2005_11_13_fourthstreet.jpg
Today's City section focuses on the gentrification of the East Village over the past few decades. Using the original production of 'Rent' and the new movie version as a framing device, Richard Perez talks about the constantly changing populations of the neighborhood, complains about the truly awful new stuff (*cough* Sculpture for Living *cough*), reminisces about the areas former druggy splendor, worries about the disappearance of the AIDS epidemic from popular culture, and generally expresses the pain of nostalgia for a neighborhood that just ain't what it used to be.

In the end though, we're not really sure what Perez wants us to think about the changes to the neighborhood other than the fact that he doesn't approve. Nostalgia is nice and all, but by definition is unproductive. When we were little and growing up in the neighborhood we clearly remember most of the stuff Perez writes about. If we didn't trip over a pile of passed out punks and drunks on the Bowery each morning on our way to school, something was wrong. The multi-colored tops from crack cocaine vials provided an urban counting lesson for us and the other neighborhood kids. Of course now none of the neighborhood kids can afford to live where we grew up, but that's how cities change (and we'll be back... oh yes, we will be back). Is it nice to reminisce about the old neighborhood? Of course, as you may have noticed, we do it constantly. Will it bring the old neighborhood back? Not at all. Will anything? Of course not.

But while we're on the topic, our favorite long-gone East Village memory is Mike the Butcher who used to have a shop by the Hell's Angels on Third Street (now a bar). That man, may he rest in peace, knew his customers by name and knew how to cut a side of meat better than anyone. So now that we're sharing, what are your favorite old-EV memories?

Photo by Keith Meyers from The NYTimes