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The End of the New York Press

There was a time when the New York Press was the city’s indie paper. The paper that was everything people expected the Village Voice to be, only to discover that it was a bunch of cigarette and hooker ads tucked around columns and reviews so lazy it makes The Onion’s entertainment section look like a real newspaper.

The New York Press with its dirty feel, its cut art, its columns full of crazy rants and slices of life from criminals, sluts, racists, the blind and its obnoxious publisher was indie. Not in the polished hipsters way of today, but in the greasy, gritty and on the edge way. It wasn’t RENT, it was the guy screaming at you on the subway. And it was free.

After all that was gone, the craziest part of the New York Press was Armond White, who kept up the paper’s tradition when the rest were gone. And now White is leaving too, and that leaves the New York Press an also ran alternative paper that’s slightly more entertaining reading than the Voice. But so are tea leaves.

The foldup of the New York Press is just another reminder that gentrification has won. That the image of New York City the NYP catered to, even if it was by new arrivals and for new arrivals, is over. The new city is poorer and richer. It has a lot of high rise buildings and high rise projects. But the character and the characters are gone.

Yuppies vs Italian-Americans

Explosive center: the Gennaro festival. Flip back to Mean Streets, with a pre-Fockers Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel’s Charlie hating on the festival. But that was the neighborhood. Today the better nabes of Brooklyn and Manhattan are swarming with yuppies and yuppie wannabes. Little Italy has gotten littler and boutiques are upstaging Italian butchers. And the festivities are still in everyone’s way.

The debate hasn’t gotten any smarter since. Critics keep making racist jibes about “greasy Italians”. Especially when they’re not real yuppies, but like Ying Ying Chong, wannabe yuppies. The children of immigrants rushing to get in on the gentrification express.

“They come in with greasy hands” and stain the leather handbags and $300 dresses, said Ying Ying Chong, owner of White Saffron. Despite foot traffic of 100,000 people a day, “it’s not our target clientele,” Ying sniffed.

The target clientele are yuppies. The people who moved to the area because they read Allen Ginsberg while high, and now want 300 dollar handbags. And the immigrant kids like Ying Ying Chong (who according to her linkedin prof speaks basic Italian, but doesn’t like actual Italians because they’re not the target clientele for her dresses and handbags) want them gone.

But New York City is full of festivals that annoy people. Why is there a Puerto Rican Day parade down an area where there aren’t a whole lot of Puerto Ricans. And unlike the Gennaro fest, the PR parade has a lot more collateral damage to people, not 300 dollar dresses. And what about the St Patrick’s Day parade with its alcoholic hooliganism. The protests and counter-protests surrounding the Columbus and Israel day parades.

Little Italy doesn’t have all that many Italians, but it’s still a part of the big ethnic mosaic of the city. Parades and festivals that annoy everyone else are part of that picture too. We’re not out to turn New York City into Seattle, with a Borders and a Starbucks on every corner and no history at all. Or a long string of boutiques. The festival may be annoying, but in all its messy ugliness, it’s more New York than the White Saffron is.

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