Thursday, August 18, 2005

LES: the more things change, hey, look who's playing at Pianos next week

So one week, the Lower East Side boldly moves into 1998 with the imminent opening of the nabe's first Starbucks, and the next, it reverts back to the 80s with a murder outside of Teany in broad daylight. I mean, talk about a juxtaposition - the "new" LES represented by gentle Moby's vegan teashop as backdrop for a senseless act of violence. And for once, the Post raises a pretty good question - what the hell is wrong with y'all (paraphrasing a bit here)?
Some people were in too big a hurry to walk around his body, she said - and just stepped over it.

"Some people noticed, gawking. A lot of people just stepped over," she said. "I asked the cops to tape the front of the restaurant because people were like, 'Can we get lattes?' We're like, 'No, you can't get anything.' People in New York just don't care."

Another Teany worker, Roger Peffley, said, 'He just fell on his back and blood was all over him. He yelled out, "Call an ambulance!"

"People were just walking by with their iPod headphones on. That was tripping me out, that they kept on walking."
Yeah, that would trip me out too. Seriously. I don't know if these passersby are the same ones threatening to move out because of the Starbucks at Delancey or the hotel on Orchard, but if they are, good riddance. I know New Yorkers take pride in being hard to ruffle but when someone's dying on the street, no one's handing out gold stars for being too cool for school. (Of course, this being the Post, it's very conceivable that they're simply exaggerating the general reaction to the incident, but hey, I never let facts get in the way of my righteous indignation).

The murder on Rivington, combined with the two girls speedballing to their death on Houston, essentially stamps the sell-by date on the Delancey Starbucks brouhaha (please note that I had the decency to not write "brew-haha"). Even though others were more concise and more thoughtful than I could ever be in asking the world wide interblogosphere to chill out a bit, I'm going to have the last word because, well, I started it.

As I said before, the impact of the Ubiquitous Green Awning of Doom is more symbolic than anything else at this point. The other day while I was running on Delancey, I passed by Burger King, McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins, KFC/Taco Bell, Children's Place, Duane Reade and Foot Locker. Did anyone threaten to move when any of these places opened in Delancey?

Plus, we're not talking about knocking down the Tenement Museum to make way for Wal-Mart. Their coffee may be crap but Starbucks is not Satan, at least by corporation standards.

If we are to draw any sort of conclusion from the murder outside Teany on Wednesday (and I concede, it's a bit silly), it's to be careful what you wish for. Nostalgia requires rose tinted glasses and we easily forget how horrible the past is. You want a cheap, rundown Lower East Side? Then you gotta take the violence and the drugs too. That's the thing with the good ol' days - we remember what we choose to remember.

While I admit that I would like the neighborhood to remain the way it is because I do like the energy, I realize this is New York and nothing ever stays the same. And a misguided attempt to preserve an arbitrary slice of time can result in Little Italy, a tacky tourist trap that pretends it's not just a street in Chinatown, cut off from the upwardly mobile Nolita. Nobody wants to be Little Italy, trust me.

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