Woody Allen should work with Howard Jordan Jr on a screenplay. The first thing he writes is “the best thing about living here is telling people who don’t that you do.” The movie streets, according to him, don’t connect in the movies the way they do on the map, which is obvious, given that in most movies the chase goes from one neighborhood to the other in the wrong direction. In Hurricane Streets the boys ride from Tower Records on west 4th street, and minutes later they’re at the Greenpoint Waterfront.
Jordan gives lots of small chapters to the small things that can annoy in this city, so a good description for the book would be “sweating the small stuff.” Subway fares rise, everything has to be done on a schedule, and you can’t tell how much of the city gets gentrified. I recall the time my uncle, visiting from Vermont, said “I can’t believe how many stores are closed” and realized it was true, I just never noticed. On the other hand, gentrification brings good things too. Neighborhoods that used to have one food store and lousy restaurants are now full of them. Soho was “cool” in the early 80’s, but it wasn’t a place for foodies.
You quickly lose sympathy for panhandlers in this city. He describes how their omnipresence drains your patience, along with the “fundraising campaigns” stepping in front of you. They give you no choice but to sidestep them, and you have to restrain yourself from pushing them out of the way, and then you get fed up with all the people who use poverty/color/obesity as an excuse and you can’t say so out of fear that you’ll sound politically incorrect.
Okay, that’s what this book is, lots of raving and ranting about the city. But I think that it’s wasted in book form. It might have done better as a column in Time Out NY or the Village Voice. Then again, the kind of people who’d want to read this book probably won’t be interested in The Village Voice. Maybe that’s another thing to rave and rant about.