“There’s a reason so many writers once lived [in Manhattan], beyond the convenient laundromats and the take-out food, the libraries and cafés. We have always worked off the energy generated by this town, the money-making and tower-building as much as the street art and underground cultures. Now the energy is different: the underground has almost entirely disappeared. (You hope there are still young artists in Washington Heights, in the Barrio, or Stuyvesant Town, but how much longer can they hang on?) A twisted kind of energy radiates instead off the soulcycling mothers and marathon-running octogenarians, the entertainment lawyers glued to their iPhones and the moguls building five “individualized” condo townhouses where once there was a hospital.
It’s not a pretty energy, but it still runs what’s left of the show. I contribute to it. I ride a stationary bike like the rest of them. And then I despair when Shakespeare and Co. closes in favor of another Foot Locker. There’s no way to be in good faith on this island anymore. You have to crush so many things with your mind vise just to get through the day. Which seems to me another aspect of the ad outside of my window: willful intoxication. Or to put it more snappily: ‘You don’t have to be high to live here, but it helps,'” – Zadie Smith.