By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
There’s nothing wrong with any of this. But remember that no one place stays hip or trendy forever. Let’s look at some of the other places that were once thought of as THE place to be for the young, creative and fashionable:
Greenwich Village. From the 1920s or so through the 1960s, Greenwich Village was the place to be for young people who didn’t fit into the ultra-regimented, straight-laced American society of those days. The title of the 1970s movie “Next Stop, Greenwich Village,” about a young actor of the 1950s who comes to the Village to fulfill his dreams, says it all. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, the area was full of both folk and jazz clubs, and Off-Off-Broadway theater was born there. My wife’s father, until he died, used the expression “a Village girl” to denote one whose sexual habits were somewhat free and easy. Today, however, Greenwich Village is just another area for expensive high-rises and brownstones, peppered with cheap stores selling trinkets for tourists — and still a few good music clubs and bars, but nowhere near as many as there once were. Simon and Garfunkel sang, “$25 pays the rent on Bleecker Street,” but that was a long time ago.
San Francisco. In the late 1960s, young people across the nation abandoned their lives, their families and their identities to come live in “crash pads” in San Francisco, take drugs, listen to rock music, see experimental theater and, when they had to, work at menial jobs. What happened? The same thing that happened to Greenwich Village. Today, San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the country. It’s more likely that someone would move to San Francisco to become a stockbroker than to “wear flowers in his/her hair.” But if you go to Haight-Ashbury near Golden Gate Park, you’ll see many grizzled, long-haired, tattooed homeless men in their 50s and 60s — people who came there during the hippie era, got into drugs and never escaped the street life.
The Upper West Side. At the same time that Greenwich Village was attracting young artists and musicians, the Upper West Side was attracting young intellectuals and activists. Bookstores like the New Yorker attracted young people who would pore over books and magazines for hours in that pre-Internet age, while theaters like the Thalia played classic and imported films that couldn’t be seen on TV (in that pre-VCR and DVD age). West Side people, who dressed casually, listened to folk or rock music, and studied subjects like social work, didn’t like East Side people, who were more like yuppies, and vice versa. Today, however, these two parts of Manhattan are virtually identical.
So, all you twenty-somethings who are having a great time living in, and partying in, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Red Hook and so on, enjoy it while you can. Twenty years from now, the front of hip-ness will have moved elsewhere. Where? Brownsville/East New York, perhaps? Or Staten Island? You can never tell!