I have recently been watching The Deuce on HBO. It’s a fictional story about the grunge, drugs and prostitution filled days of New York City in the 1970s, particularly on and around Times Square/42nd street. I’ve heard stories of how dangerous (yet magical) the 70s in NYC were, but it wasn’t until couple of decades later where I was allowed to visit the deuce after once former Mayor Giuliani cleaned up the area. When I was a teenager the area changed with more tourists attractions going up and the Girls Girls Girls porn shops shutting down.
In the 90s there was a huge Virgin Megastore on Broadway and 46th street. They sold CD’s, books, old vinyl records and other mostly music-centric merchandise. I know some of the terms I used before might not be too familiar for our younger readers. But I digress...
Teenage me loved visiting the store. They had various stands on the first floor where you could put on big headphones and listen to music off the latest albums that were just released by popular musicians and bands. My first purchase there was Third Eye Blind’s 1997 self titled album. I went on to buy CD’s from just about every popular artist of the era: Biggie, No Doubt, Pink, Radiohead and so on. When I was a Junior and Senior in high school, I had days where my classes ended early and I’d hop on the 7 train and eventually make my way down to the Village to St. Marks place and visit the old Trash & Vaudeville location and look through the racks of vintage punk tees and combat boots with dangerously spiky metal details. Walk by all the old and new punks sitting on the stoops with green hair and safety pins sticking out of their nostrils. I’d then make my way to The Bowery and wish for the days where I was old enough to visit the now defunct CBGB. In my 20’s in the 2000’s I actually never went in, but it was always cool to know that I could if I wanted to.
Being a kid in New York in the 90s was a particular type of fun that is now gone along with the other NYC heydays. Raw art and visceral reality isn’t as prevalent as it once was. There was something fun about getting on the subway without a phone and just figuring it out. Where you would tell a friend on the phone “I’ll see you there” and hope you both made it to the correct location at a set time. I will admit I wasn’t completely off the grid because I had an electric blue beeper where my friends could reach me, and it was glorious. I miss those days when MTV played music, going to a random bookstore around Union Square was awesome no matter how smelly those old books were and if someone wanted to speak to you they had to FIND you.
The Simpsons have a joke that has now become a meme where Grandpa Simpson is so old he gets mad at the sky. There is an article written about him and the headline is just “Old Man Yells At Cloud”. That meme talks to me on a personal level because it feels as if sometimes it’s hard to move on from your adolescence to face the realities of Tinder, vocal fry and millennial pink. But I will never give up my iPhone.
Written by Maddy
You might have recognized her work here.