Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Big Shrill

I moved to Loisaida in 1978 because it was hidden from mainstream New York, abandoned by ownership, undiscovered by commerce. The storefronts that weren't lived in were empty, aside from a very few store survivors from the past. No one thought the lack of commerce was a problem. To the contrary, anarchists railed against the threat of gentrification, although their target was the police, go figure.

Today the community board worries about filling every storefront as if the welfare of landlords, who most benefit from commercial rents, were a matter of public community concern. And what moves community activists today is SantaCon, as if a single day of silliness merited anyone's trouble. SantaCon is good for a laugh, but at least the Santas don't throw eggs as the kids used to decades ago on Halloween. This neighborhood sounds like the Upper East Side complaining about an ethnic parade down 5th Avenue.

The sign that the LES is truly gone and buried is this character of its activism. When did the defense of anarchy and difference turn into defending middle-class vaules of quiet, normality and the absence of disruption?