Thursday, May 22, 2008

Exit Florent

Small things about New York are beginning begin to irk me. Mostly noise, which seems More. But it may be me. I might be less? Less dewy-eyed? More choppers flying low, round and round; more construction; more traffic. My cries are peevish.

The old complaint, too, that what makes, and more often made, New York, New being pushed out of existence by Big and Bland and sometimes Bling. The NYTimes article about Florent having to close confirms this again.

I have not eaten there enough: the last time was in a rainstorm, when we were planting a garden some blocks away, on Jane Street. We were wet through and through and straggled through its doors steaming, to eat hot buttered, garlicky snails with a glass of red wine. American diner meets bistro. It was there before anything or anyone else. Before the clubs. Before, long before, Pastis. Before the boutiques. It made the Meatpacking District safe with frisson. Hookers and galleristas and trannies and thin lonely men

We are losing contrast. We are losing iconic. We are being Disneyed and NYU-d into the torpor of uniformity. Soon we will become intolerent in a way only New Yorkers could recognize. There is a forced tolerance here because the Other is constantly in your face and to react to it would bring self-implosion. Live and let live makes you survive longer. On the subway, the street, every culture and stratum are encountered. Every illness, mental and physical, cultural and social, rides beside you. Every success, every wipe-out. The homeless mouthing drunk and the Rolexed yuppie rode to Park Slope on the F train last Friday, each ignoring the other, thighs and shoulders touching.

One day there will be no other. It will all be Us. And we will start to become prejudiced and unused to contradiction. We will stare at and deride the stranger, who will have become obvious. For now we are almost still all within the real of individual aliens. But we are homogenizing...

A place like Florent deserves, in a scary way, scary because of the threat it implies, a plaque on the door and protection. A historical and living reminder of how life could be lived. Of how it was. Of how a personality can colour a neighbourhood.

It's not good.


  1. Well, you're beginning to sound like me... But seriously, I think a $30,000 rent is perfectly reasonable for the right to serve snails and red wine in an American dinner... The little buggers are costly, you know? And you have to get them out of their shell, scrub it, and then stuff them back in. It's labor intensive. And depressing for the snails.

  2. Oh my. Thanks for so eloquently articulating my sentiments. There will soon be no "others"....indeed! I am still haunted by the memories of the trannys and punk rockers trawling the meat district; I cannot bear the crowds that swarm the uppity boutiques. Long Live Florent.


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