Thursday, April 03, 2008

Immaterial Girl

It pains me to agree with just about anything in the New York Post, but Brian Niemietz sure has a point about Madonna -- "I Love New York" when I'm promoting my new album at the Roxy in 2005 -- Ciccone's recent comments about the city's losing its excitement. (Pot meet kettle.)

JUST who, exactly, is Madonna to be calling New York snoozey in the newest Vanity Fair? It's "not the exciting place it used to be," is it?

Strange words, indeed, coming from the woman who sang in her 2005 song "I Love New York," "I don't like cities, but I like New York / Other places make me feel like a dork."

Forget the bad poetics - what could have happened in three years to turn her against us? Wait, we know: Madonna's gotten old! Is it not the epitome of old to kvetch about how much better things "used to be"? Somebody better tell her that Andy Rooney wants his shtick back.

Sure, New York's changed in the past 25 years, but so have you -- Botox/nip/tuck/dye job/electrolysis notwithstanding.

And not for nothing, but Madonna - who hasn't lived on this isla bonita for years -- wouldn't know "edge" if it bit her in her nearly 50-year-old keister (which, airbrushing and power yoga aside, it's time to stop flaunting).

What Madge seems to have forgotten while simplifying kabbalah and honing a fake English accent to replace her fake New York accent, is that it's OK for New Yorkers to knock our city, but that license is not extended to those who aren't paying their dues on our streets, subways and in overpriced apartments every day.

And really, if the club scene of Madonna's day produced the Queen of Pop, who went on to record a dozen No. 1 hits and 20 Top 10 singles, how edgy was it?

It's worth noting that Madonna's rise in the early '80s came when Studio 54 existed in name alone, disco had all but died, and the punk scene headlined by the Ramones and New York Dolls (a k a more exciting times) was expiring, as well.

Madonna's cultural progeny is the likes of Britney Spears -- with whom she performed, recorded and even canoodled. On the edge, to be sure. Edgy? Not so much.

Face it: Madonna was a blond, blue-eyed commercial package delivering watered-down funk and Latin music typically performed by dark-skinned people whose posters would never be tolerated on the walls of girls in Madonna's Midwestern hometown of Bay City, Mich. Madonna revolutionized dance music much the same way Elvis invented gospel and rock 'n' roll.

If Mrs. Ritchie really wants some sizzle, maybe she should sell her Upper West Side apartment and check out properties in Bushwick, Brooklyn -- where fashion, music and muggings still come together regularly in a style reminiscent of that cracking '80s synergy.

Sure, we could do without the Meatpacking District and Times Square, but here are 25 ways in which New York is better than it was 25 years ago -- and why we expect the next Madonna will be arriving at Grand Central any minute now.


Anonymous said...

Whatever, she's right. The city is turning into nothing but luxury rentals, Duane Reades, banks and Starbucks ... and of course NYU and Columbia University dorms. Everything that was cultural and exciting about this city is slowly disappearing, just look at the East Village and now even Harlem is poised to go the way of generic glass towers for the power gays and the well off.

Anonymous said...

You're right: London and Beverly Hills -- her two primary residences -- are so urban and gritty and oh so accessible to the common folk!

Aron said...

How come when Madonna says something that everyone and their mother has said (and most people agree with), she gets pilloried? The city that Madonna worked her way up through is gone, or is at least a shadow of its former self. Young, creative artists don't come here like they did when she left Michigan. They can't afford to. So if anyone out there can discredit what she said, I'd like to hear it. Otherwise, give the woman some credit. Don't forget she's a wife and mother of 3 now so she has to make different decisions about her life than when she was a single, brazen dancer trying to make it. It all just sounds like sour grapes to me...

Anonymous said...

Aron: I'm sorry but that's such bullshit. EVERYONE here in NYC was saying THE EXACT SAME THING in the 1980s (do you remember the movie "Wall St."???). MONEY MONEY MONEY. Only people with MONEY can afford to live in New York NOW (then). People -- Madonna included -- always think that when something happens that they notice THEY were the first ones to experience it. She's just old now and looking at things from an old person's point of view (which ALL people do).

Kids are still pouring into NYC to be actors, dancers, artists etc. It's ALWAYS been tough and it's ALWAYS been done. You're ridiculous if you think otherwise.

Matthew said...

She's right. The city is NOTHING like what it was when I first got here. I also don't think she is trashing NYC—the media just picks up little kernels from interviews and makes them into huge issues. In this case, the Post has a real reason to pick up on this kernel because saying she isn't into NYC as much as she was can easily be turned into an anti-patriotic thing. It's a yawn of a story from a newspaper that does not deserve extra attention, IMHO. I'm sure Madonna still loves New York, but how can the New York of 2008 compare to the New York of 1982, when it was alive with a burgeoning art scene and it still had a seedy, dangerous excitement to it? It can't. It doesn't. Doesn't mean it's not still the greatest city in the world.

Aron said...

"The city doth protest too much...."

tim said...

Ahhh, the New York Post. The bastion of integrity.

Anonymous said...

it used to be the city that never sleeps..... remember ?
it certainly sleeps now.
it has tamed and become user friendly so tourists from from all over can say "I Love NY"