Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Aftermath to Come

by Steven Turner Hart

The problem with low cost housing in Brooklyn is fairly simple and endemic to real estate all over NYC.  People want to live here on these islands and there is not enough room for all of them.  Most of them don't seem to know that we live on islands here, but we do.  So those who own the land use it as a lever to profit from the demand, which can never be fully supplied.  

Then again, when I bought my house, it was a lovable dump on a block that my neighbors treated like the poor relations who they allow to live over the garage. There were indeed some characters who were anything but colorful except in the sense of an oil slick.  I was often informed with haughty condescension that my block was not even in the historic district, which then and now is just fine with me.  

All the houses are pretty nice now either through sweat equity or just big bucks. Because my block is a little wider than others in the area, it's sunnier and feels more generous in the light that comes with the warmer months.  We have great trees and lots of birds even though we are in the geographical center of the wreck I love best, NYC. I am happy for my block in that sense, but I miss the people who were here when I got here. What our snootier, tweedier fellow inhabitants really meant was that we belonged to a designation that has now passed from general use, which is to say, Bodega Flats.

Well, we did have a lot of bodegas and we still do.  Some of them are friendly.  Some are pretty sleazy.  All are stuffed with this and that, most of which I don't either smoke, eat or have much use for around the house.  But they are a part of the neighborhood that I cherish because they remind me of when more 'real' people lived here who got up in the morning and went to work.  A lot of them were pretty dirty when they got back to their abode, but that was all in day's work. There were kids then who went to school on a yellow, noisy bus.  That doesn't seem to apply to kids now who have to be at their therapists' before dawn.

Now everyone here is plugged into a cellphone and staring at the tiny screen as they walk down the street, which they don't see at all.  They all have tattoos and silly hair and clothes that don't fit or match.  Fashion is clearly a trending that has left without me.

But the up side is that more people feel its okay to say, "hello" as they go by me. Maybe that's because they think I'm old and harmless (heh heh), or maybe I've just been here so long, I am part of the furniture so to speak.  Who cares?  By a combination of good luck and better friends, I get to live in Brooklyn.

Steven Turner Hart

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Return of the Blog

by Steven Turner Hart

A great deal has befallen me since I last posted here that is not worth your time. For fifty years I worked in the theatre and film as well as teaching various subjects related to all that and served in assorted capacities from critic to actor.

I have recently moved back to New York and find the city much transformed by Bloomberg and Co.  who destroyed most of the small production venues in Manhattan in favor of dwellings for the wealthy.  There is a lot of theatre now but of the institutional sort that is tried and tested out of town in places like Chicago.  The productions here, like those in Paris, are more polished but they are yesterday's news especially on Broadway.  

In fact the only thing older than the shows is the audience, those who have a background that interested them in live theatre, and the money/time to go.  They are the last of the unplugged, and thus used to real public discourse rather than vacant tweets in place of ideas.

Well it is what it is and it may end the theatre as we currently think of it, but that has been said for several thousand years.  It pops up again in some new and cheaper form because performance seems to be part of human nature.  But what Bloomberg left in his wake has nothing natural about it such as bike lanes on Bergen Street and an island dedicated to rich people.  His model I guess was London where no Englishman can now afford to live.  Instead, sheiks and Gazprom gangsters occupy Mayfair.  I guess the Duke of Bedford still gets the payments that started in 1066, but the rest of the sceptered aisle has a housing shortage as NYC does now.  The arts?  Who cares?  All they ever do is puncture our self-satisfaction.  That's not good for our self-esteem.

Then again, who's going to want to live here when there's nothing to interest them but looking at rich people who are looking at rich people?