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Times Square Red, Times Square Blue

Times Square Red, Times Square Blue

afterword by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 203
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  • Book Info
    Times Square Red, Times Square Blue
    Book Description:

    If one street in America can claim to be the most infamous, it is surely 42nd Street. Between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, 42nd Street was once known for its peep shows, street corner hustlers and movie houses. Over the last two decades the notion of safety-from safe sex and safe neighborhoods, to safe cities and safe relationships-has overcome 42nd Street, giving rise to a Disney store, a children's theater, and large, neon-lit cafes. 42nd Street has, in effect, become a family tourist attraction for visitors from Berlin, Tokyo, Westchester, and New Jersey's suburbs.Samuel R. Delany sees a disappearance not only of the old Times Square, but of the complex social relationships that developed there: the points of contact between people of different classes and races in a public space. In Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, Delany tackles the question of why public restrooms, peepshows, and tree-filled parks are necessary to a city's physical and psychological landscape. He argues that starting in 1985, New York City criminalized peep shows and sex movie houses to clear the way for the rebuilding of Times Square. Delany's critique reveals how Times Square is being "renovated" behind the scrim of public safety while the stage is occupied by gentrification. Times Square Red, Times Square Blue paints a portrait of a society dismantling the institutions that promote communication between classes, and disguising its fears of cross-class contact as "family values." Unless we overcome our fears and claim our "community of contact," it is a picture that will be replayed in cities across America.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4434-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Writer’s Preface October 1998
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. Part 1 Times Square Blue October 1996
    (pp. 1-108)

    Against the subway kiosk around the corner on Forty-second Street and Eighth Avenue, Ben still sets up his shoeshine stand, his bottles of polish and cans of stain, his brushes and cloths. Ben’s come-on is much what it was when I first noticed him in the late seventies. For every third or fourth woman in the passing bustle, with or without a boyfriend, it’s “Hey,there, beautiful!” or “Mmmm! Hi,sweetheart!” There’s never an obscenity or mention of a bodily part, other than perhaps “Umm, that’snice!” or “Honey, you aresomethin’!” But the hailing is clear and the inflection...

  6. Part 2 … Three, Two, One, Contact: Times Square Red December 1997–April 1998
    (pp. 109-200)

    §0. The primary thesis underlying my several arguments here is that, given the mode of capitalism under which we live, life is at its most rewarding, productive, and pleasant when large numbers of people understand, appreciate, and seek out interclass contact and communication conducted in a mode of good will.

    My secondary thesis is, however, that the class war raging constantly and often silently in the comparatively stabilized societies of the developed world, though it is at times as hard to detect as Freud’s unconscious or the structure of discourse, perpetually works for the erosion of the social practices through...

  7. Works Cited
    (pp. 201-202)