Monday, May 19, 2008

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be

I miss things that happened when I wasn't even born yet. I miss Greenwich Village in the 50s, the Lower East Side in the 20s, Mexico City in the 30s and Florence in the 1400s.
I miss New York when there wasn't a freaking bank in every corner. I miss it so much, it hurts.
The other day I met a group of Spaniards who like dives, so I told them I would take them to some major legendary dives and then I was racking my brains to think of any that may still be around.
I know it is a fact of life that when you reach my advance age, you resist and fear the change around you. But I also know I'm not the only one decrying the way New York is becoming more and more generic, losing more and more of its gritty charm. Even in freaking Jackson Heights there are banks in every corner now.
Yesterday I went on a tour of the synagogue of the Greek Jews of Ioannina (Broome and Allen, LES). Romaniot Jews that hail from the time of Alexander the Great or the time of the Roman expulsion of the Jews, a long time ago. It was extremely interesting that these people are striving so hard to keep their synagogue open and their unique traditions alive. Many of the original Romaniot Jews intermingled with Sephardic Jews that came to Greece (or Turkey, depending on the year) since 1492. Some spoke Ladino. We were served a lunch of burekas and feta cheese and stuffed grape leaves and delicious middle eastern pastries. The community is struggling to keep the synagogue open, as many of its members have decamped to other places, from Brooklyn to Long Island or Florida, even.
But they are the only Romaniot Synagogue in the western hemisphere and they recently renovated their lovely, humble temple. Good for them.
Marcia, the director of the museum made a special mention of the fact that people want to have the Lower East Side designated as a historic preservation district to stop the rampant gentrification and the terrible loss of the character of this amazing neighborhood. I hope it happens.
I believe there can be change that does not destroy the character of a place. People are trying to get Greenwich Village designated too, but it seems that the real muscle here is the power of money and preserving stuff doesn't make developers money.
I'm very sad.

No comments:

Post a Comment