R.I.P. New York City…or Why I’m Glad I Got Out!

This is actually going to be full article based on a random thought I wrote about just last year, regarding the decline of New York City’s diversity and character because let’s face it…it’s just gotten worse and will continue to do so.

So it all started just two nights ago, when I came across this article:

http://ny.curbed.com/2016/8/12/12452636/target-east-village-opening-date

Wait…what the fuck?  A new, two floor Target in the East Village?  With a 30-year lease on the building?!  First off, I’m a bit biased here because I used to work at Target but…ew!  Also…why?  Why Target and why in the East Fucking Village??  Then, I reminded myself of exactly why: money talk$.

I wrote a year ago that many of the places I used to know were going away at a pretty steady pace, especially at my old haunts, specifically St. Mark’s Place, which I had said was at least hanging on a thread so long as Sounds was still around, even if it was open just three days a week by that point, if anything for the sake of posture.  Whoops!  Not too long after I wrote that piece Sounds finally did close down for good, signaling THE end of the more culturally diverse St. Mark’s Place I used to know once and for all.  Why?  Because who the fuck can afford these fucking rent hikes?  Oh wait…chain stores can!

Oh, I can go on and on about when I first noticed this change, and how it changed the entire landscape of Manhattan alone – don’t even get me started with Brooklyn!  But instead I’m going to rant about who we can all blame for this and if you live or used to live anywhere in New York City (like me) you already know why: yuppies and especially hipsters.  The hipsters started fucking everything up when they came to Williamsburg, Brooklyn from whatever bumfuck towns/states they grew up in during the late 90’s/early 2000’s with their daddys’ checkbooks in search of somewhere cheap as hell.  In just a few years time a once extremely dangerous part of Brooklyn now had hipster themed bars and vintage record shops on almost every street corner.  And not only that, rent was now fucking sky high.  I was an intern for a music marketing firm in Manhattan in 2007 and a considerable portion of the hipster fuckheads I worked with lived in “Billyburg”.  The only way they could be living there was if their parents were paying the rent because I can tell you right now they sure as fuck weren’t making even remotely decent salaries at this particular firm.  I’d look for apartments in Brooklyn on craigslist and some of these prices were retarded.  $2000 for a studio off of Bedford Ave?  Really?  But if you want to know how I truly feel about hipsters just watch this amazing clip from The Gentlemen’s Rant.  Skip to the 1:50 mark for my favorite part!

This was just the beginning, of course.  Soon, the resulting trickle down effect happened: Manhattan followed suit.  The hipsters lived in Williamsburg in order to be as close to Manhattan as possible so before anyone knew it any area near the Williamsburg Bridge, especially the Lower East Side, started changing at that steady paced I mentioned before to cater to these motherfuckers.  The trickle down effect here?  Long standing Mom and Pop stores began to close shop to be replaced by some really strange fucking things.

This also spread, of course, throughout most of Manhattan, not just the Lower East Side.  Old buildings were being knocked down to make room for high rise condos that I know I sure can’t afford.  Here’s a quick story.  My dad’s been in real estate since 2005, having gotten his real estate license from NYU in 1988, and he was responsible for one of these buildings in the Lower East Side being knocked down in 2007.  He told me that while on site a girl came up to him asking him to please sign her petition to stop these developers from knocking the building down, obviously having no idea she was talking to the very person behind the whole thing.  Oops!

To some of you reading this I risk coming off as yelling at yuppies and hipsters to get off my lawn like a bitter old man.  You’d be wrong.  Yeah, I hate yuppies and REALLY hate hipsters.  But my big problem is that because of them, and more specifically about their lack of history, having not grown up in the city like I did, they appear to truly lack any appreciation for the charm New York City once had.  It was once such a diverse city.  I don’t just mean for the reputation of it’s many areas – not just the parts I mentioned – but because you could go into any street corner and find something completely random and enjoyable.  Hell, twelve years ago I could just turn to W 48th St in the tourist trap that is Times Square and I’d just happen to find the once infamous Music Row.  You’re reading correctly, there was once an entire block of just music instrument stores.  Several Sam Ash buildings, each one dedicated to specific instruments, Rudy’s, the world famous Manny’s Music, just to name a few.

Oh, here’s my favorite.  A 111 year old art supply store right around the corner from Webster Hall is being forced out of business because the building was sold to some jerkoff who plans to make the building into a hotel geared toward…millennials??  What the fuck does that require exactly that a piece of HISTORY is being forced to close down for this?  Someone please tell me.  What exactly makes millennials so fucking special?  Is it the computer thing??  Since the age range for millennials is between 1982 and 2002 I guess I’d be considered a millennial on paper, being that I was born in 1984.  But I’m no millennial because just about anyone born in the 80’s knew how to survive without cellphones and computers.  Ask the kids today when they last experienced a fleeting, random moment.  You’d probably hear crickets for a long time because that’s how often their heads are down at their smartphones they honestly have NO BUSINESS carrying around at twelve years old.

So here’s my main point to all of this.  Gentrification my ass!  If I wanted to go to an outdoor strip mall I’d go to probably any other city…or an outdoor strip mall.  I used to live in a city that had a very special charm to it, one that was different, one with so much diversity and excitement, one with character.  These were the things that made it The Greatest City In The World, because it’s not that anymore, not when I see Subway restaurants on nearly every street corner and increasingly more homeless people on the streets because they were evicted for their inability to pay their rents.  If you’re reading this and are as disgusted with what’s become of it all like I was, do yourself a favor and get out while you still can…like I did, because it’s no longer just the East Village that’s dead – all of New York City is!

There are times now where I drive on Route 3 E and if I catch it around sunset I get a gorgeous view of the city from afar.  But every time come across this brilliant view I sadly can’t help but always think to myself the same thing over and over again: “New York City…beautiful to look at…ugly to live in…”

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Random Thoughts

New Trivium…and I Think I Like It…Uh Oh!

Over two weeks ago Roadrunner Records released the new music video for the title track to Trivium’s upcoming October 2nd release Silence In The Snow.  The only reason I even gave it a listen was just so I can say that it sucked balls.  I was a fan of them starting in 2005 when I bought Ascendancy and thought that these kids had a shitload of potential and that as they progressed their shit would get better – and it did for a while!  Their next two CDs, The Crusade and Shogun were far more metal sounding and far more mature than Ascendancy and you either supported them for growing up and doing different things or you refused to grow up, understand that no band can do the same thing forever and move on.  That’s exactly what happened with Trivium.

Starting with The Crusade I was hearing a lot of bitching from people: “This sucks!  Ascendancy is better because it’s more metalcore!”.  “Fuck these posers, trying to sound like Metallica all the time!”  And by the way, you dumb motherfuckers who made those Metallica complaints…please…just…open your ears and tell me if you really think that Kirk Hammett in his prime could play any of Matt Heafy’s or Corey Bealieu’s leads – and without raping that fucking wah pedal!  Tell me that Lars in his prime could handle Travis Smith’s drum patterns.  Ok, so maybe Matt sounded a tad like James in the singing department but I’d rather that than just screaming to breakdowns all the time and not developing to become a better vocalist.

Then something happened.  They seemingly gave into those immature fuckheads that bitched and moaned about their music because it wasn’t Ascendancy parts 2, 3, 4 and 5, and decided to please these “fans”, or so it seems, by pretty much dumbing down everything they had done before.  The result?  In Waves, probably the worst regression I’ve ever seen in a band.  Ever hear the title track?  The opening breakdown broke my heart…so metalcore…I immediately had visions of stupid kids with their hair super glued to the side doing stupid dance moves.  I heard a few other tracks to try and give it a chance but I couldn’t get into it at all.  Worse?  Their next album was produced by none other than David Draiman.  So I totally wrote Trivium off.

Then this video was released two weeks ago:

Pretty different…pretty much avant garde…but what the fuck is with Corey circle headbanging blindfolded?  Is Matt just randomly bleeding?  What’s with the cute Asian not being told how to properly hold a guitar?  And while bleeding too?  But more than that…doesn’t Matt sound a slight bit like Myles Kennedy here while singing the verses?  Oh shit his singing voice is suddenly WAY better.  No screaming at all…not even a bit?  Ok…so the riffs are still simple as fuck…but damn are they heavy!  What’s that?  This was inspired by the band’s time touring with Heaven and Hell, you say?  This song was originally written during the sessions for Shogun??  Score!!!!!

Then came this other leaked song just this past week:

Uh oh…this sounds really good too.  This musically speaking is a really good mix of old-school playing with modern edge guitar tones.  Just listen to that slow part – goddamn!  And Matt’s voice?  Great work harmonizing with himself!  Great singing altogether!  I don’t know that ditching screaming altogether will work out in the end but we’ll all have to wait until October to find out for sure.  But for now, not bad boys, you just might win me back as a fan – just don’t fuck it up again!

New Maiden…And I Like It!!

That shouldn’t be a surprise to any REAL metalhead worth a shit; but truth be told, I’ve been kind of disappointed with Iron Maiden for 12 years.  When I was 16 Iron Maiden v4.0 was THE SHIT.  Bruce and Adrian were back and they now were a six-piece with THREE guitar players since they chose to keep Janick Gers with them.  That’s awfully nice of them but let’s face it – if Janick were gone tomorrow most people would cruelly show just how much happier they’d be just because it was Adrian and Dave again.  I’m not one of them though.  Why?  Because I liked Brave New WorldIt was a fantastically written, thought out album.  The title track alone is incredible as is the lead off single, “The Wickerman” – that track is just badass!

Three years passed and they released their next album, Dance of Death.  Dude…what the fuck?  I get that bands need to evole to survive and/or feel excited for years to come but this…this was just weak as FUCK and absolutely boring.  The epics on it…I used their longest epic for a bathroom break during my days as a college DJ several times but man it was such a dramatic decline because their most memorable shit is the epics.  It’s sad when Bruce’s next solo album, Tyranny of Souls, had WAY more balls to it than his own band’s material!  Three years later we were given A Matter of Life and Death.  I was officially scared and I blame producer Kevin Shirley because he encouraged the band to “loosen up”.  I feel like in “loosening up” the band completely changed, they became too rock and roll for my taste.  I could NEVER hate Iron Fucking Maiden, but I didn’t know that I’d ever buy their shit again and I haven’t since 2003.

Then I heard this!

Holy shit does this sound old school as FUCK!  Am I listening to something from Piece of Mind???  All that’s missing here are the crazy ass guitar harmonies, but you can’t get everything.  Right?  But at least we know that they’ve still got it!  Listen to Bruce hitting those notes!  How many people pushing 60 do YOU know that can still sing as amazingly as Bruce Dickinson?  I’ll wait.

Another Reminder of Changing Times

I took my girlfriend to Manhattan for her birthday this past weekend because she wanted to go to the Museum of Sex and see Funland, which is a boobie bounce house.  I shit you not this does exist.  Here’s the proof:

boob-bounce-house[1]

You – yes, you! – can bounce around in plastic titties for an extra $15!  I’d still prefer the real thing though!  But before we walked all the way there from Port Authority I really needed to eat something so we got Pizza across the street from 2 Brothers, which is doing really good at expanding their stores with $1 Pizza.  The problem?  One of the guys behind the counter was playing the most annoying Reggaeton you could find.  Bad enough that shit is just horrid to begin with.  I like a lot of different kinds of music…but…Reggaeton, like Dub Step, is to music what rape is dating, like Kobe Bryant was to the hotel employee in Colorado, just a nonstop fucking assault – but to your ears.  And it just…won’t…stop.  That same, annoying “beat” is pounding away worse than even house music ever could, and possibly with even more bass!!  That shit was stuck in our heads for a while.

After going to the Museum of Sex and discovering that fake titty land was closed, probably for maintenance, we decided to go towards St. Marks Pl.  It was during that long ass walk that my girlfriend let me know that Trash And Vaudeville were finally closing shop and relocating after forty years in that block.  I was aware that they were being stubborn about ever doing it, being that they were the one piece of the old St. Mark’s that I remember that’s still standing, they weren’t going anywhere.  But, like most historic places in Lower Manhattan, the pressure of increased rent was finally seeping in.  And as we arrived at the block I can see why.  The whole block has pretty much become yet another tourist trap: restaurants, a Barcade, Karaoke, Bongs and even a 7 Eleven.  Yeah, that’s not a mistype.  I first discovered St. Mark’s Pl. had a 7 Eleven in 2012.  St. Mark’s Pl. and the Village as a whole used to have so much more character than THIS.  And if you’re in you’re early 30’s like I am or even older you know how awesome the place used to be.

I remember getting a good chunk of my metal shirts from places in the Village that are no longer in business because of rent and because of the faggot ass hipsters that came in.  I used to love hanging out on W. 8th St.  I met some really amazing people there.  Of course most of them were strange as fuck but some of them were fucking awesome.  I bought my first leather jacket there, as well as my leather vest, which I still have, and even my first real biker watch at this place called Leather Master, which along with the comic store I used to go to and the places I used to by my clothes at, are all gone thanks to increased rent.  The Mars Bar, an infamous punk rock dive bar I discovered through this crazy chick that frequented the place a lot…closed and is now Jupiter 21, a nice 12 story condo.  Although I feel the beginning of the end came around the tail end of 2006 when Hilly Kristal, after years of dodging eviction, finally caved in and shut down CBGB.  Even being landmarked by Mayor Bloomberg of all people couldn’t save the place, so what does that tell you??

I never bought anything from Trash and Vaudeville, I always found their clothes too extreme for my tastes.  But I understand and respect the history it provides.  It may be relocating to a cheaper and safer building (from what Bobby, a store employee told me), and that’s great.  But in the end it just puts the final nail in the coffin of a place that began loosing it’s character a decade ago.  Sure, Sounds is still there.  But that place seems to me like just another generic music store, although it does have more Henry Rollins CDs than I’ve ever seen anywhere else.  Around the time the Mars Bar went out of business someone spray painted on a wall “THE EAST VILLAGE IS DEAD”.  Well, that person is absolutely right and it kills me to see what it’s become.  My only hope now is that Bleeker St and the streets surrounding it remain the way they are for years to come.  It’d be a shame to lose The Bitter End!  I played there once in 2012, what an honor that was.  Café Wha? is another place like that.  It’s a landmark much like CGGB was but we saw how much that mattered, right?  It’d also be huge blow to lose Generation Records, a record store I find to be the equivalent of Vintage Vinyl in New Jersey.  It’s bad enough Bleeker Bob’s finally went under two years ago.  I was there the day before they closed, the owner told me he was hoping to relocate but I still haven’t heard of that happening and I sadly am not holding my breath either.