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There’s a Halloween House of Horrors thing in New York called Nightmare: New York. This year, it’s focusing on the 80s, including a 1980s subway. And I’m like, oh please. Here’s what they say about it.
What are they talking about? First of all, they’re conflating the 70s and 80s.
Really, when you talk about the shit-show that was New York, you mean the 70s. Yes, the 80s had crack, and lots of crime-and-neglect goodies left over from the 70s, but the 70s were the true Death Wish era. The time when you could go to D’Agostinos and get followed home, raped and beaten to death by Jeff Goldblum playing a Puerto Rican.
If you don’t know Death Wish, have a look.
I guess I’m splitting hairs. My beef with this horror show is that, whether you call it the 80s or the 70s, New York before Giuliani became mayor was a freaking WONDERLAND. The most fun place ever.
People say that like it’s a bad thing. I used to love the hookers. My dad would say, “How would you like to take a ride in the car and look at prostitutes” and I’d say “Yay!” and we’d drive down 11th Avenue, spotting them and pointing. “There’s one! She’s not even wearing pants or a skirt!”
There was even a brothel on the Upper West Side, above Zabar’s. I loved it when my dad came home from getting the Sunday Times at the 79th Street news stand saying he’d been “solicited.”
Places to play.
Video games, I mean. Not these “green spaces” they keep creating. I could go to my favorite store, Baronettes – it was just a card shoppe, yup, double-p-e, but to us kids, it was a magical place worthy of its own blog post so I won’t go far into detail. Let’s just say I could go from playing Donkey Kong and Tempest upstairs at Baronettes, to Galaga and Ms. Pacman at Twin Donuts, to Pengo and Tron at the record store, which is where the cute boys from Collegiate (an all-cute all-boys school) hung out. Bonus.[UPDATE: It’s Baronet, not Baronettes, but I always misspell it so it stays.]
And when I went, I went by myself.
My mother was giving me bus maps and money for my own NYC “kid in the city” adventures as soon as I was 10 years old. “Have fun skating at Rockefeller Center,” she’d say. “And here’s a little extra cash for hot chocolate.” And then I’d take a different bus – that’s how independent I was – down to Times Square, and play that money at the slots. Right, more video games.
There were actual “arcades” then. They were dangerous places, where creeps rubbed up against you, but as long as they didn’t make me mess up at Centipede or Space Invaders, more power to them.
Madonna and her artist pals.
She was everywhere, handing out her demo at Danceteria, snuggling with Basquiat…I only know this from pictures, but I’m sure I just missed bumping into her every time I took the #5 bus downtown and wandered from Canal Jeans to Antique Boutique to 8th Street looking for clothes that would make me look “punk.” (Didn’t work.) In today’s Manhattan, you’d have no chance of running into such creative people. They moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn long ago, and then to Bushwick because Williamsburg’s too expensive, and now to Queens because ditto Bushwick.
Here’s what you do see now in New York, and what I think the horror show should be.
2000-Present: The True New York Nightmare
For Halloween effect, add “Of Horror” to each of these scary features.
The Douche Belt
That’s what I call the ever-widening, ever-lengthening Highline/ Meatpacking District. Where douches of all nations come to buy what they could buy online and bully Maitre D’s into giving them an outdoor table.
The Bro Hive
Have you ever walked past the Biergarten of The Standard at Little West 12th Street? As you approach from blocks away, you can hear the buzzing. Get up close and it’s downright deafening. It sounds like a swarm of bees took over a PA system, but it’s actually the noise of bros yelling “BRO!” and dudes yelling “DUDE,” and high-fiving and chest bumping to impress girls who want to work in, like, PR? or fashion? and who pronounce it “liiiihhhke, peeee-ahhhhhhhrrrrr? or fash-uhhhhhhhhhhhh….n?”
Slow-Moving Funky Earring Mob
Ever try to walk between Broadway and West Broadway on Prince Street on a Saturday? In the 70s, this area used to be desolate. No one in the streets but an artist’s dog roaming off the leash and taking a steaming dump on the cobblestones that no one would bother to pick up, because no law said they had to (I am pro-Pooper-Scooper Law, BTW).
Now, good luck moving faster than an inch a minute, unless you literally push people. Which I will. I have to yell “Excuse me! Pardon! Excuse-moi” (remind me to learn what it is in Mandarin) and shoulder-check people who barely notice, they’re so enthralled by the vendors selling funky earrings. The best way to get their attention is to bump their Victoria’s Secret shopping bags. Then, they look up like, “How dare you! ”
Sex And The City Cupcake Eaters
The line at Magnolia. Still. “Hey, I’m totally a Charlotte! I believe in love! Take a picture of me with buttercream frosting on my teeth!” I mean…
I haven’t even seen this line, but I know that nobody I like or would like to meet is waiting in it.
I have friends who are moms of multiples, so I won’t begrudge them the right to their doublewides. Do they all have to walk side by side, though? I know moms always did this, and everyone needs friends. But don’t deny that strollers have gotten HUGE. I think the one my parents pushed me in was half a tote bag between two wire hangers, with roller-skate wheels.
And now, every stroller is accompanied by not just the mom, but also a nanny, a baby nurse with the newborn, a Mandarin tutor, a gluten allergy specialist, and an older sibling who, in my day, would be off on his or her own playing video games among the perverts.
Because of greedy landlords. “Sorry, your excellent bakery can’t move in here, because we’re keeping it empty until a boring bank coughs up the ridiculous price per square foot we’re demanding. Unless you’d like to use it for a horrendous Halloween popup store. You guys sell wax lips?”
See above. These are no fun to walk past. What’s to look at? Dear Obama, can’t we just have a universal ATM plan, where there’s one on every corner and it doesn’t charge a fee or lead to identity theft (like the bodega ones do)?
Times Square Characters
That used to mean junkies, hookers and pimps. Yay! Now, it means people in Elmo costumes who hate Jews. I’m too lazy to look it up, but google “antisemitic Elmo.” You’ll see.
Boo! Happy Premature Halloween!
New Yorkers: What did I leave out?
Non New Yorkers: Why aren’t you scared of New York anymore? Wait, that’s rhetorical. Real question: have you seen horrifying changes where you grew up?
Or, whatever else you want to say…
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.