‘We’re Not Tourists’
Invariably, there are going to be complaints about the return of those who bring an end to all of that.
Cheryl Dunn, 60, a photographer and documentary filmmaker, described the Lower East Side as having been transformed by a sense of community. “You go in a shop and people have time to have a conversation,” she said. “Maybe they’re starving for it, but it feels like a little village in a way it never did a year ago. There’s an energy. ‘I’m here, you’re here, we’re not tourists, we’re part of this community.’”
Mr. Moss of Vanishing New York had a similar experience. Somehow, he said, amid social distancing, he’d felt closer to his fellow New Yorkers than he had in years.
The nightlife promoter Ladyfag, 44, lost a year of income and Ben Maisani, 48, lost his bar, Bedlam, at the start of the pandemic. But the drag queens they knew were once again getting $2,500-a-month apartments in the West Village.
Last August, Samara Bliss, 30, and her partner Graham Fortgang, 29, were able to lease a 2,500-square-foot storefront in South Williamsburg, which they turned into an artist gallery and recording studio called the Locker Room. They got the former dentist’s office after the rent was slashed by thousands of dollars.
In January, the gallery put up a billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles that read, “New York is dead, don’t come back.” They also hired a prop plane to fly a similar banner along South Beach.
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