Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Love and hate for the Upper West Side

I have pretty fond memories of the Upper West Side. We practically lived in the Dublin House Bar on 79th Street my senior year in high school. And we whiled away many a blackout night in our underage years bouncing between the Amsterdam strip and their less Jappy, more preppy, UES equivalents. But even in the midst of debauchery and drunken runs to H&H Bagels, my apolitical under 21 years found something palpably nauseating about the street vibe on the Upper West Side, even if I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

While the young bar habitues were of a markedly different stripe, the neighborhood seemed to be characterized by an overabundance of ugly people, poorly dressed - in a studied way - all effecting an air of self-importance. Parisians without style. Possessing a joyless essence, as though their souls had been sucked, not by world-weariness but by their own dirty neurotic existence. The retail aesthetics featured nary a trace of bohemia either. Its nobody's idea of a hip, let alone edgy, neighborhood. More like a repository of fourth generation red diaper baby rent-controlled gloom bunnies. And if downtown is epitomized by the inner turmoil that has art as its end result, the Upper West Side comes off as a place that welcomes or cultivates art critics and insufferable know-it-all douchebags.

So even as we flocked to the divey collegiate bars like cheap whores there was a growing sense that I wouldn't be caught dead living there. And it grew into an intense desire to spend no time there for any reason at all. And this, just from silent observation! Even if I didn't intellectualize it thusly at the time, it had none of the energy or vibrance of other predictably politicized environs like Williamsburg, the village or the Lower East Side. Places I love even if I'd sooner get my balls pierced than admit my political leanings to their inhabitants. The UWS by contrast is just grim, self-satisfied progressives in a suck hole of nothingness.

Watching this video was to have all those visceral impressions surge back into my consciousness with the hilarious recognition that yes, of course, where could all those lugubrious cretins have been headed but to confabs like this? And how, pray tell, could they possibly conduct themselves other than in this manner?

Of course, that's how they deal with each other, but how they deal with differing viewpoints is even more amusing.

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