Wednesday, April 2, 2008
How Vampire Weekend Channeled Africa Through New York
What is a young artist to make of a post-Giuliani, post-9/11 New York City? Some credit the former mayor’s strategic employment of the “broken window” philosophy in fighting urban crime and blight—along with a police force that, putting it kindly, ignored many of the subtleties of community relations—with helping the city to clean up its act. Many old haunts that once housed angst-ridden musicians are being developed into condominiums and shopping centers (it was, for example, recently announced that the former site of CBGB is being converted into a store for upscale men’s fashion designer John Varvatos). At the same time, the horrific events of 9/11 have created both a newfound sense of community among many New Yorkers and an intense preoccupation with all things safety-related. The grime, danger and sin historically associated with New York have seemingly been wiped off the cultural landscape of the city, creating a new atmosphere marked by a cleanliness that threatens to erase many aspects of the region’s checkered history.