Sunday Morning! “Longing Lasts Longer” by Penny Arcade

Rufus F.

Rufus is a likeable curmudgeon. He has a PhD in History, sang for a decade in a punk band, and recently moved to NYC after nearly two decades in Canada. He wrote the book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (2021).

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7 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw

    I read What Artists Wear by Charlie Porter this week. It is a breezy book but has philosophical tones on the meaning of fabrics and textiles and what they represent to the outside world and to ourselves.

    As to a New York gone by, to paraphrase Philip Larkin, I was a born a bit too late to experience that New York. When I was a small child, it was the height of New York being a dangerous place but I was too young to notice this at all. We went into the city but I was always with my parents and as far as I can remember, the bad areas were avoided on our trips to MOMA, the Met, the Guggenheim, the Natural History Museum, Lincoln Center, or to places like Barney’s for shopping trips. By the time I was old enough to go into the city on my own, it was a much safer city with a big Virgin Megastore (remember those?) in Times Square.

    That being said, Williamsburg was just starting to get hipster during my college years and I can remember Williamsburg from the early aughts when it was far less developed but just starting to have a cool bar or restaurant or two/other businesses that catered to college-educated bourgeois-bohemian types. I have not been to Williamsburg since 2016 or so but during my visits after moving to CA (LeeEsq still lived there), I remember a nearly completely bourgeois-bohemian neighborhood that was extremely developed.

    Cities need to be for everyone and moderate-income folks being priced out is a problem that goes beyond artists. Teachers should be able to live in or near the communities that they teach in without long commutes. Everyone should be able to do this largely. But it strikes me that there is also a dislike of having normie winemom libs (how cringe) discover the city again.
    When people yearn for the New York or SF that was, they are implying that they miss the days when the city was the place for people who did not fit in.

    Also as the poster from 2006 notes, Jacques Brel was in its 25th Anniversary year. The Fantastiks ran for 42 years from 1960 to 2002. It’s not like downtown is always doing new and bold things.

    Plus there is always the persistent problem that a lot of people who yearn for the grit of old New York or whereever often come from the trust fund class itself. People who can pursue “independent careers in the arts.” Most of these people are generally harmless but there are plenty where it is clear that they are looking down on college classmates who need day jobs and choose paths that led to better paychecks. They might reject the country club but they don’t reject the freedom that money provided them.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw

      From what I gather from the activist and artist set, they believe that cities should be for different types of minorities and oddballs with some wealthy people while most normies should be in the suburbs. At best the normies will be allowed some trips in during in the year or to come in for work. Maybe normies in their twenties will be allowed to live in the city during this time.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Saul Degraw

      Yeah, I mean Penny talks a bit about how the real reason she was close friends with Patti Smith for a number of years (a lot of young people know Penny Arcade from ‘Just Kids’) was they were both from working class families in a scene with a LOT of slumming trust funders. She also made an interesting point about Andy Warhol’s habits being typical of immigrant families.

      The point about schoolteachers not being able to afford to live in the city where they teach- and, increasingly, I hear about people with kids *leaving* cities like Toronto because they can’t afford to have kids and a career there- or kitchen staff and cops having to commute, has always seemed WAY more salient to me than people’s gripes about what kind of stores are on their block.

      I live in a part of the East Village where the apartments are slowly being replaced by lockboxes for the very wealthy- I saw an apartment with the square footage of our basic one-bedroom two blocks down selling for $9 mil. yesterday, etc. The result of all this high end money laundering and financialized real estate speculation is that cities will empty out the people who make them run and worth living in. And since we’ve collectively agreed that government-built and sold housing *could never* work, I don’t know what options people who care about cities actually functioning have here, besides waiting for the RE bubble to burst and tank the economy. Fun times.

      As for trust funders affording independent careers in the arts, I know what you mean. I think the real problem- at least for me- are for people like Penny, who came to NYC with *nothing* and made a scene for herself. There are far too many gatekeepers now for something like that to happen, it seems to me. Even getting around the rents.Report

  2. LeeEsq

    The entire romance of city grit depended on suburbia coming into existence. Without large numbers of lower middle class families and above decamping to the suburbs, American cities after World War II would be very different places because there would be more people with conservative social inclinations in then.

    Another thing I always wondered about city grit romances is what where the more rust belty cities like during this time. New York, Chicago, and San Francisco managed to remain very important economically and culturally during this time. People in the suburbs still went for work and play. For Chicago the biggest chunk of suburbia was located in the same county that Chicago was. You also had plenty of cities that lost their economic and culturally importance like Cincinnati or at least heavily declined compared to the big three mentioned above. Not every twenty something had a period living in the city.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to LeeEsq

      I’m actually going to get into Detroit next week (hopefully!) for a book on how and why techno music came from a place that still looks like an industrial ghost town and how it caught on in Europe instead of at home.Report

  3. Michael Cain

    I’m about a quarter of the way through Neal Stephenson’s Termination Shock, another near-future climate-change novel. Some of the coping strategies I expected. The most unusual one so far is that house-jacking is an entire industry in Houston — rich folks who refuse to move have their house lifted and a six- or eight-foot tall above-ground foundation is built under it.

    It’s the time of year here when bears challenge the entire concept of an outdoor safe space on campus. This one climbed a tree on campus and settled in, so the state wildlife officials darted him and then lowered him on a rope. The one in town yesterday was sighted about a hundred yards from a trail where I bicycle regularly.Report

    • Slade the Leveller in reply to Michael Cain

      Just moving Galveston a little north.

      I enjoyed Termination Shock. Stephenson is alternately hit and miss lately, and this one had some interesting ideas. The ending seemed like he was going to continue the story.Report

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