Manhattan

Zeldman

When I moved to this teeming borough of painters, drunks, junkies, queers, nudie photographers, novelists, girlfriend-supported guitarists, bikers, drummers, sax players, gang members, and ad folk, I little imagined that it would one day be considered a safe, boring island of stockbrokers, playing straight man to Brooklyn’s hipster.


15 thoughts on “Manhattan”

  1. I remember going to Times Square as a kid (my Grandmother lived in Flushing) and seeing all of the many colorful characters that were there. It was both terrifying and exciting at the same time. Going back as an adult I’m always so amazed how much it has changed and been made (relatively) squeaky clean. Whenever I watch the film Taxi Driver I’m reminded of the NY I once knew.

  2. I’ll have you know that the shootout scammers who hand out the free cd’s in Times Square are back at the spot and probably have the same machineguns to fire at the crowds in case you feel the need for some action.

  3. True words indeed, I remember visiting for the first time in 1980 staying on Warren St which resembled a wind swept ghost town covered is trash – I loved it. It felt edgy and scary – I was relieved to get back home in one piece. London is now a much edgier town to live in.

  4. I lived in the Village for four years when it was just the way you described it. I remember visiting friends on 14th St, I think between A and B. It was a summer midnight and we sat out on the stoop and watched a dancer friend do an impromptu performance for us, leaping, gliding, from building to steps to nearly empty street. Everyone was an aspiring something. I hadn’t a penny; I once made a delivery of dark bread from the Ukrainian bakery a few doors down to the kosher dairy luncheonette and they served me a free but lavish bowl of gloriously purple borscht topped with a swirl of sour cream.

    But Manhattan wasn’t just the moment you were in. I felt the layers of history beneath me, too. Not just the people who’d inhabited those tenements but the smoky beatnik coffeehouses, autographed photos of stars from the fifties in old barbershops, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett’s voices floating out from the Italian shops, the ache of my relatives saying goodbyes in WW II, my grandmother born on Houston Street walking the same cobbled side streets I walked—though her streets were filled with horses and wagons, a grandfather arriving from his bricklaying Irish Philly home to join the auxiliary Air Force in WW I out on the Island , the people who died making the magnificent buildings and bridges, my great great great grand uncle arriving in a clipper ship (or so I’ve been told) around 1840. All of us walking the same streets, lined with most of the same buildings, thinking the same thoughts about what our lives would be…something better, richer. I’ve written this before and probably will again: I visit youtube now and again to watch the opening of “Manhattan,” laugh at that romanticism and nostalgia that I share with Woody the narrator, and then cry, every time, as the music soars and the fireworks explode, longing for that place that I can’t return to because it really isn’t there anymore.

  5. Brooklyn was always hip. New York is New York. (I can’t vouch for Staten Island, though. The kids there didn’t wear shoes until they started high school.) ;)
    I grew up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and trucked an hour on the subway every day to Stuyvesant High School when it was still on 1st Ave and 15th Street.
    No transition – all of a piece.

  6. I’ve not been able to sleep of late. My flat gets rather warm at night and I’m constantly having surreal dreams based on the days events and wild imaginations.

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