I live on the cusp of the former “meat packing district” in New York City. No meat is packed around there anymore. Well that isn’t true; plenty of modeling agencies and discotheques and nightclubs where the “minimum” for a tabled bottle of Stolichnaya is $300, have replaced the wholesale butchers. The new establishments absolutely pack their share of meat. On the West Side Highway, the exits at 14th and 16th Streets read: “Meat Market,” an irony that I believe is intentional by the public works people.
In the 1970s, the meat packing district was home to empty semi-truck trailers, where the term “anonymous sex” among the homosexual community, outside the bath houses, really began. You could look it up or watch the movie, “Cruising.” The spread of AIDS took a wild toll there. The “Triangle Building” in the district, in the 1980s, was also home to the Hellfire Club, a later-period, infamous S&M and bondage joint, replete with an array of bathtubs used for “personal” defecation. They also had floor shows and floor shackles.
The debauchery continues today, with sex now being the undercard to money-worship. People come nightly from at least three states (New York environs, New Jersey, and Connecticut) to wait in lines to pay outrageous amounts of money for entry to these nightclubs and to, henceforth, fall down in or throw up on their Chanel dresses, Brooks Brothers suits, and my block. I guess that's what they call, "being noticed." Parking in my neighborhood is a nightmare every night of the week, and people fight over spaces. If your parked BMW, Mercedes, or Cadillac SUV needs constant attention, and its alarm and horn need to start loudly sounding every time a truck or a Harley Davidson motorcycle drives past it, then, please don’t leave it alone. Its alarm makes me as sick as you get when you are doing as the Romans did in their luxurious vomitoriums.
When I first came to the West Village of Manhattan in the early 1980s, I met people who had grown up there. They had played ball in the streets; they had met characters that you now see represented in cinema; they had opened businesses that then catered to their neighborhood’s needs. There were “mom & pop” stores and restaurants. I entertained a visitor from Atlanta, GA a few years back and, off the top of my head, remarked, “There used to be families around here, but now it’s just yuppies with babies.” There is a significant difference between the two elements.
As well as the yuppies, there is a preponderance of fashion models in my neighborhood. You notice them, because they are too skinny and coltish – they comport themselves on dietetically spindly legs – and, although beautiful and clad in state-of -the-fashion clothes, they are never smiling... ever. At night, there remain vestiges of the late 1970s and early 1980s. If you see, of a late night, a stunning young black woman in stilettos and a stole, you may be in for a big surprise when that individual accompanies you back to your overpriced “Meat Market” hotel room, of which there are plenty, for just such romps. Most of those black angels are men, and those men have a tendency to kick the actual female prostitutes off the block.
I might complain of the other residents of my purported “neighborhood,” but I am sure that they don’t like the looks of me either. I find myself to be one of the last remaining bohemians in New York City’s Greenwich Village, once regarded, and renown, for such outsiders. I see some others who were part of the Village in its heyday, long before I ever arrived, and they appear haggard and beaten down, not from their outsider’s lifestyle, but from what I would perceive, constantly swimming against the tide of money, from the true outsiders.
The rock 'n' roll element