Dear New, New York:

You are officially breaking my heart. Your vacant, lights-out face further documents the  nature of what I’m searching to understand in my site ilovednewyork, primarily about what has always made New York special is slowly dying.

Things are looking bleak (and bleaker) on Bleecker Street or rather Marc Jacobs Row (take that Jane Jacobs) where the once great, beloved Biography Bookshop last stood–a final independent utopia. The same Bleecker Street where Paris Commune (pre-Bank Street), and Miracle Grill with many a gossip-fueled brunch now sits empty. A few blocks over, where just last week, Baby Buddha closed to high rents.

The bright, red signs of RIPCO lift prime real estate to its peak level.  As AKP points out, RIP stands for Rest In Peace, so it makes sense the demise of small mom and pop shops, landmark institutions and the fabric of what I knew as New York, is held in such esteem by a real estate firm.

Back in 1998, I hit the streets of New York out of curiosity. I looked for vibrant energy. People. Life. Humor. FOOD. I wandered the streets because I liked the possibilities and not knowing who I might bump into down the block.  Everything is so predictable now.  The closings of great places feel organized, in the vein of a rally, thanks for your 30-year patronage, and finally we cannot afford our rent but nice knowing you varietal.

Down citizens!  DOWN! Banks replace Chinese restaurants, nuevo riche restaurants (and greedy landlords) kick pioneers like Florent to the floor, Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs row sits prominently on Bleeker.  A slutty, burlesque tried to take over the shuttered Little Charlies Clam House. Go figure. A few blocks north, NoLita’s on life support. A long ago adios to Find Outlet, Nancy Koltes and the chic Tracey Feith–memories in the corner of my mind. Yo, Rice needs to relocate.  Move away decades old Me Kong. Don’t call us, we’ll call you Kitchen Club. You too, Chibi. Sorry El Teddy’s , your kitsch just didn’t fit into Tribeca’s architectural scheme.

New York doesn’t just break the hearts of the little guys…it’s those bigger names too. Chanterelle we loved your food but ’tis a bad economic climate and you just couldn’t hang nor could Café des Artiste or Tavern on the Green. Family run bodegas have lost to Walgreens or that third Duane Reade in a mile radius. Boutique hotels spreading like wild fire, something like those pop up shops with latest Gucci sneakers.  A new wave of rich hip-funks and faux B-to-C plus celebrity siblings are weed-whacking what’s left of downtown with Indochine wanna-be establishments in a new Max’s Kansas City format. Ho-hum. Fashion trend alert: The Bowery goes wide spread panic with of apparel lines showing up at Macy’s…it’s true Montauk’s own “The End” and “Ditch Plains” are California-based Hollister shirts, which conveniently took over the DKNY Emblem on Broadway and Houston. The Liquor Store is n0w a J.Crew production currently showcasing Bowery Pants and Ludlow Suits. Man, those savvy marketing kids are having a blast.

On the LARGE scale!  Bloomberg x3. Gay marriage… on the back burner AGAIN um, heartbreak. Historical graffiti and what’s left of artistic tags erased by the city’s own Anti Graffiti Squad. Wait, this is NEW YORK! Isn’t it? Wasn’t it? At least the Yankees won the World Series.  I just couldn’t afford to see it… live.

I see it but I don’t get it.  Now as a visitor, I’m walking past the same Mall of America I desperately attempt to escape.  New York was once escape.  Now it’s gentrified vanilla ice cream.

Bloomberg has done a nice job with the parks and cleaning things up (my golden retriever voted for him twice.) I feel warm and safe and fuzzy. During the process, the Mayor’s managed to move out the hoopla and creative vibes which shook the city.  My friends have moved away, only a few remain not because they wanted to because they had to.  The greatest city in the world which was once so achievable with hard work and a bit of luck is moving further out of my grasp. The city that never sleeps turns its lights off early.  Just like those darkened shops along Bleecker Street. Marc Jacobs; are you opening a library too?  A post office?  A bar serving frothy MJ beverages with plastic cherry keychains?

Hello world, I started talking to you while spending more time in a trendy boutique hotel room over streets I used to love. Am I worthy? Sure the view was better and the HDTV rocks…yet I felt isolated. Funny, I never felt alone in a city like New York.  And while I’m a cynic, it breaks my heart this New, New York with its empty buildings and storefronts is what now exists.

RIPCO, I know you’re just doing your job, but you break my heart.

New York, mostly, I just miss you.

LCD Soundsystem…please take it away “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.”