comment in response to Roger Cohen’s NYTimes op-ed piece:
re: changing NYC:
I grew up in NYC, upper west side, late 60s-70s; the neighborhood was my larger family: In almost every store, I was known by name; when there were anniversaries there would be parties and the patrons would celebrate together, along with other local store owners. And as someone else mentioned, there were artists everywhere; I could always hear music being sung and played in the corridors of buildings; food was diverse and authentic, made with PRIDE, not homogenized and plasticized, never touched by human hands.
Everyone in the place knew their products, and you could usually get informed advice about whatever their specialty was, from cameras to books to buttons to cabbage.
When I was growing up in the final days of that city that once was, a child could have visions of becoming their own business owner someday, opening a store or restaurant, contributing to the neighborhood, knowing the people. It was also possible to live a decent life working part-time and being dedicated to art for the rest.
My family moved to Canada for 7 years, came back, and by the late 80s the whole neighborhood had changed, as had much of America.
Nowadays in most stores, nobody knows anything and nobody cares, and why should they? They’re just workers in faceless corporate chains who sell heaps of junk, the same junk on every block, in every city in every state across this nation. Maybe people can aspire to become a manager of one of these chain boxes, but never their own boss.
And as for artists and musicians, well…sure, there’s Brooklyn, and I’m a convert.
Let’s not mistake sweatshops for independently owned businesses; the two are not necessarily linked. And don’t forget about all the sweatshops that produce all that crap sold for next to nothing of its real value in this McDonald’s Wal-mart nation.
I currently reside in a city where the only fabric store for miles and miles is Joanne’s. If that corporate interest decides not to carry it, not to sponsor it, not to choose it, I can’t get it, and it may as well not exist, which affects me as well as those who design and produce.
When I get off that bus in NYC, my first stroll is always up those gorgeous blocks in what’s left of that garment district. The diversity and range is astounding, and truly reflects what is possible when originality is allowed and encouraged to flourish.
What a strange thing we have devised and the world seems to be gobbling up. What a sterile world we are creating. Aliens anyone?