Wednesday, May 7, 2008

These Walls are Paper Thin and Everyone Uses This Lyric as a Reference

There is a profile today on the New York Times' webpage of the infamous McKibbin lofts, which are just 2 blocks from my own loft. My first thought is: why doesn't the Times profile me and my friends? Lousy McKibbin lofts getting all the glory.

It's fun to read about a place that you are familiar with, and this piece is no exception. From the rooms with no doors, to the peeing in the hallway, to the bedbugs, McKibbin is there in all it's glory. The article strikes that important "this is disgusting but I'm kind of envious" tone that is so important for the Times' sophisticated, but also nostalgic, readership. The author, Cara Buckley, writes,

"After the honeymoon stage comes denial when, say, one gets woken up by someone’s band at 3 a.m. or mugged on one of the tough surrounding streets. Next comes anger, usually after someone hurls a 40-ounce beer bottle from the roof and then urinates outside your door. Then comes acceptance and, finally, departure."

This article also falls prey to unnecessary hyperbole. Saying that these lofts "could have been Greenwich Village 60 years ago, or SoHo 30 years ago, or the East Village 10 years ago" is fun to read, but it's a bit of a stretch. If Kings County [the bar in which I overheard the bartender concernedly ask a sobbing woman, "do you need another drink?"] or The Wreck Room become this generation's The Bitter End, I'll eat my shoe. That's not to say there's not a lot going on. There is, clearly, and a lot of it is great, but the changes in New York City and society as a whole over the past 40 years render any analogies to the 60s art scene useless.

One thing that I found interesting about this piece is that it failed to mention anything about the new upscale pizza shop or the 3 [I believe] new storefronts on Bogart St., which, when finished, will complete the transformation of Bogart between Seigel and Moore to a real live Main Street. The arrival of those storefronts cement what everyone knows: the area is gentrifying very quickly and with no end in sight.

This isn't the first profile of the neighborhood, nor will it be the last. There are fun to read, and this one gets a fair amount right, without too much condescension on the one hand, or romanticizing on the other. I'll leave on a quote that I think sums up the area nicely, if again, a bit hyperbolically, "It's insane. It's just insane."