FoHDiary Day 6: The Spirits In It?
I'm sat in my coffee shop of choice again. More granola and coffee in nice, if not overly santized surroundings. Those surroundings definitely fit the people in here today. It's a different crowd. It's not business people in suits and brogues, instead hipsters having brunch and reading Wallpaper. New elites essentially. Hipsters. People with jobs in "new media" (whatever that is, it's 2016 people!). The piped in music has also changed. It's no longer 50s jazz, instead we've got acousto-whinging and hipster indie rock replete with vocoders a la Temper Trap and My Morning Jacket.
I feel stupid sat here trying to tease out some meaning, some signs of this disco thing I'm here to search for. Obviously it isn't here in this coffee shop. I'm in entirely the wrong place. But the coffee shop is symptomatic of Manhattan, and the USA, and maybe even the West in general. David Depino said the final thing that killed the Paradise Garage was the gentrification of the area, and noise complaints from new build apartment blocks. Raucous, sexually permissive, and sexually progressive nightworld doesn't really have a place alongside brunching families and kitchenware stores. I'm here searching for ghosts in a land of newborns. Disco's crowd, and disco's message have aged out. There's no space in the system for them.
I don't know what I expected to find in this city. Don't get me wrong, so far it's been wonderful to visit new places and really get into this project in a way normal life doesn't permit. And yesterday's interview with David was worth the 8 hour flight alone! But I must be honest, I do feel underwhelmed. No. Not underwhelmed. I feel like I'm late to the party. In actuality the party has been over for 20 years, and I knew that was the case before I came here. But I had hoped to find something of it still here, some echo reverberating around the city, but this city is too loud, too unreflective, too dense for those fragments to still be perceived amongst the noise. All those echoes are drowned out by the sonic edifice of urban renewal, regeneration, and in the name of almighty progress.
I imagine there are people reading this and rolling their eyes at me right now. As I said I understand just how lucky I am to be here, and how much faith Finzi have put in me. And I feel like I've got some great work done and found small bits of forgotten apocrypha between the skyscrapers. Exploring the city and the landscape it generates has been infinitely useful in contextualising everything I've learned and have still to learn. And I am fully aware that my hopes were pipe dreams rather than even a reflection of potential reality. But there's still something in my that will be glad to get out of dodge. I leave for Chicago at 5am tomorrow. Hopefully they're pastures that still hold some greenery, rather than paving paradise (yes, Big Yellow Taxi, so sue me). I realised, completely accidentally, that I've planned this trip to follow the timeline. Disco in NYC, House in Chicago, the back to NYC to finish with NY Garage.
I did make it to MoMA today. And to A1 records (the best house in the city that I've found, and an awesomely good record shop to boot. Maybe the best record store I've ever been to). And I met my childhood hero Winnie The Pooh today. He was delightful. But did not share his hunny. I was 23 until I learned that was not how hunny was spelt.
Must go pack. How much do you tip housekeeping?