New York City really had it all, oh yeah, oh yeah…

THERE IS A STRONG CURRENT of nostalgia for the late ’70s and early ’80s in New York, even among those who never lived through it — the era when the city was edgy and dangerous, when women carried Mace in their purses, when even men asked the taxi driver to wait until they’d crossed the 15 feet to the front door of their building, when a blackout plunged whole neighborhoods into frantic looting, when subway cars were covered with graffiti, when Balanchine was at the height of his powers and the New York State Theater was New York’s intellectual salon, when John Lennon was murdered by a Salinger-reading born-again, when Philip Roth was already famous, Don DeLillo had yet to become famous, and most literary insiders were betting on Harold Brodkey’s long-awaited novel, which his editor, Gordon Lish, declared would be ‘‘the one necessary American narrative work of this century.’’ (It flopped when it finally came out in 1991 as ‘‘The Runaway Soul.’’)

There’s a new TV show, Vinyl, coming soon and it is a fertile setting for recent novels.

But should we be nostalgic for Gotham of yesteryear, with its shakedowns, mafia and murders?


One thought on “New York City really had it all, oh yeah, oh yeah…

  1. nice piece. I’ve been following it closely too – albeit from a distance in London. I’m a documentary film-maker.

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