I Cry For My City
I walk down Bleecker street, the hub of my West Village neighborhood, and I see the FOR RENT signs, and the boarded up windows. My favorite “go to” store that carried everything from paper clips to Christmas ornaments, and the million things one thinks of during the day, is closed. I’d love to get a mani-pedi, but that salon has also closed, as have several of my favorite restaurants. Closed…not for the pandemic crisis, but closed for good, never to reopen. Mind you, many of those stores have had FOR RENT signs up before Covid, thanks to high rents, leading to stores stocked with expensive merchandise that most neighborhood residents, struggling with their own high rents, can’t afford.
I spent my adolescence and young adulthood hanging out in the Village, in the coffeehouses, the bars where the painters and poets hung out, the movie houses, and any club that would let me play guitar and sing. I’ve lived here for 35 years. I’ve mourned the changes in my neighborhood for a long while. Artists, writers and any but the most successful performers can no longer afford to live here, our “Mom and Pop” shops, where you could always pick up a birthday present, are long gone, and we’ve become a suburb of Wall St. We’re part of Mike Bloomberg’s gated community of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn (yes, I know he gave $100K for Democrats to win Florida, but he changed my city for the worse.). Yes, we have pocket parks and bike lanes, but we’re missing a middle class, and the diversity that makes this city and this neighborhood unique.
I’m hoping that maybe, just maybe, when this pandemic ends, whenever that is, that my neighborhood will not just revive, but have room for lower rent tenants, restaurants and stores, instead of tax write-off empty sites for wealthy landlords. I hope cluttered antique stores will return to Bleecker Street, and neighborhood-friendly restaurants and bars will be available to residents who want to hang out with neighbors and friends, without incurring the national debt.
To paraphrase someone I don’t want to paraphrase: LET’S MAKE MY CITY GREAT AGAIN!