I am unable to come to class today due to illness. Please post your blog for this week’s readings. For next week please finish Lisa Duggan’s Twilight of Equality?
The landscape of Times Square during the 1970’s was characterized by pornography theaters, starkly different from the modern space littered with chain restaurants and retail outlets. This rather rapid gentrification process re-privatized sex, further bolstered by the sodomy laws in the 90’s, and sought to segregate socio-economic classes. At the theaters, people made contact with others, some anonymous, some public with people of various economic backgrounds who flocked to the theater for similar stimulation. Even homeless men were treated with respect and often struck up conversations with them. In the modern time square, there is a strong police presence that will quickly round up any homeless people from the Square at the behest of these restaurants and stores to ensure customers patronize their businesses. Removing people of lower means from cities has always occurred in any gentrification process including most prominently under Napoleon III of France. Haussmann redesigned the city of Paris during the 1850’s and 60’s. He removed all the slums from Paris and made it a city exclusively for the bourgeoisie and placed stores underneath apartment buildings at the street level, creating window shopping. Haussmannian Paris mirrors Times Square in the sense that it was created for a certain class of people and encouraged people to buy things they do not necessarily want or desire but it has been imposed on them subconsciously through marketing. To be truly honest, I am astounded by the interest tourists have generated for times sqaure when eating at these restuarants and buying that particular brand of clothing can be done while in their home town. There are so many great Italian restuarants in Manhattan but people go to eat at the Olive Garden; it is baffling.
The old Times Square (Red) was around from the 1970s-1990s, it was a place that many people called home. There were places to gather for the locals (and even those few who visited), whether they were small family owned businesses (restaurants, stores, etc.) or huge theaters that played pornography movies. Everyone was treated the same. No one was looked at as an outcast, even when you had to pull your pants down every few minutes to keep yourself awake. Then everything changed to the new Times Square (Blue), the Times Square we are all familiar with today. The bustling, tourist attraction; one of the largest in the world. When the reconstruction of Times Square began, all of those small family owned businesses and theaters were slowly shutdown and turned into huge corporate owned sky scrapers. The theaters were renovated and now are homes to the big production Broadway shows we all love to watch. The people that called Time Square their home were either kicked out or had to leave because living there became too expensive and impossible to afford on their blue collar incomes.
The main component I got out of Delany’s Times Square Red Times Square Blue is that every single decision that any person decides to make on any given day is their personal right as a human being living in America. It should not be a governmental discussion whether or not a man can marry a man or if a straight man wants to spend a few hours in a porn theater. Yes, we are all living in this country together and we all have our personal view point’s which we have every right to vocalize, but with that in mind, how far is too far? Will you really go past the realms of discrepancy just to make your voice heard? Is there really any guarantee that you will be heard? Delany tells us in between the lines of his writing that although we may not be recognized or displayed there are causes worth fighting for, that need fighting for and deserve to be fought for. Even if only 10 out of 100 people hear what you have to say you have just taken advantage of a right that people outside of this country do not necessarily have. Although Delany speaks of a topic that can be sensitive and considered taboo he does it anyway because he knows that he has been given a chance to teach others. We all have the opportunity to teach each other when it comes down to it. If we learn to listen more we can all take away bits of information and knowledge that can help ourselves and more importantly help others who may not have been aware of whatever the issue or topic may be. Why should we sit back and let things happen? We can’t hide in the darkness of our rooms or classrooms and pretend that we’re just trying to get through the day. Even the people who never talk have opinions and should know that they can be heard at any moment if they just put themselves out there. Delany has done this. He put himself out there and explored topics that are unfamiliar and maybe some of us can’t relate to them completely, but we can at least learn how important it is to speak up.
In the Second essay of Times Square Red Times Square Blue, Delany focuses on differences and similarities of networking and contact as two elements that shape a community. The Times Square Development was supposed to renovate the area but it took away the community’s identity of being “highly diversified with working class residences and small human services into a ring of upper-middle class residences and small ring of tourists hotels clustering about a series of theaters and restaurants.” Delany points out that the investors want to preserve the historic theater district but they close all of the original theaters except two. They want to decrease violence and drug use but instead without the a community that takes care of one another – the tourist are open to be more vulnerable than before. Delany highlights that there is no longer the “connectedness” that used to be there from their local community because of the builders who can still make millions if the buildings are empty. 4nd Street and the told Times Square is only a memory and even though it is safe for family values it was at the expense of truly human values. People once came to a place where they could bridge the gaps between them, without judgment and now it is a place where no one can truly connect with another.
Well, I read the first two pages of Lisa Duggan’s Twilight of Equality and I put it down because I couldn’t grasp the concept of neoliberalism. It was difficult for me to understand the concept and understand what she was talking about. Later on, I looked up neoliberalism and I decided to try and read the book again. This time around, it was still a bit difficult but not as much as it was before. From what I understand, neoliberalism was supposed to help profit rates and wealth worldwide but instead it provided inequalities and clashes among races, sexualities, ethnicities and so forth. Lisa Duggan’s claims, this to be the second out of five divisions of the neoliberalism hegemony, when she writes, “attacks on downwardly redistributive social movements, especially the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, but including feminism, lesbians and gay liberation…” (xii). The idea of redistribution of wealth and resources to me would have benefited the world but Duggan’s brings forth all the difficulties and problems it has caused especially among different types and classes of people. So, is this idea of neoliberalism a good thing or a bad thing for the country? As Lisa Duggan’s made me realize, it wasn’t a good idea and was ineffective in accomplishing its goals. Furthermore, it affected the world in a way that was supposed to benefit and help the world.
Times Square Red, Times Square Blue was a provocative novel that discusses Times Square from a period between the 1970-1990s. Although the novel detailed graphic encounters at the theaters and shops, the novel seeks to give the reader an understanding that this subculture of men were looking for a place to be themselves. Times Square Red, Times Square Blue is an intricate look at an underground culture being able to express themselves openly and what happens when this culture is broken up, forced to go to places where their lifestyles aren’t accepted as openly as they had been in Times Square. The underlying issue Delaney tries to convey to the reader is that whether or not you are gay, straight, etc, a place that you are able to openly be who you are and interact with others who share the same ideas and values as you is important in understanding who you are. Once a place like this is taken from you, it can be extremely detrimental. Samuel Delaney’s critique about the transformation of Times Square is interesting in that he has a negative view about how Times Square turned into a large tourist attraction. Although one might argue that tourism brings money into the city and it’s good for the city’s growth, his argument is that it’s not giving the city anything of substance. The twenty years that Times Square had been a haven for the underground homosexual culture had given Times Square more value than the tourist attractions do today, is what Delaney tries to argue. However, it may not help in growth to the city’s economy like Times Square does today, Delaney is trying to convey that the Times Square of the past gave more substance to the city, it allowed a previously shunned group to thrive and live peacefully to their means.
Wile reading Times Square red Times Square blue I could never imagine the place that Delany describes as ever existing. It seems odd to think that a place so family oriented was once dominated by porn theaters. A place where people would sell themselves on the street and a passerby would not know what was even going on. . Although I should not be surprised it is New York, but like everything time changes quickly. In just a number of years, the place became a tourist attraction, and since then it has become an even tackier place. Tourists and people who enjoy lights and sounds are the only ones who dare venture fourth now. Times Square was a place where people were friendly, where everyone lived together in a community, but that is gone.
Another thing that interested is how open and how closed the group of people that Delany interacted with was. It seems odd to me that such a large and vast group of people can be so open in a dark theater, but indifferent as soon as they leave. Although I found parts of the book to be distasteful, I feel bothered that people could use each other this way. Maybe they just want to hide who they are. If they cover it up in darkness maybe, they think that it is not them but someone else. However today I feel, if these places were still open, that people would not act as they did. They might be more open, but thinking that way I feel that the theaters had no choice but to close. To be so open about what goes on in these theaters is not something that should be scene, or wants to be scene by everyday society.
In Samuel Delany’s book Times Square Red Times Square Blue, Delany talks about how Times Square was as he knew it and what it is now. In the first part of the book, he describes the porn theaters in Times Square. In the second part, Delany talks about how Times Square is now. Times Square now doesn’t have an advantage for any New Yorkers, just tourists and those who are in control of Times Square. Those who are in charge of Times Square are winning compared to everyone else because they are gaining a profit. Delany shows the difference between networking and contact. After understanding what Delany was suggesting by saying that society now used and relied on networking rather than contact made me realize that he is definitely right. Now a days when people communicate they don’t use contact as often as they did since things have changed. With technology developing more and more, it is easier for someone not to use contact as a way of communicating but rather just network with others.
Neoliberalism is a concept that is very new to me. Neoliberalism, as described as Duggan, is central to United States’ development. She claims that politics have changed drastically from what it was intended to do. Duggan focuses on the government of the 1990s, where she claims the free-market capitalistic ideas were further expanded by the Washington Consensus. She claims that politics have become more neoliberal, which refers to the free-market capitalistic tendencies of the government. She also mentions the inability of current politicians to fully grasp the connection between the economy and the current social and cultural issues in the world. She talks about the shift and redistribution of wealth, where the rich get richer and the poor are always on the outside looking in. She analyzes how race, gender and culture plays into this shift, and claims that this will only cause the government to fail.
I believe that the redistribution of wealth to the rich is very true in today’s society. The rich have all the resources available to them in order to make themselves richer, while the poor stay poor. And these resources and wealth are continually sent back up to the already rich, leaving the poor with nothing. Duggan mentions this in her text, claiming that the presidency of Ronald Reagan boosted these ideas and tendencies.
The concept of neoliberalism in itself is a difficult concept to grasp. Considering that it’s definition is not static and has changed over a spectrum of time, reveals how difficult it can be to understand what neoliberalism is. In her book The Twilight Of Equality, Lisa Duggan explores the intricate definition behind neoliberalism and how it came to be what it is today. She begins by explaining the roots of neoliberalism and explains how it grew from its original economic intent to provide for the welfare state, into “a mode of polemic…aimed to enhance corporate profit rates” (XI). She argues that since the 1970’s or (more precisely) the election of Ronald Regan, the redistribution of wealth and resources in America and on a global scale has been upward. Although neloliberalism was built over a series of decades, Duggan credits the “Washington Consensus” of the 1980’s and 1990’s. She further purports that the neoliberalism of today is a result of culture and politics “contesting relations of class, race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.” The pattern of upward distribution has produced patterns of inequality upon two different classes of people. “The progressive- left” stands in opposition to neoliberalism, but Duggan argues that its approach is ineffective overall. If compared to Samuel Delany’s concept of connection and networking, it would appear that his ideal term of connection would be more closely aligned to what Duggan points out to be the progressive- left social movement. Similarly, Delany’s concept of networking would be affiliated with neoliberalism. I make such connections between the two books on the basis of the culture (or types of people) that are involved in such groups. For example, In a networking or neoliberal class, the people involved in this structure would have the upper hand, because they network for the purpose to improve their lifestyle and have the resources distributed upward (to them). Whereas the progressive-left and the contact group prefer to surround themselves with people who desire contact for the same reasons and not for the overall betterment of their wealth.
Times Square Red Times Square Blue details the final days of the “Sex For Sale” industry that was so rampant in Times Square up until the early 1990’s and the distinctive social sub-cultures, particularly the gay male scene that centered around many of the Times Square adult-movie theaters. This book also details the reasons and history of how this transformation from “sex district” to very tourist directed 42nd street occurred. The book puts emphasis on the “sociological consequences” theme but is still very interesting to read and there are some great photos from the final days of the Times Square that Delaney first described are also included. Times Square Red Times Square Blue is an extremely gripping account of Delany’s own life of public sex life and the ways in which the new urban generation interfere and have, for the most part, stopped these experiences. In the path of his argument for casual sex as a foundation of the urban lifestyle and freedoms, Delany distinguishes between “contact” and “networking.” Contact occurs between people of different classes and is most likely to occur in diverse places. Networking happens within class and professional places. Although he does not discard networking entirely, he leans towards contact as a valuable, but threatened way of life. I really enjoyed Delaney’s theory that the most important life occurrences begin with strangers in public places. This led me to think about being more open when out and about in the world, especially since I live in New York City and am just a short train ride from Manhattan.
It is quite amazing how a place can be looked totally different in the run of time. It is amazing how things getting changed like they were never existed before. Time Square Red, Time Square Blue is a book that describes the changes which the Times Square in New York City went through and was developed to something really different than it used to be. Nothing stays the same over the time run, which is pretty obvious; however, what are these changes cause people who used to be there on a daily basis?
Times Square of the sixties to the mid nineties was full of Porn theaters, which provided a place for gay people to watch porn and meet people. There were people as the author Samuel Delany, who had used this place for many years to meet gay people, while there were people, who really lived there and were part of it. Nevertheless, for a small fee they could stay there all day and watch porn. One example of many is that guy who used to masturbate all day, otherwise he couldn’t get sleep.
When these places were shut off and the Times Square became a tourist attraction, they didn’t have another place to go. These people left alone with their own problems. Nevertheless, the Times Square was a central place, which it was easy to get to from any part of the city. On the one hand the reason to shut off these places and turn it to a tourist attraction is pretty obvious to me, while on the other hand arose the question what are we doing to these people? Where will they go now? And I guess the answer will be never heard.
Delany’s Time Square Red Times Square Blue speaks of what used to be Time Square in the years before the late nineties when it was changed into a tourist attraction which was very different from the way it was back when Times Square had adult entertainment sections all over the place along with movie theaters that appealed to straits and homosexuals alike. He makes an interesting point that back then, there were many homeless people living in Time Square where some chose to stay in movie theaters. The time square of old had such a friendly quality to it. Anyone could and would have no problems finding a homeless man on the street, have a nice talk with him and then proceed to inviting him home back to your place to talk some more.
It was also a place where contacts were abundant. This meant that every person living on 42nd street knew each other. Delany says that back in the old time square he had a sexual contact with a homeless man he found one day on the street and the two hit it off. Contact at the time was letting a homeless man into your home or movie theater for a good time. It was also the conversations that people of different classes that lived and came to times square could have with one another without worrying about any notions of class division. It is a shame how nowadays the level of connection people of different classes have with one another is gone since homeless people can make the streets there their home anymore and instead are just swept away like trash.
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