It's time it was said; it's time we yelped-- nay, barked about it from each corner deli and every neighborhood pizzeria! New York is being rapidly bleached to death. Times Square has become an extension of Epcot, and we're being eaten alive by Starbucks, 7-11, and Domino's. I know you've heard it all before, the pained outcries of many a New Yorker, lamenting the dearth of texture that once upon a time made our city unique, but what I'm talking about now, is something far more vital: our very survival. Each time I go uptown, I see yet another glass and steel million dollar plus luxury condo sprouting like an insistent weed from the rubble of another neighborhood, another victim of gentrification.
Not only are long time residents being driven from their homes and neighborhoods by ambitious real estate developers, eager to plant the next acronym (i.e., did the Financial District REALLY need to be renamed "FiDi"?), but our beloved bodegas and delis are being replaced in the night by 7-11s, Jambajuice, and Starbucks! I'm hardly worried about being labled as hysterical when I assure you that, one Sunday morning, you'll walk out your front door and feel as though you've wandered into some alternate dimension sponsored (like much of Broadway already is!) by Walt Disney, L.L.C.! If at that point, you find yourself pining for a taste of actual art, craving a "regular coffee" handed to you in a paper bag, or any of the other myriad minutia you've come to simultaneously treasure and take for granted living in New York City, you'll have to travel to the "Olde New York" theme park, located across the G.W. Bridge, in New Jersey.
If, dear neighbor, this vision of the future scares you and sends you into a cold sweat, wipe your brow, take a breath and listen; there's actually something we can do about it. It's simple, easy, and Gandhi, Emerson and Thoreau would approve: shop local. Yes, as simple an act as eschewing the Starbucks that opened on the bottom floor of your building for that little deli on the corner for your morning coffee, can actually make a difference; choosing the neighborhood health food store over the exorbitantly overpriced Whole Foods that just opened on The Bowery can help yet another New York family make ends meet.
I'm well aware of the fact that my diatribe places me in imminent danger of being mistaken for Sally Struthers, but let's face it: the middle class in this city, (I shan't even mention the rest of this country!) has now surpassed the status of being merely endangered; we are now in a very real way, on the verge of extinction. Anyone who is knowledgeable of the history of this city will tell you how we have always been the ones to hold it together. We have been the richest thread in the tapestry that is New York; we are the cornerstone of its commerce and the driving force of its creativity. Therefore, if we wish for this tapestry to survive, we must be willing to do whatever is necessary to keep the thread from further unraveling. If we don't wish to see our city turned into some corporate theme park cum mall, we have our work cut out for us, and I charge each and every one of you to take up the gauntlet!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm hungry. I think I'll go grab lunch from the corner deli.
*** By way of a postscript, I'd like to extend this challenge to people everywhere; wherever you live, please take up the cause. Support your local economy; instead of patronizing outsourcing corporations, support locally owned businesses. It's the best way we have right now of reclaiming our economic power from these shitheads who're engaged in mortgaging our future at what I feel is appropriate to call, "The United Corporate States of America, Inc."