Sunday, March 29, 2009

The last one reminded me of something. All very William Morris.
But this is not social democracy; it's all part of the new social economy of service (and servants). I used to get fresh mozzarella and pasta in Williamsburg because it was an Italian neighborhood. And you can get very good pickles in the Hasidic delis on the South Side. The transition from culture to design. And the self-conscious but un-self-aware designers see themselves as cultureless or neutral, at least as neutral before they found their callings. They weren't of course any more than now, but they see themselves in their intentions not in the record of their actions, and are thus less able to imagine the possibility of outside reaction and response. They see the world through their enthusiasm itself, not through what they're enthusiastic about.
It's a mannered narcissism. The clearest illustration of this years ago: It amused me when a hardware store which had been forced to move after a rent increase was replaced by a shop called Brooklyn Industries. Nuts and bolts were replaced by their images: on t-shits and messenger bags (though the store has since expanded, in both locations and inventory.)

What's happening in the immigrant communities is much more complex, Williamsburg was dying with the young Americans moved in, other parts of NY are not. In other neighborhoods as I've said we're witnessing the bourgeoisification of people by themselves, and the terms have changed. The reasons I'm more interested in the culture of Tehran or Ankara than I am in the culture of Tel Aviv are why I'm interested in the culture of NY as a whole and not just that Manhattan and gentrified Brooklyn. Artopolis is a neighborhood business, from a neighborhood culture, it's not an imposition. But it's new, There are many other places like it, catering not only to those within their group also outside it, as part of a larger network of reciprocal relations in economic and social life (including both food and sex.) epitomizing the pleasures and tensions of cosmopolitan life. The new foodies of Williamsburg, by comparison -like its craftsmen in other fields- are geek narcissists: they're tribal.
There are many things to be critical of in the new modernity, but distinctions are important.

addenda:
A map of a city with an ethnic and culinary diversity unrivaled on the planet gets you this. To be fair, Eric Asimov would cringe.
From last year and related

And more on Brooklyn Industries: Immigrants. And the opposite of artisinal: cold calculation and crap.
That's for another day.

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