For some of us, the closings of Max Fish and the Mars Bar are a greater commentary on the decline of New York City than P Cliff Lee’s decision to shun the Yankees in favor of the Phillies. New Yorkers’ agog reactions to said transaction are to former NYC native (and current Philadelphia resident) Buzz Bissinger (above) compelling evidence “New York is living on the vapors of false hubris”. From Buzz in the The Daily Beast :
As much as New Yorkers like to think that the city is the universe, the universe has spread. As clever was it was, the famous New Yorker Steinberg cartoon is dead. Distinctive and funky cities actually do exist beyond the George Washington Bridge. Philadelphia, despite the endless amounts of shit it takes not only from New Yorkers but also from its own insecure citizens, is one of them. It is a city where individuality and possibility still count. Even Baltimore, thanks to The Wire and before that Homicide, has become the epicenter of poverty-laced murder and drug-dealing and corrupt unions and school dysfunction. Go farther out to Chicago, and the Miracle Mile of Michigan Avenue rivals Fifth Avenue.
New York instead is teetering on the precipice of becoming little a place of indulgent gentrification. (Forget Queens and Staten Island. They don™t count and never will.) In Manhattan, every neighborhood that once sang to the creative and sexual soul has been tamped down into generic somnolence. Upper Madison Avenue looks like SoHo, and SoHo looks like the Meatpacking District. The leather bars are largely gone, artist™s lofts have given way to celebrity getaways. Best Buys are procreating like rabbits. Times Square is flatter than most Midwestern malls. All that is really left are apartment buildings and high-end boutique clothing shops that sell nothing but the wearisome attitude of pouty-lipped women hoping to become models or married to the rich and the infamous. You of course can™t smoke in New York anymore, and I™m not even sure you can fuck unless you have a certificate of permissible copulation from the Health Department.
“Forget Queens?” If said borough didn’t count, there’s a big swath of cultural history erased. But in contemporary terms, I’m less than shocked to see Buzz isn’t a Silent Barn patron.