Saturday, April 20, 2013

Yours Truly


          New York has always been a place of change. This city has always been a pioneer in originality and has attracted the toughest, the hungriest, the risk-takers, the ones who were striving for a better life. Every New Yorker, new or old, grows into what makes this great city resilient and original in nature. As a name, ‘York’ has always been part of something ‘New.’

But, as time passes, the city that raised ‘yours truly’, is not the same city I remember growing up in. This "York" that I live in now is still replacing the old and building itself to become "New". High rise condos, craft beer/cocktail bars, 24 hour delis, "Vintage" thrift shops, among other things is what the "New York" is turning into.

You probably think that I'm just a stubborn old New Yorker trying to cling onto the memory of what my city used to be, and that I am not willing to accept that change is a natural occurrence, especially in New York City. And you are probably correct in that assumption. I mourn the city I once knew as a place of diversity and originality–a melting pot and hate what it has become, a playground for the corporate companies that lack character.

The city I grew up in had distinguishable neighborhoods with small communities that were struggling to make ends meet. Together, these communities were making the best of what they had, providing normal childhoods the only way they knew. Back in the day, summers in NYC consisted of events like block parties, the purchasing of 25 cent juices with the little money you had, playing basketball until the street lights came on, hear loud radio playing, or chilling on a stoop in front of someone’s building. In these communities, everyone knew who the 'rotten apples' were, and as long as one would mind their own business, we would live in harmony–or at least wouldn't get fucked with.

          Then things changed. I vividly remember the art galleries popping up, one by one as though someone finally watered the seeds throughout the area. The faces I would pass every morning began to vary, not just in terms of age, but in ethnicity too. Everyone in the neighborhood embraced that change, at least us, the younger generation did. The transformation arrived as quietly as the rats scrambling to find food in garbage bags overnight. For a brief moment, the original residents coexisted with those who weren't from the same Caribbean Islands everyone else was from. Necessary changes needed within the neighborhood would come, where a lot of us had been struggling in for so long. Cultures were exchanged, and ideas were flowing as fast as the beer was being poured.

Oh boy, did the changes come: yellow cabs, restaurants, bars, renovated supermarkets with fresh organic produce became the indications of a renaissance if you will. Times seemed great and looked as if nothing could disrupt the breath of fresh air that was being pumped into our ‘hood'. Unfortunately, too much of a great thing can turn bad over time. Everybody wanted to join in and capitalize on the sweeping new changes that were occurring in the neighborhood.  More and more people were moving in as fast as they could with every week that passed. Train stations became overcrowded in the mornings. The rapid changes were turning empty lots that were once filled with trash as well as established apartment buildings into high priced, luxury condos. Skyrocketing rent was forcing life-long residents, who stayed and survived turbulent times, drugs and gang wars, to relocate to more affordable areas–often times outside of the city they had loved so much. Small businesses were struggling to stay afloat since the change in demographics had made regular customers slowly disappear like dust with the wind. Bodegas were morphing into 24-hour delis and prices for everyday items were increasing to unseen highs.

Every day brings a new wave of bad news of the slow death of what was once my neighborhood. Major chains such as Whole Foods, Anthropologie and Duane Reade have announced plans to set up new locations in our hood. All I see now is the ‘new residents’ dress like they're broke, bragging about where they live with their 14 roommates and complain about how much rent they pay per month, in between sips of Pabst Blue Ribbon and discussions about last week’s episode of “Girls”. The New York City I once knew seems more and more like a distance memory locked away with old antiques in a dusty attic. I am not sure how much more I can bare before I, too, am forced to make an exodus to the ‘trail of tears’ New York edition.

I'm a proud New Yorker who was born and raised in the Southside of Williamsburgh. The place I once called home represents nothing but capitalist thoughts and homogeneity now. It has become a place in which my culture, my history has become extinct. New York has always been a place of change and will continue to evolve long after my life has ended. My hope for future generations is that they will take pride in where they're from, cherish the simple things and not let trends dictate their perception of what New York City is, but rather contribute to what New York City can be, again.



Written by Andres Pascual: original post here.




No comments:

Post a Comment

There was an error in this gadget

Followers