Jan 27, 2009

WilliamsBurb

Leave it to former New Yorker Charles McNulty of the LA Times to inject a telling personal note into his review of Danny Hoch's anti-gentrification screed Taking Over, now onstage in L.A.:
My grandmother grew up in Williamsburg, and shortly before her death two years ago at age 98, I described the bohemian renaissance that had transfigured her childhood streets. She was mostly unimpressed but let out a derisive laugh when I told her about the multimillion-dollar condos for sale in the area. She had seen too many parts of town change over the years to lay claim to any one ZIP Code, but this lifelong New Yorker also recognized the impoverishment of a city in which only the rich are welcome.

Methinks that dose of local cred gives McNulty the right to challenge Hoch on his own turf in a way none of the New York critics did:
Of course, Hoch himself could be accused of a similar form of artistic colonization. After all, who gets to decide who’s a real resident and who’s a fake? Marion, the 60-something African American stoop dweller who can't help wryly noticing how today's rich kids like to "dress poor," might very well see Hoch in the same way he looks upon "the WASPy kid with a Midwestern accent and a faux vintage T-shirt"...Would the real-life inspiration for Marion — and even if she’s a fictional composite, she’s a stand-in for a black woman from a specific milieu — enjoy being made an anecdote in a white artist’s show?

Tell it.

2 comments:

Don said...

I believe that I'm the only critic so far who has questioned why Center Theatre Group is examining the gentrification of a New York neighborhood instead of one of L.A.'s neighborhoods. Beyond that, I point out that CTG seems to be increasingly averse to any L.A.-oriented subjects. See www.lacitybeat.com/cms/story/detail/our_town/7966.

Rob Weinert-Kendt said...

Here's the link you meant to post...and quite an important cri de couer it is, Don. I especially liked this: "What kind of cataclysm would have to strike L.A. to focus Ritchie’s attention on CTG’s home turf?"