I still love this damn city, even if it's a shell of what it once was, and any semblance of a real community is nearly gone. I miss the days when your neighbors actually wanted to know you, would say hello, and knew they could turn to you for help if needed. I miss when there were cats in the neighborhood who'd chase-out/beatdown the predators when they rolled through looking for a vic; when folks didn't turn a blind eye to someone in distress. Long gone are the days when you didn't get sneered at by transplants for sitting on their stoop, when there weren't separate entrances for the poor in newly built buildings, and nearly everyone could afford a piece of the pie, even if only a small slice.
All that said, I still get a massive jolt of city-love when I spend the afternoon in Coney Island or an evening in South Brooklyn, or spend time in one of the many boss parks that I once took for granted. When I drink in Jimmy's Corner, catch a rock'n'roll show, grab a plate of $1 dumplings in some hole-in-the-wall joint in Chinatown or tacos from a street-cart in Jackson Heights, hit up one of the hundreds of free gallery openings that happen monthly, or chop it up with another local, reminiscing about the good times and the bad... I feel alive.
This is still a great city filled with art, adventure, culture, and a fair amount of real humans, but for how much longer it's hard to say.
Words by Lee Greenfeld © 2017
[ If anyone knows the name of the photographer who snapped the above shot of
the Montague Street OTB, please be in touch so they can receive proper credit. ]