I admit it!
I am a multi-generational New Yorker, an "urban chick-a-dee," who has truly enjoyed growing up in NYC apartments -- with occasional excursions to my grandparents' country homes and beachside cottages. Although I have owned houses, ultimately I prefer apartment living.
Four decades ago, I moved to the WV (West Village) because I was an artist and activist yearning to dwell in a community that was simpatico. The WV was heralded as being a bastion of the avant-garde, the compelling salons of the "bohemians."
Here in Greenwich Village, I was surrounded by like-minded individuals: people involved in bettering our neighborhood and the larger world, aspiring to make a difference from civil rights to those of the women's movement and that of the burgeoning LBGT community. I felt at home in an environment of similar multi-disciplinary "creators" dedicated to their respective art forms.
The brownstone that has been our home was filled with apartments inhabited by actors, visual artists and writers.
On one side, the important social-political "mover-and-shaker" Congresswoman "Battling" Bella Abzug was our neighbor, and on the other, the wonderful poet, playwright and professor, Kenneth Koch. Across the street was the important journalist Charles Kuralt ("On the Road" with Walter Cronkite, originator of CBS News Sunday Morning) and the fine award-winning actor, director, screenwriter and author, Alan Alda.
I was delighted to learn that the formidable "Auntie Mame" had once held court on my very Bank Street as well as the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Willa Cather (My Antonia, O Pioneers). For I had also been lured to the WV by it's illustrious historical literati -- Anais Nin, Edna St Vincent Millay, Thomas Wolfe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walt Whitman, Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock...Their ghosts, my muse.
In the 1970s there was sense of the collective -- of the common good -- and of the engaging possibility of contributing to this.
It was the era of the ground-breaking GV resident, urban planner Jane Jacobs ("The Life and Death of Great American Cities") and Gloria Steinem (feminist, journalist, social reformer and founder of MS Magazine).
We all aspired to do good and be more like them.
Unfortunately, the demographics of the WV have changed!
The nouveau, trendy West Greenwich Village is primarily peopled with clueless young ones in their 20s and 30s. They rush in from their suburban upbringing via college dorms -- attracted by that very superficial trendiness represented by stylish restaurants, bars and pricey boutiques (which I too do sometimes enjoy).
They seemingly have no interest in the community -- neither embracing its vital history, nor contributing to the present quality of life. They are transients -- passing through for a few months, a few years -- offering no life enhancement.
They are the "wannabes" -- wanting to be close to their Sex in the City heroines. As if osmosis or proximity to the successful would serve as their own character-building... or make them a Carrie Bradshaw.
Armed with their MBAs, they are apparently mostly bankers, financial analysts and publicists. In their spare time, they neither read books, nor attend readings, the cinema and theater. They do not converse, debate or reflect. They do not aspire to "grow," nor study "Life 101"!
Instead they "party"!
Immersed in a trivial world revolving only around number uno, they contribute naught.
Binge drinking (for both the women and men), drugging and competing for the most boisterous and vacuous are de rigueur -- unfortunately until the wee hours. They do not care that they disturb others -- neighbors and neighborhood.
These -- the young and mindless -- have no experience in apartment living.
Ignorant of empathy for their neighbors, they treat their apartments as extensions of the nightlife scene emerging from the adjacent MPD (Meatpacking District).
Their raucous partying literally spills over into the once peaceful common areas: the halls, vestibules, lobbies, stoops and streets.
Where once one smelled lovely incense, the smell of booze and "stinkweed' oozes forth.
They live in packs! Apartments once occupied by families, couples or siblings are now filled with "roomies" -- roommates that have not matured beyond a dormitory mentality.
It would be remiss to not state that there are gratefully some rare exceptions to this lifestyle rule. There still remain a vestige of former demographics -- a few filmmakers, fashion designers and successful actors, others aspiring to greater deeds and living quiet lives of significance.
Actress Liv Tyler recently admitted to moi that she fled the WV because she could not "tolerate all this anymore"!
Landlords and owners would be well advised to give prospective tenants and buyers a questionnaire as well as a series of buidelines entitled perhaps "Apartment Dwelling and Consideration for Your Neighbors."
New rules for Newcomers:
Follow or leave!
1. You must contribute to the WV community through hands-on service and/or financial contributions
2. You will respect your neighbors by not violating common areas -- not smoking, drinking, drugging and "partying" on stoops and streets and then leaving your butts carelessly about, as well as your wine glasses.
3. You will not congregate loudly in such common areas such as lobbies, halls and corridors
4. You will control your guests not allowing them to disturb the peace.
5. You will refrain from ever having toga parties.
In 2013 wearing sheets in common areas is not retro -- just plain so unattractive!