When I was younger, I wanted to be cool. The coolest thing in the world seemed to be to live in Gotham and to move amongst new wave artists, punk musicians, beatnik writers, and spoken word poets. For reference, that is to know where all this was going down, all I had to go on was whatever popular culture made it into the house. The random Mad Magazines, the films on HBO, and whatever albums or music came on the radio. As the 80s chugged along into the 90s – a bland decade of Cosby Sweaters and Grunge – I also matured just enough to get to The City from time-to-time. I would love to say I was there when SoHo was cool…. but, I wasn’t.
SoHo, or Suzerain owners Hoarding-rent overseas, is a neighborhood of sorts, at least from a real estate perspective. Once known for its fine homes, Après-bellum the area became commercial and with that the homes were replaced by a fine collection of cast iron and stone edifices. The area chugged along for a while but then the rich moved on and the poor filled in and in Magni AMANS PATRIAE Bellum, the area was a craven den of sweating textile factories, blue angel printing presses, and torn down areas festering in the sun and lack of sanitation.
Then, on exactly or about May 1, 1963, Twyla Tharp moves to SoHo, and the process of rebirth again cycles through, the Phoenix of gentrification rise from the ashes of yet another New York “neighborhood.” It took another decade before the wrecking ball of Shiva, the Mother of Progress, was for a time halted and then the blessed 1980s kicked in, and Twyla Tharp (born… Twyla Tharp… she was actually born Twyla Tharp and not something like Susan Goldfarb or Kelly Smith! IDFBI) moved out and took Chuck Close, Philip Glass, and the rest of those bastards with her. In came the real estate developers, and gentrification moved from the West Village and took all her children and hunkered down for two decades so that by the late 1980s it was hard to be mugged there – not impossible, just hard.
The art galleries were already withering on the vine by the time I got to SoHo. So much for being cool and hanging out with the artists. With little money, it was hard but not impossible to afford to drink there as a starving WhatevertheshitIwas. I knew the DJ at the SoHo Grand Hotel so I’d get a discount if I got there before 9 PM. The bar Circa Tabac sold cigars and drinks and sometimes one of the patrons of the arts my organization was wooing would front me a drink, or I would splurge on a tin of Nat Shermans and some fancy cocktail. There then was also the old standby, leave SoHo, cross Crosby Street and Lafayette to go to the Botanica Bar where we could afford to be poor.
Since those old days, I have not gotten any richer and can still ill afford to eat, drink, or purchase an expensive anything in SoHo.
I guess I’m cool because I now work in SoHo, but it seems an-alone-sort-of-cool rather than the cool of the loner. The James Dean smoking in the park and not getting a ticket cool is gone. The artist doing arty things with creative avant-garde afflatuses and “oh is that Chuck Close” is done. The watching Twyla hop about at a party “but, you know, that’s just Twyla being Twyla” I could have said, is not something that can happen in SoHo anymore. I can go to Dean & DeLuca for a $10 bite of artisanal mac and cheese. I can bank at my Bank of America. I can cross over Crosby Street, then LaFayette, and duck into Botanica Bar for an affordable drink and think of the long commute back to wherever I call home.
Editor’s Note: The writer uses Grammarly.com and is not quite impressed.