Wednesday, September 17, 2008
::A moratorium on NYC nightlife::
Walking around downtown today. Saw this tombstone. It got me to thinking...WTF HAPPENED TO NYC NIGHTLIFE!!! Can it be that it was all so simple in the late 1970s and the 1980s? Or maybe I'm just romanticizing a period in NYC's timeline that was probably equally crappy. After all, the Mudd Club was conceived as a less pretentious alternative to the glitzy, paparazzi magnet Studio 54. So I'm sure all the folks that went to the Mudd Club were singing my lament as well. Hearing the old war stories, it seems like the Mudd Club was "the shit." A place where everything converged. Around that same period, the downtown scene was bubbling. Hip-Hop, punk, and new wave were intermingling with abandon. There were lots of other spots that lent itself to the same ethos, but the Mudd Club appeared to have cornered the market on downtown cool. It was the antithesis to sophistication.
Over the past two years, I've become exceedingly bored with NYC nightlife. It has all become either predictable or posh. S.O.B.'s, Nokia Theater, Irving Plaza (Fillmore East), and others like it are snoozers in my humble opinion. Clear Channel has essentially stamped out the NYC spirit associated with live performance venues in Manhattan. I think I'll start hanging out in Brooklyn more...
But it just seems like all the cultural icons hung out there, including my man Basquiat. I guess that time period trumped ours for the simple fact that Mayor Giuliani hadn't come along with his Nazi-esque Quality Of Life manifesto yet. Up until the mid 90s, NYC still retained some of the true grit that brought some of the most awe inspiring art forms and modes of expression to fruition. It seems that art was cultivated in an environment conducive to free expression. A lot of art in the city today is created for the expressed benefit of Madison Avenue and its multinational corporate clients. After careful study, they've found a way to galvanize our nascent subcultures, polish and package it, and sell it right back to us for a handsome fee. Check the Nike sponsored gallery on Elizabeth Street.
Alas, I guess that's the trajectory of capitalism. And even Basquiat had lofty dreams of getting sponsorship from Fiorruci. And no matter how many times I watch Downtown 81 , The Warriors, Style Wars, and Wild Style or hang out in my neighborhood, the old New York is fading before my very eyes. Never to return. The Bronx is no longer burning and Times Square is now a step away from morphing into an elaborate amusement park. Pretty soon, all we will have left of the old NYC spirit are historical documents, artifacts, and tombstones like the one above.