Jeremiah Moss: My Secret Hero

The Con

Here are two absolute truisms for you to contemplate or ignore at your leisure: 1. People love to talk about themselves and 2. New Yorkers love to talk about New York.  We talk about our favorite restaurants, our favorite neighborhoods and our favorite deli’s.  We argue over 2nd Avenue versus Carnegie Deli and the Mets.  Then, when the arguments have died down, favorites have been put out all, of course, in an
effort to verify the veracity of our fellow Gothamite’s New York cred, we bond by waxing nostalgic over our favorite parts of New York that have been relegated to the dusty pages of Big Apple history.

I used to think this nostalgia was because the culture of New York, old New York, was in a constant death rattle.  An old 1993 West Village drinking buddy Chuck used to tell me I had been born twenty years too late.  “You should have been here in 1967 when I had an apartment for $7 a month.  That’s when you could really live in this town as an artist.  Now, what do you pay in rent, $800 for a lousy two bedroom on Bedford Street?  You have to work so hard to make the rent it’s a wonder you can ever write a thing.”

I nodded nicely and asked questions about New York back in the day all the while thinking this guy was lost in some sort of time warp.  A cool time warp when Beats, Jazz cats, Warhol, the Velvets and Dylan roamed the streets, but a time warp nonetheless.  Of course, I am now my own version of Chuck.  I watch my younger friends pay $2,500 for a month for a two-bedroom apartment in Hamilton Heights and regale them with stories of the Lower East Side when I was actively trying to become the best junkie I could be.

Unlike Chuck’s long gone New York, which can only be found in Alan Ginsberg’s photos, denizen’s memories and the occasional coffee table book, my fading New York can be seen changing daily on the Internet.  However, my New York has a champion and a poet laureate all wrapped into one: Jeremiah Moss; and he runs a blog chronicling the ever changing and fading New York of my youth: Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York.

If it had history or importance to New York City and it’s about to close, be torn down or lost to the ages, Moss puts it on his blog.  A meatpacking plant on 14th Street and a family of sawdust makers all get the same treatment.  He shows how the city is losing it’s character and becoming a suburban strip mall of it’s own variety.  Being a champion of the soon to go isn’t easy work, Moss used to blog Monday through Friday but has cut Friday due to the nature of the work, but he performs a vital historical service.  My New York will have a record for all to see and won’t go the way of the Five Points.

So my hat’s off to you Jeremiah Moss.  Thanks for keeping me up to date on my (adopted) hometown while I’m in the early stages of my Los Angeles deployment.  And, if you can find strength, please post on Friday’s again?  I miss those posts.  Thanks, the management.

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