developers are certainly the evil of our generation. They are today’s Haman. What’s going on the Lower East Side is an international phenomenon. I’m writing from Sydney Australia, and here over the last 15 years all the cool inner-city bohemian / alternative areas have been shifting away to a Yuppie playground.
    Artists, bohemians, political activists and fringe dwellers moved into these areas when rent was cheap. They nurtured communities that were colourful and abounding in character. But this only served to make them appealing to the more broad minded Yuppies who are always looking for the new cool.
    Particularly when it happens to an area like the LES – which has had a MASSIVE influence on culture INTERNATIONALLY – it is really sad.
    Isn’t there a way for counter-cultures to somehow secure these areas!? Aren’t there areas in European cities where the city council has bended to pressure and just given whole blocks of empty buildings to Squatters and community / political groups?
    What about New York’s famous rent control?
    In the meantime, it’s “Yisgadal Yisgadesh Shmay Rabba…”

  2. you mean we won?! awesome! go hipsters!
    i’d like to thank heeb and everyone else who made this possible.
    now if you’ll excuse me, i need to go get my mullet touched up…

  3. … and those tenements dated back to…. when? The Dutch?
    Fat chance.
    The tenements of the lower East Side – or anywhere in Manhattan – were not built on virgin soil. Tenements are high density construction, and replace private houses, stables, carriage houses, abandoned mills, etc.
    Cities reinvent themselves. This is not a tragedy, it is a beautiful, kaleidoscopic, living rhythm.
    That’s why the archeologists look for Tels = layer upon reinvented layer of a city.
    That’s why the Jerusalem City Hall buildings that I helped design as a new oleh is built over the remains of a Crusader fortress.
    Let the scene move to – and revive – Dumby, Inwood, or other neighborhoods.
    And the Jewish angle? Any Jew who expects permanance in the diaspora is a fool – and doubly foolish to expect anything but fragments of ethnic Jewishness to survive in New York, or in American culture.

  4. oh, whatever. that spot used to be a burger king for the longest time, then a mcdonalds. the heart of the jewish les is down a bunch of blocks, and there’s still fresh pickles being sold there.
    enough nostalgia for a place you never lived, but heard was cool before you got there.

  5. “It has been almost twenty years since punk rock broke out on the Lower East Side in defiance of uptown wealth and exclusivity.”
    Not quite. It started in Forest Hills, Queens (a fairly well-off neighborhood), in defiance of boring, soft, self-indulgent music.
    “Now CBGB’s has been served eviction papers.”
    What could be more against the spirit of punk than trying to save an institution that hasn’t brought forth anything vital, original or exciting in over 20 years?

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