Twilight Becomes Night

February 22, 2008 § Leave a comment

About six years ago, my wife and I moved from New York City to Charlottesville, VA. After a couple years in the south, we moved back to NYC, back into the same apartment building actually (it pays to stay friendly with your landlord). Soon after moving back, I walked in to the local bodega/deli nearest our building and the guy behind the counter says, lashes unbatted: “long time, no see.”

You tend to get to know the local business people in NYC — at the deli, the dry cleaners, the guy selling fruit on the corner. Whether it’s out of necessity or just pure physical closeness (it’s not that they are necessarily nicer than proprietors in other places), NYC was more neighborhood-y than any other place I’ve ever lived.

Of course, that’s all changing… even NYC is losing much of it’s community feel. I worked near Times Square and I remember when an Olive Garden opened smack dab in the middle of it. I’m not against Olive Gardens (well… yes I am), but who goes to NYC and eats in a chain like that?

Just browsing thru today’s metro section of the NY Times, there are two articles about this change: Another Casualty of High Rents on the Upper West Side and If OTB Goes, So Would a Relic of a Grittier City (betting parlors, kinda like libraries, are still “third places” for some people: “these parlors are more than just a place to take a chance, they are unofficial social clubs with core groups of regulars”).

Twilight Becomes Night is a documentary film about the fading small business presence in New York City (found here). Some video clips are available at the site and here’s one from YouTube:

Soooo… Can libraries play a role in helping maintain the local business presence in their communities? Or should libraries simply focus on themselves as they are, in some ways, local businesses just like the disappearing cafes and books stores (and betting parlors). Maybe both…
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Now playing: LCD Soundsystem – New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down
via FoxyTunes

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