Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thank Giuliani

sid&nancySo for the last few weekends before The Kid moves in with us, we're picking her up on Friday afternoon, and dropping her off Sunday evening so we have nice, long weekends together. Since HA has to work for part of Friday, we decided that it makes the most sense for us to pick up a Zipcar (rental car by the hour) in Manhattan instead of me getting one in Brooklyn near home, then driving an hour into midtown traffic (oh dear God no) to pick him up at the office before heading upstate. So we picked a lot at 53rd and 8th avenue, way over on the west side.

This means that we have to return the car there, then take The Kid to the subway to get home. My thought the morning before we did this the first time was that I was going to have to hold her hand the entire way to ensure that no one kidnapped her into a life of prostitution. And then I remembered that it isn't the 1980s anymore. And that area is perfectly safe.

Yes, Giuliani was a bit of a fascist and I couldn't wait for him to stop being mayor, but cleaning up Times Square and the surrounding 10 block radius really did need to be done. Hell, people, I remember riding in a car after seeing the circus at Madison Square Garden in the late 80s and a prostitute stepped out in front of the car advertising her wares even though the driver (my uncle) was clearly not alone. In th afternoon. Fortunately, explaining the entire incident to my little cousin was easy because she'd heard the word "ho" on Blossom. And who said sitcoms weren't educational?

Of course, getting the strip clubs and hookers out of Times Square meant that they relocated to the outer boroughs, which was probably more convenient for their clientele, but not so much for people who have escort services running out of the house next door.

Digression: In my days as a volunteer EMT, I took one of a mother-daughter madam team to the hospital (I don't remember which). I had no idea what they were because I was just paying attention to the sick person, but they did have several cordless phones on the tables, which seemed odd. One of the other EMTs noticed that they had a spreadsheet on the table with all the different client's kinks, so clearly I was missing out by focusing on taking this woman's blood pressure.

Anyhoodle, my other pro-Giuliani bugaboo is about the lower east side. I mean, yeah, the luxury apartments across the street from Katz's Deli are clearly a sign that gentrification has gone way too far. But goddamit, that place was a shithole in the 90s. I know people adore Rent, and the songs are great, but Jesus H, how is the villain the guy who's trying to make the area safe and non-disgusting for the artists? I remember visiting a friend in Alphabet City and being warned that I may have to climb over crack dealers to get into the building. Now you have to climb over hipsters, which may not seem like an improvement, but it is.

A little gentrification can be a good thing. I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early aughts. Have you ever shopped in a poor people supermarket? There's grey meat and moldy cheese in the refrigerator cases. The entire "fresh" meat section smells funny, and you want to believe that it's because of the pig's feet, but in your heart of hearts, you know that *something* in the meat department has gone off and that shopping there means that you're taking chances. So you buy your groceries near work, drag them home on the subway and wonder when your neighborhood will gentrify enough for you to start buying you food closer to home.

I know so many transplants to New York who lament the changes, who miss the grit. Who weren't actually here to witness the grit. It's almost surefire way to tell that someone isn't actually from here.

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