For decades the streets of Greenwich Village beat as the counterculture heart of American life. From Bob Dylan and Jack Kerouac to the anonymous thousands fresh off the bus from Middle America, it has provided a sanctuary for the alternative and outcast or those simply fleeing a suburban childhood.The nominal occasion for this journalistic eulogy is the release of "The Ballad of Greenwich Village," a documentary (which I haven't seen yet) apparently consisting of a bunch of elderly ex-bohemians pissing and moaning about the lost glories of the old Village, now that it has become one of the most desirable (and expensive) residential neighborhoods in the City.
No longer. America's bohemian pulse has faded. Assailed by sky-high rents, chain stores and hyper-expensive eateries, Greenwich Village is starting to look more Wall Street than Beat Street. Last week a headline in the Village Voice, New York's venerable alternative newspaper, said simply: 'The Village is Dying'.
(That *all* of the celebrity ex-bohemians referenced in the article could still *easily* afford to live here if they chose may or may not be mentioned; as I said, I haven't seen it. Tim Robbins, one of the key interviewees, certainly still lives here and is in fact a neighbor of ours; I see him every now and then on the street.)
Things must have been so much nicer here when the neighborhood was mostly a seedy, inexpensive shithole. You know, poor people are so much more authentic.
Believe me, I'm not thrilled with the displacement of the mom-and-pop stores on Bleecker Street by high-end fashion boutiques catering to rich Eurotrash and Japanese tourists (Marc Jacobs, I'm looking at you.)
Given a choice between the condition this neighborhood was in during the 1970s, pre-landmarking (homes renovated during this period bear a striking resemblance to Fort Knox) and today, I'll take the Starbucks and the high-end restaurants over squalor every time, thanks very much.
And by the way, y'all: the Village hasn't been a Bohemian Paradise for at least 25 years now, maybe longer. Where the hell have you been?
It's just absolute genius that the author of the article in the Guardian quotes opinion from the Village Voice, by the way. Whiny, irrelevant and firmly stuck in the past, virtually no one writing in the Voice has had anything original or interesting to say in years. It's the perfect source for an article about faded glory.
Artists and musicians are going to live where the rents are cheap; it has been ever thus. If you want to find a colony of hipsters in Metro NYC these days, try one of the yet-to-be-gentrified neighborhoods in Brooklyn or Queens (our money is on Greenpoint as the next Willamsburg, which enjoyed a brief vogue as the Next New Greenwich Village before it, um, got too expensive.)