Wednesday, May 21, 2008

lush life

AE saw Richard Price was giving a reading last night and we both felt that as it was free and on the block we had no excuse not to attend. Price was excellent, earthy, funny, a product of Bronx housing projects who spent four years hanging out on the LES trying to capture the neighborhood, an ancestral home. I enjoyed hearing him describe the LES as the most complicated place on the planetByzantine; like Egypt in the palimpsests of its fragmentary past; and simultaneously relentlessly now. I’m about to start reading Lush Life and will form a stronger opinion, but chapter one begins with a 35-year-old living in a tenement walk-up on Stanton Street who’s trying to make it as an “artist” who’s lived on the Lower East Side for eight years. And then there’s this parallel:

Richard Price, 2008:

“A hundred years ago there were Jews trying to claw their way out of here, and now the descendants of those people are paying $2,000 a month to live in what used to be their tenements.”

Irreverent Guide, 2003:

"There’s no small irony in 1930’s immigrants working their tails off to escape the Lower East Side, only to find their grandchildren plunking down $2,000 a month or more to live in the very same crumbling buildings.”

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