Thursday, January 31, 2008

So they called me a cockeyed optimist, immature and incredibly green...

Last night MDH and I watched Rock Docs - NY77 - The Coolest Year in Hell on VH1 Classics from the cozy comfort of our loveseat in the den of our suburban Michigan home. NY77 is 2 hours about 1 year in 1 city. If you have VH1 Classics and happened to have been alive in 1977, or have any interest in Hip-Hop, Punk Rock or American history I strongly suggest you watch it.

I was alive in 1977.

I was only 9, but I remember the big black out and asking my mother why all the people went crazy just because the lights went out. I remember the Son of Sam serial murders and seeing New York City on the news all the time because of the transit strikes, garbage workers strikes, gang problems, drug problems and the general decrepitude and sleaze that seemed to have layered itself over the city like a dirty haze. I lived in Columbus, Ohio which seemed like a world away and I guess it probably was (and still is).

1977 was the year that I learned people could be dangerous and the world (big cities in particular) a scary place.

Prior to 1977 my images of New York were those of old movies from the 1940's, 50's and early 60's. Doris Day, a small town girl in the big city, having lunch at the automat while thwarting the advances of Cary Grant in That Touch of Mink, or Fred Astaire gliding across the dance floors of elegant night clubs, and Shirley MacLaine in Sweet Charity singing Cock-Eyed Optimist while she danced through Central Park.

Before 1977 I didn't realize that New York was a real place with real people living in it and real problems. I guess the 1977 image is the one that stuck because after that it didn't look so appealing.

Of all the places I've been, NYC is still not among them.

When I was 16 I drove through parts of the city on a bus from Newark Airport to JFK to catch a flight to Paris. By this age I had seen Woody Allen films, owned Talking Heads records, read Interview Magazine had an awareness of CBGB's and the Algonquin Round Table, so the city had started to take on a new appeal. My face was pressed against the window the whole time so I could soak it all in, but sitting on a bus in bumper to bumper traffic, doesn't count has having been there.

I'll get there someday for a little visit.

Well, I've started to ramble at this point, so I'll just say - see the Rock Doc thingy if you want and I hope that when I do finally get there, that it's more like the opening credits from Woody Allen's Manhattan, and less like Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis in the Out of Towners.

Hey! How could I forget to tell you about my interview by Suzel Sass! I feel like such a starlet... Thanks Suze!

14 comments:

Family Adventure said...

We're almost the same age...but I was in Scandinavia in 1977, and my biggest memory from that year was that Elvis died. Weird, really, since I was not - and am not - an Elvis fan.
I've been to NYC twice. People absolutely love that city, and I can see why. But to me it is overwhelmingly large. Toronto is big enough for me, quite honestly.
If you haven't alredy, you should come check it out. And if you wait until I'm back, I'll be happy to be your guide :)

Heidi

Family Adventure said...

alredy = already

Suze said...

My phone has been ringing off the hook asking about you. Oh yeah, call Jerry Springer - he really wants to talk to you :)

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Hey Heidi! We go to Toronto quite a lot actually since it's only about 4 hours from here by car. I like to stay near the big central market and just roam around all the little neighborhoods. It's a great city.

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Hey Suze - didn't see you sneak in there! Tell him to take a number and stand in line I've got bigger fish to fry. Seriously, I'm making fish for lunch.

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

You have to see NY at least once...I've been there quite a few times (being only two hours away does have it's advantages) and each time I'm just amazed by it.

CDP said...

I went to NYC all the time when I was young, because we lived in Philadelphia, just about 90 minutes away. My dad and his brother used to drive up there at least once a week (they had friends and "business" up there) and we'd go with them in the summer. We also went to Manhattan a few times a year; we didn't have much money, so we didn't do anything fancy, but I remember putting quarters in the binoculars on the observation deck of the Empire State Building). I was 12 in 1977 and I also remember Son of Sam and NY's financial woes, but the city still seemed like the magic place in the old movies when I was there. When I was a senior in high school and through college, I used to ride the train with my friends on Friday night; we were all too cool for the entire city of Philadelphia and were willing to spend 2 hours getting to NY to go out instead (it took 2 hours because we couldn't afford Amtrak. We'd take the SEPTA commuter train to Trenton, then transfer to an NJT commuter train to Penn Station).

I hope you get there soon, assuming you ever finish reading this excessive comment.

WendyB said...

You do an awesome interview, Broad. And we lived in Jersey in '77 but my parents were away, so my sister and I were staying with my grandparents in Queens just on time for the big blackout. I remember that time so well!

minijonb said...

i have strange memories of that year. most of my family was in NYC but i lived with my parents in California. i was a little 7 year old kid who didn't understand what music was. that happened in the 80s...

evil-e said...

I love that town...oh the photos (as has been displayed on my blog)

That documentary was very good, the NY punk scene of course is the best part of it. And yes, I have been disgusted by the hallowed halls of CBGBs. That place was a sewer.

Betty said...

What a fantastic post! New York is such an iconic city that everybody the whole world knows about it from books, movies, songs and pictures.

I've never been ( got to get me on an international flight first, which may or may not happen since I'm terrified) but my parent's and my brother have both had New York holiday experiences. They loved it, the energy and the whole vibe was amazing although my Dad was totally clueless about tipping and offended one or two coffee house waiters!

I hope you get there too, and one day, maybe I will.

pistols at dawn said...

Thank you for inspiring my soon-to-be-written anti-NYC rant. As cities go, it's fine, but it's no London, Paris, LA, Istanbul, San Fran, Rome, Prague, Chicago, DC, Boston...

The Guv'ner said...

Don't listen to Pistols, NYC is awesome! I've lived in Lower Manhattan since 1997 and ok..I'm dying to get out but that's not the point. It is great! If you have money. Which I don't. And it's great if you like lots of people, everywhere all the time. And if you can give the finger when necessary. And if you are ok with giving up your first born for a lease on an apartment. And if you don't want to own a car. And if you like sweating your ass off in summer and freezing it off in winter.

It does have superb shopping though if you're into that.

In 1977 I was at primary school in Scotland (like your elementary school) having classes under the cherry blossom trees in our playground. I don't remember Son of Sam but I do remember Elvis dying because our neighbours were huge fans and they practically howled all day. :)

BeckEye said...

The first time I came to NYC, I was extremely disappointed that I didn't see one hooker or tranny. It was after Giuliani swept all the freaks and homeless people under the rug.

Now of course, I see hookers quite often out in front of the bar across the street from me. And now I'm a little disappointed that I can't afford to live in a better neighborhood! Although we do have a Costco next door. Porn, sex, alcohol, Mexican take-out and bulk foods. That's Sunset Park.