Pop-artiest Joe Jackson geeft in een column in de New York Times aan dat hij, gezien de huidige omstandigheden in New York, de stad liever wil verruilen voor een meer artiest-vriendelijke stad als Parijs of Berlijn. Het is niet leuk meer in New York, zegt hij. Je mag er niets meer en de stad is intolerant geworden ten opzichte van minderheden.
New York used to have an edge — that sense that something thrilling can happen at any moment and that anyone, not just rich people and tourists, can be a part of it. Now even the bohemians are turning sanctimonious. Singers I know, who got through 20 years of smoky gigs, have become overnight converts to the total smoking ban in New York (though they don’t complain about the smoke when they’re in Europe). Can’t we just be grown up? Besides, a bit of haze in the air makes the lights look better.
The smoking ban is just one part of the strangulation of New York’s night life — a crackdown on everything from topless bars to noise — which began under Rudolph Giuliani and has continued under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Many of us preferred the old X-rated Times Square to the new “Disneyfied” version. Besides, shouldn’t a great city be able to tolerate a red-light district?
Nightclubs and bars can’t allow their patrons to dance unless they have an expensive, hard-to-obtain cabaret license; clubs are closed if even one customer is found using drugs; and rich condominium owners who move into neighborhoods made fashionable by trendy clubs go to court to complain about the noise.
But the smoking ban is the last straw, the thing that has me packing my bags in utter disgust. And the new state law that is going into effect in July is even more draconian. What exactly is the problem with separate, enclosed, ventilated smoking areas?