|Doma, back in April 2007|
Even the behemoth NYU, which has rescrambled its neighborhood more than once, couldn't clear out and knock down and throw up buildings as quickly during the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s, as it has done over the past decade. (It also has managed to come back from ICU status to now somehow hosting campuses not just in Manhattan and Brooklyn--where it snapped up not just its former engineering and architecture departments, which Polytechnic University of Brooklyn had taken over, during its troubled period thirty-something years ago, but that entire institution!--but in Abu Dhabi and, if I read correctly, in Shanghai, China very soon.) No matter how sharply pitched the outrage by neighborhood residents, the faculty, and politicians, NYU, like New York's bossy imperial mayor and its still growing cadre of billionaires and multimillionaires, is getting its way.
But my point with this post was not to launch into a tirade against my (one of them) alma mater. If you Google "NYU village plan outrage" or a similar combination you will find more than enough material to decide on the appropriate emotion. (Or just let Fran Lebowitz [cf. below] do it for you.) I also suggest visiting Jeremiah's site, which often points to places you might want to drop by in order to catch them before another high-end condo building crams into the spot they once occupied, or learn about a planned action to save a struggle bookstore, or chase down links to peruse if the mention of the words "hipster" and "artisanal" and "luxury" and "Ivy League" in the same sentence sparks in any emotion in you. Or if you just want to witness other people's exasperation at entitlement and privilege and no care for the swift, capitalist erasure of the past and present.
|Doma, on March 22, 2012|
It was also the place where I wrote, discussed and revised a good deal of Seismosis during the summers of 2003 to 2006 with my fellow collaborator, Chris Stackhouse. Since it was convenient for both of us to get to, I'd often go there, sketch a bit, work on revisions I'd drafted initially at home, and then show and discuss them with him. He often had to get back to Brooklyn or head somewhere else, so after our discussions I would just chill, write a little more, grit my teeth and not complain because the place did not have Wifi (though if you sat close to the front windows, you could pick up a free connection from time to time), and Doma was also not far from the Village Copier, on Hudson Street, where I copied and bound not only the many drafts of that book, but other many short stories, novel chapters, poems, and so on, over the years. (It too is gone, and its storefront remains empty, occasionally filling with sets for photoshoots.) Even though Doma was changing--though the other café where I worked on Seismosis, Il Panino Giusto, just down Perry and up Hudson, is thankfully still open--and I'd found a new favorite spot at the New York Public Library's Research Branch, I tried to drop by there from time to time when I was back in New York.
And then, this past March, during spring break, I went by Doma to get a cup of coffee and catch up on reading I'd had to put off because of the academic quarter, and it was closed. Emptied out. A shell. March 18, I believe, was its terminal day. I knew its hour of reckoning was coming, given that it sat on one of the primest spots in lower Manhattan, but I also though that the clientele, some of whom did belong to the 1%, could keep it afloat. But then again, since Doma did not own the building, if those 1%ers weren't directly negotiating with the landlord to keep the rent reasonable--a threat to many a business across New York--or if one of them wasn't the landlord and thus could decide to go against the grain and not gouge, the café-restaurant was going to have to clear out. It did. Sic transit...you know how that goes.
|Doma na Rohu, on Morton St.|
Anyways I have not yet hied myself over to Doma Na Rohu yet, though I keep saying I will. I haven't even been back in New Jersey for an entire month yet, so that's my excuse. I will get over there, though. I'm closer than the Brooklynites and their beer gardens, but it still isn't as convenient to get to as the old spot was, and I really am not looking to drink beer in the middle of the day, pleasant as that sounds (though if it gets hot again and I'm not already in Newark, I just might reconsider), and as I said I'm not so gung-ho on the whole heavy-duty Middle European thematics--and let's not talk about the scary mess that contemporary Hungary has become, at least not in this post--but I will check it out. Uh...soon.