"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Do You Ever Think About When You Outta Here?


David Bryne writes about New York City:

I moved to New York in the mid 1970s because it was a center of cultural ferment – especially in the visual arts (my dream trajectory, until I made a detour), though there was a musical draw, too, even before the downtown scene exploded. New York was legendary. It was where things happened, on the east coast, anyway. One knew in advance that life in New York would not be easy, but there were cheap rents in cold-water lofts without heat, and the excitement of being here made up for those hardships. I didn’t move to New York to make a fortune. Survival, at that time, and at my age then, was enough. Hardship was the price one paid for being in the thick of it.

As one gets a little older, those hardships aren’t so romantic – they’re just hard. The trade-off begins to look like a real pain in the ass if one has been here for years and years and is barely eking out a living. The idea of making an ongoing creative life – whether as a writer, an artist, a filmmaker or a musician – is difficult unless one gets a foothold on the ladder, as I was lucky enough to do. I say “lucky” because I have no illusions that talent is enough; there are plenty of talented folks out there who never get the break they deserve.

Some folks believe that hardship breeds artistic creativity. I don’t buy it. One can put up with poverty for a while when one is young, but it will inevitably wear a person down. I don’t romanticize the bad old days. I find the drop in crime over the last couple of decades refreshing. Manhattan and Brooklyn, those vibrant playgrounds, are way less scary than they were when I moved here. I have no illusions that there was a connection between that city on its knees and a flourishing of creativity; I don’t believe that crime, danger and poverty make for good art. That’s bullshit. But I also don’t believe that the drop in crime means the city has to be more exclusively for those who have money. Increases in the quality of life should be for all, not just a few.

[Picture by Bags]


1 Ben   ~  Oct 9, 2013 11:10 am

Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 9, 2013 11:12 am

Nice work, Harry!

3 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 9, 2013 11:30 am

I'm checking them out, I'm checking them out
I got it figured out, I got it figured out
Good points, some bad points
But it all works out, I'm a little freaked out
Find a city, find myself a city to live in
I will find a city, find myself a city to live in.

4 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 9, 2013 11:43 am

It's an interesting piece, especially coming from Byrne.
Is he correct though, that "the top 1%" have usurped the cultural soul of New York?

5 RIYank   ~  Oct 9, 2013 12:12 pm

Did I forget to mention
forget to mention Memphis?
Home of Elvis and the
Ancient Greeks!

6 Chyll Will   ~  Oct 9, 2013 12:14 pm

[4] I think so; the gist of it really is the perception that arts and culture, and the people who drive those facets of the city have been largely ignored or pushed out of the makeup of the modern city by a drive for economic enrichment devoid of creation or inspiration to its own detriment. New York has at its core really been the trading post of the world from its inception, but the mix of cultures and ideas had been up until recently the symbolic attraction and the evidence of opportunity for anyone. On that, his throwaway line about people of color has more connection than many would want to admit, though this piece primarily bears on class issues. I think he does make great points throughout, but ultimately the ebb and flow of societal values is what makes or breaks any society long term.

On the Medicis, who would be considered the modern Medicis of New York? I honestly can't think of one; the Rockefellers and Kennedys are no longer that forward in people's minds and Trump and Bloomberg in my opinion is more like opportunists than actual movers and shakers. And forget any of the sports team owners.

7 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 9, 2013 12:18 pm


8 MSM35   ~  Oct 9, 2013 12:58 pm

Last night I visited my daughter in the East Village. She just moved in to a small apartment with big rent. We went past CBGB. I wondered if the Ramones were back because there was such a big crowd out front. There is always something new bubbling under.

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