Robert Neuwirth Author Of Shadow Cities
Finds The World's Squatter Sites -- Where A Billion People Now Make Their Homes -- To Be Thriving Centers Of Ingenuity And Innovation He Takes Us On A Tour Quotes
Russell (Wayne) Baker:
By any precise definition, Washington is a city of advanced depravity. There one meets and dines with the truly great killers of the age, but only the quirkily fastidious are offended, for the killers are urbane and learned gentlemen who discuss their work with wit and charm and know which tool to use on the escargots.
On New York's East Side one occasionally meets a person so palpably evil as to be fascinatingly irresistible. There is a smell of power and danger on these people, and one may be horrified, exhilarated, disgusted or mesmerized by the awful possibilities they suggest, but never simply depressed.
Depression comes in the presence of depravity that makes no pretense about itself, a kind of depravity that says, "You and I, we are base, ugly, tasteless, cruel and beastly; let's admit it and have a good wallow."
That is how Times Square speaks. And not only Times Square. Few cities in the country lack the same amenities. Pornography, prostitution, massage parlors, hard-core movies, narcotics dealers — all seem to be inescapable and permanent results of an enlightened view of liberty which has expanded the American's right to choose his own method of shaping a life.
Granted such freedom, it was probably inevitable that many of us would yield to the worst instincts, and many do, and not only in New York. Most cities, however, are able to keep the evidence out of the center of town. Under a rock, as it were. In New York, a concatenation of economics, shifting real estate values and subway lines has worked to turn the rock over and put the show on display in the middle of town.
What used to be called "The Crossroads of the World" is now a sprawling testament to the dreariness which liberty can produce when it permits people with no taste whatever to enjoy the same right to depravity as the elegant classes.
Cities and City Life
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