This story on "freegans" in the New York Times (coupled with the reappearance of the Summer of Love in fashion - what AGAIN?) got me to thinkin' about the good ole days when it was hip to be poor. Yes, you can file this under "Old Cranky Ex-New Yorker Pines for Syringe-Strewn Sidewalks of Yesteryear" but the fact remains it was a helluva lot easier to live in New York when it was bankrupt. Like these new young "freegans" from the Times story today, eveyone I knew furnished their apartments with free stuff scavanged from the street. But who knew that dumpster diving and Manson Family Chic would capture the imaginations of young people today? There is hope for the world!
Sure life in NYC way back when could be harsh but...that's why God invented heroin! Well, that was the drug of choice for some (mostly dead) people I once knew but not this lightweight (who is currently working on her recovery in her own 12 step program, Putting On A Show Anonymous).
Don't get me wrong. We like a little gentrification. But I suppose that's like being a "little pregnant". One of the main reasons I moved to L.A. was that I'd had enough of the East Village's roach-infested coolness. But since that move the rents have skyrocketed here in Silverlake and that monstrosity luxury condo about to open at Sunset Junction is further evidence that all gritty bohemias are destined for an upscale 'makeover'. (Look out Berlin!) Believe me, I don't miss that Polanski-looking airshaft that greeted me every time I looked out of my Avenue A apartment. But during my last trip to Manhatan in May I was continually shocked at what the city had become. Most shocking was walking down one of the more boring blocks in the city (W. 19th Street) and being greeted by a giant sign extolling the virtues of the Jade Jagger lifestyle, a lifestyle you can only hope to achieve if you shell out a few million to live in her new luxury condo complex. And WTF is the Amy Sacco Lifestyle? Hey, I don't begrudge folks making money and living well but this is officially "American Psycho" territory. And just think, 9-11 changed us forever.
For those bright young things who think they are re-living the days of Haight-Ashbury (as described in this NY Times fashion story "Another Summer of Love" ) I suggest you scum it up a little in order to achieve true authenticity. These YouTube cips from "Andy Warhol's Trash" (really "Paul Morrissey's Trash") give you some sense of what the gloriously vile, stinky past was really like. I think Holly Woodlawn's performance in this movie is one of the best ever committed to celluloid (even though the best stuff isn't in the clip - rent the movie to enjoy the full force of Warhol Superstarness that is Holly!). Of course, my favorite actress of all time is Warhol regular Andrea Feldman. (Whose death was one mind-boggling piece of performance art!) In the clip below you can only see her in the shadows but her line "I WANT SOME ACID!" is classic. Again, rent the movie to watch Andrea in her full glory! (And rent "Andy Warhol's HEAT" to see Andrea's star turn in one of the best movies about L.A. ever!)
And can you believe this is St. Mark's Place that junkie Joe is strolling down? (It looks more like Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promanade now). Ahhh, you can practically smell the urine! Excuse me while I lovingly attend to my scabies!