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Posts Tagged ‘City Life’

Meet Your New Neighbors: An Interview with DW Gibson

May 21, 2015 | by

DW-Gibson-author-photo-credit-Chiara-Barzini

DW Gibson. Photo: Chiara Barzini

In cities, trends come, go, and come again; causes rise to prominence, fall by the wayside, and emerge repackaged; neighborhoods flourish or fall out of favor. Condos, cupcake shops, and bike lanes become signifiers; shady buyouts and racist landlords fuel arguments about whether communities are being renewed or decimated.

The word gentrification is in the subtitle of DW Gibson’s most recent oral history, but the author has trouble with it: it’s too broad, he writes, to adequately capture a wide variety of experiences, contexts, and meanings. Several interviewees in his book also seem at odds with the word. One says gentrification doesn’t describe anything in the real world. Another says he doesn’t need to be able to describe it because he knows what it feels like.

To mark the release of The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the 21st Century, I spoke with Gibson, a journalist and documentary filmmaker, about bringing the human touch to the page, viewing a book as one long panning shot in a film, and the importance of using all the tools at one’s disposal, including cute daughters.

How do you make gentrification something people want to read about?

Most of the books out there are academic or have an academic feel to them. I think the way you get people to care about gentrification is to write about human beings. My goal was to show the human fabric of gentrification. People relate to people, to stories. Read More »

Bus Pass

May 19, 2015 | by

L0052260 A stethoscope representing an advertisement for safe sex

I was anxious about the doctor’s appointment. Not because I thought there was anything much wrong with me, but because I knew they’d want to do “blood work” as part of the “workup,” and that the moment they brought out that thing they use to tie you off, and I saw the vials, my vision would blur, my extremities would tingle, and I’d faint like a neurasthenic fool.

Pull yourself together, I thought. That was the old you. Now you’re a grown-up woman of the world who’s not ruled by her neuroses. To prove it, I added a silk scarf to my ensemble; I draped it in a fashion I’d recently noticed on a hypersophisticated, unneurotic mannequin. Read More »

Booksellers Week

May 11, 2015 | by

Carl_Spitzweg_-_Kunst_und_Wissenschaft

Carl Spitzweg, Kunst und Wissenschaft (detail), ca. 1880.

One of the few remaining bastions of character on New York’s Upper West Side is its smattering of sidewalk booksellers. Up and down Broadway—displaying wares by American Apparel, blasting Bach, and hawking signed Roth novels in front of Zabar’s, dressed in velvet by the Eighty-Sixth Street Uptown 1—these are the folks who keep the neighborhood alive.  

Over the weekend, I was perusing the stall of a certain bookseller when another customer—a “character” in a many-pocketed fishing-tackle vest—strode up and began barraging the mild-mannered proprietor with questions. Read More »

The Talking Cure

April 27, 2015 | by

Commuters in Lower Manhattan, 1973.

Urban life is full of glorious opportunities to hear people talking to themselves. I don’t mean mentally ill people; it doesn’t delight me to see somebody visibly ill. No, what I mean is the triumph of unself-consciousness that you can regularly witness on the streets, where all of us reliably utter short, throwaway remarks to no one in particular. We don’t do this for others’ benefit, but when someone else overhears such a remark, everything comes together and harmonizes and, for all the world, it’s as if life has a narrator. E.g.: Read More »

And I Was Like…

April 23, 2015 | by

"portrait of a man" 2004-2006

Gert Germeraad, Portrait of a Man, 2010.

“GET THE HELL OUT OF MY FACE!” the woman screamed. My companion and I both turned around in alarm as we all mounted the escalator to the movie theater.

“Oh, sorry! Not you!” she apologized hurriedly. “I was just telling a story to my friend! That was something I said!”

In the week since, I have overheard several such monologues. One was a teen girl, vehement, on her cell. “I was just like, you do not speak to me that way,” she asserted. Then a guy on his lunch break was relating to his friend, “I was all, I am not the guy you want to mess with, pal.” Read More »

The Jerk Alliance

April 20, 2015 | by

advicefromaverynagryman

Tim Drage, Advice from a Very Angry Man, ca. 2000.

It can be exhausting, avoiding collusion. Jerks are always trying to make you complicit in their entitlement.

You know what I’m talking about. Someone, say, yells at a bartender. Then he looks around trying to enlist allies. Can you believe this guy?! his eyes say. It’s us against the crazies, right?! This city, right?! People, right?! And even though it’s probably as close to an impulse towards collectivism as this person will ever experience, it is crucial in that moment that you make him feel completely alone. Read More »