The Almost Bankruptcy

Soon the subject of NEW YORK IN THE ’70s will belong solely to the historians and the fictional scenarists, as participants in the actual events of the era finally die off or find something else to talk about (I know which one I’m betting on). It won’t be the greatest tragedy in the world — how many times can you hear those grizzled anecdotists whose last moment of cultural relevance happened four decades previously dribble out the same stories of cheap rent and money carried in socks to avoid muggings and the amazing freedom of the downtown scene, man? — but as the past becomes even more gauzy and appealing through lack of mundane detail, it’s nice to see a few correctives that point out that it wasn’t all boundary-pushing performance art in disused parking lots and skinny kids with smack habits playing punk at CBGBs while the Son of Sam set cars on fire during the blackout to celebrate a Yankees World Series win. Sometimes it was a bunch of guys eating leftover matzo in an Upper East Side apartment as they discussed municipal insolvency.

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