Why Can’t Things Still Be Like Andy Warhol’s New York?

Do you remember the good old days in New York? You know, the real New York. We’d all used to play stickball in the streets in our ethnic neighborhoods, and then on hot weekends nights we’d dance under open fire hydrants and hang out with our friends in the gang The Warriors and spray paint our names in large colorful fonts on the sides of subway cars while breakdancing on cardboard. You know, the good old days that we all remember.

Then dark days came for New York: Giuliani came in and drove away all the porn theaters turning Time Square into the height of Disneyland capitalism. Yes, the very locale where businessmen used to go for $1 crack hooker hand jobs is now a TGIFridays serving popcorn shrimp. New York, the real New York, used to be about piss and grime. Now the worst thing that can happen to you in Times Square is getting groped by a man requesting money for photos inside a Tickle Me Elmo costume. Oh where have you gone oh $1 hand job?

Now that the nail to the Bloomberg era has officially been hammered into the coffin, we can all look back and see how shitty he made things in New York. (In the same way we hate indie bands that become popular and trumpet how much we loved them when we saw them rock it out in a grody basement at a house party.)

On one hand, we (meaning mostly people who have lived here less than five years) can complain about the gentrification of neighborhoods. On the other hand, the murder rate has gone from a yearly 2,245 during the ‘90s to last year’s 332. Still, we (meaning mostly people who didn’t live here during the era) wax nostalgic for the days when the Bowery was skid row and the Lower East Side looked like it suffered through a burnt out bombing raid.

It’s gentrification, of course, but it happens everywhere, mainly due to the tech boom that accelerated everything tenfold. (I’m from San Francisco. It used to be run by the freaky people and now the whole city feels like you’re tromping around Google campus.) Sure we yearn for Lou Reed’s New York – but we’re also happy we’re not tripping over dead junkies in the LES. You can’t have the smooth without the crunchy. Even David Byrne in his book How Music Works mentions how CBGB was pretty much a shithole with the worst bathrooms in the universe. Amazing, otherworldly acoustics, though.

So ideally we want the excitement and color of Andy Warhol’s New York without the probability of having a random stranger thrust an ice pick into our necks.

Two posts this week ruminated on both sides of the New York nostalgia coin.  Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York took a bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct, listing all the small businesses that have closed over the last 12 years of Bloomberh’s New York, gone forever thanks to gentrification.

On the B-side, Daily Beast presented: Weren’t Those the Bad Old Days? The Poison of New York City Nostalgia. The piece posed the question of how irrationally forgetful people are, brainwashing away a much uglier time in the city’s history. Even back in the 1940s authors E.B. White and Henry Miller complained how much New York had changed. (Miller’s beef was how there wasn’t enough advertising; he was wistful for his beloved Paris.)

As French restaurateur Florent Morellet (who recently moved his restaurant to Bushwick) said before departing, “I’m so sick of everyone in Manhattan complaining about the way things used to be.”

What do the BlackBook readers think? Let’s hear it below…

Will The Ban On Over-16 oz. Sugary Drinks Mean The End of Bottle Service?

The mayor—in his zeal to leave office with us all healthy and fit and doing good things for the environment—has pushed through new regulations that will ensure all that. The ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces may have severe and adverse affects on bottle service. All details here.

A strict interpretation of the rule by the NYC Department of Health will basically ban the common carafe from being used. That means the bottle of Goose or rum will not be accompanied by non-diet soda unless in small containers, and only one small container per person at a table is allowed. Heaven help a joint if patrons leave a table for a wiz and there are seven small containers and only four people present during an inspection.

Juices, unless they are 100 percent fruit juices, are also limited. No one serves 100 percent fruit juice. Fines will happen, and places will spend money to adjust. Having lots of small bottles or teensy carafes is a problem because, first of all, they are expensive, and secondly, tables have limited room. Tonic water, 7UP, and Coke or Pepsi are now villains in the eyes of this zealous administration. I personally only use diet but I am in the minority. Management-level personnel that I have talked to say this wasn’t thought out, and they intend to beseech the city for an exception.

A "sky is falling" attitude will be seen by city officials as a "boy who cried wolf" situation, as clubland predicted its own demise with the smoking ban. Somehow we all survived and our hair is cleaner and probably our lungs as well. This may be different since the city cannot expect a complete retooling of the industry’s breadwinner – bottle service – on such short notice.

I believe a carafe is never intended as something someone drinks directly from, so that does not fall into that 16-ounce serving size ban. Fines will be issued and someone will rule on this, but I must say that under this administration it has been very difficult for the average businessman to survive. Shouldn’t places that have invested in certain sized tables and soda gun situations, and have contracts or relationships with soda and juice vendors be grandfathered in? I can see forcing places to have more healthy choices, like fresh juice and more diet beverages, but to change the game like this seems very rude and lacks an understanding of the realities of the biz.

Given another four or 10 years in office, Mayor Mike would surely try to control who and how we sleep with people, ban bacon and maybe eggs, demand comfortable shoes instead of those harmful high heels, and prevent us from watching those ulcer-inducing Mets. All the good that he is done is diminished by his condescending dictator-elect attitude. People who want lots of sugary soda will buy multiple bottles which may or may not be recycled. Where does it fucking end?

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‘Royals’ Is Probably Over Now That Bill de Blasio Used It

There’s plenty to like about New York mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. I mean, we voted him into power in a landslide, didn’t we? (Also: hooray for new public advocate Tish James! Can’t believe I had to vote for you three separate times to make that happen.) And it’s totally fine that Bill’s teenage kids or with-it staff had the bright idea to let him walk onstage for a victory speech last night with hit single “Royals” playing—a rebuke to billionaire would-be rainmakers like the outgoing Michael Bloomberg. Even so, guess that song has had it.

R.I.P., Lorde’s “Royals.” You were a track that nobody seemed to ever get enough of, judging by Spotify, but really there just wasn’t much going for you. Oh, stop, I know you presented a passable commentary on class and the fever dream of obscene wealth—but enough is enough. You had no place at a political rally for the simple reason that you couldn’t get people fired up. This was pure anticlimax:


Campaigns have always struggled for decades to hit the right mark when it comes to their candidate’s music—without getting sued by Heart, of course—probably because the ultimate feel-good electoral pump-up jam has already been used to flawless effect. See for yourself:

Mike Bloomberg Mocks ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’

Apparently Mike Bloomberg does comedy? At last night’s Inner Circle comedy show, put on by City Hall reporters, the mayor arrived dressed up as Spider-Man, getting stuck (intentionally) in mid-air to poke fun at the flailing Spider-Man musical’s technical problems. “Will I be up here long?” he joked. Our mayor, everyone!

A stagehand replied, “We just have to issue an RFP, get three bona-fide bids, go before the community board, submit a ULURP application, and do an environmental-impact statement — and we’ll have you down and you can grab the train home.” Get it? The extended joke is kind of a clunker, but it’s nonetheless refreshing to see the mayor being silly. Points for trying.

Plus this picture, via the Post, is crazy:


Bloomberg also made fun of a number of different NYC-related topics, like the newly named “Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge” and the city’s unpopular response to the blizzard in December. The theme of the night was “Meet the Focker-Uppers,” in reference to Meet the Parents, which is literally an eleven-year-old cultural allusion. Couldn’t have been written by anyone under the age of 40, I suspect.

Bloomberg To Lower Rent For Lucky, Budding NYC Designers

Surviving as a young designer in NYC is difficult. The overhead alone is enough to cause many an aspiring designer to give up. But Mayor Bloomberg is looking to lend a hand. “In October, Mayor Bloomberg and the Council [of Fashion Designers of America, CFDA] quietly announced a new program, known as the NYC Fashion Incubator, that aims to help emerging designers grow and sustain their businesses in New York City,” says Fashion Week Daily. Now, specifics regarding the new program are being released.

“The CFDA will operate the program, which will offer low-cost studio space for up to twelve designers,” says FWD. The space is question is a sprawling “10,000-square-foot space at 209 West 38th Street–in the heart of the Garment District–and lease individual spaces to to incubator tenants at below-market rates, which will start at $1,500 per month.” In addition the CFDA will provide mentoring to the chosen dozen designers. And, winners can stay in the space in question for up to two years. The move is obviously a hugely significant effort on the part of New York City to help fledgling talents at a time when the industry is increasingly difficult to break into. But, hopeful benefactors keep in mind: “prospective tenants must have an established business, indicated through substantial editorial coverage and orders from top retailers, employ paid and/or volunteer staff, and be in business for a minimum of one and one-half years.”