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when ambience attacks!

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Bushwick is big (it’s like saying “the Village”). It’s also notoriously
bad. Bushwick suffered the worst of the rioting that struck New York in
the summer of 1977. The area is home to a mostly poor Hispanic and
African-American population, though there are pockets of
gentrification. My corner of the neighborhood, a loft district that the
city is trying to re-brand as the “East Williamsburg Industrial Park,”
mostly warehouses kids just out of art school. It’s a bleak,
rubble-strewn landscape pocked by cement factories and hemmed in by
towering projects. When I moved to the neighborhood, some of my friends
were spooked by the blight, but I only saw the beauty. This is what
Soho in the early seventies or Tribeca in the early eighties must have
felt like, I thought. When I came to New York almost twenty years ago,
those places had been overrun. But when I got to Bushwick, I knew I had
finally found the New York I was searching for—a scrappy loft
neighborhood full of young bohemians camping in their studios. This was
the pre-gentrified New York I wanted to be a part of.


The real drama of the attack was its aftermath. Within 24 hours of my release from the hospital, I made it back to San Francisco, where I grew up; within 48 hours, I decided to quit my job and move back there; and by the end of the week, it was done: I had given notice to my landlord, quit my job, and asked my girlfriend to move in with me. It all made perfect sense to me, a row of falling dominoes. The only thing I couldn’t understand was why everyone kept acting like I had post-traumatic stress disorder. “Only a flesh wound!” I joked. Now I understand, because in retrospect, I realize that maybe I do have a touch of PTSD. I’m not quite the same person I was. Blight, graffiti, empty buildings—the signifiers of every artsy New York neighborhood for the last 40 years—have lost the romantic appeal they once held. I carry a knife now, a small utility blade that I picked up at the hardware store. And when friends of mine get nostalgic for the bad old days, when lofts were cheap and New York was edgy, I tell them that it’s all still there, if you know where to look.

Morality tales from the gentrifying fringe, ah. Boy goes in search of reality, and reality bites him on the ass. I mean, we shouldn’t laugh, but he’s the one who put the damn thing in the magazine, copped to something obvious and ridiculous at once.

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 15, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Posted in distraction

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