January 28, 2005

Cracking the LES

Yesterday the NY Post tells us the LES is reaching that inevitable upscaling moment. Then today they tell us a story that makes us think of the LES returning to its prebar strip despair. And somehow this seems like an equally inevitable option to me.

Maybe its just another tabloid murder but what sticks in my head about the murder of the actress from Minnesota on the streets of the Lower East Side is the shear stupidity of someone asking a man who just pistol whipped a friend "what are you going to do, shoot us?" Clearly at 3:15am there was alcohol involved. But with American nightlife well deep in a cocaine epidemic.. Speculation aside what's been nagging in the back of my head for a while is "what next?"

Back when the LES was dangerous and stupidity was going there at night at all, not challenging people with guns, NY was in the midst of the crack epidemic. And drug epidemics tend to run on cycles, or at least the ones that have been around long enough do. Crack's only had one run through, no one knows how or even if it cycles. But it doesn't take reading on page six about failing rock star's $1,500 a day habits to wonder if its about to return and return hard..

And yeah, who knows what crack could do to the real estate bubble. Lets just hope the city never gets to find out..

Posted by William Blaze at January 28, 2005 09:59 PM | TrackBack

The funny thing is that I've already heard grumblings about people smoking crack for kicks. WTF? It's gotta be someone who has never really seen what that stuff can do to people, families, communities, etc.

But besides that, a lot was wrong with that episode. I've really been scratching my head over the luxury building going on over there. A million dollar loft with project views? Despite people moving all over and making neighborhoods "cool," there are still a lot of places in this city where if you're walking down the wrong block, you're taking your life in your hands.

Posted by: Candicissima on January 29, 2005 03:42 AM

Being from Minnesota, it strikes me that the kind of stupidity you mention is not uncommon to Minnesotans. Minneapolis is a city where young white hipsters move to the ghetto, then immediately call the cops on every house they suspect of being a crack den--"Hey, this is my neighborhood too," whether they're right or wrong--then wonder why their shit gets targeted for vandalism.

Posted by: thistle on January 30, 2005 09:32 AM

this is so 2002. keep up!
Link (text below)http://nymetro.com/nymetro/news/culture/features/n_7999/

Crack Is . . . Back?
In Williamsburg, hipsters are taking eighties revivalism to a whole other level.

By Carl Swanson

It hit "Alice," a gamine Chloë Sevigny–esque Williamsburg artist, that crack was back very late one night last August. "I actually witnessed peer pressure at Luxx," she says, referring to the Copacabana of the Electroclash scene. "It was someone who wasn't comfortable with crack but did cocaine, and their friends were like, 'Are ya in or are ya not?' "

Luxx is hardly a crack house; they wanted to go party elsewhere. But it wasn't the first time Alice had run across hipsters on the rock. And while drugs are as much a part of the coercively with-it, underemployed 'Burg scene as asymmetrical haircuts, the return of crack is one eighties revival nobody was expecting.

Alice's initial reaction was I'm kind of freaked out by that, but then her mandatory art-school blaséness kicked in: She thought, Oh, I don't want to be square.

"I guess it started with coke and then everyone went broke, and so what are you going to do?" says Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice, the magazine of record for L-train riders. He's seen crack become trendy; he's even smoked the stuff himself -- you can buy it near his office, which is in a Puerto Rican part of the neighborhood. "Native Williamsburgers can handle it," he says. "But then you have rich kids who dive right in. They are going to ruin their lives."

Since that night at Luxx, Alice has seen crack passed around in the back room of another local bar. It's yellow and usually smoked in tinfoil or glass pot pipes; few people seem to accessorize with crack pipes (yet). There's even one red-walled bar, owned by some slumming liberal-arts-school grads, that's known as "the crack hangout," as one disgusted art-scenester puts it.

Crack also seems to be making its way up the art-world drug chain. "It's like that A. M. Homes story where the two suburban straight people smoke crack all weekend and then just go back to their lives," says Choire Sicha, director of Debs & Co. Gallery in Chelsea, who has a friend who did it for his 36th birthday. "I think what was once a stigma has gotten enough ironic distance to be funny or acceptable."

"It seems like it's not frowned upon anymore," agrees Alice. "Whereas before, crack implied that you're an uneducated scumbag, all of a sudden it became classy. You're like, somehow, down with the streets."

All of which is disturbing news to Bridget Brennan, special narcotics prosecutor for the city of New York. Crack use in general is "nowhere near what it was like in the late eighties," she says. "Let's hope they wise up."

Or maybe just get jobs. In the meantime, though, the return of crack is posing some other problems. "Now when you say to someone, 'Are you on crack?,' " complains McInnes, "they really might be."

Posted by: AoS on January 31, 2005 02:24 PM

thistle, being from minneapolis, i surely know its only minneapolis that has less then savvy white kids moving into crack strewn neighborhoods and thinking they can turn it around with a couple of bucks, or 911 calls - that would never happen in new york, or with upwardly mobile white kids from new york city... come on you doofus. this happens EVERYWHERE. kids need to educate themselves about city life, no matter where they're from.

the only thing you do is give up your cash in a polite manner, and get robbed. and the last thing you should do is taunt the thug. chriss... this has nothing to do with where you're from, and everything to do with not being street smart.

Posted by: dave on January 31, 2005 02:57 PM

"This has nothing to do with where you're from, and everything to do with not being street smart."

I could not say it any better. YOU CAN'T TAME A WILD BEAST. And NYC is the king of the urban jungle... You out of towers have a lot to learn about NYC gentrification, and it's said to say a lot of this going to continue to happen. You hipsters just don't have a clue... I'm from the urban life, I know what’s happening on the streets, and let me tell you the REAL NATIVES are restless... It's only going to get worse before it gets better. I mean you obviously have no clue when million dollar restaurants open next to a methadone clinic... All I can say look what happened to Siegfried and Roy... Those fools thought they tamed the kings of the jungle and looked what happened. You elitists better wake up and smell the urine. I regret a life has been lost in a stupid way, but it was her that was stupid, ya fuck with the bull, you get the horn. I mean, I read a eulogy from one of her friends that stated

"Once she chased after a thief who stole money from a sleeping subway beggar, he said.

"She freaked out on him -- she took the money and yelled at him," Zeller said.

We should not blame the Thugs; they own the streets of the LES. They always have, no matter how many million dollar condos are built. You need to understand that and RESPECT that. The minute you forget it or think differently, REALITY will bite back, that’s what happened that night.

Just too clear up some ends, before you academia elitists flame this post, the word gentrify means to renovate so as to make it conform to middle-class aspirations. That’s your problem; NYC never conforms and never will, epically the LES. And no matter how much money you dump into the LES…its true face, no matter how ugly it is, has to be respected.

Posted by: Criminal Mided on January 31, 2005 03:48 PM

Did I use the word "only"?

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