Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers On Their Unshakable Love For New York

never-can-say-goodbyeRoseanne Cash came here in 1991 from Nashville, Tennessee, her work newly rejected. He artistic music didn’t excite the country music business, at least not like her previous songwriting, but she found herself right at home in the city’s folk music scene. Shopsin’s restaurant, immortalized in the documentary I Like Killing Flies, was a bastion of weirdness and rudeness, quite a change from Southern hospitality. The neighborhood had nice playgrounds, and they weren’t especially crowded. Today they’re usually jammed, thanks to the massive increase in the number of kids, leaving behind all their leftovers, and that attracts snack-loving rats. Twenty years on, everything’s more expensive, and the streets are once again filthy.

Patricia Engel has an interesting story with regard to housing. She preferred to live with violent junkies than live in the NYU dorms. She has a liking for rough trade, so I guess she would’ve preferred the 1970’s New York, but she’s not as tough, hip, or independent as she thinks she is. Engel would run screaming from the South Bronx, where I doubt she’d fit in at all, and I wager she wouldn’t want to live in a housing project. Aside from the danger, there wouldn’t be much for her to do in the South Bronx, at least not as much as there is in downtown Manhattan. Perhaps, like many overconfident young women, she’s just “slumming” for a cheap thrill?

Colin Harrison, map collector, discusses his love for the city, as does Whoopie Goldberg, whose experiences in NYC made her feel right at home in Germany. She grew up in the 26th street projects, where a number of German Jews were living, and her mother encouraged her to pick up on whatever she could.

This book comes along on the heels of another book called Goodbye To All That, where the writers discuss why they left the city. In that book, they all preferred small towns or farms, so it’s no wonder they left. Others, like the writers mentioned here, prefer living in a metropolitan area. John Lennon, for instance, chose Manhattan over London, and became a well-known fixture on the Upper West Side. He lived there when it wasn’t so popular, mainly because the Jewish-Americans who lived there didn’t give a damn who he was. Unlike younger New Yorkers, he lived in the secured Dakota building, not a townhouse in the West Village. You see, while a lot of New Yorkers come here for the experience, they don’t want the dangers.

Something tells me, a lot of these folks would’ve gotten fed up with the city after a few years, had they come here before Guiliani cleaned it all up.


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